Recorded in several forms including O' Skehan, MacSkeagan, MacSkin, Skeen, Skene, Skeene, Skehan, Skehen, Skehens, Skin, and possibly others, this most interesting and unusual surname is of pre 10th century Old Gaelic origins. Derived from the ancient words "sceathin" meaning a bush or clump of trees, or "sceach", a briar, it can be either Scottish or Irish. If Scottish it can be locational from the barony of Skene in the county of Aberdeenshire, and the earliest recordings are to be found from this region. These include Robert de Skene who rendered homage to the Interregnum Government of Scotland in 1296, and Giliane de Skene, given as being a cleric in 1358. In Ireland the name belongs to the Oriel counties of Monaghan and Louth, where it has often been changed to Thornton, this being a sort of synonym for briar! The name is also well known in County Tipperary, and is often found here with the Gaelic prefix O' to give O' Skehan or sometimes as MacSkeaghan. Early examples in Ireland of the surname recordings include the marriage of Terence Skin at Stabannan, County Louth, on April 10th 1710, Margaret Skeen at the church of St. Munchin, Limerick, on February 1st 1731; and Denis and Mary Skehan at Newport, County Tipperary, on January 20th 1864. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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