This interesting surname is of Irish origin, and is an Anglicization of the Gaelic "O' Meadhra", descendant of Meadhra, a personal name derived from "meadhar" meaning mirth or joy. The O' Mearas are originally from the north of County Tipperary, and they gave their name to a place called Toomeuara; the name is still very common in this county. An interesting point about this name is that, while in the beginning of this century, less than one third of the people of the name used the prefix "O" today it is very rare in Ireland to find Mara or Meara without the prefix. The Dermod Meara recorded below was a physician and author, who practised in Ireland; he published a treatise on Hereditary diseases in Dublin in 1619. The modern surname can be found as (O) Mara and (O) Meara. Among the recordings in Ireland are the marriage of Ann O' Mara and John Creighton on April 19th 1783 at Ballyhay, County Cork, and the baptism of Joseph, son of James O' Mara and Hanora Foley, on July 16th 1864 at St. Michael's, County Limerick. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Dermod Meara, which was dated circa 1580 - 1630, Dublin, Ireland, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 of England, "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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