This surname FLANAGAN is one of the hundred commonest in Ireland and is in Irish, O'Flannagain. The name meant 'the descendant of Flannagain' It is found in all four provinces, but more frequently in Connacht and least frequently in Munster. The most prominent sept of the name held a territory in County Roscommon in Frenchpark barony, another belonged to County Fermanagh, and yet another to Ballybritt in County Offaly. Of the several septs of the name, that of Connacht is the most important, their chief ranked as one of the ' royal lords ' under O'Connor, King of Connacht. 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. 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 flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. (a Sept of Connaught, of the same race as O'Donellan, deriving their name from Flannagain, who ruled over the territory of Magh Aoi, County Roscommon; this Sept enjoyed the hereditary office of Stewards to the Kings of Connaught). The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans. Of these, only a few were really popular and in the 12th century this scarcity of christian names led to the increasing use of surnames to distinguish the numerous individuals of the same name. Some Normans had hereditary surnames before they came to England, but there is evidence that surnames would have developed in England even had there been no Norman Conquest. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each person owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized, and it became official that each individual acquired exact identification.
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