The Kiernan or McTiernan Family

Kiernan or McTiernan family crest

(Crest No. 85. Plate 51.)

THIS family, whose name is variously spelled Kiernan, Kernan, Kernahan, Kernighan, Kernaghan, and Karnahan, is descended from Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of his son Heremon, first King of all Ireland. The founder of the family was Brian, son of Eocha Moy Veagon, King of Ireland, A. D. 350.

The ancient name was Tighearnain, which signifies “A Lord.” The possessions of this sept were located in the present Counties of Sligo, Monaghan, and Cavan.

The McKiernans were Chiefs of Tellach Dunchada, signifying the “tribe or territory of Donogh,” so called from one of their chiefs, a name which has been made Tullaghonoho, now the barony of Tullyhunco, in the County of Cavan.

The seat of the McKiernan family was Cruachan-mhic-Tighearnain, that is, “McKiernan’s Round Hill.” It is now called Croaghan; it lies about six furlongs to the northeast of the town of Killyshandra, in the above-mentioned barony and county. According to the tradition among the McKiernans, who are numerous in the barony, the head of the McKiernans had his residence at Croaghan until about the year 1641, when the chief of the family and several of his brothers were taken and hanged by the English. This was also the place where O’Rourke was inaugurated Prince of Breifny.

The McKiernans are still very numerous in the Counties of Cavan and Leitrim, and several of their chiefs are mentioned in the “Annals of the Four Masters.” There are many of the name in America and other countries. The late United States Senator Francis Kernan was a scion of this ancient Ulster family. Another well-known member of this family was the late John J. Kiernan, the founder of the Wall Street News Bureau, and who was one of the prominent characters of the street for many years and highly esteemed for his business enterprise and integrity of character.

This name has been Anglicized to Masterson from the original name, which signifies, as stated, “lord” or “master.”