Is the name McKenna Irish or Scottish

McKenna (clan)

McKenna is the name of an Irish clan.


The IrishMcKenna clan has always been based in the south of Ulster, as new research shows. He had founded a Hillfort (a hill fort) near LisCionna or Liskenna, near Emyvale in County Monaghan. Emyvale is on the N2 and the River Mountain Water in County Monaghan, Ireland. In 1959, a more than 3000 years old Bronze Age grave was discovered here as the oldest evidence of the presence of humans in the region.


Originally it was assumed that the McKenna came into the country late, when mercenaries of the (fingin) Ui Meith, who had been occupied since 672 AD. The oldest known inhabitants of the valley and the east of County Fermanagh, the southwest of County Tyrone and the north of County Monaghan were the members of the Ui Meith clan, hence the name Emyvale. The descendants of the McKenna clan founder, Cionaoid, gradually overcame the neighboring smaller tribes to rule the small kingdom of Truagh (or Trough) between the McMahons in the south and the O'Neills in the north from the 8th to the 12th centuries. It became known as ‘Triucha Chead a’ Chladaigh ’, (the Barony of the Ringforts). The parishes there have a greater density of ring forts than any other area of ​​this size in Ulster. Records show the existence of the small kingdom until the arrival of the Normans (1169).

Clan seat

The McKenna clan seat was Tully Hill south of the village of Emyvale. The square existed as such until the beginning of the 17th century. Originally there was a fort with three ramparts on the hill, but only parts of it are preserved today. The Crannóg in Tully Lough, which has only survived in remains, is part of the complex. The 12th century high cross that Oliver Cromwell had sunk in the moor and the grave of John McKenna (1689) are in the old Donagh cemetery.


For centuries, the McKennas were involved in the clan clashes in Ulster, which did not end until the beginning of the 17th century. They were often at war or allied with the O'Neills in the north and the McMahons in the south. When different branches of the family vied for rule, they even went to war with one another. They were part of the army of the "Red" Hugh O'Neill in the "Nine Years' War" (1594-1603), also known as the Tyrones Rebellion, in the victorious battles of Clontibret in 1595, Carrickfergus in 1597 and Yellow Ford in 1598. But they also contributed to the defeat at Kinsale in 1601.

After retreating at Kinsale, they were pursued by Lord Mountjoy, who was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. His forces destroyed most of McKenna's fortifications, including Tully Hill near Emyvale, which was never rebuilt. Other fortifications were rebuilt by the McKenna. The clan regained strength and was active again in the Irish uprising of 1641 against Cromwell. As a punishment for his participation in this war, the territory of McKenna was again conquered and devastated by English forces under Hamilton in 1642 and 1643.

Patrick McKenna, who came to power in 1580, fought in all the battles of the Nine Years' War and died in 1612. His grandson Niall McKenna was a leader during the wars of 1641-1652. In 1652 his clan territory was so destroyed that he emigrated to Spain with the Spanish invasion army, where he later died. Niall's successor was his nephew Phelemy McKenna, who lost four of his sons who were murdered by the English. His fifth son, John McKenna, led the Irish troops at the Battle of Drumbanagher, near Glaslough, in which he died in 1688. The Battle of Drumbanagher is sometimes referred to as the opening of the "Shots Williamite Wars", but more often it is called "McKenna's Last Stand". This battle brought the end of the power of this once great clan.


  • Michael C. O'Laughlin: The Book of Irish Families 2002 p. 162 ISBN 0940134098

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