Rooney Surname Genealogy

Rooney is an Irish Ulster name from more than one Gaelic root.
The main root O’Ruanaidh,
meaning “the descendant of the champion”, is to be found in county
Down, as is the alternate O’Runaidhin.
This Rooney name later spread into north Leitrim and Donegal.
Then there were the Rooneys of county Fermanagh, from the Gaelic O’Maolruanaigh which was anglicized
to Mulrooney and Macarooney and later to Rooney. The village of
Roslea in Fermanagh was named by the English from slat-mul-rony or territory of the

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Rooney Ancestry

Ireland. The O’Rooneys were a county Down sept based in
the modern parish of Ballyroney. Their
name appeared frequently in the ecclesiastical annals of Dromore.
However, these Rooneys are chiefly remembered as poets – starting
with Ceallach O’Rooney, recorded as the chief poet of Ireland in 1079,
and going through Eoin O’Rooney in the 14th century to William Rooney
in the late 19th century.

There are still many Rooneys today in
county Down, including the young Rooney Family which performs
traditional Irish music around the country.

There was another pocket of Rooneys at Roslea
in Fermanagh near the Monaghan border, in Clones parish. Hugh Rooney was
apprenticed as a cooper there at the time of the 1798 uprising. His descendant Hugh, born in 1880 and known
as Master Hugh, wrote his memoirs of
the area in 1970.

By that time, because
of emigration, the Rooney numbers there were much fewer than they had
been in the past. At the time of the famine, one
Rooney family had
departed Roslea for Prince Edward Island in Canada in 1847. Many more crossed the Atlantic in the late
1800’s and early 1900’s.

England. The 19th century
saw a major Irish migration across the Irish Sea to England where there
was work in the new industrial cities. Lancashire took the
greatest share of Rooneys. Patrick and Julia Rooney, for
instance, came to Liverpool with their children in 1835. These
Rooneys generally encountered harsh working conditions and anti-Catholic
, but built their families.

Wayne Rooney the
footballer, whose grandfather was born in Bootle, is the most
well-known Rooney in England today.

. There were early sightings
of Rooneys in America in Virginia. A
Rooney was said to have been among those massacred by Indians at Fort
in 1758. Another Rooney, Alexander, died
in an Indian raid in 1781 near his home at Leading Creek in Randolph

Rooney distribution in America today reflects the later Irish
immigration into New
York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Although their numbers are
less than those in England, their success rate has perhaps been
higher. Art
and Dan Rooney
who have run the Steeler football franchise are
Pittsburgh’s best-known citizens; while Frank Rooney
who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania made a lot of money
through the various businesses that he developed.

Patrick Rooney had
initially intended to come to New York from Ireland in 1835. However, after a treacherous voyage, he ended up in Quebec. He and his brother Michael initially made
their home in the Gatineau valley. Many
of the Rooney families there then migrated south to Minnesota in the

Select Rooney Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Rooney

was recorded as the chief poet of Ireland in 1079.
William Rooney was a noted Irish poet involved in
the revival of the Gaelic language in the late 19th century.

Art Rooney,
the son of Irish immigrants, founded the Pittsburgh
Steelers football franchise in the 1930’s. In his 41st season as
owner, the club won the Super Bowl.

Mickey Rooney, born Joseph Yule in Brooklyn in 1920, has been an
movie actor and entertainer since the 1940’s.

Andy Rooney
is a writer and humorist on American TV.
Wayne Rooney from Liverpool plays football for Manchester United and
the England national team.

Select Rooneys Today

  • 12,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 6,000 in America (most numerous
    in New York).
  • 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)




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