Grant Family in Donegal, Ireland

I have been trying to trace the branches of  the Grants from Donegal, so far without success. It would appear that they lived around Buncrana in the 1800's, but it is unclear where they came from before that. The only historical references I have found have dated from around 1840, and I have put on the map above the locations where they were to be found between 1840 and 1900. Today there are still Grants in and around Buncrana. The Irish Phone Book in 2008 had 135 Grant entries and the main concentrations were

Someone emailed me this thought The original name was O´Grainne. In the 1609 Pardon Lists (lists of those who took part in the Cahir O´Doherty Rebellion of 1608) there are 2 Mag Ráine and 7 O´Gráinne, two forms of the same name as the Irish speakers of Inishowen interchanged "O" and "Mac" without any obvious reason. The modern name of this family is erroneously given as "Grant", an Anglo-Norman name with which it has no connection. In all records up until the beginning of the 20th. century it appears as (O) Granny and then about 1900( the 1901 census) some high minded person decided to change the name to "Grant" with the result that people who were born and married as Granny suddenly became Grant.

This does not exactly hold up, in as much as there are a lot of references between 1840 and 1900, and I would need some evidence to show that Granny's were changing their names to "Grant" during this period.

But I also got from Michael Doherty My great-great-grandmother was Margaret Grant, born circa 1827 in Ballyliffin in Clonmany Parish in the northern portion of the Inishowen Peninsula in Co. Donegal. She and her family were Catholics. Grant was an Anglicization of the Irish surname which in English would be spelled Grannie, Graney or variations on that spelling. I have been away from research concerning this line of my family for some time but I recall that Grannie was used in the Tithe Survey. I do not recall whether it was Grant or Grannie in Griffiths. However, I do recall that there were a large number of Grant/Grannie families in Inishowen in the 1800s.

Tithe Applotment 1828 is not complete for Donegal online, and I have only been able to examine 13 of the 52 parishes in Donegal. I understand that the records are available in Ireland, so could be searched. The only Grant I found in these 13 Parishes for Tithe Applotment was

Griffiths shows 5 Grant families in 1857, They were:-.

If one searches for all Grants from Donegal on GenesReunited, then names only start from 1840, and there are 60 people with the surname Grant noted between 1840 and 1900. But only 3 of these are born pre 1850

And from individual family trees I have

So lets now look at Granny (and its derivatives) in Donegal

By now there was evidence saying that I should investigate "Granny" and its roots. I have put together a full page of Griffiths results for Granny and from that draw the conclusion

From the detailed readout of all surnames in Donegal in Griffiths that start with "gran". Putting these on the map gives the spread that is shown on the map above. There are 5 groups worth considering

Today one can argue that they have all metamorphosed to Grant, there are 136 Grant in the Donegal phone book, but not one Granny. Whilst "the absence of evidence does not necessarily mean the evidence of absence" (quote is Carl Sagan, not mine), particularly with Irish records, my conclusion is that they did indeed change their name. The evidence points to there being no "Norman" descent Grants in Donegal, and indeed no Grants of any description in Donegal prior to around 1850, when McGranahan and Granny started to change their names to "Grant" for whatever reason

Most people with "Grant" ancestors in Donegal seem to believe that the name came from Granny (and its derivatives). I would certainly like to see more factual evidence for this from family records if possible, but as it stands I for one, who started out doubting the change of name, conclude that a change of name did in fact take place.

No sooner had I written this then I had an email from Lindel at Donegal Geneaolgy Resources pointing out the final piece of proof I needed on the change of name from Granny to Grant. If one looks at the two census entries below for the 1901 and 1911 censuses for Glenard Townland, Muff Parish, Co Donegal you will see a Granny family in 1901 change into a Grant family in 1911

1901 Census

1911 Census

There is no question of doubt that this family changed from Granny to Grant between the censuses. The only question I am left with is why all the Grannys became Grants simultaniously. That is over 125 families in Griffiths had become Grants by 2008. None had remained as Granny. There has to be more behind it, as I can see one or two families changing, but all of them?

Contact me if you have a reasoned explanation (rather than a theory)

Return to Grant family index

(O) Greaney, (Mac) Granny, (Mac) Graney Greaney, Greany, Granny, Grant

Greaney, Graney and Granny in Irish Woulfe derives it from the Christian name Grainne and thus makes it one of our few matronymic surnames. Greaney (or Greany) is fairly numerous both in Kerry and south Connacht: in the 1911 Census there were 36 Greaney families in Co. Kerry. In modern times the prefix Mac and O shown above in brackets have been dropped and it was inevitable that some confusion would consequently arise between Greaney, Graney and even Granny. When these occur in Munster they are of the O Grainne or an offshoot of the Ulster sept I can not say. There the G comes from the prefix Mag (a form of Mac), the Gaelic - Irish form of the name being Mag Raighne. No doubt Rory Mac Graney, of Tullylish, Co. down, who was one of the Jacobites outlawed after the battle of the Boyne, was of this origin. In the form of Granny it belongs exclusively to Co. Donegal (mainly Inishown) and adjacent parts of Co. Derry. There it has been changed to some extent to Grant. The fact that O'Granny is the form used in the Donegal hearth money Rolls adds to the confusion, but I think this can be regarded as a case of the not infrequent substitution of O for Mac with names beginning with C,G or k.

I had an email from Liam McLaughlin which suggested the sudden change you speak of from granny to grant between the 1901 and 1911 census has been put down to the introduction of the old age pension in 1904 when the authorities then did not recognise the name granny so people simply changed back to grant to get the pension another big change you will notice between the 1901 and 1911 census is that people ages changed more than the ten years this was to enable them to apply for the pension before they were pension age