This is a Scottish surname, although in its various spellings, more often found in Ireland. It derives from 'Mac Fhionnain' which translates as 'the son of the descendant of the fair one'. This is possibly a nickname reference to an early Viking 'settler' of the 9th century a.d., since they were fair haired. The name in Ireland is often confused with Kinane and Keenan, but in fact has no connection with either - except bad spelling! The name in Scotland has generally retained the "Mac or Mc" prefix but not in Ireland where the spellings are usually Kenan, Kennan, and Kennon. The famous Irish etymologist Maclysaght claims that the name was originally prominent in the counties of Monaghan and Armagh, and that in the 'census' of 1659 (Mc) Kennan was the principal surname of the barony of Ardee in Co. Louth. The earliest recordings include in Scotland Willam M'Kennane and Andrew McKenen of Kirkcubright in the year 1542, and in Ireland Joanna Kennan who married Thomas McGee at Derry Cathedral, Templemore, on October 20th 1681. Thomas Kennan was a witness at St Catherines Church, Dublin on January 1st 1703 whilst Cornelius Kennon was amongst the earliest of the 'Famine Emigrants' from Ireland when he left Belfast on the ship Ashburton bound for New York on April 18th of that year. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Malcolm KcKenyn, which was dated 1367, a juror at the assize court of Dumfries, Scotland, during the reign of King David 11 of Scotland, 1329 - 1371.
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