This very unusual surname recorded in the spellings of Fancy, Fansy, Fennessy, Phinnessy, and Finessy, is of medieval Irish origins. According to our research and to the famous book on Irish surnames by MacLysaght, the surname is mostly found in Counties Cork, Tipperary, and Waterford. The name spelling was originally O'Fionnghusa, or the descendant of the fair and vigourous one, from the Gaelic word "fionn" meaning fair haired or fair skinned, plus "gus" - active or vigourous. This translation is very interesting. The eastern part of Ireland, with its coastline, was in the 10th century, like the north of England a Viking kingdom. This suggests that the first holders of the surname were, being fair, themselves of Viking origin, since the original Celts were like the Ancient Welsh and the Bretons of Northern France, dark and swarthy. The suffix "gus" probably has a more "earthy" meaning and relates to either the original nameholders quickness of movement, or possibly his sexual prowess! The medieval period was one of robust humour. Pretension was frowned upon, and people were given nicknames, which developed into surnames with impunity. These, however personal, people accepted almost as a badge of status. Early examples of this surname taken from Irish church registers include Patrick Finnessy of Killarney, on July 10th 1810, Conor Fansy, also recorded as Fancy, at Leitrim, County Leitrim, on April 5th 1864, and Patrick Fennessey, a witness at Ardfinnon, County Tipperary, on February 21st 1867. The first example of a recording in these records maybe Elinor Phinessy who married David Phillips, at Castletownroche, County Cork, on October 3rd 1799.
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