This surname NEARY in Irish O'Naradhaigh, is found mostly in the Connacht counties of Mayo and Roscommon, in County Louth, and in the capital; it appears to have originated in Connacht. 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. The name was a byname meaning 'Modest'. 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 variant spelling NARY has been noted at Strokestown, County Roscommon and the name is also spelt O'NEARY, O'NERY, O'NARY and NARE. The origin of badges and emblems, are traced to the earliest times, although, Heraldry, in fact, cannot be traced later than the 12th century, or at furthest the 11th century. At first armorial bearings were probably like surnames and assumed by each warrior at his free will and pleasure, his object being to distinguish himself from others. It has long been a matter of doubt when bearing Coats of Arms first became hereditary. Cornelius NARY (1658-1738) was the author of many works, born in County Kildare; he held a high ecclesiastical position in Germany and was head of the Irish College in Paris in 1703. He declined the appointment of Bishop of Kildare, and became a notable figure as parish priest of St. Michan's, Dublin.
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