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Surname Kenna - Meaning and Origin

all surnames with 'K'

Kenna: What does the surname Kenna mean?

The last name Kenna is of Irish origin, derived from the Gaelic name "Mac Cionaoith," which translates to "son of Cionaoith". The name Cionaoith itself is a combination of two words, "cion" meaning affection, and "Aodh" or "Aoith", an old Irish name often associated with the pagan god of fire. So, the surname Kenna may mean "son of the beloved fire god". However, over time, these specific meanings have become less relevant. Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the heads of tribes or some illustrious warrior and are usually prefixed by "Mac" (son of) or "O" (grandson of). The Kenna family held family seats in County Monaghan and were quite influential in the region. Like many Irish families, members of the Kenna clan emigrated in great numbers during the Great Potato Famine in the 19th century, spreading the surname to places like North America and Australia. Today, the name Kenna is found globally, carried by individuals and families with Irish ancestry.

Kenna: Where does the name Kenna come from?

The surname Kenna was first found in County Monaghan, Ireland where it was derived from the Irish Gaelic "Cean" meaning "head," and "éadha," the word for "mischief." Therefore, it could be inferred that Kenna was a nickname for someone who was the "head" of some mischievous activity or possibly a person with a physical abnormality at the head. The family held a family seat in Monaghan from ancient times, serving as chieftains to several Kings of Ulster.

Over the centuries, due to political, economic, and social factors, many members of the Kenna family migrated to other countries. Today, the surname is common in the United States, England, and Australia. However, it still remains prevalent in Ireland, particularly in the region of its origin. The spelling of the name may vary in different regions, for instance, 'MacKenna', 'Kennagh', 'Kenna', and 'Kenne' are all associated with this lineage. Despite the spread, the largest concentration of people with the surname Kenna continues to be in Ireland.

Variations of the surname Kenna

The surname Kenna is of Irish origin and is associated with the Gaelic clan name Mac Fhionghuin. Variants and different spellings for the surname Kenna may include McKenna, MacKenna, Kennagh, Kennaw, and Cenna. Another variant is O'Kenna, derived from the same origin but indicates a different branch of the family. The spelling can change significantly depending on the region and the language influence, adding or dropping the "Mc" or "Mac" prefix for instance. Also, over time, the spelling of names was often changed to make them sound more Anglicised which resulted in a wide variety of different spellings for the same original surname.

Moreover, the surname Kenna might get mispronounced and misspelled as Kena, Kenah, Kennaa, Kannah, Kannahh, Keinna, and so on.

It should be noted that there might be other variations that are not yet documented or that have come up in recent times due to migration and the intermixing of different cultures and languages. Adding to this that the surname Kenna seems to be widespread over the globe, this list of variants might not be exhaustive.

Famous people with the name Kenna

  • Michael Kenna: A famous English photographer best known for his black & white landscapes.
  • George Kenna: An English screenwriter and television producer known for his works like "Death at a Funeral".
  • Bill Kenna: A Major League Baseball player from the late 19th century.
  • Sammie Kenna: An retired Australian equestrian rider who represented her country in a number of international competitions.
  • Stephen Kenna: Currently serving as the British Ambassador to Lebanon.
  • John Kenna: An 19th century American sculptor whose work is displayed in the U.S. Capitol.
  • Seraphim Kenna: An Ethiopian diplomat who served as ambassador to several countries.
  • Kenna (musician): An Ethiopian-American musician, philanthropist, and technology creative who has released several albums.
  • Paul Kenna: A British officer and Victoria Cross recipient.
  • Frank Kenna: A US representative from the state of Connecticut during the late 19th and early 20th century.
  • Jim Kenna: A retired U.S. Bureau of Land Management state director.
  • Geoff Kenna: An Australian footballer who played during the 1950s.
  • Janet Kenna: An author known for her book "Seaflower".
  • Charles Kenna: A United States Army soldier and recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions in World War II.
  • Brenda Kenna: Renowned nurse and former President of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

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