This name MacCUSKER was principally a branch of the MacGuires in Fermanagh, centred at Ballymacos-Ker. In Ulster and Connacht the name is more usually spelt Cosgrove. In Connacht, the sept O'Coscraigh is of the Ui Maine and was located on the eastern shore of Galway Bay. Coningus O'Coscraigh, Bishop of Clonmacnois (died 997) and Benedictus O'Cascry, Bishop of Killaloe (died. 1325) were of this sept. 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 flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. In sixteenth century records in English the name appears as one of the principal Irish names in County Fermanagh in 1659, and in our time this is preserved in the form MacCusker, and is still found in or near County Tyrone. MacIllcosker, found in the County Armagh Hearth Money Rolls (1664) is not quite the same, being MacGiolla Coscair in Irish. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. They were not in use in England or in Scotland before the Norman Conquest, and were first found in the Domesday Book. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) it became general practice amongst all people. 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. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
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