O'CAHILL families were a sept that held a territory in the barony of Eliogarty, County Tipperary, where two townlands named Ballycahill commemorate their presence. A more powerful Cahill sept once held sway in southern Galway. Ballycahill near the southern shore of Galway Bay. The name was derived from the Gaelic O'Cathail, a personal name meaning battle-powerful, and mighty. County Galway acquired a seperate identity from the rest of Connacht when that province was divided and shired in 1585. The country is bounded on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and on the south by the waters of Galway Bay and a land boundary with County Clare. To the north lie the counties of Mayo and Roscommon, the latter also flanks County Galway to the east. The walled city of Galway, which contained about one-tenth of the population of the county before the famine of the 1840's, was of prime importance in the county with a flourishing commercial port and the handsome dwellings of the merchants. County Galway has long remained an Irish speaking region and the language has survived as a first language in the remoter parts and in the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway Bay. Old customs too, such as the wake and keening at funerals, died out slowly in this area. In the past the fine lobsters from Connemara, abundant on the coast, were a food eaten by the poor. 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 th insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Confirmed to Michael Cahill Esq, JP of Ballyconra, County Kilkenny.
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