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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Where did the Irish Keeley family come from? What is the Irish Keeley family crest and coat of arms? When did the Keeley family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Keeley family history?

There are a multitude of ancient meanings and variations associated with the Irish surnames that are now common throughout the modern world. The original Gaelic form of the name Keeley is O Cadhla, which is derived from the word "cadhla," which means "graceful."

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Within archives, many different spelling variations exist for the surname Keeley. Ancient scribes and church officials recorded names as they were pronounced, often resulting in the name of the single person being recorded under several different spellings. Different spellings that were found include Keily, Keiley, Keilly, Kiley, Kily, Kiely, Kieley, Keeley, Keely, Queally, Quealy, Quelly, O'Keily, O'Keilly, O'Kiely and many more.

First found in County Waterford (Irish: Port Láirge), anciently the Deise region, on the South coast of Ireland in the Province of Munster, where they held a family seat from very ancient times. They are of the ancient kingdom of Ossory (Osraighe), conjecturally descended from the Kings and gentry of Ossory, the progenitor of which was Conla, the second son of Breasal Breac, King of Leinster, and descended to Ceallach who was ancestor of Teige McGillpatrick.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Keeley research. Another 469 words(34 lines of text) covering the years 1190, 1630, 1645, 1689, and 1863 are included under the topic Early Keeley History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Keeley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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In the 18th and 19th centuries hundreds of thousands of Irish people immigrated to North American shores. The early settlers were enticed by the promise of their own land, but they were moderately well off in Ireland when they decided to emigrate. Therefore, they were merely carrying out a long and carefully thought out decision. The 1840s saw the emergence of a very different trend: thousands of extremely desperate people crammed into passenger boats hoping to find any type of opportunity. The Irish of this decade had seen their homeland severely stricken by crop failures which resulted in widespread disease and starvation. At whatever time the Irish immigrants came to North America, they were instrumental in the rapid development of the emerging nations of the United States and what would become known as Canada. An exhaustive search of passenger and immigration lists has revealed many persons bearing the name Keeley, or one of its variants:

Keeley Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • William Keeley who landed in America in 1765

Keeley Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • David Keeley, who arrived in America in 1801
  • Owen Keeley, who arrived in New York in 1837
  • Dennis and Ellen Keeley settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1849
  • A Keeley, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • Michael Keeley settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1852


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  • Fred Keeley (b. 1950), American politician
  • Leslie Keeley (1836-1900), American physician
  • Wayne J Keeley (b. 1956), American practicing attorney, author, teacher, producer and director
  • Steven Bo Keeley (b. 1949), American adventurer, naturalist, holistic healer, veterinarian, professional athlete
  • Burton Elwood "Burt" Keeley (1879-1952), American Major League Baseball pitcher
  • James Hugh Keeley Jr. (1898-1975), American diplomat
  • Irene Patricia Murphy Keeley (b. 1944), United States jurist
  • Mary Anne Keeley (1805-1899), English actress and actor-manager
  • Robert Keeley (b. 1970), British creator of effects pedals
  • Walter Keeley (1921-1995), English footballer

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  1. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  3. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  4. Sullivan, Sir Edward. The Book of Kells 3rd Edition. New York: Crescent Books, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-517-61987-3).
  5. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
  6. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  7. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  8. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  9. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of Ireland. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1969. Print.
  10. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Keeley Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Keeley Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 7 November 2013 at 22:53.

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