(Extracted from McElhinney Forum on GenForum) 1. I have seen various articles on this web site to do with the origin of the Mc Elhinney surname, so I decided to write to a weekly publication here in Ireland called Irelandís Own, a magazine that has a small section devoted to the meaning and origin of surnames. I have every faith that this is correct as this magazine has been dealing with articles of this type for 100 years. The reply was as follows: "Both Mc Elhinney and Mc Ilhinney represent the original Gaelic name mac giolia chainnigh, meaning "son of the devotee of Cainneach ( saint canice)". There were four saints of this name, one of which was originally from Dromachose in county Derry, the most important being patron of Kilkenny. According to Robert Bellís Surnames of Ulster: The mac giolla cainnigh was an obscure sept of the cenel eoghain, i.e. Of the race of eoghan, son of Niall of the nine hostages, whose territory originally comprised the present counties of Derry and Tyrone and the Baronies of Raphoe and Inishowen in Donegal." This means that the surname can be traced back to Eoghan who was a son of Niall of the nine hostages who was a king in ancient Ireland. 2. In some searching I did a while back I remember being warned not to make this to make this direct connection between Kilkenny (the place) and the name MacKilkenny (which, as you correctly say is the name that McElhinney evolved from). The 'kenny' part of the names are identical and indeed relate to the same holy man 'Choinnigh', but the 'kil' part in the name MacKilkenny derives from 'Goilla' - a follower or sevant (of Choinnigh), just like the scottish gaelic 'gillie'. In the place Kilkenny the 'kil' refers to church (of Choinnigh). There are of course many placenames in Ireland and Scotland that have the Gaelic prefix meaning church. In pronunciation terms the place name Kilkenny and the name MacKilkenny (later corrupted to McElhinney and [many]others)have converged but their initial meanings are quite different and there is no proof as I understand it for any geographical link between Kilkenny and MacKilkenny (the only 'proof' being this name link which isn't so). The MacKilkenny/McElhinney etc geographical location is Donegal/Derry and has no links to lands further south like Kilkenny.