This ancient clan surname is recorded in the spellings of MacInerney, McInerney, McErney, and the variants Norheny, Nerney, Nertney, etc. The name originates in the province of Connaught and derives from the ancient Gaelic pre 10th century 'Mac Erenagh' meaning 'The son of the lay lord '. In pre-medieval times the 'erenagh' was a hereditary Lord of the church, one who held high secular office and property on behalf of the church, and collected all rents and tithes arising from those properties. Following the Norman Invasion of Ireland in 1170, these hereditary positions were gradually terminated, but even as late as the 17th century the 'Mac Inerney' clan was a considerable power. Originally centred on the barony of Bunratty, with the main estate at Ballycally, they opposed the forces of 'The Pale', and suffered grievously as a result. Father MacInherney (see below) was considered to be the spiritual leader of the clan, and he paid the penalty with his life. Interesting recordings of the surname include Patrick McInerney, aged 24, and his sister Mary (22), who embarked on the ship 'Shamrock of Limerick' bound for New York, on June 16th 1847. They were amongst the first to escape the dreaded 'Potato Famine'. Other recordings are those of Ellen McErney of Ballyleague, County Roscommon, christened there on May 1st 1864, and James, son of John and Mary Nertney, christened at Strokestown, on October 29th 1864. The clan coat of arms has the blazon of three lions passant, armed and langed in blue, on a white field. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Father Lawrence MacInherney, which was dated 1642, executed 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.