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A Little O'Kelley History


Ceallach, Keely, Queally, Keily, Kellye, Kehilly, Kelly, Kelley, & O'Kelly

The surname O'Kelly is believed to be associated with the Irish meaning, "grandson of Caellach". Reported to be descendants from Milesius, King of the Celts, the Kelly name and many variations is one of the most popular names in all of Ireland. According to The Book of Irish Families Great and Small (ISBN 0-940134-08X) by Michael C. O'Laughlin the O'Kellys were treasurers of Connaught and owned castles in Galway and Roscommon.

The O'Kelly surname is an old and honorable name in Irish History dating back to 874 AD in Ui Maine. Clan motto is, "Turris Fortis Mihi Deus" God is My Tower Of Strength."

The Kelly Coat of Arms is slightly different in many branches of the family, but the original design dates back to the battle of Clontarf in 1014 AD in which the Irish Clans literally drove the Vikings into the sea.

High King Brian Boru and Chief Tadg Mor O'Kelly of Ui Maine died in that battle. When Chief Kelly fell in battle,"fighting like a wolf dog" two enfields emerged from the nearby sea and stood guard over the body of the fallen chief until his clansmen arrived to claim his body.

This Coat of Arms belongs to the Kelly's/O'Kellys of Counties Limerick and Armaugh, Ireland. They also trace their lineage back to Ui Maine, but it appears that their crest was anglicized along with their names. There are several other versions of this family crest.

Many Kelly's moved from Limerick to Australia. Many Kelly's from Clare, County Armagh moved to Canada and the United States in the 1800's. Between 1700 and 1900, half the population fled Ireland.


Kelly's of ancient Ireland

Kelly COA

About the Irish language

Another Kelly Clan

Irish poems

Kelly Clan of Hy Many

Battle of King's Mountain (Revolutionary war)