Recorded in a wide variety of spellings including MacGinney, McGinney, Geaney, Ginney, Ginny, Geane, Gaine, McGuiney, MacGeneay and O'Geaney, this Irish surname seems to refer to a prisoner. The derivation is from the ancient Gaelic pre 10th century Mac (or O) Geibheannach which translates as "The son (or descendant) of the fettered one". Quite who was "fettered" and for what reason is unclear, but certainly some of the early members of the "clan" had unfortunate experiences. It maybe that in the medieval period, around the time in the 13th and 14th centuries when surnames throughout the British Isles were become hereditary, that the original nameholder was a religious prisoner. There is also something of a problem that whilst the surname today is in its most popular spelling "Geaney", one branch comes from Counties Cork and Kerry, where the profix was O, whilst the Ulster branch was prefixed "Mac", suggesting that the origins were the samne in meaning, but not refering to the same person.During the infamous Irish Potato Famine of 1846 - 1851, many nameholders left for the USA or England, and these included Rose McGinny on the ship "Fairfield of Liverpool" on November 5th 1846 and Mat Ginnes, and his family on the shuip Loisiana, on April 9th 1847. The first known recording of the family name in any spelling may be that of Father Roger O'Giana, who was captured by the English in 1599, but who escaped to France from Cork Prison. .
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