Origin of the Heffernan Clan Name


Traditionally, family names were taken from the head of tribes and are usually prefixed with an O which indicates a male descendant of. The name is derived from the Gaelic name Ó Heifearnain, which possibly comes from meaning 'demon' or Ifearnan! 

There is some confusion as to the meaning of this name but some believe it to be mean Horse-Lord, or 'eachearnan', where 'eich' was 'horse' and 'Thigearnán' meant lord' and that the name Aherne, who are from the same area is the anglicised variation of this name.

Heffernan Clan Crest

The original territory of the O’Heffernan sept was Corofin in County Clare, and also in Counties Limerick and Tipperary. Heffernan’s are still primarily found in these areas today.

The “Book of Rights” which is an old manuscript describes the O’Heffernans as one of the “four tribes of Owney”, the other three tribes being MacKeogh, Lynch and O’Calahan.

The first record of the name in Ireland is that of Aeneas O’Heffernan, dated 554 as Bishop of Emly in County Tipperary. The MacEacherns were a sept of the MacDonnells.

Alternatives include Heffernam, O’Heffernan, O’Hefferan, Heffron,Hefferney, Heffernon, Hefferon).

The crest is very unusual and includes a blue lion on a yellow background where the lion of course the symbol of fierce courage was thought to represent a great warrior or chieftain. The layout is known as the Fess where the central band represents a military belt for honour. The 3 crescents could signify one who has been honoured by a sovereign.

The variety of colours is interesting not only as they represent a combination of hope, generosity and military strength. Further exploration of the name will no doubt explain this concentration of elements, which are no doubt merited!