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Surname O'Donnell - Meaning and Origin

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

The last name O'Donnell is an Anglicized version of the Irish Ó Domhnaill, which is derived from the Irish personal name Domhnall. Its literal translation is “world mighty” or “world ruler”.

The O'Donnell family were a powerful clan in medieval Ireland, who were charged with the protection of the Midlands region. The O’Donnell clan extended their rule beyond Ireland, with members of the family ruling as kings in other parts of Europe such as Hungary and Sicily.

The O’Donnells were a formidable presence in early Irish history; they provided a strong opposition to the expansion of Anglo-Norman rule in Ireland in 1169 and eventually won the battle when their forces under Hugh O’Neill drove the English out of most of Ulster in the mid-sixteenth century.

The O’Donnell name is still a prominent one in Ireland today and there are many people whose family name undeniably bears the O’Donnell heritage. This distinguished family name has endured throughout the centuries and many of its members have held profound positions in Irish history.

The O’Donnells have been a determined Irish family who have held a long and proud lineage. Keeping this ancient and respected name alive is an honor for all of its custodians, and a reminder of the strength and characters of Irish families.

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

The last name O'Donnell is a common Irish surname, and remains very popular in Ireland today. According to the Central Statistics Office, O’Donnell was the 27th most popular surname in Ireland in 2019. It has an established history of notable figures, such as Hugh O'Donnell, the 16th-century chieftain of Tyrconnell.

O'Donnell has remained prominent in Irish culture, spreading to other countries from Ireland. According to the 2019 United States Census, nearly 29,000 people had the O'Donnell surname. It is especially prominent in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The O'Donnell surname also carries strong presence in Scotland and Australia.

The O'Donnell surname is found in jurisdictions of the Commonwealth such as India, South Africa, and Kenya. It is also widespread throughout South America, where Spanish settlers brought the name along with them from Europe during the colonial period.

O'Donnell is still a thriving and globally-recognized name contributing to Irish and international culture and history. From clan chiefs to authors to professional athletes, the O'Donnell name continues to influence the world in many lasting ways.

Variations of the surname O'Donnell

The surname O'Donnell is an Irish surname originating from the O'Donnell Clan in Ireland. Variants, spellings, and surnames with the same origin as O'Donnell can include Donnell, Donnellan, Donnelly, Donelan, Donelon, O'Donell, O'Donnel, O'Donnal, O'Donnely, O'Donnelly, Donnely and Donelly.

O'Donnell is an anglicised form of the Gaelic name O'Domhnall. O’Domhnall is made up of two Gaelic words, “O” which means male descendant/grandson and, “Domhnall” which is a personal name derived from the Celtic words “domno” meaning “world or universe” and “valo” meaning “rule”.

The various regional variants of O'Donnell include MacDonnel, O'Donnel, MacDonagh, McDonagh, McDonell, MacDonell, MacDonnell, MacDonald and Donnell. In some parts of Ireland, O'Donnell is written as Donnell, Donelan, Donelon, Donnely, Donelly, Donnely or O'Donell.

The O'Donnells were a powerful warrior family in the medieval period of Ireland who had a strong presence in Irish politics and were often at war with their neighbouring clans such as the O'Neils and the O'Connors. The O'Donnells were also well known as academics and members of the clergy.

The O'Donnell name has also been found in Scotland where it is spelt O'Donnel, O'Donell, O'Donnely, O'Donnal and O'Donnelly.

Today, the surnames O'Donnell, Donnell, Donnellan, Donnelly, Donelan, Donelon, O'Donell, O'Donnel, O'Donnal, O'Donnely, O'Donnelly, Donnely and Donelly are all still found in Ireland and other parts of the world.

Famous people with the name O'Donnell

  • Rosie O'Donnell: American comedian, actress, author, and television personality.
  • Rosaleen O'Donnell: British costume designer and 1970s songwriter known for her Children's BBC work and long-running BBC collaboration with composer Dudley Simpson.
  • Cristina O'Donnell: Former Miss Oklahoma and Broadway performer.
  • Kelsey O'Donnell: American model and actress best known for her roles in The Big Bang Theory, The Vampire Diaries, and Grey's Anatomy.
  • Kevin O'Donnell Jr.: Award-winning American science fiction author.
  • Maureen O'Donnell: Irish actress and writer who starred in several British television shows.
  • Diane O'Donnell: Former Women's Professional Racquetball Association champion.
  • Maury O'Donnell: Irish baritone and singer-songwriter who has sung in both Irish and English.
  • P. J. O'Donnell: U.S. Marine Corps Major General and Vietnam War veteran.
  • Debra O'Donnell: American actress and singer known for roles on Broadway and television, including Lou Grant.

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