Everything you need to know about the Irish surname Kennedy - its meaning, origins, interesting facts, and famous people with the last name Kennedy.

Irish derivation:


Name meaning:

Helmet head

Counties associated with the name:

Clare, Limerick, Tipperary

Coat of arms motto:

"Adhaero Virtuti" Cling to virtue

Interesting facts:

 - The Irish clan Kennedy takes its name from Kennedy, the nephew of High-King Brian Boru (1002-1014).

 - The name Kennedy was also that of the father of Brian MacKennedy Boru. This Kennedy was the King of Thomond (north Munster Province) and was killed by the Norsemen of Limerick in 951 A.D.

Kennedy name history:

One is that the name is an Anglicisation of Ó Cinnéide, meaning "grandson of Cinnédidh" or "grandson of Cinnéidigh", with both of these personal names meaning "helmet headed."

Ceanéidigh could be related to the old Gaelic name Cennétig, which is known from Cennétig mac Lorcáin, the father of the Irish high king Brian mac Cennétig, who himself was also known as Brian Bóruma or Brian Boru.

There are also an Irish Kennedy family and a Scottish Kennedy clan of Carrick in Ayrshire, which are unrelated to one another. Another possibility is that Kennedy is an Anglicisation of the Gaelic Ó Ceannéidigh meaning "grandson of Ceannéidigh".

Ceannéidigh is a given name derived from the Gaelic words ceann, meaning "head", and éidigh, meaning "ugly" or "fierce". In some etymologies, the element ceann is given as "chief" or "leader".

Some famous Kennedys:

 - John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917 – 1963, 35th President of the United States)

 - Robert Francis Kennedy (1925 – 1968, senator of New York)

 - Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy (1932 – 2009, Senior US Senator from Massachusetts)

 - Caroline Bouvier Kennedy (1957-, American author, attorney, and diplomat)

 - Claudia Jean Kennedy (1947-, is a retired lieutenant general in U.S. Army and the first female to reach the rank of  three-star general in the U.S. Army)

 - Sheila Kennedy (1962-, American Model and actress)

 - George Kennedy (1925-, American Actor)

 - Lucy Napaljarri Kennedy (c. 1926-, a Walpiri and Anmatyerre-speaking Indigenous artist from Australia) 

Check out this short film on the Irish surname, Kennedy:

* Originally published in 2014. Updated in 2022.