This interesting surname, with variant spellings (O) Connally, Conneely, O' Conley etc, is an Anglicized form of the old Gaelic prefix "O" indicates "male descendant of", plus the personal byname Conghaile, from "con", a hound and "gal", valour, hence, "Descendant(s) of the Hound of Valour". The O'Conghailes were an ancient Connacht sept who with the passage of time, separated and dispersed into three main branches. The chief branch resided in County Meath and was one of the "Four Tribes of Tara". In former times the seat of the Irish High Kings was on the Hill of Tara. The second branch belonged to the ancient Kingdom of Oriel embracing the modern County Monaghan, and this territory was ruled by the (O) Connollys, the McMahons and the McKennas up to the end of the 12th Century. The Munster branch of the family established itself in West Cork and here the name was frequently rendered O'Coingheallaigh from the Gaelic "Coingheallach" meaning "faithful, reliable and diligent". Among the hundred of the name who immigrated to America at the time of the Potato Famine was one, Margaret Connelly, who embarked from Liverpool on the ship "Rochester" bound for New York on May 8th 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Tirlogh O'Connola, Chief and Vice-Marshal to MacMahon, which was dated 1591, in the "Fiants Records of Co. Monaghan", during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, 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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