Welcome. Croeso. Fáilte.

Rhymney Valley

The Rhymney Valley, Wales, UK. Home of one Heenan family

Drive north from the Welsh capital city of Cardiff. Keep going through the Rhymney Valley, beyond the town of Caerphilly (home of the second largest castle in the UK). And, just when you think there can be no more road, you’ll arrive at the town of Rhymney.

Today around 5,200 people live in this town. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries this was an area of farms and fields. That all changed in the early 1800s when iron works were built near this settlement. The coal mines followed in the mid 19th century. What was once a quiet agricultural area became a noisy, crowded industrial town. Rich deposits of iron and coal drew people to this remote part of South Wales, promising them the one thing they didn’t have in their own villages and towns — a job.

Among them was Patrick Heenan, a farmer’s son from County Limerick, who arrived with his wife Ellen O’Brien in 1868. They were my great great grandparents.

This blog started as a journal of my attempts to follow their footsteps to Wales. The more I learned about my ancestors, the more questions I had about their surname Heenan.

  • Where did the Heenan surname originate?
  • How many people in the world have the surname Heenan?
  • Where else in the world are there Heenans?

All of these are questions I am attempting to answer through the Heenan surname study.  It’s a journey that is taking me from Ireland, through England and Scotland, to Australia. Eventually I know it will take me to Canada and the United States.

On this site you’ll find the results of my research. If you stumble upon this site andyou  share my interest in the Heenan family, I hope you’ll get in touch.