This interesting surname originates in Scotland as an Anglicized form of the Gaelic "Mac Suibhne", composed of the elements "mac" meaning son of plus "Suibhne" a personal byname meaning pleasant. Suibhene was Lord of Knapdale in Strathclyde circa 1200. Later this family emigrated to Ireland and established three septs in Tirconell (Co. Donegal) as MacSweeney in the 14th Century. In the modern idiom the surname has several spelling variations including: Sween, Sweeney, MacSween, MacSweeny and MacSweeney.Murrough MacSweeny was one of the famous galloglasses. Written in Gaelic as "galloglach", the word literally means "foreign young warrior", and denotes a mercenary soldier. On May 9th 1795, Anne, daughter of James Sweeney, was christened in Downpatrick, Co. Down, and on February 4th 1837, the marriage of Brian Sweeney and Catherine Sullivan took place in Castleisland Roman Catholic Church, Co. Kerry. On June 25th 1847, a famine emigrant, Jeremiah Sweeney, aged 23 yrs., embarked from Cork on the ship "Henry- Hobbs" bound for New York. A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts a silver lizard on a green fess between three black boars passant on a gold shield. On the Crest is an armoured arm embowed holding a battle-axe, all proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Murrough MacSweeny, which was dated 1267, in the "Annals of Connacht", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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