This is an Irish surname from County Donegal in Ulster, although one which may also have some Scottish associations. Recorded in several spelling forms including MacGinlay, MacGinley, McGinley, McGinly, McGinnell, Ginlay, Ginley and Ginnell, it sometimes overlaps in the suriving recordings with MacKinley and McKinley, although this surname, it is claimed is of a quite different origin. However spelt this is a Gaelic surname of the pre 10th century. It is believed to derive from the ancient surname '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 of the clan. 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 members of this clan like that of the McGonigles, 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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