This surname of MORAN ranks amongst the sixty commonest surnames in all Ireland, but over half of the families of the name are in Connacht, the province of origin of the two septs from one or the other of which these families will descend. The O'Mughtain or O'Mughrain sept was located in County Galway and County Roscommon; the O'Morain sept was located near Ballina in County Mayo. The name was originally brought into Ireland from England and France, and rendered in the Old French form of DURANT (meaning steadfast and enduring). 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 draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. Early records of the name mention MORANDUS de Kerkebi, documented in Connacht in the year 1176. MORAN filius Ernis was recorded in 1198 , William MORAN was recorded in Ireland in 1200. 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. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. (They were a sept in Leinster, deriving their name from MURCHADHAIN, their chief who ruled over Magh Aoife or Mayiffy, a district in Offaly.)
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