Kennedy – helmet headed

History of the Irish name Kennedy. Image copyright Ireland Calling

The name Cinneide comes from two Gaelic words; Cinn which means ‘head’ and ‘Eide’ which means ‘helmeted’.

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The original Cinneide was the nephew of Brian Boru, who was the High King of Ireland in the early 11th century. The O’Brien clan are also descended from Boru which makes them distant relatives of the Kennedys.

Kennedy is the 16th most popular name in Ireland and has become a common name all over the world. Today people with the surname enjoy success in many different fields.

12th Century Lord

In the 11th century, Cinneide’s descendants took the surname O’Cinneide which means ‘Male descendent of Cinneide’. In 1159, O Cinneaide was noted as ‘Lord of Tipperary’ in the ‘Annals of the Four Masters’.

The name also became popular in Scotland although it evolved over the years. The earliest record of a version of the name in Scotland was of Gilbert Mac Kenedi whose name was recorded after witnessing a charter around 1165-70.

The Scottish Kennedys are not believed to be related to the Irish Gaels. They ruled areas of Aberdeenshire for generations.

Video of the story of the Kennedy name

President John F. Kennedy

Kennedys have always been powerful figures. One of the United States’ most celebrated presidents was John F Kennedy. Kennedy was hugely popular having served in the Second World War. He made much positive progress in civil liberties and civil rights policies.

He was also played a big role in the USA’s space race with Russia in the early 1960s.

In a speech at Rice University, he said: “No nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space. … We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

US President John F. Kennedy

Cuban Missile Crisis

President Kennedy is also remembered as the man who faced down the Russians during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. The cool manner in which Kennedy handled the crisis, forcing the Russians to turn back their ships carrying nuclear missiles to be based on Cuba, averted what many feared could be the beginning of a major war.

Kennedy’s presidency was tragically ended when he was assassinated in November 1963. There are many other high ranking military personnel and politicians in JFK’s family.

Famous Kennedys from around the world

There are several Kennedys in the world of art and literature. Scottish writer and comedian A.L. Kennedy is known for dark fantasy novels.

American Adam Kennedy wrote several screenplays and was also an acclaimed painter. Margarate Kennedy was an English novelist and playwright who is most renowned for her novel The Constant Nymph which she also adapted into a West End play.

William J. Kennedy is an American novelist who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1984 for Ironweed. Many of his novels were about a fictional Irish American family called the Phelans.

Edgar Kennedy was an American comedy actor who appeared in dozens of movies before his untimely death in 1948 aged just 58.

Sporting Kennedys

Countless Kennedys have made their name in the sporting arena. Terry Kennedy was a Major League Baseball catcher. Ian Kennedy is a former New York Yankees Baseball player.

Nick Kennedy was an English international rugby player. Nery Kennedy is a Paraguayan Javelin thrower who has twice won a gold medal for his country at the South American Games.

There are countless other Kennedys in the world of sport, music, entertainment and politics.

Video histories of popular Irish names

Irish names and their meanings

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