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KEARY Family History
This interesting name is a variant of Carey, which itself comes from several origins (see also the page under “Carey”). Both were used as Anglicisations of Ó Ciardha, from “Ciardha", a personal name derived from "ciar", dark, black. This name belonged to a sept of the Southern Uí Néill who were lords of Carbury (Co. Kildare) and is now widespread in Ireland. Many present day Kearys in the midlands of Ireland, where the name still occurs most frequently, may in fact derive their name from the East Galway sept of Mac Fhiachra, from the ancient personal name “Fiachra”: elision of the prefix ‘mac’ with the lenited (disappeared) ‘F’ of Fiachra gave forms such as Keaghry, Keighry and Kehery, now obsolete. Carey may also derive from Ó Ciaráin/Ó Céirín, both from the same root word “ciar”, in Co. Cork and Co. Mayo. Etymologically distinct, Ó Carráin/Ó Corráin in Co Tipperary has been quoted as a source of Carey. This native South Tipperary sept was also anglicised Carew, which elsewhere is usually a Welsh- Norman surname. It is indeed possible that Ó Carraidh/Ó Corraidh from the root “carra“ or “corra” - spear is the source of all these surnames in Co Tipperary. Early anglicisations, found in the mid 17th century Tipperary Hearth Money Rolls, such as Carrigh, Carhe, Carry, Carrew and Cary indeed support that hypothesis.
The entirely distinct English and Norman-French name Carrey, of which Carey is a variant as recorded in Guernsey, C.I. may have a locational origin from "Carrey" near Lisieux, Normandy. This surname was also introduced into England after the Norman Invasion in 1066. Cary/Carey however, was the name of families claimed by genealogists and surname authorities to have taken their name from places so called in Somerset and Devon, both on rivers of a name with a very ancient Pre-Celtic or Old European etymology.
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