Travel Jottings

Celebrating the best bits and bobs to be found while exploring Britain, Ireland and beyond. Much is inspired by real outings, whether they were walking, cycling or photographic in nature, while virtual blundering in the name of planning them has turned up some gems too. Regardless of how they were found, I hope that they keep coming so I can continue to share new things with you.

Hennessy: a Brief Family History

Hennessy Coat of Arms

The Hennessy family name is an Anglicisation of Ó hAongusa (its form in the Irish language) which means descendant of Aonghus or Angus (a native Irish personal name meaning the chosen one). The name is apparently an ancient one. The first hint of this is the Ó prefix which, along with Ua, means "grandson of". Also, there is a character in medieval Irish mythology called Aonghusa who was supposed to be a chief of the Fir Bolg people. These were said to have lived in Ireland prior to the arrival of the Celts. Dún Aengus, a 2500 year old fort on Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands situated off the Galway coast, is associated with him.

There were numerous branches of the Hennessy clan in Ireland prior to the coming of the Normans and the leading one was based in Offaly. With the arrival of the Normans, the surname became scattered across counties Limerick, Cork and Tipperary. These also are the counties where the majority of the name is still found.

Today, the Hennessy name is best known for its association with a world famous brandy, the formula for which was discovered in the eighteenth century by Richard Hennessy. He originated from Ballymacmoy near Mallow in Co. Cork and made his profitable discovery after his retirement from the French army.

Suggested Reading

Pocket Book of Irish Family Names, Ida Grehan, Appletree Press, Belfast, 1985.

The Surnames of Ireland (Fourth Edition), Edward MacLysaght, Irish Academic Press, Dublin, 1985.

More from the Web

Dún Aengus

A page devoted to one of Ireland's most distinctive antiquities.

Hennessy Cognac

The Internet home of the world famous brandy; you need to be of legal drinking age to enter.