Families of the name FAHEY and its variant FAHY descend from the sept O Fathaigh whose territory was in the northern part of Loughrea barony in southern County Galway. At the end of the last century at least half of the Fahy and Fahey families in Ireland were still located in County and a considerable number dispersed, not far off, in the north of County Tipperary. Due to population movement in this century the dispersal of the name is now greater and more widespread but there is still a considerable representation of the name in County Galway and it is still found in and around Loughrea. 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.
Surnames before the Norman Conquest of 1066 were rare in England having been brought by the Normans when William the Conqueror invaded the shores. The practice spread to Scotland and Ireland by the 12th century, and in Wales they appeared as late as the 16th century. Most surnames can be traced to one of four sources, locational, from the occupation of the original bearer, nicknames or simply font names based on the first name of the parent being given as the second name to their child.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered at the Ulster Office, Ireland.
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