This famous Irish clan name recorded as MacNamee and the short form McNamee, is a nickname. It derives from the Old Gaelic 'Mac Con Midhe' which translates as 'The son of the hound of Meath'. This seems a strange naming even by Irish standards, as the clan were hereditary poets! Perhaps there was once some allegorical connection between poetry and fast moving hound dogs, although it is stretching the imagination to think what this could be. What is certain is that Ireland in the days of the Nine Kings was a land of great learning and high academic standards, far in advance of the Anglo-Saxons and the later Viking and Normans who invaded both Britain and Ireland in the 5th to the 11th centuries. The original clan was Ulster based and were close followers of the O'Neills, the principal rulers of Northern Ireland, and they suffered with the O'Neills in their support of the Catholic King James 11 of England and Ireland. Brian Mac Angus MacNamee, was chief poet to Luineach O'Neill, and died in 1595, whilst a branch of the same family was recorded in Foyle in 1606. As this was far from their original homelands, it suggests that they were exiled there after the abortive rebellions of 1598 - 1603. Amongst the many nameholders of considerable importance was Teige oge MacConmea of Neadenurry, County Clare, in 1602, and Charles MacNamee in the muster of regimental officers in the army of King James in 1689. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Giolla Bridghe Mac Con Midhe, which was dated 1260, the annals of the poets of Ireland, during the reign of King Henry 111 of England, 1216 - 1272. 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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