With few exceptions families named MALLONEE and MOLONEY descend from the O'Maoldhomhnaigh sept whose homeland was in Upper Tulla barony, County Clare. Most of the Molony families are still in Munster and many survive in County Clare. Some Maloney families in northern Tipperary have a different ancestry, being descended not from an O'Maoldhomhnaigh, but from a quite distinct family, that bore the name O'Maolfhachta. The name meant 'the servant of the church'. The inland Munster county of Tipperary is second only in extent in Ireland to the Ulster county of Donegal, covering as it does over one million acres. The county is bounded on the east and north-east by the province of Leinster, having boundaries with the counties of Offaly, Leix and Kilkenny. On the south side County Tipperary has a boundary with County Waterford, marked for some distance by the River Suir. The community which mushroomed beside one rich colliery, which opened in the 18th century, one of the earliest to be exploited in the county, was named Coalbrook. Ironstone metal was also found in the pits there. As this county covered a large territory it accommodated anciently a number of septs; by the time of the arrival of the Anglo-Normans, branches of several Dalcassian septs from Thomond had also established themselves in the area. 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 father's Christian name or 'O 'to that of a grandfather or earlier ancestor. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. Older anglicized forms of this name were O'Mulleena and O'Molina, the latter being perpetuated in the place-name Crossmolina in County Mayo. An Irish-born man of some note of this name was Patrick F. Mullany (1847-1893) who was well known in America under the pen-name of 'Brother Azarias'.
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