This notable 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. On October 11th 1687, Patrick McCann and Ann McBride were married at Clones, County Monaghan. 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. A Coat of Arms granted to the M(a)cCann family is an azure shield with gold fretty, on a silver fess a red boar passant, the Crest being a salmon naiant proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Amhlaibh Mac Canna, "a pillar of chivalry and vigor in Cinel Eoghain", 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. 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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