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Surname Kielly - Meaning and Origin

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Kielly: What does the surname Kielly mean?

Kielly is an Irish surname originating from the ancient Gaelic ‘O’ Ceallaigh’ clans, who were descended from Cian, son of Fergus MacRoigh, the King of Ulster. The name is derived from the Gaelic word ‘ceallach’ or ‘warrior’, and the clan were renowned for their bravery and ferocity in battle. There is also a myth associated with the name that states they were descended from the Tuatha De Dannan – a mythical race of magical beings from the Otherworld. Generally, Kielly means ‘from the ancient warrior’s family', and the name is most commonly found in County Cork, as well as throughout Ireland and the Southwestern parts of the United Kingdom.

The surname is popularly associated with some famous Irish people such as Arthur Kiely, a professional rugby union player, and members of the Kiely family from County Kerry, who were renowned doctors and members of the medical profession. Kielly also has its resonance in Northern Ireland, where it is the name of a popular Irish pub-restaurant.

The Kielly surname is a proud and storied representation of the ancient Gaelic clans of Ireland and is a tangible reminder of the bravery and ferocity of those who bore this name in history. Today, it is a testament to the brave and hardworking descendants of these ancient warrior families.

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Kielly: Where does the name Kielly come from?

The last name Kielly is most commonly found in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Its distribution in Ireland is believed to stem from the Kielly family who lived in County Cork since the 16th century, although the clan was originally believed to come from Wales. In addition to being a popular name in Ireland, it is also commonly found in parts of England, particularly in the North East, and Scotland.

It is also a relatively popular name in the United States and Canada. In the United States, the Kielly name is most frequently found in the states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. Other states where the name is common include Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. In Canada, the Kielly name is most often found in Quebec as well as the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Many countries in Australia, particularly in the southeastern region, also have significant populations of Kiellys, as well as South Africa, where it is a more common name. Furthermore, Kielly is one of the most common last names in Jamaica.

Regardless of where it is found, Kielly is an ancient Irish surname that is associated with a proud history of Irish culture. The name most likely has origins in the union of the Gaelic pre-Norman name O'Ceallaigh and the Welsh version of Kelly.

Variations of the surname Kielly

The surname Kielly has a number of variants, spellings, and surnames of the same origin. These variations include Kelly, Keilly, Kealy, Killey, Kilby, O'Kelly, O'Kelley, and O'Keel.

The Kelly form of the surname is the most common variant, having evolved from the Irish "O'Ceallaigh", which originally meant "Descendant of Ceallach". This form is particularly popular amongst Anglo-Saxons as a result of the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1172.

The Keilly spelling is a variant of Kelly and emerged as an entirely Irish form of that surname. It is often found in county Galway and occasionally in county Cork.

The Kealy spelling is a variation of Kelly used mainly in County Clare. This form of the surname originated with the Anglo-Normans who invaded the region in the twelfth century.

The Killey and Kilby spellings evolved from the Irish surname "O'Kealidhe", the anglicized form of which is Kelly. This surname is mainly found in County Limerick.

The O'Kelley, O'Kelley and O'Keel versions of the surname all originated in Ireland with the O'Ceallaigh variations. However, these spellings are not as popular as the Kelly forms of the surname.

Overall, the surname Kielly originated in Ireland and has a number of variants, spellings, and surnames of the same origin. These variations include Kelly, Keilly, Kealy, Killey, Kilby, O'Kelly, O'Kelley, and O'Keel.

Famous people with the name Kielly

  • Louis Kiely: American actor, active since the late 1970s.
  • David Kiely: Canadian entrepreneur and venture capitalist.
  • Mike Kiely: Retired Irish hurler who played as a right corner-back for the Cork senior hurling team.
  • Danny Kiely: Irish actor, best-known for his role in the 2017 feature film The Lodgers.
  • Ian Kiely: Irish artist and political cartoonist.
  • Tony Kiely: Irish actor, best-known for his starring role in the Irish television series Acceptable Risk.
  • Shane Kiely: Irish comedian and radio presenter.
  • Ryan Kiely: Irish professional rugby player.
  • Sally Kiely: Irish politician, currently the Fianna Fáil Deputy for Mid-West Region.
  • Patrick Kiely: Irish artist and illustrator.
  • Jim Kiely: British film and television actor.
  • Joe Kiely: Retired Canadian professional ice hockey player.
  • Maura Kiely: Irish television presenter and radio presenter.
  • Stephen Kiely: Professional mountain biker, currently competing at international level for Great Britain.
  • Shayne Kiely: Irish racehorse trainer.
  • Mark Kiely: Irish artist, best-known for his bronze sculptures.
  • Helen Kiely: Irish actress, best-known for her stage work in the Irish Repertory Theatre Company.
  • John Kiely: Irish Fine Gael politician who has served as Teachta Dála for the Limerick County constituency since 2020.
  • Lauren Kiely: American Paralympic swimmer.
  • William Kiely: British professional dancer, teacher and choreographer.

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