Origins and history
The name "Quilty" is an Anglicized form of the ancient Gaelic name of "Caoilte" (pronounced: Kweelteh). There was a mythic Celtic warrior (c. 3rd Century A.D.) by the name of Caílte mac Rónáin, who was a member of the Fianna and the nephew of Fionn mac Cumhaill. According to legend he lived long enough to be baptized by St. Patrick (c.389-461). The book "If You're A Wee Bit Irish: a chart of old Irish families collected from folk tradition" by William Durning (1978) recounts an alleged ancestry of Caoilte back to Adam. James Joyce (1882–1941) in chapter twelve of his masterpiece, Ulysses, (1922) has "The tribe of Caolte" as one of the twelve tribes of Ireland in a biblical parallel to the twelve tribes of Israel. Quilty is also a small town in County Clare Ireland, though this quilty is an anglicization of a different Irish word "coillte" meaning "woods". The name is considered a sept of the dynastic Dál gCais of the Kingdom of Thomond, and has the motto "Lámh Ládir an Nachtar" meaning "the strong hand uppermost."
There are various spellings of the name: Caoilte, Caolte, and Cuallta in Gaelic, and Kielty, Kealty, Keelty, Keilty, Kelty, Kilty, and Quilty (with or without an O' or Mc or Mac) in English. The most common variants are Kielty and Quilty. The name is possibly a derivation of caol meaning slender.
In 1850 there were over 75 families bearing the name of "Quilty" in Ireland, over half of them in County Limerick. As of 2005, there were about 300 families bearing the name of "Quilty" in the United States alone, almost half them in the northeast, with the highest concentrations in the states of Massachusetts, New York, Florida, Illinois, and California.
Notable individuals with the name Quilty
- Andrew Quilty (1981-), Australian photographer
- Andy Quilty (1981-), Australian painter
- Ben Quilty (1973–), Australian painter
- Johnny Quilty (1921–1969), Canadian ice hockey player. Played for Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins
- Michelle Quilty (1990–), Irish camogie player
- Sean Quilty (1966–), Australian Olympic marathon runner
- Sylvester "Silver" Quilty (1891–1976), Canadian football player
- Thomas John (Tom) Quilty (1887–1979), Australian station owner, philanthropist and poet
Fictional characters with the name Quilty
- Bridie Quilty, protagonist in the film I See a Dark Stranger (1941), played by Deborah Kerr
- Clare Quilty is a fictional character in the 1955 novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Peter Sellers (1962) and Frank Langella (1997) played the role in two subsequent movies. The name Clare Quilty was inspired by the town of Quilty in County Clare.
Other uses of the name Quilty
- Quilty, County Clare, is a village on the west coast of Ireland
- Quilty Nunataks, a geographic feature of Antarctica named for geologist Patrick Quilty
- In music
- Clare Quilty is a rock group from Virginia, USA, named for the character from Lolita
- In fiction
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