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Today's Irish surnames are underpinned by a multitude of rich histories. The name Donnelly originally appeared in Gaelic as O Donnghaile, derived from the words "donn," which means brown, and "gal," which means valor.

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The surname Donnelly was first found in County Donegal. Later, the sept expanded eastward and became based at Ballydonnelly in the county of Tyrone. The name continues to be common in this area of Ireland today. The name is believed to be directly descended from King Niall of the Nine Hostages, the great Irish general/king who died by the River Seine in France about 365 A.D., after soundly defeating the Romans and being instrumental in their return to the south. Niall made King Arthur's exploits seem rather small by comparison. The Donnelly chief was always elected Chief Marshall of the O'Neill forces and their exploits have filled the pages of Irish history compiled by the Four Masters. They are a part of the great Clann Eoghan(Owen). They claim to be seventeenth in descent from the great King Niall, and their territories were at Ballydonnelly in County Tyrone.

Within the archives researched, many different spelling variations of the surname Donnelly were found. These included One reason for the many variations is that scribes and church officials often spelled an individual's name as it sounded. This imprecise method often led to many versions. Donnely, Donnelly, Donelly, O'Donnelly, O'Donelly, Donnolly, Donnally, Donolly, Donnilly, Donnelie, Donneley, O'Donnally and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Donnelly research. Another 221 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1603, 1641, 1650 and 1716 are included under the topic Early Donnelly History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Another 28 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Donnelly Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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A massive amount of Ireland's native population left the island in the 19th century for North America and Australia in hopes of finding more opportunities and an escape from discrimination and oppression. A great portion of these migrants arrived on the eastern shores of the North American continent. Although they were generally poor and destitute, and, therefore, again discriminated against, these Irish people were heartily welcomed for the hard labor involved in the construction of railroads, canals, roadways, and buildings. Many others were put to work in the newly established factories or agricultural projects that were so essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest nations in the world. The Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s initiated the largest wave of Iris immigration. Early North American immigration and passenger lists have revealed a number of people bearing the name Donnelly or a variant listed above:

Donnelly Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Peter Donnelly, who landed in America in 1760-1763
  • Bryan, Peter and Thomas Donnelly landed in America in 1763

Donnelly Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Catherine and Hugh Donnelly who settled in New York in 1803
  • Terrence Donnelly, who arrived in America in 1810
  • William Donnelly, who landed in New York, NY in 1811
  • William Donnelly, who landed in New York, NY in 1811
  • Hugh Donnelly, who landed in America in 1811
  • ...

Donnelly Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Patrick Donnelly, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1808
  • Jane Donnelly, aged 20, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "John & Mary" from Belfast, Ireland
  • Owen Donnelly, aged 33, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "John & Mary" from Belfast, Ireland
  • Mary Donnelly, aged 30, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "John & Mary" from Belfast, Ireland
  • Henry Donnelly, aged 6, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "John & Mary" from Belfast, Ireland
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Donnelly Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • John Donnelly, a farrier, arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Catherine Donnelly, aged 22, Irish convict from Cavan, who was transported aboard the "Arabian" in November 22nd, 1846, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Austraila
  • Bridget Donnelly, aged 17, a housemaid, arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Navarino"
  • Ellen Donnelly, aged 19, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Navarino"
  • Jane Donnelly, aged 39, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Navarino"
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Donnelly Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Patrick Donnelly landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • William Donnelly arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Jane Gifford" in 1842
  • Eliza Donnelly arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Jane Gifford" in 1842
  • James Donnelly, aged 42, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Inchinnan" in 1852
  • Mary Donnelly, aged 30, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Inchinnan" in 1852
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  • Joseph Simon "Joe" Donnelly Sr. (b. 1955), American politician, United States Senator from Indiana (2013-)
  • Eleanor C. Donnelly (1838-1917), American Catholic poet, short story writer and biographer, nicknamed "The Poet of the Pure Soul"
  • Elaine Catherine Corrigan O'Brien Donnelly (1955-2014), American flight instructor and politician
  • Ted Donnelly, American jazz artist
  • Dorothy Donnelly (1880-1928), American musical actress
  • Donal Donnelly (b. 1931), Irish-American actor
  • Ignatius Donnelly (1831-1901), American politician and writer
  • Charles Donnelly (1914-1937), Irish poet and political activist
  • Brian Donnelly QSO (1949-2008), New Zealand politician
  • Simon Thomas Donnelly (b. 1974), Scottish professional footballer
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Donnelly Historic Events



Halifax Explosion

  • Miss May  Donnelly (1911-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Mrs. Sarah  Donnelly (1890-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Miss Ethel  Donnelly (1917-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917

RMS Lusitania

  • Mr. Peter Donnelly, English Fireman from England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking
  • Mr. John Donnelly, English Fireman from Liverpool, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking
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  • Genealogy in Convenient Form Ralph W. Cathell.
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Citations



    Other References

    1. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
    2. Sullivan, Sir Edward. The Book of Kells 3rd Edition. New York: Crescent Books, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-517-61987-3).
    3. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
    4. 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).
    5. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
    6. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
    7. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
    8. O'Hart, John. Irish Pedigress 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4).
    9. Kennedy, Patrick. Kennedy's Book of Arms. Canterbury: Achievements, 1967. Print.
    10. 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).
    11. ...

    The Donnelly Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Donnelly 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 July 2016 at 14:31.

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