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Irish Surname - Begley (Ó Beaglaoich)

Origin of the surname Begley

Begley, or in the Gaelic Ó Beaglaoich 'descendant of Beaglaoch' coming from beag 'small' + laoch 'hero' or possibly from Ó Beigfhile meaning little poet. Either way the name was anglicised as O'Begley but now used mostly as Begley or sometimes Bagley and other variations listed below. There is also a possible connection with the German Böckle, Böckli, Bock or Böckler but there isn't much evidence for this (please let us know if you find any).

Distribution of Begley in Ireland

Although found in every county in Ireland, Begley as a surname is most common in the counties of Cork and Donegal. Here they held considerable territories as an important Irish sept. The Donegal sept is located in the Barony of Kilmacrenna as evidenced by the place name of Tulloghobegley.

A branch of the Donegal sept migrated to county Kerry as Gallowglass soldiers in the 15th century. The Gallowglass or "Foreign Warriors" were Scottish warriors who came over from Scotland in the 13th century. By the 15th century many Irish as well as Norse and Scots had swelled their ranks.

Emigration to the USA, Canada and Australia

In common with so many Irish in the 19th century, especially during the 1840s potato famine years, many Begleys emigrated to Canada, the United States and Australia. For example, John Begley to New York, USA in 1812, Martha Begley to Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada in 1834 and Susanna Begley to Australia in 1853.

Alternate Spellings for the Begley surname

Begley, Beegley Beeghley, Begly, Begeley, Begely, Beagley, Bagley

Famous or interesting People with the Surname Begley

Conor Begley, who was involved with the production and printing in 1732 of Hugh Mac Curtin's English-Irish Dictionary.

Henry Begley (d. 1895), a landscape painter from County Limerick.

Desmond Bagley (1923 - 1983) was an English author of bestselling thrillers.

Philomena Begley (1942- ) one of Ireland's best known Country singers from Pomeroy in County Tyrone.

Edward James Begley Jr (1949- ) an American actor living in Hollywood. He has Emmy and golden globe nominations to his credit and has appeared in many films as well as TV and stage productions.

Séamus Begley or Séamus Ó Beaglaoich (1953-2023) a well known member of the musical Begley family from County Kerry, known in traditional music for his sean-nós (old style) singing, story telling and box playing.

Begley Family Crest or Coat of Arms

If you are looking for the Begley coat of arms, take your pick from the variety you can find on the Internet. Perhaps you prefer the 3 birds on a background of white and red or you could choose the 3 scary faces on a blue and gold baclground!

Please Note

There is often limited information available on a specific coat of arms and motto for an Irish surname. Sometimes there are many variations, sometimes none, we have compiled a representative, but by no means exhaustive, selection. Please visit our Coat of Arms and Motto page for more information.

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