The surname of NERNEY is commonest in the counties of Limerick and Clare, indicating for the most part that the families will be descendants of the Mac an Airnchinnigh sept, which was located in Lower Bunratty barony, County Clare, with its sept centre at Ballycally. There was also an erenagh family of the name in Elphin, but their name has often become McEnery. The name has many variant spellings which include MacAnerney, MacInnerney, Keverney and McKeniry. The name in Gaelic is rendered as Mac Inneirghe, from the personal name Inneirghe, apparently a derivative of the verb 'eirghe' meaning to arise, or ascend. The surnames in Ireland 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'; a group 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 dependents was not uncommon. Just over one hundred years after the Norman Conquest of England, the first Normans arrived in Ireland. Richard de Clare, Second Earl of Pembroke (died 1176), was known as Strongbow. He was invited to Ireland by Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster, whose daughter he married, to help him in his wars with his neighbours. He was accompanied by several retainers whose name, like his own, have become well established as surnames in Ireland. The Normans established themselves in Leinster and paid homage to Henry II of England. Some of the Norman settlers acquired surnames derived from the Irish.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered at the Ulster Office. The eagle depicted in the arms is emblematical of fortitude and magnaminity of mind. The Romans used the figure of an eagle for their ensign, and their example has been often followed. It is the device of Russia, Austria, Germany and the United States of America.
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