Donnelly (surname)

For other uses, see Donnelly (disambiguation).

Donnelly is an Irish surname. It is the Anglicized form of the Gaelic "Ó Donnghaile",[1] "O" meaning male descendant of ("Ní" is the female equivalent), and Donnghaile (or Donnghal),[2] a personal name composed of the elements "donn" (brown), plus "gal" (valour).[1] The name O’Donnelly is derived from the descendants of Donnghaile (Donnghal) (an individual who lived during 10th century in Ireland)[3] who was the great grandson of Domhnall, King of Aileach.[4] Early ancestors of this surname were a part of Cenél nEoghain and the Uí Néill as descendants from the line of Eógan mac Néill one of the seven sons of Niall Noígíallach.

It is most commonly found in County Tyrone in west Ulster.[5] It was so common in Roscommon that at some point, a branch of people with the Donnelly surname took on the name of Briscoe instead.[6]

People named Donnelly

Fictional characters

Other spellings

See also


  1. 1 2 Norman, Tess (2003). A World of Baby Names. Penguin. p. 286.
  2. "Last name: Donnelly". The Internet Surname Database.
  3. The most accurate source for the pedigree of Donnghaile (Donnelly) can be found in O’Cleary, Michael, et al, Annals of the Four Masters, see O‘Donovan‘s edition Volume 6, page 2426. Other Irish genealogies (Book of Ballymote and Book of Lecan) have the line of decent of Donnghaile incorrectly stated as the great grandson of Domnall Ilchelgach, High King who died in 561 A.D.
  4. King Domhnall served as co-ruler of Cenél nEoghain from about 896 A.D. with his paternal half brother Niall Glundub until 911 A.D. when King Domhnall abdicated to “enter religious life” and subsequently died in 915 A.D. Hudson, Benjamin, Prophecy of Berchan,Irish and Scottish High Kings in the Middle Ages, Greenwood Press 1996 page 148.
  5. Kenny, Kevin (1998). Making Sense of the Molly Maguires. Oxford University Press. p. 300. ISBN 9780195116311.
  6. Radford, Dwight A.; Betit, Kyle J. (2012). A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Irish Ancestors. Betterway Books. p. 12.
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