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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: March ::
Lear: Macready or Kean?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0581  Tuesday, 29 March 2005

From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Friday, 25 Mar 2005 20:45:14 -0000
Subject: 16.0564 Lear: Macready or Kean?
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0564 Lear: Macready or Kean?

Tony Burton writes ...

 >I'm not wildly committed to discovery and study of Jewish "greats" in
 >this and that occupation, but William Sutton's correspondent, who seems
 >to believe (and I take him at his word for lack of any insight into the
 >matter) that an Irish ear would take the names "Moses," "Eamon," and
 >"Edmund" as all likely to have a Jewish association, certainly comes up
 >lame in suggesting that Kean might have been pronounced like Abel's
 >homicidal brother "Cain" and, as such, a further indication of possible
 >Jewish origins.

According to the Collins Gem book of Irish First Names, Eamon or Eamonn
is the Irish form of the English Edmund, meaning 'rich protection'.
Kean, from the Irish Cian, means 'ancient'.  It was the name of Brian
Boru's son-in-law, who led the troops from Desmond against the Vikings
in the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, where both he and his father-in-law
were killed. There are several variants of the name, including Kian,
Keane and Cain, "an unfortunate form because of its association with one
of the arch-villains of the Bible".

According to MacLysaght (the authority on Irish surnames), the modern
name Keane has two derivations.  (Mac) Keane or Mac Cahan is from Mac
Cathain of west Clare, while (O) Keane is either a variant of the Ulster
O'Cahan or is from O Cein of Munster, which embodies the first name Cian
(see above).

Peadar O'Droichid
(Peter Bridgman)

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