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Surname McNeela - Meaning and Origin

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McNeela: What does the surname McNeela mean?

The Irish surname McNeela is derived from Ó Nialláin, and is almost exclusively found in the province of Connacht. It is most common in the counties of Sligo and Mayo. This name is one of the many Anglicized versions of the Irish Uí Nialláin, which was the surname of a 10th-century king of Connacht.

The literal meaning of the family name is “son of Niallán”, with Niallán likely being derived from the Irish name Niall, meaning “champion”. By extension, the surname McNeela can be interpreted to mean “son of the champion”.

In the past, many variants of the family name McNeela were used in Ireland, including McNeilan, McNeilane, McNeilanen, McNillen, McNelan, MacNeillan, and Mcneelan. These variations are now generally not kept track of, and the surname McNeela is a catch-all for many of these variations.

Today, the McNeela name is still most commonly used in the province of Connacht, where it is not overly rare. Some notable people who have used the McNeela surname include Brian McNeela, a prominent Irish entrepreneur and teacher, and Tiarnon McNeela, an Irish footballer who currently plays for Championship side Birmingham City.

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McNeela: Where does the name McNeela come from?

The last name McNeela is most common today in Ireland, typically in the northern part of the country. It is particularly popular in County Leitrim, County Fermanagh, County Louth and County Cavan. The McNeela name is derived from the Gaelic MacNéill, which translates to “son of Neil”.

The McNeela name is generally associated with the same general region in Ireland, and is mainly studied within that context. There is some evidence that the McNeela name was introduced to other parts of the world by immigrants from Ireland, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States.

In terms of surname frequency, the most recent study has found that there are less than two hundred people who share the name McNeela in the world today. This low occurrence can be attributed to the general dispersal of the McNeela name in other parts of the world rather than a decrease in population.

The McNeela surname typically belongs to families of Irish origin who lived in rural and rural-urban locations. Although the numbers are low today, its presence in Ireland is still strong, and its roots run deep.

Variations of the surname McNeela

Variants, spellings, and surnames for the surname McNeela are McNeill, McNeil, O'Neill, O'Neil, and Neill.

McNeela is an Anglicized version of the Gaelic name “O’Neill” and “MacNeill”, which has its origin in Ulster in the north-east of Ireland. The name had many variations due to the anglicization process that came with the British coming to Ireland. In the process, various spellings resulted in further variations, some being Neill, McNeal and McNeill.

In the middle ages, surnames evolved as a way to identify people by their fathers’ name. The prefix “O” or “Mac” means “son of” in Gaelic and so the surname McNeela is a direct descendant of Neill. This prefix was used prior to be dropped and other spellings, such as McNeal, McNeill and Neill emerged.

The common Irish surname McNeela is derived from the patronymic MacNeill. The Connacht form is Mac Néill. According to Irish records there are two main septs, MacNéill Uí Bhriain of Munster and MacNéill Mheilleartaigh of Mayo and Galway. Other variants, including MacNeill, O'Neill, McNeil and Neill, are derived from the same family.

The variants of McNeill are found in both the Ireland and Scotland with its most common variant found in Ulster. It is commonly found in the London area, and could also be found in many parts of the UK and Australia. The various spellings, such as McNeela, McNeill, O’Neill, O’Neil, and Neill, can all be traced back to the original Gaelic “O’Neills”.

The surname McNeela and its variants, spellings and surnames are all of Irish origin and associated with a proud and strong heritage. This surname has been influential in the growth and development of the Irish people and continues to be a powerful symbol of the strong Irish identity.

Famous people with the name McNeela

  • Oisín McNeela: Irish fiddle player, composer, musical director, and teacher of Irish traditional music.
  • John McNeela: Irish actor, best known for the film I Went Down and his TV role in The Clinic.
  • Ryan McNeela: Irish rugby union player who has represented Ireland at under-20 level.
  • Lauren McNeela: Irish singer-songwriter from Dublin who has been gaining recognition in the Irish folk and alternative sphere.
  • Rita McNeela: Irish dancer who is renowned for breaking new ground in Irish Step and for her innovative, immediately recognisable dance style.
  • Pádraic McNeela: Irish National Hurling Team forward and three-time All-Ireland Shinty Cup Champion.
  • Hanna McNeela: Irish professional ballroom dancer and television personality who was a finalist in the 5th season of the American version of Dancing with the Stars.
  • David McNeela: Irish politician who was a minister in several coalition governments in IRA and SDLP administrations.
  • Robert McNeela: Founder of The McNeela Group, a real estate investment and development firm headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.
  • Bill McNeela: Irish jazz musician, composer, and arranger from Dublin, best known for composing the music for the movie "The Commitments".

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