The original homeland of the O'Coigligh sept, a branch of the powerful northern Ui Fiachra, was in the barony of Carra in County Mayo, a beautiful area. The maritime Connacht county of Mayo is bounded on the north and west by the Atlantic, on the south by county Galway, on the east by County Sligo and County Roscommon. According to the Ordnance Survey reports made in the decade prior to the famine years of the 1840's, about one-third of the land in the county, over 400,000 acres, was unprofitable mountain and bog; a further 57,000 acres under water. The appearance of the county varies from tracts of bleak rugged mountains, to lakeland, heath, flat rocky ground and fertile plains. Near Westport, there was a brewery established in 1826, a second brewery, a tannery, corn-stores, salt-works, oat-mills and flour mills, and, in the neighbourhood, slate quarries, a linen factory and two cotton factories, but all these enterprises were mostly in one area and all together provided but scant employment for a population which was around a quarter of a million in the early 19th century. Quigley families now are found in all four provinces, although more frequently in the counties of Donegal and Derry in Ulster, and in the counties of Sligo and Galway in Connacht. When the sept was scattered during the upheavels of the 17th century, some of its members settled also in the east of Ireland in County Louth. The name was derived from the Irish O'Coigligh, the grandson of the escort or companion. 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 definate 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.
The name is also spelt Quickley, and an early instance of the name mentions John Quickly and Susanna Bort, who were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1793.
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