The Clan/Sept History
Today's Irish surnames are underpinned by a multitude of rich histories. The
name O Tierney originally appeared in Gaelic as O Tighearnaigh, which is derived
from tighearna, which means lord.
Many spelling variations of the surname O Tierney can be found in the archives.
One reason for these variations is that ancient scribes and church officials
recorded names as they were pronounced, often resulting in a single person being
recorded under several different spellings. The different spellings that were
found include Tierney, O'Tierney, Tyernie, Tiernay, O'Tierny and others.
First found in county Mayo, where their Chiefs were the Lords of Carra.
Ireland became inhospitable for many native Irish Families in the 19th
centuries. Poverty, lack of opportunities, high rents, and discrimination forced
thousands to leave the island for North America. The largest exodus of Irish
settlers occurred with the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. For these
immigrants the journey to British North America and the United States was long
and dangerous and many did not live to see the shores of those new lands. Those
who did make it were essential to the development of what would become two of
the wealthiest and most powerful nations of the world. These Irish immigrants
were not only important for peopling the new settlements and cities, they also
provided the manpower needed for the many industrial and agricultural projects
so essential to these growing nations. Immigration and passenger lists have
documented the arrival of various people bearing the name O Tierney to North
America: John Tiernay arrived in San Francisco in 1851; Bernard Tierney settled
in Philadelphia in 1852 and 1880; James Tierney settled in Philadelphia in 1855.
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