While transcribing John Percy Keating’s “John Keating and his Forbears”, one line jumped out at me:
[…] for when certain members of the Keating family were driven by the religious persecution of that day [the time of Queen Elizabeth] to seek refuge in Spain and Portugal, they translated their name into Spanish and became known as the family of Cienfuegos […]Keating, John Percy (1918). John Keating and his Forbears. Records of the American Catholic Historical Society. p. 4. Retrieved 12 December 2020.
I know of many spellings of the Keating name, but prior to this, had never run across the “Cienfuegos” spelling. The diaspora of the Great Famine to immigration magnets such as the Americas and Australia is far from the only time Ireland has lost her children. During the various unsuccessful Irish rebellions against England’s rule, the defeated and their supporters often left Ireland for the European mainland, sometimes changing their name to fit the preferred regional spelling and pronunciation.
Looking around, there isn’t much in the way of information about the “Cienfuegos” name. There is a region/town in Cuba named Cienfuegos, and there are a smattering of people researching the name online.
In a footnote within the 1850 Critical and Miscellaneous Essays, by an Octogenarian, James Roche notes the possibility that Cardinal Cienfuegos of Spain was the first Irish Cardinal:
[…] but I have also read that Cardinal Cienfuegos, who died in 1739, was an Irishman by birth, who, sent very young to Spain, there translated his patronymic, Keating, into the corresponding Spanish appellative. Certain it is, that both have exactly the same meaning–a hundred fires, (in Irish, Cead-teinid, pronunced very like Keating.) […] His Irish descent is very problematical, for Spanish biography represents him as born in the diocese of Oviedo; but the accordant sense of the names in both languages is undoubted. The name of Keating, however, does not appear to be strictly Irish, though many old Irish names have for safety in times of persecution, been identified with those of consonant or approximate sound in English, such as Mead, Reynolds, Hardiman, Lyons, Nolan, Holland, Collins. […]Roche, James (1850). Critical and miscellaneous essays, by an octogenarian. Oxford University: Privately Printed. p. 183. Retrieved 12 December 2020.
Has anyone else run across any mention of the possibility of the Keating and Cienfuegos families having the same origins? If so, please comment below.