Irish Surname - Connolly
Connolly is an Anglicised form of the Old Gaelic 'O'Conghaile' meaning 'as fierce as a hound / wolf'.
The Irish name Connolly derives from a number of different native Irish septs. The O'Conghailes were an ancient Connacht sept where the English version is now often spelt 'Connelly', they were also found in County Monaghan. The O'Congheallaigh sept was located in the Province of Munster, mainly in West Cork. The Ulster Connollys derive from both the O'Conghalaigh of Fermanagh and the Monaghan Connollys.
Historically the Monaghan Connollys have been the most prominent, recorded as having 'Chiefs of the Name' up to the 17th century. The first recorded spelling of the family name, which was dated 1591, is shown to be that of Tirlogh O'Connola, Chief and Vice-Marshal to MacMahon, in the "Fiants Records of County Monaghan", Ireland, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 of England. William Conolly, speaker of the Irish House of Commons in the early 1700's, was the most prominent of these Connollys who became rich by acting as a solicitor for landlords dealing in property after the Jacobite confiscations. He built Castletown House in County Kildare in 1722 on these proceeds.
A leading figure in recent Irish history was James Connolly (1868 - 1916), labour leader and signatory of the Irish Declaration of Independence. He played a leading part in the Easter Uprising of 1916 and his execution outraged many Irish people.
Many poor Irish, including Connollys, left Ireland for Scotland in search of work. Comedian Billy Connolly's ancestors came from Ireland and worked in the shipbuilding industry in Glasgow.
Today the Connolly name is principally to be found in Monaghan, Galway, and Cork.
Alternate Surname Spellings
Connelly, Connely, Connley, Conolly.
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