Recorded in several spelling forms including MacGinlay, MacGinley, and sometimes overlapping with MacKinley, although this is claimed to be of a different (Scottish) origin, as well as the various short forms commencing 'Mc', and Ginnell, which is a derivative of McGinley. However spelt this is a Gaelic surname of pre 10th century Irish origins. It is believed to derive from 'Mag Fhionnghaill', which translates literally as 'the son of the fair and brave one', a very pleasant meaning. Irish surnames usually originate from a nickname for the original chief. Many of these names were what can only be described as robust and basic, such as Kennedy for instance, which is usually translated as meaning 'ugly head'! The surname is quite popular in Ulster, and specifically County Donegal, and like the McGonigles, the McGinlays have been famous for the number of priests that they have provided. These include John MacGinley, who was the bishop of the Phillipines in 1860, whilst John MacGinly was the bishop of Fresno, California in 1922. Lawrence Ginnell (1854 - 1928) was a member of Parliament in England for Donegal, and later active in his support for Sinn Fein.
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