The surname of FANNIN was brought to Ireland by settlers in the wake of the Anglo-Norman Conquest to their principle settlement in County Tipperary. They dispersed south-east as far as County Wexford and west to County Limerick. Fanningstown in County Kilkenny is named after them. The inland Leinster county of Kilkenny is bounded on the north by county Leix, on the east by the counties of Carlow and Wexford, on the south by county Waterford and on the west by county Tipperary. The city of Kilkenny with its splendid Gothic cathedral on the hill, built of Kilkenny limestone, and its great castle on the Butlers, overlooking the River Nore, is the chief town of the county and of the towns of Leinster, second only to Dublin. In the 14th century King Edward III convened a parliament at Kilkenny and in the 17th century the city briefly enjoyed political importance when the Catholic Confederation met there in 1642. In the first half of the 16th century the 8th Earl of Ormonde and his countess brought Flemish master-weavers to Kilkenny to introduce the manufacture of tapestry, carpets and fine diaper. In the fifteenth century the head of the family was officially described as 'Captain of his Nation'. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or 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. The most notable of the Hy Fiachrach sept was Dr. Francis Joseph O'Finan (d. 1847) Bishop of Killala. St. Finan (died 661) who was noted for his missionary work in England, sheds lustre on the name, but he lived of course, several centuries before the introduction of surnames.
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