The famous clan name of 'Mac Conghaile', which is usually anglicised as Connolly, Connelly or Conneely. The derivation is from the ancient pre 10th century gaelic 'cu' meaning 'hound', giving the modern translation of 'the son of the descendant of the hound'. The latter was probably a nickname for a chieftain who possessed the qualities associated with that animal, i.e. speed, tenacity, and strength. Most Irish surnames have developed a wide range of variant forms, and this is no exception. The name is (in all its forms) most associated now with County Antrim and County Tyrone, although it has been claimed that the descent maybe from a Galway sept formerly 'Mac Conghaola', the name translation remains the same. Amongst the many important members of the clan was William Connolly, (1660 - 1729) of Castletown, County Kildare, and reputedly the richest man in Ireland. He was also Speaker of the English House of Commons. The Most Rev. John Connolly was the Archbishop of New York. He was of a County Meath family, whilst James Connolly (1868 - 1917) was one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Uprising, and was subsequently executed for his part. The coat of arms has a black saltire on a white field, charged with five white escallops, the badge of the pilgrim. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Tirlogh O Connola, which was dated 1591, in the registers known as 'The fiants of County Monaghan", Ireland, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st of England, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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