This family surname of GORMAN was derived from the Mac Gormain sept whose territory was in the barony of Slievemargy, County Leix, until the 12th century when they were ejected by the Anglo-Normans. Some of the sept migrated to County Clare, establishing themselves there in Ibrickan barony, some migrated to County Monaghan, where their descendants survive as Gorman and McGorman. One of the descendants of the Clare branch achieved fame and fortune in France in the 18th century. Due to his prominence, and because he adopted the form O'Gorman, other descendants of the sept have adopted the prefix in place of their lost prefix which should rightly be Mac. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. (a Sept derived from Cathair Mor, King of Leinster, who inhabited the territory of Hy Bairche, in the Queen's County and County Carlow, from which they were driven after the invasion of 1172, and settled under the O'Briens in the Barony of Ibrickan in Thomond. They derive their name from GORMAIN, Chief of the sept). The Irish prefixes of Mac (son of) and O (grandson or descendant of) gave rise at an early date, to a set of fixed hereditary names in which the literal patronymic meaning was lost or obscured. These surnames originally signified membership of a clan, but with the passage of time, the clan system became less distinct, and surnames came to identify membership of what is called a 'sept' of people all living in the same locality, all bearing the same surname, but not necessarily descended from a common ancestor. Adoption of the name by people who did not otherwise have a surname and by their dependents was not uncommon. Later, nicknames were in some cases to supersede the original clan names.
At the end of the last century there were six Gormans for every one O'Gorman, but widespread assumption of the prefix 'O' by Gormans in the present century, has altered the situation and the O'Gormans now outnumber the Gormans. The correct form McGorman has long been rare but is not extinct.
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