This surname O'HOLIAN was adopted as an anglicization of their name by persons bearing the Irish surname O'hAoleain, itself a variant of O'Faolain, a sept which was originally located in County Waterford and spread into County Kilkenny. In County Galway the name has been changed to Holland. The inland Leinster county of Kilkenny is bounded on the north by county Leix, on the east by the counties of Carlow and Wexford, on the south by county Waterford and on the west by county Tipperary. The city of Kilkenny with its splendid Gothic cathedral on the hill, built of Kilkenny limestone, and its great castle on the Butlers, overlooking the River Nore, is the chief town of the county and of the towns of Leinster, second only to Dublin. In the 14th century King Edward III convened a parliament at Kilkenny and in the 17th century the city briefly enjoyed political importance when the Catholic Confederation met there in 1642. In the first half of the 16th century the 8th Earl of Ormonde and his countess brought Flemish master-weavers to Kilkenny to introduce the manufacture of tapestry, carpets and fine diaper. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. 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 prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. 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 draped and flowing garment worn over the armour.
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