This surname CAREY is widely distributed throughout Ireland, but is most prevalent in Munster. It can be of English origin, brought over by settlers, or it can be of Irish origin. Descendants of the sept O'Ciardha, whose ancient territory was Carbury, barony in County Kildare, adopted Carey and Keary as anglicized forms of their name. Most of the European surnames were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. The Registrar of births reported that in the last century that in Caherciveen Union, County Kerry, Carey was used interchangeably with Curran. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. Carey is the name of a family established for centuries in the parish of St. Martin, Guernsey. Their earliest traceable ancestor was Jean Careye, who lived at St. Martin in 1393, but the surname in the form Caree, was recorded there in 1288. This is probably the Norman name. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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