Nearly everyone in the U.S. and beyond loves to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I can tell you that the day is not just about green beer, corned beef and shamrocks, although these symbols are gleefully recognized in the celebration of Irish culture.
For my St. Patrick’s Day post I thought I would introduce my Celtic ancestry. McCune is my mother’s maiden name.
The McCune family is said to be descended from the ancient Irish King Heremon, who invaded Ireland (from Scotland) around the time Alexander the Great was conquering parts of Asia. By the 11th century, the population of Ireland had grown and surnames were required. The original Gaelic form of McCune was MacEoin, or son of Owen.
Over the centuries, as names became more standardized and recorded more accurately, the name morphed into MacKeon. A branch of this Sept settled in county Galway where they owned land in the 16th century. The name eventually became Anglicized into Owen. The surname MacKeon was often rendered MacKown, long associated with people living on Northern Ireland, the descendants of Scottish settlers.
Irish families left Ireland in astonishing numbers during the 18th and 19th centuries in search of a better life, emigrating to Australia and North America. Family names morphed again, with the surname being Keown or Keon. Families with these names showed on passenger lists and arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between 1840 and 1855. Once in the states the surnames further blended into McCune, McCuen, and McEwen.
My grandmother’s family names on my father’s side were Mauldin and Shirey. Despite the Scottish influence from the McCune’s side, combining the two families firmly planted me into Scotch-Irish lineage.
Perhaps your family has some hidden Celtic names in your family tree. Or maybe you are just “Irish” at heart.
Other than an Americanized version of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, the closest I can get to celebrating my Scotch-Irish Celtic roots are at Renaissance Faires. I love to dress up in garb and can even get my hubby to don pirate’s garb.
I mean what man doesn’t want to attend a faire where he can wear a sword, hoist mugs of ale, and gaze at corseted busts? HUZZAH!!
Take a peek here for a glimpse of the history of St. Patrick!
And may the luck o’ the Irish be with ye!