This surname of KIERAN was derived from the Irish word CIAR (black), meaning the little dark one. There are as many as fifteen Irish saints of this name, one of whom, St. KIERAN of Saighir, is said to have been a missionary in Ireland even before St. Patrick was there. Another St. KIERAN of Clonmacnoise, is said to have used parchment made from the skin of his favourite cow to write down the Irish national epic of 'The Tain'. A 12th century copy of this manuscript has reached us as 'The Book of the Dun Cow'. The Irish form of the name is CIARAN, and the name can also be spelt as KEIRON, KIERON, CIARA, KIERA and KEIRA. The main sept of this name is north of Connacht, now fairly numerous in County Monaghan and Fermanagh; another small sept was located in east Cork. The name is often anglicized as Kearns, and occasionally as Kerrane. The maritime county of Cork, in Munster, is bounded by the sea on the south-west, the south and the south-east. To the east it has land boundaries with the counties of Waterford and Tipperary, and to the north with Limerick and to the west with Kerry. Anciently the country formed part of the kingdom of Desmond. After the Anglo-Norman Invasion the whole of the present county, save the City of Cork (which had been founded by the Vikings) and its surroundings, was granted in 1177 by Henry II to Anglo-Norman knights who brought over their followers and established a military colony. The tradition of surnames in Ireland developed spontaneously, as the population increased and the former practice, first of single names and then of ephemeral patronymics or agnomina of the nickname type proved insufficiently definitive. At first the surname was formed by prefixing 'Mac' to the fathers Christian name or 'O 'to that of a grandfather or earlier ancestor.
The lion depicted in the crest is the noblest of all wild beasts which is made to be the emblem of strength and valour, and is on that account the most frequently borne in Coat-Armour.
ARMS - Vert on a chevron argent three leopards faces gules
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