Ó Ceallaigh

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Ó Ceallaigh
Ó Ceallaigh.
Parent houseConnachta [1]
FounderMáine Mór
Current headWalter Lionel O'Kelly of Gallagh and Tycooly
Final rulerFeardorcha Ó Cellaigh

Ó Ceallaigh is the most influential dynasty of the ancient túath of Uí Maine, and the original Irish gaelic name for the surname commonly known as Kelly. It is a name meaning "Descendant of Ceallach," "bright haired," or "troublesome."

Ceallach was the son of Finnachta, a chief of the Hy Many people around A.D. 874. Another notable chieftain, Tadhg Mór Ó Ceallaigh, was killed at the famous Battle of Clontarf, where he and his ally Brian Boru defeated the Viking raiders.

Many members of the Ó Ceallaigh clan are directly descended from the Kings of Uí Maine (with Uí Maine commonly known as O'Kelly country), and the clan itself is the largest and senior-most ruling family of Uí Maine.

The earliest parts of the O'Kelly genealogy are contained in the Book of Hy Many, which was written in the 14th century. Its compilation was the idea of William O'Kelly, a chief of Hy Many. The book is now kept in the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin.

(Additionally, the Ua Ceallaigh are considered one of the Four Tribes of Tara.)

Castles & Structures of the Ó Ceallaigh[edit]

Associated Counties[edit]

Counties associated with the name include:

Additional Facts[edit]

  • 1. It's the second most common name in Ireland, behind Murphy.
  • 2. There are more Kellys in the US and in Britain respectively than in Ireland.
  • 3. Australian sailors whose surnames are Kelly are nicknamed "Ned" after the famed outlaw.
  • 4. It is not only in the top 100 surnames in the US, but also in the top 100 first names.
  • 5. The name attained its popularity because it originates from at least seven different and ancient clans or septs. These include O'Kelly septs from Meath, Antrim, Laois, Sligo, Wicklow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, and the McKelly sept from East Connaught. One of the major septs is the O'Kellys of Ui Maine, or Hy Many, a territory in East Galway and South Roscommon.
  • 6. Ceallach also means war or contention. It is an ancient first name that is no longer used as a first name in Ireland. However, Kelly is a popular first name for women in the U.S. – an ironic reversion of the family name back to its original use.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.battleofclontarf.net/clans-of-ireland-at-the-battle-of-clontarf/the-connachta-tribe-and-their-clans/3533
  2. ^ O'Donovan, John. The Hy Many. pp. 143–144
  3. ^ Francis J.Byrne, Irish Kings and High Kings, Appendix II; T.M.Charles Edwards, Early Christian Ireland, Appendix II; with gaps filled in by the poem Síl Aeda Sláne Na Sleg found in the Book of Leinster Jump up ^ T.M. Charles-Edwards, pg.551–553
  4. ^ O'Donovan, John. The Hy Many
  5. ^ http://www.kellyclanireland.com/kellys-from-around-the-country/kelly-s-of-connaught/sir-william-o-kelly
  6. ^ http://www.kellyclanireland.com/kellys-from-around-the-country/kelly-s-of-connaught/sir-william-o-kelly
  7. ^ http://www.familyhistoryireland.com/genealogy-blog/item/21-conn-bacach-oneill-the-first-earl-of-tyrone-and-alison-kelly-the-blacksmiths-wife-from-dundalk