Recorded as Feeney, Fenney, Finney, Finnie, and Phennah, this is a famous Irish surname. It derives from a pre 10ty century Gaelic name O' Fiannaidh, which was composed of the elements O' meaning a male descendant, and Fianna - a soldier. The main O' Fiannaidh clan was located in the parish of Easkey, County Sligo, whilst a smaller sept known as the Feeneys, who write their name O' Fidhne in Irish, resided in County Galway. The name is very numerous in Connacht and the clan have given their name to Ballyfeeny in County Roscommon. The first element bally comes from the word "baile" meaning a town. Early examples of the surname recording include Mary, the daughter of John Fenney who was christened on April 9th, 1654 at Acton by Nantwich, Cheshire, whilst Thomas Phennah was christened on March 7th 1742 at Churton Heath, also in Cheshire. The name was probably introduced into England by Irish immigrants looking for work in the major cities in England, whilst Michael Finney, aged 32, left Liverpool for New York on board the ship "Marmion" on November 28th 1846, during the infamous Potato Famine of 1846 - 1848. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Teag O' Feinneadha which was dated circa 1603 in the Annals of the province of Connacht. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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