Aherne – Lords of the horses

History of the Irish name Aherne. Image copyright Ireland Calling

The Irish surname Aherne originated in the province of Munster. The Ahernes were a noble family in mediaeval Ireland. The name is derived from the ancient Gaelic name O’hEachthighearna.

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The ‘O’ prefix to the original name means ‘grandson of’ or ‘descendent of’. The word hEachthighearna is made up of two parts. Firstly ‘each’ which meant ‘horse’ and then ‘tighearna’ which meant ‘lord’ or ‘master’. So the Ahernes are descended from Irish ‘Lords of the horses’.

There are several variations to the name including Ahern, Ahearn, Ahearne, Aheron, Hearne and Hearn. While the names Hearne and Hearn could be derived from the Irish Ahearne, they are also the names of English families with completely different origins.

The Ahernes descended from one of Ireland’s great kings, Brian Boru. This means they are relatives of the O’Briens, one of the most noble families of medieval Ireland.

The Aherne family motto is ‘Per ardua surgo’ which means ‘I Rise Through Difficulties’.

Kingdom of Thomond

They were originally a Dalcasian sept (family). This meant they were one of several important families within the Kingdom of Thomond, which was the area of north Munster that takes in Counties Limerick and Clare and parts of Co Kerry and Tipperary.

The Ahernes ruled territory in Sixmilebridge, Co Clare. Over the years many family members migrated far and wide across Munster and they are well-represented in the cities of Cork and Waterford to this day. In Waterford, it was common for people to drop the ‘A’ from the name to become Hearne or Hearn.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, many Irish lords fled to France after their land and property were confiscated by the invading English Protestants. Many Ahearnes started a new life in France and had success in the churches, colleges and courts.

Political Ahernes

John Aherne lived in the late 18th century. He was a United Irishman and a friend of Irish revolutionary Wolfe Tone. Aherne fled to France to join Napoleon’s army after Tone was captured by the British.
Bertie Ahern was Taoiseach of Ireland. He was in office for nearly 11 years from June 1997- May 2008 making him Ireland’s second longest-serving Taoiseach after Éamon de Valera. Bertie’s brothers were also politicians. Noel Ahern was a Teachta Dála (equivalent to Member of Parliament/Congress) from 1992-2011 and Maurice Ahern was Mayor of Dublin from 2000-01.

Bertie Ahern copyright ProhibitOnions cc3
Bertie Ahern

Dermot Ahern is another high profile Irish politician. He was a Teachta Dála from 1987-2011. His offices included Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Justice and Law Reform.

Famous Ahernes

Caroline Aherne (1963 – 2016) was an English actress and comedian. She co-created and starred in the ground-breaking TV series ‘The Royle Family’ and was also famous for playing quick witted old lady Mrs Merton.

Cecelia Ahern is an Irish writer and TV producer, her father is Bertie Ahern. Cecelia’s best known works include P.S. I Love You (which was a novel, later adapted into a movie starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler.), A Place Called Here, Where Rainbows End and the ABC comedy Samantha Who which stars Christina Applegate.

Brian Ahern is a Canadian music producer. He has produced records for world famous stars such as Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Don Williams.

Barry Hearn is an English businessman and sports promoter. He has helped to revitalise sports such as snooker and darts. He was also one of Europe’s top boxing promoters of the 1990s working with the likes of Frank Bruno, Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn and Lennox Lewis.

Barry’s son Eddie Hearn is also a boxing promoter and was the driving force behind Britain’s biggest post-war boxing match when Carl Froch and George Groves fought in front of 80,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium, London.

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