Origin of the Name Sweeney
The ancient history of the name Sweeney
was found in the allfamilycrests.com archives. Meaning 'little hero', variants of the name Sweeney include MacSweeney, McWeeney and McSwiney. The MacSweeneys ancestor was Suibhne O'Neil who was a Chieftain in Argyle. They formed three great Irish Septs in Donegal in the fourteenth century.
A sept or clan is a collective term describing a group of persons whose immediate ancestors bore a common surname and inhabited the same territory. Irish septs and clans that are related often belong to even larger groups, sometimes called tribes.
The Septs were MacSweeney Fanad, MacSweeney Banagh and MacSweeney of the Battle Axes. These Septs spread to Munster around the year 1500, possessing much territory and castles in Muskerry. Terrance MacSwiney, 1879-1920, was Lord Mayor of Cork and died in prison after a seventy day hunger strike in the struggle for Irish independence. In modern times the surname is more often found in Counties Cork and Kerry than in Donegal.
The Sweeney coat of arms came into existence centuries ago. The process of creating coats of arms (also often called family crests) began in the eleventh century although a form of Proto-Heraldry may have existed in some countries prior to this. The new art of Heraldry made it possible for families and even individual family members to have their very own coat of arms, including all Sweeney descendants.