This long-established surname is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic name "O'Dalaigh". The Gaelic prefix "O" indicates "male descendant of", plus the personal nickname "Dalach", from "dail", an assembly or meeting place as in Dail Eireann. Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the heads of tribes, or from some illustrious warrior, and are usually prefixed by "O", meaning grandson or male descendant of, or "Mac", denoting "son of". The chief O'Daly sept belonged to County Westmeath. Several namebearers of the clan distinguished themselves in the field of literature including the first recorded namebearer (see below).From County Westmeath, and the bordering parts of County Meath, the (O)Dalys spread to County Clare. Donagh Mor O'Daly (died 1244), who was born at Finvarra, in this county, was called "the Irish Oved". Diarmuid Og O'Daly was made official poet of the MacCarthys of West Cork. Here he acquired family lands. In the 18th and 19th Centuries, a Daly family became Barons of Dunsande and Clan Conal in County Galway, and gave six mayors to the city of Galway. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Curonnacht O'Dalaigh, which was dated 12th Century, he flourished in the 12th Century, and presided over a bardic school in County Meath, during the reign of Interregnum: High Kings of Ireland "with opposition" 1022 - 1166. 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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