This is probably an Anglo-Irish surname, whose origins lie in the mists of time. The origination is not proven, and it seems likely that it is or rather was, a variant of the Norman French 'Baron', a popular surname in its own right in Ireland. A 'baron' was a title for a civic official who held jurisdiction rights over a 'barony'. These rights were particular to Ireland and Scotland. In England where the surname is also recorded as Birin and Burren, the status 'baron' was originally given to a freeman of the capital cities of London and York. In Ireland from the time of the Norman Invasion of 1170, surnames tended to split into two main categories, Gaelic spellings, often of Anglo-Norman surnames, or English spellings, often of Gaelic surnames! The increasing 'English' influence after the 17th century has now lead to almost total anglicised spellings, although with very Irish characteristics. Edward Maclysaght, the famous Irish etymologist suggests that 'Birrane' is a form of Byrne, Burns and Byron, and that it maybe a derivative of the Gaelic 'bear' meaning spear. On balance we believe that the first option seems the most logical, given the great variation of accents across the country. Examples of recordings include Patrick Birrane at Crosmolina, County Mayo, on November 17th 1864, and Michael Berrane, at Mullaglas, County Armagh, on March 16th 1865. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Lefuine Barun, which was dated 1095, the abbey of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England, during the reign of King William 11, known as 'Rufus', 1087 - 1100. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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