The surname Heenan is of Gaelic origin – most likely originating in Ireland.
Even within Ireland the number of individuals with the surname Heenan is relatively small. The Griffith’s Valuation, which itemised owners of property (including land) between 1847 and 1864, shows 132 households where the property owner bears the surname.
The majority of these households are found in County Tipperary (67 households) and County Down (33). There are small pockets scattered across other counties, often just one or two families. (source:www.johngrenham.com)
By the time of the 1901 census the number of households had declined to just 70 across the whole of the island. The majority of these (31) are still in County Tipperary with County Down the second most populous (15 households). The 1911 census saw a further decline to 67 households.
Migration was a significant influence on this decline of the Irish-based surname holders. Where did these people go?
Not surprising the UK mainland, New Zealand, Australia and North America were the chief destinations for those who chose to leave Ireland.
Distribution of Heenan surname in UK
In 1881 there were just 241 individuals in the United Kingdom bearing the surname Heenan, making it the 10843th most common surname. These individuals were clustered in Motherwell (Scotland), Twickenham, Doncaster and Sunderland.
Ten years later and the pattern hadn’t changed significantly – Scotland and the northern counties still accounted for the bulk of the surname holders. The name can generally be found wherever there are heavy industries, ports or industrial zones.
Fast forward to the twenty-first century and the Heenan name has seen some growth. According to the UK Office of National Statistics in September 2002 there were 829 individuals with the surname of Heenan in the UK. It’s still very much a minority name however – with a ranking of 7685. Source: http://www.taliesin-arlein.net/names/search.php
Distribution of Heenan surname in USA
North America proved a magnet for holders of the Heenan name. Compared to the Kennedys, Kerrys, Hennesseys etc, the numbers are still small but there was a distinct jump in passengers heading across the Atlantic in the mid 1850s and lasting until the early 1870s. Most of these immigrants settled in the north eastern states but there were small clusters spread across most of the states by 1920. The majority of these people became farmers and labourers.