Recorded in several spelling forms including O'Feighney, O'Feeny, O'Feeney, and without the prefix O', this is a famous Irish surname. Derived from the pre 10th century Olde Gaelic "O' Fiannaidh", meaning the descendant of the soldier from the elements O' meaning a male descendant and fianna a soldier or perhaps hunter, it was originally a descriptive nickname for the first chief of the clan, in ancient times. The main part of the O' Fiannaidh clan was located in the parish of Easkey, in County Sligo, in the far west of Ireland, whilst a smaller sept was to be found in the adjoing county of Galway. The name is now numerous throughout the province of Connacht, and the clan have given their name to the village of Ballyfeeny in County Roscommon. In regard to the place name, the first element derives from the Gaelic 'baile' meaning a town. An example of the surname recording taken from a surviving shipping register relating to the infamous Potato Famine of 1846 - 1848 is that of: Michael, John and Mary Feeney, who emigrated from Ireland on the ship "Marmion of Liverpool" bound for New York, on November 28th 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Teag O' Feinneadha which was dated about the year 1400 in the ancient book known as "The Annals of Connacht". This was during the reign of King Henry 1V of England, 1399 - 1413. Throughout the centuries mainly as a result of poor spelling and local dialects, surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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