The Kennedy Family

Kennedy family crest

(Crest No. 155. Plate 38.)

THE Kennedy family derives its origin from Milesius, King of Spain, through Heber, third son of that monarch, and oldest of those who conquered the Tuatha de Dananns and colonized Ireland. The Kennedys were of the Dalcassian tribe, founded by Cas, son of Olliol Ollum, first absolute King of Munster, A. D. 177.

The founder of the Kennedy family was Kennedy, King of Thomond, or North Munster, who reigned in the middle of the tenth century. The name was taken from Cinneidigh, son of Donchuan, brother of Brian Boru.

The ancient name was Ceanadh, or Ceannfhada, which signifies “Favoring,” and the titles of the chiefs were Lord of Ormond and Chief of Thire. They possessed lands in Kerry, Clare and Tipperary.

The original country of the Kennedys was Glen Omra, embracing the present parish of Killokennedy, in the County of Clare; but during the civil wars of Thomond they were partly pushed out, although, says Dr. O’Donovan, writing in 1860, “some of the race remained behind, and their descendants are still extant in Glen Omra and its vicinity.”

The O’Kennedys, after crossing the Shannon, settled in Tipperary, where they possessed the barony of Upper Ormond, which was then much more extensive than it was in more modern times. The sept subsequently subdivided into three branches, namely, the O’Kennedy Finn, or Fair; the O’Kennedy Don, or Brown, and the O’Kcnnedy Ruadh, or Red. The chiefs of the O’Kennedys retained their titles as Princes or Lords of Ormond, and held their broad possessions down to the reign of Elizabeth.

The O’Kennedys took a prominent part in the war of the Revolution of 1688, many of them being officers in the horse, foot and dragoon regiments of James the Second. Many of the O’Kennedys were proscribed accordingly by the Williamites, and deprived of their estates. In the Irish Brigade in France the O’Kennedys were also well represented. They contributed officers to the Regiments of O’Brien, Clare, Lee, Bulkeley, Dillon, Berwick and others, and we read their names among those who were honored for their services with the Order of Chevalier of St. Louis. One of them, Captain Kennedy, of Clare’s Regiment, was killed at Fontenoy, and another Captain Kennedy was slain at the battle of Lauffielt, and two officers of that name wounded in that engagement.

Patrick Kennedy, a native of Wexford, where he was born in 1801, was the author of several works of merit on Irish subjects. His “Legends of the Irish Celts,” “Tales of the Duffrey,” and other productions are among the most graphic delineations of Irish life. He was for many years an earnest worker in the cause of temperance. Many of the descendants of this ancient Milesian sept are in the United States occupying eminent and honorable positions in life, among whom may be mentioned Mr. P. J. Kenedy, the well-known New York publisher.