Recorded in the spellings of O'Mullally, Mullally and the short form of Lally, the latter also being recorded by emigrants in France, this most interesting and unusual surname is Irish. It is of pre 10th century Old Gaelic origins, and as spelt is the anglicized form of "O'Maolalaidh", composed of the prefix "O", meaning descendant of, and a personal name composed of the elements "maol", meaning chieftain, and "-aladh", speckled or piebald! The clan were a branch of the Ui Maine who were of some importance in Connacht, where after the coming of the Anglo-Normans in 1170, they were at constant feud with the de Burgos or Burkes. Because of this, they were obliged to move northwards, to what is now County Galway. Two O'Mullallys became Archbishop of Tuam, and two others bishops of the adjacent diocese of Clonfert and Elphin between 1211 and 1611. After the siege of Limerick, however, the name is prominent among the Wild Geese and other exiles. Thomas Arthur O'Mullally (1702 - 1766), better known as "Count Lally de Tolendal", had a distinguished and romantic career in the French Army, whilst Watt Mullally, aged 20 yrs., was an Irish famine emigrant who embarked for New York on the "Perseverance" from Dublin on May 18th 1846. A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts three red eagles displayed, each holding in its beak a sprig of laurel proper, between three silver crescents on a silver shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Teag O'Mullally, Archbishop of Tuam, which was dated 1211, in "Medieval Irish Records". This was during the reign of King John of England, known as by the nickname of "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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