This surname is anglicised from the Gaelic name Ó Catháin in English it also became Cahan and Keane. It was one of four septs that were decended from Muirceartach Mór Mac Earca, son of Muireadach, son of Eoghan, son of Naill of the Nine Hostages, the fifth century founder of the Uí Néill dynasty.The Ó Catháin came from the Laggan district of East Donegal in the twelfth century and drove the O' Connors out of Glengiven now Dungiven in Co. Derry where they built a priory which is still show on modern maps. It is a prominent West Ulster sept. The heaviest distribution of Kane's in Ireland is in Ulster and County Derry.
Ua Catháin conquered the Ciannachta (Barony of Keenaught county Derry.) and extended his sway to the banks of the Bann.
The Ó Catháin supported Robert the Bruce when he invaded Ireland the Ó Catháin were a uirrí (under King) of Ó Néill the invasion failed because of a famine by 1317 the Ulster army was so hungry they raised bodies from the cemeteries to eat, and mothers were eating their children.
The priory that is associated with the Ó Catháin at Dungiven has a Ó Catháin tomb. The Ó Catháin chieften Cooey-na-Gal who died in 1385 is buried there. In the chancelry of the church there is a stone effigy dressed in a padded aketon (coat of mail) with a pisson (large collar pointed at the front) the effigy is armed with sword and axe although the axe is said to have been the favoured weapon of the time.
Site created October, 1999 by D.J.Kane, BA(Hons) Dip. Eur. Hum. (Open) Contact Dave Kane.
A new history of Ireland Medieval Ireland 1169-1534. Edited be Art Cosgrove, Published by Claredon Press, Oxford (1993)