Kane Surname Genealogy
are both anglicizations of Cathain, a
personal name diminutive of cath
meaning “battle.” There
were two main septs in Ireland called O’Cathain or
O’Cahan, one from Ulster and the other from Connacht.
present day distribution of these names reflects this former division,
preponderant in Northern Ireland and Keane in
the rest of Ireland.The spelling generally progressed from O’Cahan to O’Kane to Kane.
There has recently been a revival in O’Kane in the heartland
Derry. In America Kane may be a Jewish name, from the German Kahn
Kane Resources on
- O’Cathain Septs Kane/Keane.
- John O’Kane
Elder O’Kane, an early Baptist minister in Indiana and Missouri.
of Keenaght and Coleraine in county Derry were a powerful and important
Ulster sept, although probably not of much account before the 12th
century when, emerging from east Donegal, they succeeded in ousting the
O’Connors of Dungiven
from their territory.
at Limavady by the Roe river, they retained their ascendancy in Derry,
despite internal feuding, until the coming of the Ulster Plantations in
the early 17th century. At that time a large tract of land,
known as O’Cahan’s country, was targetted by the Government for English
The last chief of the O’Cahans was Donnell Ballagh. He
joined up with the O’Neills in the rebellion against the English.
the Flight of the Earls in 1607 he was arrested and imprisoned in
Dublin Castle and then in the Tower of London where he died. O’Cahan’s
Lament, thought to have been written about this time, is
believed to have been the basis of the song Danny Boy. The final
conflict between the O’Cahans and the English occurred at Gelvin near
in 1641. The O’Cahans were defeated.
remained in Ulster after the defeat (those who
headed south often became Keanes).
Griffith’s Valuation in the mid-19th century showed that 40
the Kanes in Ulster were still based
Derry. The Kane
name is particularly
common in the Coleraine district of Derry.
Folk singer Damien O’Kane hails from Coleraine, the boxer Eamonn
and Martha O’Kane brought their family over to America from Ireland in
1756. As Kanes they settled in
Philadelphia where they became an influential family.
Thomas Kane was a Union general during the
Civil War, his brother Elisha a naval officer and Arctic explorer. The family home Anoatok,
named from one of Elisha’s Arctic expeditions, was located
in Kane, Pennsylvania. Many of Thomas’s
sons were noted surgeons.
about the family was auctioned off in
Many Kanes stayed on the Eastern Seaboard, others headed
west. Among the latter Kanes were:
and Suzanna O’Kane from Tyrone who in the 1820’s were one of the early
Franklin county, Indiana
- Patrick and Bridget Kane from Roscommon who came out to
Dubuque, Iowa in the 1860’s
- Hugh O’Kane who
arrived in New York from county Antrim in the late
1860’s, headed west and, after an adventurous time, settled down in
- and James Kane from Mayo who came
with his family to San Francisco in 1901. He
survived the earthquake and was a policeman.
Canada. Paul Kane, born in
Cork of English parents, came to Toronto as a boy in the early
1820’s. He became famous for his paintings of First Nations
people in the Canadian West. His home in Toronto still stands.
Alice Kane, who arrived with her parents in 1921 when she was thirteen,
also made her home in Toronto. She is remembered as a wondrous
story-teller (as evidenced in her
Songs of an Ulster Childhood). The Alice Kane Award
commemorates this story-telling.
Kane arrivals in Australia were convicts. Later
came Kane settlers. Stephen Kane from county Clare came to
NSW with his wife Elizabeth in 1841. His brother Michael
in 1855. Thadeus O’Kane arrived from London in 1865. He was
one of the most colorful and hard-hitting figures in early Queensland
journalism, losing count of the number of libel actions he had to face.
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
Maige na nGall O’Cathain,
a mighty O’Cathan
chieftain, died in 1385 and is said to be buried in Dungiven Priory. Cui
Maige na nGall means “terror of the foreigner.”
was one of the famous
Irish harpists of the 18th century.
Thomas Kane was an American attorney,
diplomat, abolitionist, and Civil War general.
Paul Kane was a 19th century
painter of native people in the Canadian West.
directed by Orson Welles, is considered by many to be one of the
Select Kanes Today
- 17,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 19,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
- 15,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)
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