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February 20, 2002

St. Patrick’s Day is still 3½ weeks away, but reading about Celtic religion on C’s site got me thinking about my own heritage and wondering if I could confirm on the Internet what I had heard long ago about my surname…

Indeed, according to “Quinn” is the 19th most common name in Ireland. Here you see its derivation and meaning:

 Quinn   ó Cuinn   wisdom, chief

The name Quinn in Ireland is derived from the first name ‘Conn’, the Gaelic for which is O’Cuinn. A number of native Gaelic Septs of this named existed, principally in Counties Antrim, Longford and Clare. It is here that the majority of descendants can still be found.
And here is our coat of arms:

The colors:

Vert (green) = Hope, loyalty in love
Or (gold) = Generosity
Black = Constancy, grief

The shield:

Chief Dominion, authority, wisdom, achievement in battle

The heraldic beast:

Horse Readiness for duty

(I don’t know what special significance the Pegasus may have had).

The modern “Quinn” derives from Irish “O’Cuinn”; obviously “O’Quinn” is closer to the original. An O’ (previously ó standing apart) indicated “grandson of” whereas “Mac” meant “son of.” For some reason we can find no record of O’Quinn’s in Ireland today; plenty of Quinns, but O’Quinns only seem to be in the USA and other scattered places around the world.

Another story says that the early O’Quinn’s in America used the spelling of their name with either one or two “n”s to differentiate between Catholic (O’Quinn) and Protestant (O’Quin). The legend of our own line’s beginning recounts and orphan Irish lad and orphan Scotch lass, divided by both nationality and sides of the Christian faith, falling in love in the homeland, then both falling into indentured servitude and being shipped to Virginia separately where eventually they both escape and happen to meet one another again, this time marrying and settling down in a place called Runaway Meadows. There’s a lot more credence to the theory that my great-great-great-great-grandfather was a Native American of the Lumbi tribe who had an illicit liason with one Patience O’Quin. (My family, traditionally Protestant in America, carried the one “n” until around 1900, when someone decided it looked more “rounded” with two, having apparently lost sight or ceasing to care about the religious distinction. My father, who has no love lost for Catholicism, commonly spells his name with the single “n”).

If I were a better historian some of this family history could make for great novel material, I think… hmmmm. If Alex Haley could do it…

11 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2002 9:03 am

    cool. i love reading that kind of stuff; my mom’s heavily into geneaology.
    and 42 is, indeed, the perfect number.


  2. February 20, 2002 11:16 am

    Fascinating read, Jason. Thank you.


  3. February 20, 2002 11:41 am

    And it is the Chinese year of the Horse–so how apropos is that?!


  4. Anonymous permalink
    February 20, 2002 1:58 pm

    I actually have a St Paddy’s day blog all ready just for you not ready to post it yet.. too soon!! That is really fascinating… I know my dads heritage but not much of my moms which is Scottish of all things… I do know that I have a rather kickin surname on the Scottish side… MacGreagor Now is that cool or what?


  5. February 20, 2002 2:29 pm

    My Dad is way into genealogy and I love to make up stories about the people he “unearths.”  We have French Hugenots, English merchants, Scottish whiskey drinking outlaws, Quakers, Baptists, Methodists, and all sorts of interesting characters.  There is a family legend that my ggggrandmother was a sister to Susan B. Anthony – but alas, that turned out just to be a legend.  Probably cause my ggggrandmother totally ruled the roost. 


  6. February 20, 2002 2:53 pm

    Nice colors….almost Mardi Gras…


  7. Anonymous permalink
    February 20, 2002 6:40 pm

    Litboiler’s Roots… no… that doesn’t sound too good.. well it doesn’t sound too bad either… worked of Haley


  8. February 20, 2002 9:44 pm

    My next project is to pick up where my aunt left off when she died…she did such a good job with our family history, I don’t know that there is much left for me to do…other than study it.


  9. Anonymous permalink
    February 20, 2002 10:03 pm

    That’s cool!
    I like knowing about heritage, etc.  I know that my grandmother’s family is totally Irish.  There’s Kissane and Farrell…  And they go back to Co. Cork and Co. Kerry in Ireland…  So my goal is to go there… 
    I unfortunately am not blessed to still have a neato last name.  Very Americanized…  sigh.
    It’s good to know your history though.  Interesting!  :o)


  10. Anonymous permalink
    February 20, 2002 10:30 pm

    yo. cute uniform. hahaha, in ur pic.


  11. February 21, 2002 9:51 pm

    Fascinating post.  Wish I had time to study up on my heritage.


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