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Surname O'Connell - Meaning and Origin

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O'Connell: What does the surname O'Connell mean?

The last name O'Connell (sometimes spelled O'Connel, O'Conneal, Connell, and Connel) is an Irish surname derived from the Gaelic name O' Conaill, meaning as “son of Conall”. Conall is a personal name derived from the Gaelic “con” (“wise”) and “gal” (“valour”).

The surname O’Connell is closely linked with Irish history and politics, taking its name from one of Ireland’s most prominent political figures—Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847). He was a key member of the Irish Catholic aristocracy and one of the forefathers of the Irish independence movement. He is often referred to as the “Liberator of Ireland” or “The Emancipator”, as well as one of the top five Irishmen of all time. He held a number of political offices, such as Member of Parliament in the British House of Commons and President of the Catholic Association.

Due to its strong historical association, O’Connell is highly regarded as a powerful and respected Irish surname. Some of its most famous members include revolutionary Theobald Wolfe Tone, founding father of Australia Sir Daniel O’Connell, and famous priest and university chancellor Lord Edward O’Connell.

Today, those with the last name O’Connell are proud of their achievements and many are passionate about maintaining the family’s legacy. The influence of the name lives on with increased presence in public life of countries such as Ireland, Australia, Canada, and the United States, as well as various other countries across the world.

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O'Connell: Where does the name O'Connell come from?

The last name O'Connell is a very common Irish surname today, particularly in the Republic of Ireland where it is among the twenty most common surnames. O'Connell (or its variations such as OConnell, O'connel, O'connel, O'Connel, and O'Connelle) can also be found in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and the United States.

In the United States, O'Connell is especially concentrated in New England states like Massachusetts and Connecticut, with other notable concentrations in Pennsylvania, New York, California, and the Washington D.C./Maryland/Virginia area.

In the Republic of Ireland, O'Connell is most common in counties Cork and Limerick. The name can also be found in large numbers in the rest of Munster, particularly Kerry and Clare. It is less common in Connacht, but still present, and in the northern province of Ulster, particularly in counties Down and Fermanagh.

The name is of Irish Gaelic origin and is thought to mean, ‘descendant of Conall’, a name derived from the words ‘con’ (strong) and ‘gal’ (valor). The O'Connells are also believed to be descendants of Niall of the Nine Hostages, a legendary early medieval figure who is thought to be an ancestor of many Irish families.

Variations of the surname O'Connell

The surname O'Connell has many variants and spellings related to the same origin. Alternate spellings include O'Connel, Connel, Conneil, Connell, Connall, Connell, O'Connail, O'Conaile, O'Conail, O'Conneil, and O'Connil.

O'Connell is an Irish surname of Gaelic origin, derived from the Irish personal name 'Conall'. Historically, the O'Connell name comes from two distinct Irish clans, the 'Ua Conaill', from the County of Tyrone and the 'Ui Conaill' from Clare. The Gaelic term 'Ua' or 'O' means 'descended from'.

The different spellings of O'Connell appeared as the Irish language and family names were anglicized in the period after the Anglicization of Ireland in the 17th century. Similar to other Irish surnames, the anglicization of O’Connell has root words stemming from 'ón', which are done by either including a vowel before or after the original surname.

Examples of these variations include Donnel, Donnelly, Dunnolly, MacConnell, MacDonell, and similar spellings. While O’Connell and any of its alternates are largely anglicized, Ireland still has many surnames in the original Gaelic form. For example, Conaill, Dónal, and Donall are the Irish names for people with the O'Connell surname.

Famous people with the name O'Connell

  • Jackie O’Connell: Former Miss USA and Miss Universe
  • Des O’Connell: Irish Gaelic Footballer
  • Michael O’Connell: Actor
  • Paul O’Connell: Irish Rugby player
  • Olivia O’Connell: Actress
  • Lee O’Connell: Professional baseball player
  • Brian O’Connell: Wrestler
  • Hanna O’Connell: Fashion blogger and designer
  • Daniel O’Connell: Irish statesman
  • Tony O’Connell: Television presenter
  • Patrick O’Connell: English footballer
  • Mags O’Connell: Irish politician
  • Jake O’Connell: Professional golfer
  • Nuala O’Connell: Irish broadcaster
  • Brendan O’Connell: American actor
  • Liam O’Connell: Movie script writer
  • Siobhán O’Connell: Matte painter
  • Chris O’Connell: Television producer
  • Joe O’Connell: Television executive
  • Sheila O’Connell: Irish politician

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