Families bearing this surname McNULTY descend from the Mac an Ultaigh sept which was located in County Donegal. That county and County Mayo are the principal home counties of McNulty families today. The maritime Connacht county of Mayo is bounded on the north and west by the Atlantic, on the south by county Galway, on the east by County Sligo and County Roscommon. According to the Ordnance Survey reports made in the decade prior to the famine years of the 1840's, about one-third of the land in the county, over 400,000 acres, was unprofitable mountain and bog; a further 57,000 acres under water. The appearance of the county varies from tracts of bleak rugged mountains, to lakeland, heath, flat rocky ground and fertile plains. Near Westport, there was a brewery established in 1826, a second brewery, a tannery, corn-stores, salt-works, oat-mills and flour mills, and, in the neighbourhood, slate quarries, a linen factory and two cotton factories, but all these enterprises were mostly in one area and all together provided but scant employment for a population which was around a quarter of a million in the early 19th century. Ireland is one of the earliest sources of the development of patronymic names in northern Europe. Irish Clan or bynames can be traced back to the 4th century B.C. and Mac (son of) and O (grandson or ancestor of) evolved from this base, the original literal meaning of which has been lost due to the absence of written records and linguistic ambivalences which subtly but inexorably became adopted through usage. Genealogists and lexographers accept that the patronymic base does not refer to a location, quite the contrary. The use of the prefix 'Bally' (town of) attaching to the base name, identifying the location. The base root was also adopted by people residing in the demographic area without a common ancestor. These groups called 'Septs' were specially prevalent in Ireland. The first Normans arrived in Ireland in the 12th and 13th centuries to form an alliance with the King of Leinster. Under Elizabeth I in the 16th century, settlers from England established themselves around Dublin, then under English control and Presbyterian Scots emigrated to Ulster, introducing English and Scottish roots.
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