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Surname O'Neille - Meaning and Origin

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

O'Neille is an Irish patronymic surname stemming from the Gaelic surname O’Néill. This name is taken from the ancient clan of O’Néill, one of the most powerful ancient Irish families. The prefix “O” means “grandson” or “descendant of” in reference to the family’s original progenitor, Niall of the Nine Hostages. O’Néill is derived from the Gaelic words Ua Néill, meaning “descendant of Niall”.

The O’Néill name is associated with royalty and power, stretching back to the 5th Century when the High King of Ireland was a member of the clan. The family was the only Irish clan to beat back Viking invasions and commanded wide territory along the northern coast of Ireland. After generations of rivalries, the English finally overcame the O’Néills as they defeated the last widely-recognized High King in 1607. The O’Néill name continued to be used as a surname, signifying royalty and power to this day.

Today, the surname O’Neille can be found throughout Ireland and the UK, as well as North America, Australia, and New Zealand, as the clan’s descendants spread across the globe. Its origins in a powerful and noble Irish past imbue the name with a deep sense of history and pride, representing the Irish heritage that so many have come to know and love.

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

The last name O'Neille is most commonly found in the Northern parts of the United Kingdom. In 2012, the O'Neille surname was found in highest concentration in Northern Ireland, followed by Scotland, England, and Wales. The numbers of this surname have decreased significantly since the 19th century, when researchers found that more than 30,000 people had the last name O'Neille.

Tracing the origins of the O'Neille name reveals that its name holders can be traced back to ancient times lived in the province of Ulster in modern-day Northern Ireland. In Irish, the name is believed to mean “Grandson of Niall”, referring to the 10th-century Irish leader, Niall Glúndub. folklore claims that Niall Glúndub, the first O’Neill, was granted the title of High King of Ireland.

Today, the name is most commonly found in Northern Ireland, along with various regions of Great Britain, such as England, Scotland, and Wales. In the United States, the name is found primarily in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, and California. Additionally, there is also a small population of the O'Neille surname found in Australia, Canada, and Germany.

The O'Neille surname is still quite common today, particularly in the parts of the United Kingdom where the name originated.

Variations of the surname O'Neille

The various spellings, variants and surnames of the same origin for the surname O’Neille are numerous. Some of the more common ones include O’Niel, Neill, Niall, Neal, Neale, Neill, Neilson, Nilsson, Nilson, O’Nail, O’Neil, O’Neill, O’Neal, O’Neill, O’Neilson, O’Nail, Neil and Neilson.

The common origin for these surnames traces back from the old Irish surname Ó Niall. The prefix “Ó” signified “descendant of” and the original meaning of the surname was “Champion.” Niall was one of the early heroes of the Irish Celts and was the ancestor of many of the prominent Irish clans. The Niall dynasty was founded in the fifth century by Niall of the Nine Hostages, the legendary high king of Ireland and the father of the great kings of the Uí Néill.

As descendants of the ancient Irish clans, the O’Neille family moved throughout the British Isles, settling in many areas such as Scotland, Great Britain and parts of the United States. Their surnames were often adapted to the local accents and spelling of names in the 33 different countries that O’Neille descendants are found in today.

The O’Neille name has been a common one in many countries because of their legendary ancestry. It was also one of the most popular surnames when records began to be kept in the eighteenth century. As a result, many variations and spellings of the name have appeared. There is no definitive answer as to which spelling is the “correct” one, however the O’Neille spelling of the surname is the most popular.

Famous people with the name O'Neille

  • Pierce O'Neill: an American comedian, actor, writer, and producer.
  • Graeme O'Neill: an Australian rugby league player.
  • Peter O'Neill: the current Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.
  • Claire O'Neill: a British politician, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Clean Growth in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
  • Maggie O'Neill: an English actress.
  • Paul O'Neill: American musician and founder of Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
  • Matt O'Neill: an American professional lacrosse player.
  • David O'Neill: an American professional lacrosse player.
  • Liam O'Neill: the former President of Gaelic Athletic Association.
  • Billy O'Neill: an American professional inline skater and skateboarder.

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