This interesting surname is of Irish origin, and is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic "O' Conaill", descendant of Conall, a personal name of uncertain origin, possibly composed of the elements "con", from "cu", a hound, and "gal", valour. The name was popularized by the fame of a 7th Century Irish saint, who was Abbot of Inis Caoil. The (O) Connell's claim descent from Aengue Tuirmeach, who was High King of Ireland in circa 180 B.C., the majority of the O' Connell's came from south-west Munster; this might be expected as they were originally a Kerry sept.The Barony of Magunihy, in which Killarney is situated, is still the homeland of the leading family of (O) Connell. Probably the best known namebearer was Daniel O' Connell (1775 - 1847) who was known as "The Liberator", and who played an important role in the fight for Catholic emancipation in Ireland. One of his ancestors, one Friar John O' Connell, composed the historical poem "Tuireadh na hEireann" in circa 1700. (O) Connell's family was the leading family of Derrynane, County Kerry. A Coat of Arms granted to the O'Connells is divided per fess silver and green with a stag trippant proper between three trefoils slipped counterchanged. The Stag signifies Fleetness and Longevity, and the Trefoil indicates Fertility and Abundance. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of O' Conaill, which was dated 927, Bishop of Thomond, Co. Clare, recorded in the "Annals of Innisfallen", during the reign of Mahon and Brian, two Dalcassian Leaders of the 10th Century. 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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