It is said that you can do almost anything with a surname, but in Ireland they do even more than that! This very unusual surname found in the spellings of Norheny, Nerney, Nertney, Nerheny, Nurny, and no doubt others as well, is a North Connaught form of the famous clan surname 'MacInerney', which translates as 'The son (mac)of the lay lord (erenagh)'. In ancient times the 'erenagh' was a hereditary 'squire' of the church, one who held office and property as a lay person within the church, and as such was responsible for the maintenance and rents arising from those properties. Following the Norman Invasion of Ireland in 1170, the holders of these lands were gradually dispossessed, and the system died out. The clan was originally centred on the barony of Bunratty, but suffered grievously during the 'Cromwellian' period from 1640 to 1660, when it was largely dispersed. It seems that Father MacInherney was killed by forces under the control of Parliament, not the King, see below. Examples of the surname recording include Martha Nerny, aged twenty five, who embarked on the ship 'Southerner of Liverpool'. She left Ireland bound for New York, on April 10th 1847, being one of the first to escape the 'Potato Famine'. Other examples are those of Ellen Nerheny of Ballyleague, County Roscommon, christened there on May 1st 1864, and James, son of John and Mary Nertney, christened at Strokestown, County Roscommon, on October 29th 1864. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Father Lawrence MacInherney, which was dated 1642, who was martyred by government forces at Limerick, during the reign of King Charles 1, known as 'The martyr', 1625 - 1649. 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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