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Kelley, Kelly, O’ Kelley, O’ Kelly, Ó Ceallaigh


Kelly is the Anglicisation of the Gaelic Ó Ceallaigh, based on the personal name “Ceallach” which can mean either ‘bright-haired’ or ‘troublesome’. The popularity of the name dictated that it would be incorporated into surnames in several different areas across the country, including Co. Meath, Co. Wicklow, Co. Antrim, Co. Derry, Co. Sligo, Co. Galway, Co. Roscommon and Co. Laois. The most important of all these clans was the O’ Kellys from the territory of the Uí Máine, which covered east Galway and south Roscommon, and was known as O’ Kelly Country. Today the name is the second most prominent in Ireland, and is spread throughout the country, being most numerous in counties Galway, Kildare, Leitrim and Roscommon.