At one time the O'Flaherty sept commanded a wide area in southern County Galway, right along the north coast of Galway Bay and including the Aran Islands, although the earlier home of the sept, prior to the Anglo-Norman settlement in Connacht, had been on the east side of Lough Corrib. Aughnanure Castle on the banks of the Lough was a stronghold of the O'Flaherty chieftans until the 17th century. The early part of the 12th century saw the clan in league with the O'Connors, contending against the O'Briens of Thomond: in the course of this struggle the territory of the family was several times devastated. 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. Jospeph Robert FLAHERTY (1884-1951) was the American film producer and explorer, born in Iron Mountain, Michigan. He was brought up in Canada, and documentary films come to the fore with his 'Nanook of the North' (1922) the story of an Eskimo family. His last great success was 'Lousianna Story' (1948). The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. (a Sept who ruled over Iar Connaght or West Connaught, deriving their surname from Flaithbheartaigh, Chieftan of the Sept. AD 970).
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