The Irish surname Sweeney is an an anglicized form of the Gaelic name Mac Suibhne meaning “son of Suibhne,” a name meaning “sweet, or pleasant.” Suibhene was Lord of Knapdale in Strathclyde circa 1200. Later this family emigrated to Ireland and established three septs in Tirconell (Co. Donegal) as MacSweeney in the 14th Century. The Sweeney’s were notorious mercenary fighters, or gallowglasses that came from Scotland to Ireland. On May 9th 1795, Anne, daughter of James Sweeney, was christened in Downpatrick, Co. Down, and on February 4th 1837, the marriage of Brian Sweeney and Catherine Sullivan took place in Castleisland Roman Catholic Church, Co. Kerry. On June 25th 1847, a famine emigrant, Jeremiah Sweeney, aged 23 yrs., embarked from Cork on the ship "Henry Hobbs" bound for New York. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Murrough MacSweeny, which was dated 1267, in the "Annals of Connaught." The name Sweeney is well established in the United States today with over 52,000 occurrences of the surname in the 2010 US census.
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