This surname of KEATON came to Ireland with the Anglo-Norman settlers who established themselves in County Wexford at the end of the 12th Century. From their first Irish home branches of the family spread through southern Leinster and into Munster so that by the 16th Century they were both numerous and influential in County Carlow and County Leix. There is a townland of Ballykeating as far west as Fermoy Barony in County Cork, two Keatings towns in County Kilkenny, one in Crannach barony and one in Knocktopher barony, and there is a Keatingspark in Newcastle barony in County Dublin. Derived from the gaelic CEITIN - meaning Grandson of Ceatfhaidh (sense). 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 Geoffrey Keating (1570-1645) the Irish historian, born in County Tipperary, of Norman-Irish stock. He was educated for the priesthood at Bordeaux, and returned to Ireland as a doctor of theology in 1610. He served as a Tipperary priest, apparently causing offence to local landowners for reproof of their living in concubinage. According to legend he was killed in a church in Clonmel, County Tipperary by Cromwellian soldiers. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
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