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Irish Surname - Daly

The surname Daly is among the thirty most frequently found in Ireland. It is an Anglicised form of the Old Gaelic name "Ó'Dálaigh" derived from Dalach meaning 'one who is present at assemblies'. The root word is Dáil, which is the official title of the parliament in Ireland.

The Dalys claim descent from an Irish hero from Celtic mythology, Niall of the Nine Hostages, who was High King of Tara 380 to 405AD.

The main O'Daly sept belonged to County Westmeath but they later located branches in Galway, Clare and Cork where the majority of descendants can still be found.

The earlier Ó'Dálaigh family members were a learned Irish bardic family, many of whom distinguished themselves in the field of literature. In fact, they have a continuous record of literary achievement from the 12th to the 17th century and, indeed, even to the 19th. Many of the Ó'Dálaigh clan were hereditary poets to the various Irish royal courts. Members of the clan also founded bardic schools in Scotland. This diaspora seems to have begun in the early 12th century.

The first recorded spelling of the family name was in the 12th century, when Curonnacht Ó'Dálaigh presided over a bardic school in County Meath, not far from the territory traditionally belonging to the parent sept of O'Daly, who were located in the barony of Magheradernon, County Westmeath. He was described as "The first Ollamh of poetry in all Ireland" (ollamh is the title given to university professors in Modern Irish). Diarmuid Og O'Daly was made the official poet of the MacCarthys of West Cork, thus acquiring for his family lands and privileges in the barony of Carbery. Richard Daly (1750-1813) was a leading figure in the 18th century Dublin theatre as actor and manager.

Probably the most notable bearer of the Ó Dálaigh surname in modern history was Cearbhall Ó'Dálaigh (1911-1978), the 5th President of Ireland.

It is estimated that there are now more than 30,000 Dalys in Ireland alone.

Alternative Surname Spellings

O'Daly, Dawley

Researching Irish Surnames

We have researched many sources for the origins of Irish surnames and extracted a fair representation of the origins of each. As there are many variations we have compiled a representative, but by no means exhaustive, selection.

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