This Irish surname of MACCROSKEY is a corrupt form of COSKERY, which is numerous in County Down. It is a variant of COSGRAVE. The name was borne by descendants of the Mac Cosgraigh and O'Cosgraigh septs of County Monaghan, an O'Cosgraigh sept from south-easter Leinster and another O'Cosgraigh sept from Connacht. Consequently the two modern versions are widely scattered, Cosgrave predominating in Leinster and Cosgrove in Ulster and Connacht. 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 definite 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. There is also a parish so called in County Northampton. Early records of the name mention Covesgrave (without surname) who was listed in the Domesday Book of 1066. Couesgraua (without surname) appears in the year 1163 in County Northampton. The names of habitation are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages, farmsteads or other named habitations. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and in fact whole countries. As a general rule, the further someone travelled from his place of origin, the broader the designation. Someone who stayed at home might be known by the name of his farm or locality in the parish; someone who moved to another town might be known by the name of his village; while someone who moved to another county could acquire the name of the county or region from which he originated.
William T. Cosgrave, a Dublin man, was the first Taoiseach of the Free Irish State, and his son, Liam Cosgrave was Taoiseach of the Republic from 1973 to 1976.
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