Feeney

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See: The Feeney Genealogy Project

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Geni Stats

As of 9-20-07 there were 167 profiles on Geni.com with the Feeney surname.
As of 4-13-09 there were 567 profiles on Geni.com with the Feeney surname.
As of 9-29-09 there are 1854 profiles on Geni.com with the Feeney surname.

General Surname Information

English: (O') Feeney, Feeny, Finney, Finny
Gaelic: Ó Fiannaidhe, Ó Fianna, Ó Feinneadha, Ó Fidhne, Ó Fighne

The Feeney surname is traditionally associated with the Irish province of Connacht, in particular the counties of Sligo, Mayo, Galway and Roscommon. The Finney variant is associated with the province of Ulster to the north. It is taken from the Gaelic Ó Fiannaidhe, earlier form Ó Feinneadha, which can be translated as soldier or warrior with warrior reflecting the meaning more closely. The Gaelic term is now abbreviated as Ó Fianna, which some associate with the Na Fianna who in Celtic mythology were a band of warriors formed to protect Ireland. Since the 1850s the term ("Fenian" in English) has been associated with Irish nationalists after a Celtic scholar named his revolutionary secret society the Fenian Brotherhood in honor of the Fianna. The Feeney's in Co. Galway and Co. Roscommon spell their name Ó Fidhne in Gaelic, which likely derives from Ó Fighne as mentioned in the "Annals of Connacht." There is a townland in Co. Roscommon known as Ballyfeeny where a good concentration of this sept is located.

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Province of Connacht

The Feeney family is a sept of the Uí Fiachrach dynasty who originated in, and whose descendants later ruled, the Connacht province at various times from around 500 A.D. onwards. The Uí Fiachrach claimed descent from Fiachrae, an older half-brother of Niall Nigiallach, a High King of Ireland from about 350-405 A.D. Fiachrae and his two full brothers, Brion and Ailill, were the collective ancestors of the Connachta dynasty that eventually became the name of the province. The Uí Fiachrach separated into two branches, the Uí Fiachrach Aidhne and the Uí Fiachrach Muaidhe, the Aidhne taking the south (Co. Galway and Co. Roscommon) and the Muaidhe taking the north (Co. Sligo and Co. Mayo). Thus the Feeney's of these four counties are likely related but on two distinct branches of the tree based on geography, barring any major migration in and amongst the septs. This could explain the differences in the Gaelic versions of their names.

The evolution of the spelling of the surname can be placed along a timeline. Feeney was the most popular spelling of the name in the 1890 index, with some 46 births recorded in Sligo, Mayo and Galway. In contrast, "Feeny" had just 26 births in the counties of Galway and Roscommon that year. Going back in time, the 1857 Griffith Valuation for Dromore West (Co. Sligo) listed those children's grandfathers as all spelling their name "Feeny." Further back in time we find six family members spelling their name "O'Feeny" in the Barony of Tireril (Co. Sligo) in the 1659 census return, with no other variations listed.

Localizing the Feeney's still in Ireland, Ned Cully writes, “if you went out the coast road from Galway city approx 8 miles to Furbo and for the next 15 miles to Tully Cross every third house would be a Feeney house ... there are simply scads of them there and most claim not to be related to their neighbors (folks across the road) but they're all related if you go back 3, 4, or 5 generations.” There is also a traditionally large concentration in the parish of Easkey in Co. Sligo, as related by Edward MacLysaught in More Irish Families.

Na Fianna Éireann

In early Ireland, fianna (singular fian) were small, semi-independent warrior bands who lived apart from society in the forests as mercenaries, bandits and hunters, but could be called upon by kings in times of war. They appear in Irish mythology, most notably in the stories of the Fenian Cycle, where they are led by Fionn mac Cumhaill.

The historical institution of the fian is known from references in early medieval Irish law tracts. A fian was made up of landless young men, often young aristocrats who had not yet come into their inheritance of land. A member of a fian was called a fénnid; the leader of a fian was a rígfénnid (literally "king-fénnid"). Geoffrey Keating, in his 17th century History of Ireland, says that during the winter the fianna were quartered and fed by the nobility, during which time they would keep order on their behalf, but during the summer, from Beltaine to Samhain, they were obliged to live by hunting for food and for pelts to sell. Keating's History is more a compilation of traditions than a reliable history, but in this case scholars point to references in early Irish poetry and the existence of a closed hunting season for deer and wild boar between Samhain and Beltaine in medieval Scotland as corroboration.

