Recorded as O' Kearney, Kearney, Kerney, McCarney, McKarney, Carney, Cearney, and others, this is as surname of Irish origins, which may also be found in Scotland. It derives from the pre 9th century Gaelic, "cearnach" meaning victorious, a meaning which no doubt assisted in its great popularity. Originally known as the O' Cearnaigh and later O' Kearney and sometimes M(a)cCarney or M(a)cKarney, the clan were centered around the town of Cashel, although another branch were to be found in Teffia, and more logically Ballymacarney, both in County Meath as well as Kilcoursey in County Offally, where the chief was enobled as Baron Kilcoursey. According to the late Irish historian Edward MacLysaght, another branch of the clan originally from Meath are now called Fox, which also happens to be an English settler name from Elizabethan times. It would seem that an early 11th century chief of O' Ceranaigh was known in Gaelic as "Sionnach" or The Fox, but it does seem rather far fetched that as after some five centuries had elapsed, that the clan would take it upon themselves to change their name to Fox. Still its possible, anything is possible with surnames, and particularly Irish ones. It is unclear when the surname was first recorded but David Kearney was the archbishop of Cashel in 1603, and James McKarney was an official in both Dublin and later in France to the exiled King James 11nd, 1685 - 1689.
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