This famous Irish name hails from County Clare where it is extremely prevalent. The sept of MacNamara was, after the O' Briens, the most important and powerful of the dalcassians of Thomond. They were hereditary marshals to the O' Briens and had the privilege of inaugurating the chief of the O' Briens, who was often a king. The Irish form of this name is MacConmara and is derived from the words 'cu', hound and 'na mara' of the sea, and was once connected with the forename Cumara, which was the name of the ancestor of the sept who was twenty-third in descent from Cormac Cas, King of Cashel (900-908). The sept in due course became two, the chief of West Clancullen, MacNamara Fyne (i.e., 'fionn', fair) and the chief of East Clancullen, MacNamara Reagh (i.e., Riabhach swarthy or grizzled). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas MacNamara, which was dated 1680, County Clare, during the reign of King Charles 11, 'The Merry Monarch', 1660-1685. 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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