This surname O'TOWIE which is borne by descendants of the O'Tuathaigh sept has many variant spellings. Tuohig and Twohig are variants favoured in County Cork, where all the families in Ireland of those names were living at the end of the last century. 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 11 to Anglo-Norman knights who brought over their followers and established a military colony.The ancestral sept was first located in the south of County Galway where families of the name survive as well as in the neighbouring county of Clare and scattered further south in Munster. The name meant 'Chief' or 'Lord', i.e. a ruler over a tribe or territory.
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. Twohey Croome in County Limerick was the home of the 18th century poet Sean O Tuama (O'Twomey the Gay). His wife kept a drinking house there.
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