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Keaveney is an Irish clan name, associated with Clann Ceallaigh of Uí Maine (Ui Maine) - "O'Kelly". Variants of the name include Keaveney, O'Guiney, Kevan, Keveney, Keaveny, Kevany, Keavney, Kiveney, Caveney, Geaveny, Geany, Kaney, Kenney, Kenny, Guiney.

Etymology and background[edit]

This name in Irish is O Geibheannaigh and the latter variants are the anglicized forms of this. This sept came from County Galway. A sept or clan was a collective term describing a group of persons whose immediate ancestors bore a common surname and inhabited the same territory. This was a sept of the Ui Maine (Hymany) descended from Geibhennach, son of Aedh, Chief of Hymany. Geibhennach was slain in battle in 971 at Keshcorran, Co. Sligo.[1] The Hymany chieftains ruled much of East Galway and South Roscommon. The Irish-language meaning of Géibheannach is "hostage" or "captive" probably indicating that Aedh's son had been taken hostage by enemies at an earlier stage. The multiplicity of Keaveney surname variations is explained by regional Gaelic dialects and the pronunciation or not of the "v" sounding "ibh" in O Geibheannaigh giving O Geannaigh which in turn sounds like Ganey or Kaney.


Keaveney has often been linked with the Kavanaughs of Leinster but this is erroneous. Kavanaghs from the south-east of Ireland were resettled in County Galway at the time of Oliver Cromwell but not in traditional Hymany territory. Coveny has also been erroneously equated with Keaveney this being the name of an Ossory family formerly chiefs of a small sept in the Barony of Crannagh, County Kilkenny.

Notable people[edit]

Poet Patrick Kavanagh's paternal grandfather Patrick was a Kevany from Easkey, Co. Sligo.[2][3]

Colm Keaveney TD represents the Galway East constitiuency in The Dail, The Irish Parliament.[4]

DNA research indicates that Keaveney males are generally found to be of Haplogroup I, SNP L161, and therefore descendants of some of the earliest British Isles inhabitants. There is a particularly strong presence or related surnames to be found in Roscommon and East Galway, some being: Cox, Ganley, Hanley, Feeney, Flynn, Mitchell, Mulvihill and Shanley/McShanly.[5]