Some legendary depictions of fianna seem to conform to this historical reality: for example, in the Ulster Cycle the druid Cathbad leads a fian of twenty-seven men which fights against other fianna and kills the twelve foster-fathers of the Ulster princess Ness. Ness, in response, leads her own fian of twenty-seven in pursuit of Cathbad.

However, the stories of the Fenian Cycle, set around the time of Cormac mac Airt, depict the fianna as a single standing army in the service of the High King, although it contains two rival factions, the Clann Baíscne of Leinster, led by Fionn mac Cumhaill, and the Clann Morna of Connacht, led by Goll mac Morna, and lives apart from society, surving by hunting.

Membership was subject to rigorous tests. In one such test the applicant would stand in a waist-deep hole armed with a shield while nine warriors threw spears at him; if he was wounded, he failed. In another his hair would be braided, and he would be pursued through the forest; he would fail if he was caught, if a branch cracked under his feet, or if the braids in his hair were disturbed. He would have to be able to leap over a branch the height of his forehead, pass under one as low as his knee, and pull a thorn from his foot without slowing down. He also needed to be a skilled poet.

Poetic Descriptions

A dinnseanchas poem, Ard Ruide ("Ruide Headland"), poetically describes the kingdoms of Ireland that the Feeney clan belongs to. As the Feeney's originate from the borderland between the two kingdoms, an area known as bréifne, one can imagine the ancient Feeney's being a mix of the descriptions of the people in each. Below is a translation from Old Irish:

“Connacht in the west is the kingdom of learning, the seat of the greatest and wisest druids and magicians; the men of Connacht are famed for their eloquence, their handsomeness and their ability to pronounce true judgement.

“Ulster in the north is the seat of battle valour, of haughtiness, strife, boasting; the men of Ulster are the fiercest warriors of all Ireland, and the queens and goddesses of Ulster are associated with battle and death.”

Flags

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Connacht
Cúige Chonnachta

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County Sligo

Contae Shligigh

Sources

Related Families

Irish: O'Cahill | Ó Cléirigh, O'Clearys | Connelly, Connolly | O'Dalaigh, Daly | Ó Dubhda, O'Dowd, Dowd | Ó hEidhin, O'Heyne, Hynes | Mac Giolla Cheallaigh, (Mac) Kilkellys | MacFhirbhisigh | O'Neill, O'Neil, Creagh, Neill, Nihill, Neal | Ó Seachnasaigh, O'Shaughnessy | Tuffy

English/American: Crouch | Nance | Reeves | Webster

Famous Feeney's

The Feeney clan has made many contributions to society. Here you will find a number of leaders in politics, medicine, law, religion, scholarship, the arts, education, technology and sports. If you look closely you may even find some infamous Feeney's well known for their rebellious tendencies.

  • Al Feeney

» Mayor of Indianapolis, IN, 1948-1950.

  • Angela Feeney

» Northern Irish opera singer.

  • Ann J. Feeney

» Professor at the Scripps Research Institute. A lab is named after her there.

  • Anne Feeney

» "An activist, organizer, songwriter, folksinger, troublemaker and hellraiser from Pittsburgh, PA."

  • Blair Feeney

» New Zealand rugby union player.

  • Brian Feeney

» Led the "da Vinci Project" spacecraft design team in the X-Prize competition.

  • Brian Feeney (Author)

» A political columnist with the Irish News, is a leading nationalist commentator and frequent broadcaster on Northern Ireland affairs. He was an SDLP counselor for sixteen years. He is co-author of Lost Lives: The story of the men, women and children killed in the Northern Ireland troubles. In 2001 the book won the Christopher Ewart-Biggs award for its contribution to reconciliation in Ireland and Europe. A historian by profession, he is Head of History at St Mary's University College, Belfast. (Source: John Feeney)

  • Brooke Feeney

» Professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University.

  • Carol Feeney

» American rower in the 1992 Summer Olympics.

  • Caroleen Feeney

» Actress.

