This famous Irish surname is usually recorded in the spellings of Gormley and Gormally, and occasionally in Ulster as Gorman or Grimes. In all cases the more anciently correct form is with the prefix O', although this is now almost totally extinct. The derivation is from the pre 10th century spellings O' Gormain, O'Gormghaile, or possibly in Ulster O'Goirmleadhaigh. The name originates, it is claimed, from the counties of Donegal, Mayo, Roscommon, and Tyrone, and translates as 'the descendant (O') of the son (ain) of the noble (gorm)and valourous (ghal) one'. This meaning is partially confirmed by the fact that in ancient times the chiefs of the O'Gormley's were titled as 'taoiseach', meaning in this context, the hereditary leaders of a group of clans, a sort of early 'Supreme Commander', and the term for the Prime Minister of Ireland. Unfortunately in the 14th century there must have been a major fall out amongst the group members, and a challenge to the hereditary leadership. The result was that the clan were driven from their lands in the barony of Raphoe, County Donegal, not by the Norman English as is often erroneously claimed by those trying to put a spin on history, but by their immediate compatriots, the famous O'Donnells. The survivors moved across the River Foyle, where they contlnued for two hundred years without much success to harass the O'Donnells. The later 'Plantation of Ulster' by James 1st of England and Scotland from 1609 did not help the O'Gormleys. They were now trapped between two potential enemies, and branches of the original clan apparently moved further south to County Roscommon, where in 1659 they were recorded as O'Gormaly of Lough Key. To add to the confusion in the 18th century the clan were also recorded in Counties Armagh and Derry as both O'Gormley and the fictious MacGormley. The name is frequently recorded in the famous "Annals" of Ireland, which pre-date by several centuries, the Anglo-Norman Invasion of Ireland in 1169. The first recording of the name may be that of Torbac O'Gormain in the See of Armagh, in the year 812 a.d.
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