The barony of Tirkennedy in Co. Fermanagh
October 11th, 2009
Copyright © 2009 Iain Kennedy
Kennedy place-names are easily found in their stronghold areas in Munster and Galloway. They are also found sporadically elsewhere, sometimes without obvious explanation. One such example is Pitkennedy in Angus/Forfarshire, which some locals maintain is derived from the personal name Kenneth. Another intriguing example is the barony of Tirkennedy in Co. Fermanagh. This county is in the 'quiet gap' far removed from both the original homeland of the Irish Kennedys and some distance from the areas of coastal Ulster settled by the Scottish group, as is shown by my distribution maps from the 1850s and 1911. So why commemorate a Kennedy? One answer is provided by Dr. Kay Muhr, Senior researcher on the Ulster place-names project at Queens University Belfast. Writing in her chapter in the Fermanagh volume of the excellent Geography Publications county history series, she states:
"Tirkennedy in mid east Fermanagh once again commemorates the name of a chieftain, but this time one who seems to be genuinely early, and linked with Airghialla. Fergus Cennfhota 'long-head' of Ui Chrimhthain in the late fifth century had descendants known as Ui Chennfhota and the kingdom of Tir Cennfhota 'land of Cennfhota' was first mentioned in the Annals in 1349. The obselete townland of GortKennedy 'Ceannfhoda's field' shown beside Lough Eyds in 1609 may also be connected [refs: KM1, KM2]".
The Place-names of Co. Fermanagh, Dr. Kay Muhr in : Fermanagh History and Society (Geography Publications, Dublin, 2004)
KM1: Barony Maps of the escheated counties in Ireland AD 1609 (Southampton, 1861)
KM2: Barony names of Fermanagh and Monaghan, N. O Muraile in : Clogher Record xi no 3 (1982-4)