The FALLON families are now widely dispersed throughout Ireland, being found from County Donegal in the north to County Cork and County Kerry in the south-west and County Wexford in the south-east. The Fallons descend from the sept O'Fallamhain whose territory was in the south of Athlone barony in southern County Roscommon; in the townland of Milltown in Dysart parish are the ruins of their castle stronghold. Fallon families are still residing today in the immediate area of their ancestral lands. 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. A notable member of the name was Sean O'Faolain, the Irish writer born in Dublin. He was educated at the National University of Ireland, and took his M.A. at Harvard. He lectured for a while at Boston College, and then took a post as a teacher in Middlesex, and in 1933 returned to Ireland to teach. His first writing was in Gaelic 'The Silver Branch' in 1938. His stories of 'Sean O'Faolain' (1958) covered thirty years of writing and progress of his youth to the deeper and wider artistry of his maturity. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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