This famous clan name may be of medieval Scottish or Irish origin. If the former, McKenna is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "MacCionaodha", son of Cionaodha, a male given name composed of the elements "cion", respect, love, and "Aodh", the name of a pagan god of fire; hence, "Beloved of Aodh" or "Devotee of Aodh". The surname is particularly widespread in Galloway, and early examples of some include: William M'Kinnay, charter witness, entered in the Register of the Great Seal of Scotland (1544), and Alexander M'Kinnie who was retoured heir of Normand M'Kinnie of Knokdorie in the lands of Rosneyth (1609). Further versions of the name, noted in 1684 Galwegian Parish Records include: M'Kinnie, Mackena, McKennah, McKeney and McKenney. The Old Irish form of McKenna is "Mac Coinaoith", having the same derivation as "Cionaoidh", though the interpretations "ardent love" and "firesprung" have also been rendered. The McKennas were a branch of the great southern Ui Neill family who originally migrated to County Meath before settling in Truagh (the modern barony of Trough in the northern part of County Monaghan). In medieval times the McKennas were lords of Truagh, and several of the sept including Niall MacKenna (born 1700), distinguished themselves in the field of literature. A Coat of Arms held by the McKenna family, originally the Sept of MacCionaoith, is a green shield with a silver fess between three gold lions' heads affrontee. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Kennauch Makyny, which was dated 1264, in the "Chartulary of the Priory of St. Andrew", during the reign of King Alexander 111 of Scotland, 1249 - 1286. 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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