Recorded in the spellings of Meeny, Meany, O' Mo(o)ney, O' Moeney etc.this surname is Irish. However spelt it is an anglicized form of the pre 10th century Gaelic O' Maonaigh. The prefix "O" indicates "male descendant of", plus the personal byname Maonach, literally meaning wealthy, treasured or beloved, a name of endearment. Four distinct septs of this name arose in Ireland. The first belonged to the parish of Ardara, dioceses of Raphoe, Co. Donegal, where they held church property from generation to generation. This sept claims descent from one, Monach, son of Ailioll Mor of Ulster. The Mooneys of Co. Offaly were for centuries the custodians of the shrine of St. Monahan in the parish of Lemanaghan, and gave their name to the townland of Ballymooney. Four townlands called Ballymeeny in Easky, County Sligo, locate the third sept, and finally there was a Munster sept of the name, known in modern times as Mainey. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Father Donagh Mooney, Provincial of the Irish Franciscans, which was dated circa 1615 when he guarded the young Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell at Louvain, during the reign of King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. 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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