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Surname Cairnes - Meaning and Origin

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Cairnes: What does the surname Cairnes mean?

The last name Cairnes is of Irish and Scottish origin and derives from the Gaelic name Mac A’ Chairn meaning “son of the cairn” which refers to a mound of stones. The cairns were a form of marking boundaries which clans would use to mark their territories. The name Cairnes can also refer to a geographical feature, specifically a rocky prominence that is found in Scotland and Ireland.

As an Irish and Scottish surname, the Cairnes family has long been associated with the areas of County Donegal, Mayo, Cork, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Derry. These areas are steeped in culture and history, which the Cairnes family have long been integral parts of.

In other parts of Europe, Cairnes is also seen as a derivative of the Greek name Koryn, which is thought to be from an old root word meaning “helmet”.

Tracing the Cairnes family name further back, the origin of the name can be traced to the larger MacCarron clan, which was mostly found in western Scotland in the late 1600s. The Cairnes family then branching out and spreading throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The Cairnes family name carries with it a long and proud history, one of forming bonds of ties between lands, people and cultures. It stands for tradition, unity and loyalty, and continues to shape the identity of those who bear the name and of the lands in which the name is seen.

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Cairnes: Where does the name Cairnes come from?

The surname Cairnes is common today primarily in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and parts of the United States. In Ireland, the name can be found mostly in County Donegal. In the UK, it can mainly be located in Scotland. In the United States, it is concentrated mainly in the American Midwest, where many of those with Irish heritage later settled.

The surname Cairnes is thought to have originated in Scotland and is found throughout the archipelago of Britain and Ireland. It derived from the Old English personal name Carn or Kearn and is derived from the Gaelic name O’Cairn, meaning ‘son of Cairn’. The name itself can be traced back to the Gaelic word ‘cairn’ meaning a heap of stones, in reference to a landmark or boundary.

The name was brought to America in the 1700s by the wave of Irish immigration as people sought a better life. Cairnes thus can be found all throughout the United States. In many parts, it has undergone slight changes in spelling to become Kerns, Kern, Cairns, or Kearns.

The name is still quite common in most parts of the world today. Cairnes are seen everywhere in our society from politics to the entertainment industry. It is one of several surnames common among those with Irish and British heritage.

Variations of the surname Cairnes

The Cairnes surname is of Scottish-Irish origin derived from the MacFearnaigh (meaning "son of Fergnach") and MacFhearndhaigh (meaning "son of farndach") clans. Variants of Cairnes include MacFarnah, MacFarlane, MacFarnell, MacFarlane, MacFerney, MacVerrish, MacVirish, MacVarra, MacVarish, McKernich, Cairniche and Carnsie.

The Cairns spelling is a variation of the Scottish-Irish name McFarnah. This variation began to appear around the 17th century. This spelling of the surname is more common in Scotland and the Scottish diaspora. The Irish spelling Carnsie is a phonetic spelling of Cairns stemming from early records prior to the standardization of the English language.

The spelling of Cairnes has many variations including the Irish-language variants MacFearnaigh, MacFhearndhaigh, MacFarnah and MacFarnell. MacVerrish and MacVirish are variants of MacFarnah found mostly in Scotland. The name MacFarlane is derived from the MacFarnah and is the most common variant of Cairns. Garnsey, McGarnsey, MacGernich, Cairniche and Carnsie are the most common variants found in Ireland.

Overall, the surname Cairns has many variants and spellings. Some of these are derived from phonetic spellings or from the different clans of origin while others are due to the evolution of the English language. The variations of the name Cairns can be seen in its Irish, Scottish and English-language spellings.

Famous people with the name Cairnes

  • Hal Cairnes: British mountain climber and author, known for his works on the history of climbing.
  • Gavin Cairns: Canadian ski racer, competed in the 2006 Winter Olympics.
  • Thomas Cairnes: 19th century British political economist and logician, heavily influenced by John Stuart Mill.
  • Brian Cairnes: British military officer, served in the Royal Air Force during World War II.
  • Gary Cairns: American actor and filmmaker, best known for his role in the 1999 action-thriller Chain Reaction.
  • Bob Cairnes: British actor, best known for his roles in Upstairs, Downstairs and EastEnders.
  • Alan Cairnes: former Director of the National Transportation Safety Board and current Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of the United Kingdom.
  • Joe Cairnes: English professional football player who currently plays for Accrington Stanley.
  • Sam Cairnes: Scottish freestyle skier, competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
  • Ken Cairnes: Australian veterinary surgeon, won the 2010 RSPCA Australia Award for Animal Welfare.

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