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ORIGIN of the GUINANE clan

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ORIGIN of the GUINANE clan

Posted: 1244713273000
Classification: Biography
O'Cuineáin Clan--->This post is long and because of the way boards work may be difficult to read. If you want an easier to read version send me a message and I will mail directly to you.

I have a theory about the point of origin of our family and the pattern of emigration and migration it followed. Hope you find it interesting.

O'Cuineáin Clan----->The name is native Irish. The gaelic version of the name is: O'Cuineáin . Pronounced QUIN-AWN : 'quin' as in

quintuplets and 'awn' as in dawn.

In Ireland - Irish language names were unpronouncable to the British (who colonised the country) and could generally

not be spelt correctly by the owners of the names. This resulted in names being changed in both pronounciation and

spelling in a process called anglicisation. (in the USA a similar process happened when native american people and

place names were encountered)

This resulted in a large number of variations of the name:

There are many more spelling variations of the name. What follows relates to anyone with any of these name spellings

- hence I intend posting this information to each of the relevant message boards.

Geographic spread of the name---->
Even though there are many variations of the name it is still relatively uncommon even in Ireland. When I was

growing up (1960s) I did not know anyone with the same family name. This is because I grew up in the north west of

the country (Sligo) and my father came from Limerick. When we eventually got a telephone (1968) and a nationwide

phone directory (as it was at the time) one of the first things I did was look up our name. There was only one other

'Guinane' in the phone book.

This has let me to be interested in the geographic spread of the name. If a name is not very common then it may be

possible to trace it back to a point of origin by looking back in the records over time.

Every now and then over the years I would encounter another Guinane. Inevitably they come from Shannon SW region

(Limerick/Clare/Tipperary/Galway). When the internet arrived on the scene and googling the name became possible it

was clear that the name is spread outside of Ireland to the US, Canada and Australia.

About 10 years ago someone said to me that there was a story that the Guinane/O'Cuineáin family originated on an

island in the Shannon estuary. This person told me that the family travelled to both sides of the Shannon river to

settle on the mainland - hence they ended up in County Limerick and Clare. My father came from the village of

Kildimo in Co. Limerick.

Last year I started to look up the Ellis Island and other immigration records and it was clear that the Guinane

emigrants gave their addresses primarily as Counties Limerick, Clare and Tipperary.

County Clare has an excellent genology section on their library website which allows browsing by name of the records

back to famine times. It is clear from these records that there was a concentration of the Guinane name in the area

of Killadysert on the Clare mainland and on a group of Islands off the Clare coast. These islands are in the mouth

of the Fergus river which flows into the Shannon estuary and so is consistent with the story that I had heard many

years earlier. The main island of interest is known as Coney (rabbit) Island (or Inish da Dhroim, Island of the two


Another picture that is forming from the emigration records (a lot more definitive research will be required) is

related to the pattern of movement of the family name through emigration. The earlier emigrants seemed to head for

Toronto in Canada (1850s). These emigrants departed mainly under sail from Limerick port. Later (1900-1920) the

Ellis Is. records give more detail about destinations - mainly New York and Chicago. An interesting thing is that

the 'Limerick' Guinanes seem to have gravitated to New York while the Clare Guinanes seem to have headed for


So what of the Australian Guinanes? I'm getting into the realms of guesswork here - but based on the deportation

records available in the National Archives of Ireland ( I think that the likelyhood

is that sealing a loaf of bread was your ticket to Australia in the 1800s.

Let me state they (as yet unproven) hypothesis about the O'Cuineáin family point of origin and subsequent migration.

1. The O'Cuineain family/clann originates (pre 1800) from an area concentrated around Coney Island in the

Fergus/Shannon estuary.
2. The family made their livelyhood through small holdings on the island and collecting seaweed as fertiliser from

the shallow waters of the estuary.
3. They migrated in the 1800s across and up river and along the banks to the mainland - Co. Limerick (Kildimo area

and Limerick city), Co. Clare (Killadysert), Co. Tipperary (Killaloe/Ballina)
4. They force emigrated to Australia through deportation in the 1800s
5. 1850s - They emigrated to Toronto,Canada from Limerick (Its from this branch of the family that Texas Guinan

6. 1900s - They emigrated to Chigago - mostly from Co. Clare and to New York - mostly from Co. Limerick

I'm hoping to build up a clearer body of evidence to support this over this summer.

There is another story/legend relating to the Guinane name - that a ship from either France or Spain went down in

the Shannon estuary sometime in the 1700s. The survivors settled on Coney Island and became the O'Cuineáin clan. The

gaelic name for a rabbit is Coinín whic has a pronouncation similar to Cuineáin so there is a possible origin for

the name also.

Gerry G
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