Descendants of the O'Maoilsheachlainn sept of the stock of the Maoilsheachlainn, the 10th century High King of Ireland whose homeland was in Meath, became known as McLoughlin and McLaughlin.
Other families descend from the Ulster Mac Lochlainn sept whose territory was Inishowen barony, County Donegal. The families descended from that sept will still be found mainly in County Donegal and County Derry.
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.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. (an Irish Sept descended of the same line as MacSwiny; Registered at the Ulster Office.
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