This name, with variant spellings Feely, Feal(e)y, O' Fihily, O' Fihillie, O' Fielly, Fihelly, Fe(e)hely, Feehily and Field, is an anglicized form of the Gaelic O' Fithcheallaigh. The Gaelic prefix "O" incicates "male descendant of", plus the personal byname "Fithcheallach", meaning "Chess-player". Chess was a game much in vogue in ancient Ireland. This clan originally belonged to Corca Laoidh (South-west Cork) and held territory in Ardfield and Clonakilty. The most notable member of the sept was Maurice O' Fihily (deceased 1516), Archbishop of of Tuam and editor of the works of John Scotus. Another, Maurice O' Fihelly (deceased 1559) was Bishop of Ross. In a County Cork Fiant Paper, dated 1584, two O' Fihellys alias Field appear, showing the early substitution of the English name Field. By the 17th Century, branches of the sept had become established in north Connacht and Donegal. Reverend James Feeley (1799 - 1875) was Dean of Raphoe. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Donal O' Fihelly, which was dated circa 1500, a writer of Irish Annals, during the reign of King Henry V11 of England, known as "The last Warrior King", 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.1485 - 1509.
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