Heffernan Family History
The family history of the ancient name Heffernan
was found in the irishsurnames.com archives. The names Heffernan and Hefernan are derived from the Gaelic O'hIfearnain sept that was originally located in County Clare.
A sept or clan is a collective term describing a group of persons whose immediate ancestors bore a common surname and inhabited the same territory. It is also the case that many Irish septs or clans that are related often belong to a larger groups, sometimes called tribes. For example the 'Tribes of Galway' consisted of fourteen distinct families. The 'Tribes of Kilkenny' were ten families, etc.
Originally this Irish sept inhabited the territory of Corofin in County Clare but later became established in County Limerick where they were Chiefs of Owneybeg. They were later displaced by the Ryans. The ancient manuscripts 'The Book of Rights' describes the O'Heffernans as one of the 'Four Tribes of Owney'. Two distinguished members of the sept were Aeneas O'Heffernan who was Bishop of Emly, 1543-1553, and William Dall O'Heffernan, who was a Gaelic poet, 1715-1802. Hiffernan is another variant spelling of the name, carried by the noteworthy Dr. Paul Hiffernan, 1719. The Heffernan
family crest (or coat of arms) came into existence many centuries ago. The process of creating these coats of arms began as early as the eleventh century although a form of Proto-Heraldry may have existed in some countries prior to this, including Ireland. The new more formalized art of Heraldry made it possible for families and even individual family members to have their very own family crest, coat of arms, including Heffernan