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Surname O Kelly - Meaning and Origin

all surnames with 'O'

O Kelly: What does the surname O Kelly mean?

The last name O'Kelly is of Irish origin and is derived from the Gaelic name Ó Ceallaigh. The "Ó" prefix indicates "grandson of" or "descendent of", while "Ceallaigh" refers to someone who is brave or fierce in battle. Therefore, the name O'Kelly collectively implies "descendant of the brave warrior". The Ceallaigh clan was a prominent family in Irish history with notable influence and power in several regions of Ireland. Although the name is widely spread throughout Ireland, it is most commonly associated with the provinces of Meath and Galway. Like many Irish surnames, variations of spelling exist including O'Kelley, Kelley, and Kelly. Despite its ancient origins, O'Kelly remains a prevalent surname in modern Ireland and among the global Irish diaspora.

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O Kelly: Where does the name O Kelly come from?

The surname O'Kelly is of Irish origin derived from the Gaelic name "Ó Ceallaigh," which means "descendant of Ceallach." The personal name Ceallach is believed to possibly mean "bright-headed," "troublesome" or "war," but its exact meaning is uncertain. The O'Kelly clan held noteworthy power and reigned in various regions of Ireland for centuries.

The surname, minus the prefix 'O', became Kelly after the British forced the Irish to anglicize their names during the 17th century. After Irish independence, many families readopted the O' prefix, bringing back the O'Kelly name.

Today, the O'Kelly surname is quite common and widespread in Ireland, particularly in the ancient Kingdom of Ui Maine in the counties of Galway and Roscommon, where the family had their historical territory. The name is also prevalent in the United States, Britain, and across the Anglophone world due to the large Irish diaspora over the centuries.

Variations of the surname O Kelly

The surname O Kelly is of Irish origin and has a variety of alternate spellings and variants. Some of the most common are: O'Kelly, OKelly, and Kelly without the prefix. The prefix "O" in Irish surnames usually means "descendant of". The surname Kelly itself is an Anglicization of the Irish Ó Ceallaigh, which means "descendant of Ceallach". Ceallach is an ancient Irish name that's meaning is believed to be "bright-headed".

In modern times, surnames are often written without the spacing or the apostrophe, so a common variation of the name is OKelly. Other related surnames, either through marriage or branching of the family, can include Kiely, Kealy, Kellie, O'Kealy, and Kelligh.

Each variant or spelling of the surname O Kelly represents a unique branch of the family that may have emerged at different points in history. While all of these surnames have their roots in the same original Irish surname, each has a distinct lineage and history.

Keep in mind that Irish names were often Anglicized in different ways, so an individual family might have used several of these versions at different times and places.

Famous people with the name O Kelly

  • Dean O’Kelly, professional Australian rules footballer
  • Damien O’Kelly, Irish professional soccer player
  • Bob O’Kelly, American football defensive lineman for the Houston Oilers
  • Johnny O’Kelly, former All-Star Irish cricketer from Northern Ireland
  • Tim O’Kelly, Canadian actor, writer, and producer
  • Shona O'Kelly, Irish artist and sculptor
  • Roc O’Kelly, American singer, songwriter, and DJ
  • Jackie O’Kelly, Irish television presenter, best known for presenting the morning children's show The Den
  • Conor O’Kelly, Irish journalist and broadcaster from Dublin
  • Charles O’Kelly, Irish association footballer who played in the Football League First Division for Aston Villa

Other surnames

O BoeyO BoweÓ CanainnO CarrollO ConaillÓ ConchobhairÓ CuinÓ CuinnÓ DaimhínÓ DálaighO DalyÓ DómhnaillÓ DonnchadhaÓ DubhdaraÓ DuibhínÓ DuibhirO DuireO DuvireÓ FeoreO FlanaganÓ FuereÓ FureyÓ FuryO GaraO GuineyO GuinidheO GuinyeO HanlonÓ HANNÁINO Hart

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