About three-quarters of the families in Ireland bearing the surname NOONAN, in Irish O'Nuanain, live in Munster, the province where that name seems to have originated in County Cork. The maritime county of Cork, in Munster, is bounded by the sea on the south-west, the south and the south-east. To the east it has land boundaries with the counties of Waterford and Tipperary, and to the north with Limerick and to the west with Kerry. Anciently the country formed part of the kingdom of Desmond. After the Anglo-Norman Invasion the whole of the present county, save the City of Cork (which had been founded by the Vikings) and its surroundings, was granted in 1177 by Henry II to Anglo-Norman knights who brought over their followers and established a military colony. The tradition of surnames in Ireland developed spontaneously, as the population increased and the former practice, first of single names and then of ephemeral patronymics or agnomina of the nickname type proved insufficiently definitive. At first the surname was formed by prefixing 'Mac' to the fathers Christian name or 'O 'to that of a grandfather or earlier ancestor. The name is also spelt O'NOONAN and NOONE, and this numerous surname has to some extent absorbed the rather rare Clare name of Neenan (O'Naoidheanain) which is found in the western part of the county. Early records of the name mention Andrew NOONE, who registered at Oxford University in the year 1575 and a George NOONE was buried at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1635. 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 flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. The eagle depicted in the arms is the emblem of fortitude and magnaminity of mind. The Romans used the figure of the eagle for their ensign, and their example has often been followed.
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