  • Charles F. Feeney

» Successful businessman and philanthropist from New Jersey. Runner-up for Time Man of the Year for 1997.

  • Charles Stoneham "Chub" Feeney

» President of the MLB National League.

  • David Feeney

» Australian politician.

  • Dr. David R. Feeney

» Director of Digital Education at Temple University.

  • Denis Feeney

» Professor of Classics and Latin at Princeton.

  • Floyd F. Feeney

» Professor of law at UC Davis.

  • F.X. Feeney

» American film critic, producer, author, promotional guide, creative consultant.

  • George Feeney

» Professional Lightweight boxer in Britain who won a Lonsdale Belt.

  • Geraldine Feeney

» Irish politician.

  • Monsignor J.A. Feeney

» Started a foundation for Catholic schools.

  • James Feeney

» Founded a nursery and garden center in Feasterville, Pa.

  • James Feeney

» Professor of Gynaecology, University of Penang, Malaysia. (Source: Peter Feeney)

  • James H. "Jim" Feeney

» Christian pastor and author specializing in "supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit."

  • Jamie Feeney

» Australian rugby league player.

  • Jean M. Feeney

» Canvas artist focusing on the West Coast of Scotland.

  • Joe Feeney

» American tenor singer and member of The Lawrence Welk Show.

  • John Feeney

» Professional Bantamweight boxer in Britain who won a title.

  • John Feeney

» New Zealand born film director and author nominated for two Academy Awards.

  • John Feeney

» (1903-1967) A native of Swinford, Co. Mayo, emigrated to the US in 1928, started his singing career there and became the leading Irish-American tenor of his time. (Source: John Feeney)

  • John Frederick Feeney

» Irish journalist and newspaper proprietor.

  • John Kevin Feeney

» Professor of Gynaecology and Obstetrics in University College Dublin and Master of the Coombe Hospital in Dublin. (Source: Peter Feeney)

  • John Martin Feeney

» aka John Ford (1894-1973). Only person to win four Academy Awards for Direction.

  • Josephine Feeney

» Children's author from England.

  • Julie Feeney

» Composer and singer from Co. Galway, Ireland.

  • Kathryn Anne Feeney

» 2006 winner of the Rose of Tralee beauty pageant, representing Queensland.

  • Kathy Feeney

» Children's author and newspaper reporter.

  • Kevin Feeney

» High Court Judge in Ireland.

  • Laura Marie Feeney

» Professor and lecturer at the Swedish Institute of Computer Science, specializing in networking and systems, especially ad hoc and sensor networks.

  • Reverend Leonard Feeney, M.I.C.M.

» Excommunicated from the Catholic Church for strict interpretations of the doctrine.

  • Margaret Feeney, M.D.

» Researcher of cures for HIV and AIDS at the Boston Children's Hospital.

  • Mark Feeney

» American scholar and author of books about Hollywood.

  • Matthew Feeney

» Actor, Comedian, Emcee, Movie Producer.

  • Maureen E. Feeney

» President of the Boston City Council, trustee of the Boston Medical Center.

  • Mick Feeney

» Composer, singer, "Keltic Country" musician, author.

  • Nell Feeney

» Australian TV actress.

  • Peter Feeney

» Actor, Movie Producer.

  • Peter Feeney

» Head of Public Affairs at RTÉ (Ireland's Public Service Broadcasting Organization).

  • Philip Feeney

» Classical composer specializing in ballet music.

  • Ray Feeney

» Founder of RFX, Inc. He received multiple Academy Awards for his engineering solutions for the American film industry.

  • Robert K. "Bob" Feeney

» Professor Emeritus in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech.

  • Sean E. Feeney

» Tech industry executive serving as President and CEO of Inovis, Executive Vice President of CheckFree Corp., and COO of Clarus Corp.

  • Shawn Feeney

» Artist and musician based in New York.

  • Shay Feeney

» American photographer.

  • Susan Feeney

» American journalist and radio personality for NPR.

  • Thomas Charles "Tom" Feeney, III

» US Congressman from Florida.

  • Tim Feeney

» Percussion and electronics musician from Boston.

  • Tom Feeney

» Irish hurler.

  • Vincent "Vinny" Feeney

» Professional boxer from Sligo town, Ireland.

  • Warren Feeney

» Professional soccer player.

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