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

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

Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name O'Neill is Ó Néill, which means descendant of Niall, a personal name of Irish origin, thought to mean "champion."


A name was often recorded during the Middle Ages under several different spelling variations during the life of its bearer because literacy was rare there was no real push to clearly define any of the languages found in the British Isles at that time. Variations found of the name O'Neill include O'Neill, Neal, Neale, Neales, Neil, Nihill, Niell, O'Nail, O'Neil, O'Niel and many more.

First found in County Tyrone (Irish: Tír Eoghain), the ancient territory of the O'Neills, now in the Province of Ulster, central Northern Ireland, and County Clare where O'Neill was chief of Clan Dalvy and of Tradree, a district in the barony of Inchiquinn. In the 10th century, a branch of this family went to Limerick to assist in the expulsion of the Danes. After one victorious occasion they wore green boughs in their helmets and on their horses' heads signifying their victory.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Neill research. Another 215 words(15 lines of text) covering the years 1480, 1559, 1530, 1567, 1550, 1616, 1612, 1664, 1694, 1689 and 1689 are included under the topic Early O'Neill History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 205 words(15 lines of text) are included under the topic Early O'Neill Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Death and immigration greatly reduced Ireland's population in the 19th century. For the native Irish people poverty, hunger, and racial prejudice was common. Therefore, thousands left their homeland to seek opportunity in North America. Those who survived the journey and the quarantine camps to which they arrived, were instrumental towards building the strong developing nations of the United States and the future Canada. By far, the largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. These were employed as construction or factory workers. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name O'Neill:

O'Neill Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Arthur, Bernard, Charles, Denis, Edward, Felix, James, John, Mark, Michael, Patrick, Terence, Thomas, and William O'Neill all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860


  • Thomas Phillip "Tip" O'Neill Jr. (1912-1994), former US Congressman and Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1977 to 1987 and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Eugene Gladstone O'Neill (1888-1953), American playwright, and Nobel laureate (1936) in Literature and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1920, 1922, 1928, and 1957
  • Sergeant Richard William O'Neill (1898-1982), American soldier who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during World War I
  • William Atchison O'Neill (1930-2007), American Governor of Connecticut from 1980 to 1991
  • Rose Cecil O'Neill (1874-1944), American illustrator who created the character "Kewpie" best known as the "Kewpie Doll"
  • Arthur Joseph O'Neill (1917-2013), American Roman Catholic prelate, Bishop of Rockford (1968–1994)
  • Michael O'Neill (1909-1976), Irish politician in the United Kingdom
  • Patrick O'Neill (d. 1938), Irish nationalist politician and hotel proprietor
  • Robert Torrens O'Neill DL, JP (1845-1910), Irish Unionist politician and Justice of the Peace for County Antrim, Deputy Lieutenant for County Londonderry, and was High Sheriff in 1871
  • Maire O'Neill (1885-1952), Irish stage and film actress



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  1. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  2. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  3. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
  4. Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty. A New Dictionary of Irish History form 1800 2nd Edition. Dublin: Gil & MacMillian, 2003. Print.
  5. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of Ireland. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1969. Print.
  6. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  7. 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).
  8. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  9. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  10. Tepper, Michael Ed & Elizabeth P. Bentley Transcriber. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986. Print.
  11. ...

The O'Neill Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The O'Neill 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 4 September 2014 at 08:56.

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