This Irish surname is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "MacCana", a patronymic of the personal byname "Cana", from "cano", wolf cub. Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the heads of tribes, revered elders, or some illustrious warrior, and are usually prefixed by "Mac", son of, or "O", denoting "grandson, male descendant of. The territory of this great sept lay on the southern shores of Lough Neagh, and the MacCanas were lords of Clanbrassil, a district in County Armagh originally occupied by the O'Garveys.Several members of the sept are described in the "Annals of the Four Masters"; the last to be mentioned in the Annals was killed in 1260. Donnell MacCanna, Chief of Clanbrassil, was recorded in 1598, and the surname is still widespread in the vicinity of Lough Neagh, though uncommon elsewhere. Examples of recordings include on October 11th 1687, Patrick McCann and Ann McBride were married at Clones, County Monaghan, whilst on March 23rd 1866, Catherine Macken was christened at Kilkeel, County Down. The famous poem "O'Donnell Abu" was written by Michael Joseph MacCann (1824 - 1883), and seventy-eight persons bearing the name McCann appear on a "List of Irish Famine Immigrants Arriving at the Port of New York", between the years 1846 to 1851. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Amhlaibh Mac Canna, which was dated 1155, in the "Annals of the Four Masters", during the reign of Turlough Mor O'Conor, High King of Ireland, 1119 - 1156. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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