Recorded in several spellings as shown below, this is a famous Irish surname. It is a development of either of two original Gaelic surnames. The first was 'Mac con Ulaidh' composed of the elements 'Mac' meaning son of, 'con', a hunting dog, and 'uladh', the province of Ulster. As to why anybody should be called 'The son of the hound of Ulster' is unclear, but the hound was highly regarded in early heraldry, and particularly so in Ireland. As such it probably described a fast moving and brave soldier. Most present day name-bearers are found in East Ulster and specifically the counties of Armagh and Monaghan. The second possible origin is from Mac an Fhailgheach, meaning the 'son of the poor man'. This probably had the transferred meaning of a hermit or holy man, one who was deliberately poor. Surnames from this origin are more usually found as Nally in the counties of Mayo and Roscommon. Examples of the surname spelling are known to include MacAnully, MacEnolly, MacNally, McNally, Knally, Nally and Nolly. Examples of notable name bearers include the Reverend Dr. John MacNally (1871 - 1955), Archbishop of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and the Rev. Charles McNally, bishop of Clogher from 1843 to 1864. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Teag MacUladh. This was dated 1659, in Petty's Census of Ireland, during the 'reign' of Richard Cromwell (1658 - 59). He was the son of Oliver Cromwell, known as the Great Protector. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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