The surname of DENEEN is a variant of Dinneen. It is derived from the Gaelic O'Duinnin, a nickname meaning 'one with dark brown hair and eyes'. They are a family famous as poets and historians. Early records of the name mention Rolland de Dinan, 1155 Ireland. Families of this name, the majority of whom still reside in County Cork, descend from the West Cork sept O'Duinnin. Some descendants of this sept adopted as their surname the English settler surname Downing, which is still found in counties Cork and Kerry. In the latter part of the sixteenth century, an influx of settlers arrived under the patronage of Elizabeth 1 of England, and colonized the country beyond the 'Pale', the area around Dublin that was the only part firmly under English control. At the same time , groups of Presbyterian settlers were encouraged to migrate from Scotland to Ulster, thus establishing the distinctively Scottish surnames of Ulster. During the long centuries of English domination, Irish surnames were crudely Anglicized either phonetically or by translation. In the 19th century, political repression and famine combined to force many Irish people to seek other countries in which to live. Large numbers emigrated to the United States, where strong emotional ties to Ireland are still preserved in many families, while others found themselves transported, willingly or otherwise, to Australia, often after having first tried to make a living in England. Irish surnames are now very widely dispersed, and are common in England as well as in Ireland, the United States and Australia. 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. Johanna de Denyngton of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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