The surname of GLEESON was derived from the Gaelic O'Glasain or O'Gliasain. The anglicized form of this name in County Kerry is Glissane. The ancient origins of the forebears of this sept were in the county of Cork, but the sept established itself in Owney and Arra barony, County Tipperary. At the end of the last century about one half of all the Gleeson families in Ireland still resided in County Tipperary, and the greater part of the rest lived in other counties of the counties of Munster. Gleeson families are still numerous in the region of Nenagh, near their early homeland. The main body of the sept were and mainly still are located in Lower Ormand. Mainly families of the name still retain the old spelling with the 'O' prefix. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames: they came into being fairly generally in the eleventh century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. The name can occasionally be found as Gleason. 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 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.
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