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Gaitan Coat of Arms / Gaitan Family Crest

Gaitan Coat of Arms / Gaitan Family Crest

Ireland is one of the earliest sources of the development of patronymic names in northern Europe. Irish Clan or bynames can be traced back to the 4th century B.C. and Mac (son of) and O (grandson or ancestor of) evolved from this base, the original literal meaning of which has been lost due to the absence of written records and linguistic ambivalences which subtly but inexorably became adopted through usage. Genealogists and lexographers accept that the patronymic base does not refer to a location, quite the contrary. The use of the prefix 'Bally' (town of) attaching to the base name, identifying the location. The base root was also adopted by people residing in the demographic area without a common ancestor. These groups called 'Septs' were specially prevalent in Ireland. The first Normans arrived in Ireland in the 12th and 13th centuries to form an alliance with the King of Leinster. Under Elizabeth I in the 16th century, settlers from England established themselves around Dublin, then under English control and Presbyterian Scots emigrated to Ulster, introducing English and Scottish roots. This Irish surname of GAITAN is the Anglicized form of the Gaelic MAG EITEAGAIN, from the personal name EITEAGAN, a name given to a swift runner. The name is also spelt McGETTIGAN, ETTIGAN, GATTINS, GATTIN and GAITENS. The name is said to be of Norse origin, and the earliest of the name on record appears to be Diarmid Mac EITIGEN, Chief of the Clann Diarmada (now Clondermot, County Derry). The families gradually moved westwards into County Donegal, where the name is mainly found today. The sept has produced many distinguished churchmen including William O'ETIGEN (died 1444) Bishop of Elphin. Tomas O'hEIDIGEIN, Dean of Elphin (1487) Patrick MacGETTIGAN, Bishop of Raphoe from 1861 to 1870, when he became Archbishop of Armagh. 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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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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