Genealogy Hedgecoe-McKenna History

McKenna and the Wolfhound

Posting Member: Jenn
Topic: The McKenna Crest
Family Name Associations: McKenna
Location: Barrie
Mood: Still a little sleepy… Early night tonight I think, then we can get cracking tomorrow.

After sitting with another mum the other afternoon, I had to look up a story I’d read associated with the McKenna ‘crest’ whole long time ago with vague notions of linking it to Welsh legends that had been mentioned.  We were talking about Bailey, my wolfhound cross…  As he’s a darling boy who’s one of the loves of my life.  After our chat, I’d begun to wonder if there was a link between the McKenna of County Monaghan’s lore and the Welsh stories…  And then I began to dig.

The McKennas seem to have two crests, the first has three lions on it, either three heads, or three passant lions, golden on a green background.  That’s the crest that comes up on google, and is generally seen as the McKenna generic coat of arms.
The second crest is much more true to the McKennas of Emyvale where we seem to have originated from.  This crest is of a knighted rider with a spear, a stag, two crescent moons and two Wolfhounds.  It’s depicted on the old graves of McKenna leaders in a cemetery called Old Donagh Graveyard, and is generally associated with the old Clan that ruled from about the 1200-1800s.

One of the stories is based on a hunter from County Meath who tracks a stag for two days or two months depending on the tale, and slays it upon his arrival in Monaghan.  He is welcomed by the Lord there named Treanor, and ends up staying to marry his daughter and rule the people.
Three of these elements make sense in the crest according to this depiction, the stag, the moons and the mounted rider.  And I guess, the hounds could be added due to his hunt…  This story definately makes sense for the people and the time, and now seems to be the popularly published opinion.

The other story is known with more populatiry as both the story of Llewellyn and Gelert, and as the legend of the Wolfhound.  This myth has some miles on it, and after reading more about it, I can’t help but wonder if it just wasn’t incorperated into the mythos surrounding the crest due to the use of the Wolfhounds.  Indeed, after searching for anything relating this tale to the McKenna name online, I couldn’t find anything… Although I’m sure there was an online version at one point in time.
The story goes that a huntsman had left his hound to tend his infant son while he hunted a wolf that was plaguing the area.  While he was gone, the wolf attacks the infant and the hound has a vicious fight with the wolf that upends the cradle and generally tears up the camp leaving blood and distruction.  Upon the huntsman’s return he sees the blood and wreck, and jumps to the conclusion the hound went mad and killed his son.  In a fit of rage, he kills his dog… Only to later discover the wolf’s body and his son alive and well.
In the Welsh version, Prince Llewellyn never smiles again after this point, and buries his dog near the town of Beddgelert.  Needless to say, this tale has had many versions and lives on as a sort of urban legend.  That’s probably where it was incorperated into the texts I had originally read regarding the hounds of the crest of Emyvale, and it would make sense as to why there were hounds incorperated in such an honoured position.

No matter the origin, the Emyvale crest will always be a strong symbol and point of pride for the McKenna descendants.  It has survived famine, war and ages.
And Bailey thinks the hounds are right where they belong.

Always one for making things pretty, Jenn is our resident artist. Métis, British Home Child Descendant, family historian and genealogist, she is always looking into some new branch of research and encourages historical preservation and education.

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