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Posted: 1244713468000
Classification: Biography
Edited: 1245503862000
Surnames: GUINAN, O'Cuineáin, Guinane, Ginnane, Guinnane, Guinanne, Kinan, Kinane, Kinnane,
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 hills)

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 Chicago.

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 hails)
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 Guinan(e)


Posted: 1244846607000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1245503975000
Surnames: GUINAN, Gunning, Fitzgerald,
About 10 years ago I received the following from Ollie Guinan at Trinity College in Dublin. I had asked about the Guinan name in Ireland:\
Attached is some information about the Guinan name from Oliver Guinan at Trinity College in Dublin:


My family are from the midlands of Ireland, an area known as Offaly. The name is quite common there and in some other areas. The Guinan name is a derivative of the name Gunning which is Anglo-Saxon. The Guinans moved to Ireland from England during the Laois/Offaly plantation during the reign of Elizabeth the first (early 1600s). They were probably knights or noblemen attached to the Fitzgerald family who were the main arristocracy of the area. The knights and noblemen would have been given land rather than money in exchange for moving from england.
I hope that this short history of the name helps a little and feal free
to mail me any more questions.

o j


Posted: 1244925544000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1245039403000
Surnames: GUINAN, Guinane, Gunning, Fitzgerald, O'Cuning, O'Conuing,
Hi Bill
Many thanks for your posting. Sorry to have to inform you that (with the greatest respect to your correspondent from Offaly) that there is close to zero possibility of his story of the origin of the Guinan family being true.

Taking it point by point ..he states that

1. Gunning is anglo-saxon name settled in Ireland in the 1600s
The Gunning name in Ireland is derived from the native celtic name
2. Guinan is a derivative of Gunning
3. Gunnings were probably knights and noblemen who were granted lands in Offaly by the Fitzgeralds

1. Gunnning is not an Anglo-Saxon name - rather it is derived from the celtic name O'Cuning or O'Conuing which is linked with a small barony in Limerick (O'Cuning of Crioch) thus predating the Anglo-Saxon era by many hundreds of years.
Search for this book in google books and look up Gunning:
The book of Irish families, great & small
By Michael C. O'Laughlin
Edition: 3, illustrated
Published by Irish Roots Cafe, 2002

2. Guinan (and my name Guinane) both come from a completely different root - O'Cuineáin/O'Cuinneáin and are so not related in any way with Gunning. This origin of the Guinane name is widely documented in many authorative sources such as MacLysaghts Irish Surnames.

3. Gunnings were Anglo-Saxon noblemen
I have done no investigation of this family as it is a separate tribe to mine. However I will offer the opinion that there is no possibility that a noble anglo clan would have settled in Ireland in the 1600s and changed their name to include the Irish form of O' as in O'Cuning. It would be a relatively simple matter for anyone to lookup the english nobility records and land grants to prove me wrong as these records were carefully preserved in England.

The theory that I am exploring is essentially that the Guinane/Guinan/Kinnanes are river people originating in the Kildysert parish of County Clare and specifically on the Shannon/Fergus river islands who migrated along the Shannon River to Limerick/Tipperary/Galway and even Offaly. This is a work in progress. Maybe by the end of the Summer I will have put together the definitive documented proof (or otherwise). But what I can tell you is that the evidence does exist and so it is a matter of putting it together. I hope to build a picture of the Guinane population at different points in time such that as the clock is 'reversed' you will see the contraction of the distribution to an ever smaller and denser footprint.

Best Regards


Posted: 1244941001000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1245504453000
Surnames: GUINAN,
Thanks for your detailed note on the Guinan name. My mother was a Guinan and her ancestors arrived in the Philadelphia area in the mid 1800's - probably during the potato famine exodus. None of them had any idea about the origin of the name.
During a trip to Ireland some years back we also looked in the national telephone directory and were surprised at how few Guinans we saw. When I came across Ollie Guinan's name on a math paper I wrote and asked him about the name, and his reply was the previous posting. I don't know him or his background, so cannot vouch for his story.
Your researching sounds very thorough. Please keep us informed as you learn more.


Posted: 1244973473000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1245504397000
Surnames: GUINAN, Guinane,
Will do. Send your email address to and I can send you info directly if you like.

Are you a mathematician? That would be an interesting perspective. The aim I have is to chart the growth and distribution of the family over time and then to extrapolate backward to see where we wind up. Not sure how it will come together yet. I will start by assembling the data and take it from there. The relatively small population of the clan is what makes this interesting (as opposed to O'Brien for example)

By the way - the picture I have of early migration is that the first Guinanes headed to the Toronto area in the early/mid 1800s. They would have departed from Limerick.

