The Irish surname Kinney, also found in Scotland is the anglicized form of the Gaelic name "O Cionnaoith", composed of the personal name "Coinneach", an Old Irish personal name borne by a 6th Century monk and saint who gave his name to the town of Kilkenny, "Church of Coinneach". The majority of the people so called belong to Counties Roscommon and Galway in the western province of Connaught. When found in Scotland the name is a variation on the name McKinney and is first recorded there in 1473. In the United States today there are approximately 30,000 bearers of the name Kinney.

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