Recorded as MacGilpatrick, Mackilpatrick and Fitzpatrick, this is a famous Irish surname. It is believed to derive from the pre 10th century Gaelic name "Mac giolla Phadraig", with in some cases the Norman "Fitz" meaning son of, replacing the Gaelic Mac, which also means "son of". The suffix endings are "giolla", meaning a devotee, one who followed the teachings of a saint or holy man, and the personal name "Padraig", from the Roman "Patricius" meaning "the one of noble birth". This is the only surname in Ireland with the Norman-French prefix of "Fitz" which is of native Irish origin, the others being Norman and dating from 1170. The Mac giolla Phadraig clan belonged to the counties of Kilkenny and Laois where the name is most widespread. Their chief, known as the Lord of Upper Ossory, was a royal ruler over these counties. A clan member, Sir Barnaby Fitzpatrick, was knighted in 1568. Several namebearers were prominent in politics including Patrick Vincent Fitzpatrick (1792 - 1865), the trusted adviser to Daniel O' Connell, also known as "The Liberator". A coat of arms granted to the Fitzpatrick family depicts a silver saltire on a black shield, with three gold fleur-de-lis on a blue chief. The crest is a green dragon surmounted on a black lion guardant, with the right paw resting on the dragon's head. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Giolla Padraig, which was dated circa 978 a.d., in the Ancient Records of Ossory, County Kilkenny, during the reign of King Malachy 11, the High King of Ireland, 977 - 1002. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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