This interesting surname is of Irish origin, and was originally found with the prefix "mac", son of, or "o", male descendant of. In Irish the name is Geibheannaigh, from "Geibheannach" meaning 'the fettered one'. Quite what being fettered means is unclear, but it is likely that it had a religious, rather than any criminal connotation, in other words somebody who was bound to God. Originally the name was found with both the Gaelic prefixes 'Mac' (son of) and 'O' (descendant of) but both are now very rare. The anglicised spelling of Mac Geaney's is usually found in South Ulster and formerly in Co. Roscommon, whilst the O'Geaney's have almost entirely dropped the "o" and are mainly found in the counties of Cork and Kerry, along with the abbreviated variants Geane and Gaine. An early Anglicized form of the name was O'Giany; one Father Roger O'Giany, being recorded in Cork in 1599. Other recordings of the surname taken mainly from church records include Bridget Geaney, who married John Wallberry, on December 29th 1805, at St. Munchin, Limerick, Mary Gaine, who married John Moore at Belfast on April 2nd 1782, and Patrick Gain, christened at Kilgarvin, Co. Kerry on March 8th 1865. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Sean Mac Gebenay, which was dated 1590, who was pardoned - 'The records of Co. Roscommon', during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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