By 1900 all the departures were from Cork/Queenstown on steamers. most of these Guinanes headed for Chicago, New York presumably drawn by other family members who had preceded them. The Ellis Is. records show these centres of gravity with Limerick/Kildimo Guinanes heading mostly to NY while the Clare folks headed to Chicago. I have come across some who headed to Pittsburg - I'll keep an eye out for them and let you know.



Posted: 1244984126000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1245504304000
Surnames: GUINAN, Guinane, Ginnane, Curry,

I am really interested in this discussion since there are a group of us Guinanes/Guinan/Ginnane that have been in touch on this subject. What some are working on is the supposition that the Guinanes originally came from France or Spain in the 1600's to the area of Carrigaholt (Shannon River islands) and then spread to other counties from there.
I had always heard that my grandfather, John Guinane, came from County Clare but have not proven this because I am unable to find his parents, John Guinane and Mary Curry Guinane. Our name has always been spelled "Guinane" as far as I know. I have been going through the LDS films hoping to find the marriage information but have not found anything yet. I am now working on the Tulla film which goes back quite aways. Since I do not know where Mary Curry came from and since the marriage would probably have taken place in her church I might be "barking up the wrong tree"! I keep plugging away hoping that I might find something before I pass on :). What are your names in case I run across these I will pass the information to you.

Margaret Guinane Mason
Southern Tier New York State


Posted: 1244995203000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1245504183000
Surnames: GUINAN, O'Cuineáin, Guinane, Cromwell
Hi Margaret
My name is Gerry Guinane. You can email me directly at if you would like to correspond directly.

Each of the last few years I try to do a little work on the 'clan'. As more information becomes available online it gets a little more interesting.

I have heard of a 'legend' that the Guinanes were shipwrecked in the mouth of the Shannon where they settled. Possible - but I would have big doubts about the 1600s.

Ultimately every family in Ireland came from somewhere but I am not a great believer in the Spainish/French shipwreck in the 1600s. Here are my reasons:

1. Just about every Guinane I have ever met is fair haired and freckled. I'm covered in them. This is not a typical appearance of Spainish/Algerian/French people. It is , however, a typical celtic race trait.

2. The Irish version of our name (O'Cuinneáin) is 'native' Irish. This form of name is very old. Way older than 1600. If a Spainish/French shipwreck happened then the survivors would (if they remained) have retained their own names. Many examples of this come from Viking and Norman times many hyundreds of years before. Consider the Norman invasion of England in 1066 - the invaders brough their surnames with them - they were recorded in the domesday book in 1086. Many similar examples of such names exist in Ireland. In fact, where I live (Galway) is a Norman city.

3. Now - to war and conflict - the 1600s were a pretty busy time with wars and whatnot. The English (who ruled Ireland then with the help of Oliver Cromwell) were at war with both Spain and France at various times and were constantly on the lookout for foreign invaders. It was around this time (1588) that the Spainish Armada met its demise on the West of Ireland. The French and Spainish were not exactly welcomed with open arms by the English who wasted little time in returning them to their maker. In addition - the native Irish had no particular welcome for foreigners either. For example - the Armada ships' survivors that ran aground in Sligo were mostly slaughtered where they came ashore (in the Ireland of 1000 welcomes).

Anyway - things have quietened down since.


Posted: 1245012794000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1245504042000
Surnames: GUINAN,
You asked "What are your names in case I run across these I will pass the information to you.
I appreciate your offer. My name is Bill Owens and I live in Tucson, AZ. My e-mail address is if you want to send anything directly. (I retired from Georgia Tech a few years back, hence the gatech e-mail service.)

Thanks again for your offer.


Posted: 1251223292000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1252372601000
Surnames: Guinane, Curry, Hourihan
It's been awhile since I posted anything on Guinane. I get really burned out trying to find anything pre-1860 on this name but am still going through the records from LDS. When I asked for your names I was referring to your Guinane ancestors; father, grandfather, grt grandfather so I could copy those if I came across anything. The films are very hard to read and some pages are completely illegible....that's probably where my information is! So let me know. The Family History Center where I go (in Horseheads, NY) is closed in August so I will go slogging again in September.

Margaret Guinane Mason


Posted: 1251303377000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1252372682000
Surnames: Guinan, Lynch
Hi Margaret, My GGGrandfather was James Francis Guinan wife Catherine he was born in Ireland. Thay had five children all born in New York, Catherine, Mary Ann Guinan born 1867 husband Edward Lynch, John J. Guinan born 1869, William M. Guinan born 1873, James Francis born 1877. Any info would be great. Thanks, Chris Lynch

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