This notable surname, having long associations with the Irish province of Connacht, and with east Ulster, is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "O'Duibheannaigh", descendant of Dubheannach, a male given name having as an initial element "dubh", dark, swarthy, with an uncertain second element, believed to derive from "ean", (black) bird. The Irish prefixes "Mac", son of, and "O", grandson, male descendant of, gave rise at an early date to a group of fixed hereditary surnames of the patronymic type. These surnames originally signified membership of a clan, but with the passage of time came to identify membership of a "sept", or group of people all living in the same locality, all bearing the same surname, but not necessarily descended from a common ancestor. The Devaneys of east Ulster provided ancient chiefs of Ui Breasail in County Armagh and another branch of this sept, sometimes called "O'Duibheamhna", held territory near Lough Neagh in County Down. The first recorded bearer of the name (below) was Bishop of Down and Connor until he died, a martyr, in 1612. The second sept of "O'Duibheannaigh", to which several references are made in Petty's 1659 "census" of all Ireland, were chiefly found in the Connacht counties of Mayo and Leitrim, and also in Donegal. On March 2nd 1845, Terence, son of John Devaney, was christened at Cloonclare, County Leitrim. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Conor O'Devany, which was dated 1582, in the "Annals of the Four Masters", during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 of England, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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