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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2015

Where did the Irish Keeley family come from? 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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During the Middle Ages, attempting to record a Gaelic name in English was a daunting task. Most names were spelt by scribes solely based on how it sounded, one's name could have been recorded many different ways during the life of its bearer. Numerous spelling variations were revealed in the search for the origin of the name Keeley family name.Variations 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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Irish immigrants began to leave the English-controlled Ireland in sizable numbers during the late 18th century. Many of these Irish immigrated to British North America or the United States in the hopes of gaining their own tract of farmland. This pattern of migration grew steadily until the 1840s when the Great Potato Famine caused a great exodus of immigrants to North America. These immigrants differed from their predecessors in that they were desperately fleeing the disease and starvation that plagued their homeland, and many were entirely destitute when they arrived in North America. Although these penniless immigrants were not warmly welcomed when they arrived, they were critical to the rapid development of the United States and what would become known as Canada. Many went to populate the western frontiers and others provided the cheap labor the new manufacturing sector and the building of bridges, roads, railways, and canals required. A thorough examination of immigration and passenger lists has revealed some of the earliest people to arrive in North America with name Keeley or one of its variants:

Keeley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • William Keeley who landed in America in 1765

Keeley Settlers in 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


Keeley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Mary Keeley arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "William Watson" in 1849

Keeley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Joseph Keeley, aged 44, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alumbagh" in 1875
  • Elizabeth Keeley, aged 46, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alumbagh" in 1875
  • Kesiah Keeley, aged 24, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alumbagh" in 1875
  • Giles Keeley, aged 22, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alumbagh" in 1875
  • Elizabeth Keeley, aged 169, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alumbagh" in 1875


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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. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of Ireland. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1969. Print.
  2. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  3. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  4. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  5. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  6. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  7. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  8. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  9. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  10. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  11. ...


This page was last modified on 13 November 2014 at 16:21.

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