Recorded in a complex number of spellings including O'Tierney, MacTiernan, MacKiernan, McKernon, Kiernan, Kernon, and many others, this is a famous Irish surname. However spelt it is derived from the pre 10th century Gaelic "Tighearnaigh", translating as "lord or master", a meaning which no doubt contributed to its considerable popularity. Traditionally Gaelic family surnames are taken from the heads of tribes, or from some illustrious warrior, and this is no exception. The surname is especially widespread (as O'Tierney or Tiernan) in Counties Mayo and Galway, and as (Mac)Tiernan, (Mac)Kiernan, (Mac)Kernon in County Cavan. The ancient records of Ireland known as the Annals of the Four Masters recorded that the original name holders in the 10th century were the lords of Teallach, in County Cavan...
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