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Surname:  O'Conolly
Branch:  O'Conolly
Origins:  Irish
More Info:  Ireland

Background:  Conolly is an Irish name, a shortened form of Connolly. A personal name meaning 'Faithful to Pledges.' Spelt Connelly in County Galway where the family is of the Ui Maine. The name is widely distributed over all the provinces.

Motto:  En Dieu Est Tout, In God is All.
Arms:  Ar. on a saltire engr. sa. five escallops of the field.
Crest:  A dexter arm couped betw. the wrist and elbow vested az. cuffed ar. the hand ppr. grasping a chaplet or.

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Owing to the lack of precision frequently found in the anglicization of Gaelic surnames due to the fact that their English forms were often determined by the phonetic attempts of lawyers and others in the seventeenth century who were unfamiliar with the Irish language, the name Connolly has been much confused with Conneely and Killealy. The people now called Connolly mostly derive their descent from three Gaelic septs. These were O'Conghalaigh or O'Conghaile of Connacht and of Monaghan, and O'Coingheallaigh of Munster, for which MacCoingheallaigh was previously an alias; the other Connacht sept was of the Ui Maine and the same stock was the O'Maddens. That associated with Co. Monaghan was in early times the most important, being one of the "four tribes of Tara" and a branch of the southern Ui Neill, but it was forced out of its original territory by the Anglo-Norman invasion and driven northwards to Co. Monaghan. As late as 1591 Tirlogh O'Connola is recorded in the Fiants relating to Co. Monaghan as Chief of the Name and late vice-marshal to MacMahon. The Munster Connollys were established in West Cork where they were subject to the paramount O'Donovans of that area. At the present time the name is most numerous in each of the aforesaid places, viz Counties Galway, Monaghan and Cork, while it is still found in and around County Meath.

Fr. P.O'Gallachair, who is an authority on Clogher history and families, has commented on the fact that I did not mention the O'Connolly sept of Devenish in the 1st ed. the omission was due to my belief that they were now extinct and that the Connollys of the diocese of Clogher are all of the Farney stock. The reader specially interested in the Connollys of County Monaghan and adjoing areads is recommended to read Fr. O'Gallachair's notes on the subject in the Clogher Record (II, i.pp. 172-189, 1957).

The foremost Munster Connolly was William Conolly (c. 1660-1729), "squire", Speaker of the House of Commons and reputedly the richest man in Ireland, whose seat was Castletown, Co. Kildare; his relative Thomas Conolly (1738-1803), was another politician of note. Most Rev. John Connolly (1750-1825), notable Dominician Archbishop of New York, was also a Meath family. James Connolly (1868-1916), labour leader, signatory of the Irish Declaration of Independence, wounded in the Rising and executed while still unable to stand, is usually stated to have been born at Clones, County Monagham in 1870. It has however recently been discovered that he was born in Edinburgh of Irish parents on June 5, 1868. Another who left his mark on the course of Irish history, though in a different sense, was Owen O'Connolly, a Monaghan man, whose betrayal of the plans for the 1641 Rising did irreparable harm. A number of exiles have kept the name in the forefront both in America and France: William Connolly one of the noblesse of Bordeaux at the time of the French Revolution while in the United States, besides the archbishop referred to above, Henry Connolly (1800-1866) was a famous pioneer; Pierce Francis Connolly (b. 1841) was a sculptor of note; his mother, Mrs. Cornelia Connelly (1809-1879), was foundress of the Society of the Holy Child Jeses (she and her husband, Pierce Connolly, were converts, the latter becoming a priest but later apostasizing: his subsequent conduct shed no lustre on the name).

Name Variations:  Connolly, Conolly, O'Conolly, Connally, O'Connally, O'Connolly, O'Conolly, Connolley, Conally, O'Conally, Connelly, Conoley, O'Conoley, Connaleigh, O'Connaleigh, Connelay, O'Connelay, Conley, O'Conley, Conlay, O'Conlay, Conlaye, O'Conlaye.

One or more of the following publications has been referenced for this article.
The General Armory; Sir Bernard Burke - 1842.
A Handbook of Mottoes; C.N. Elvin - 1860.
Irish Families, Their Names, Arms & Origins; Edward MacLysaght - 1957.
The Surnames of Ireland; Edward MacLynsaght - 1957.

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