Thursday, January 10, 2013
The first thing that popped up in my search was the Kingdom of Breifne. The Kingdom of Breifne was the territory of an Irish tribe known as the Ui Briuin Breifne. This tribe ruled the land from the 7th century to the 17th century. Breifne (pronounced "BREHF-nee") is believed to be derived from a very old Irish word that means "hilly," which describes the landscape very well. Breifne was ruled by the O'Rourke and O'Reilly chieftains, so if you have a connection to those families this could be an interesting namesake.
Another possible origin could be Brefne, a person who is described as a "brave soldier-woman" in early Irish onomastic texts. There's not much known about her, and the one passage I could find that mentions her is written in an old-fashioned style, so it's kind of hard to understand. She was the daughter of Beoan mac Bethaig, and as far as I can tell she was slain by a warrior named Regan because they were fighting over territory.
I'm sorry to say that there's really not much else I could find. There's a couple of schools with this name, and I assume that they're all in that area of Ireland. I've also found out that Breifne/Brefne is slang for...how do I put this the nice way..."slut." According to the Internet, anyway. Perhaps in parts of Ireland it's used that way, but not here.
Breifne has never been a common name in the United States. Brefne is used a little bit in Ireland, and is particularly associated with Northern Ireland. Breifne sounds similar to Britney, which might make it feel a little dated in America as that name peaked in the 1990s. Variants include Breffny, Brefnie, and Brenny.
It is certainly interesting when I come into contact with names I've never heard before. Maybe someone else can fill in some of the gaps for me on this one.
Found via http://pinterest.com