Keely History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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 Keely is O Cadhla, which is derived from the word "cadhla," which means "graceful." [1]

Early Origins of the Keely family

The surname Keely was 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. [2]

"Kiely belongs mainly to Cos. Waterford and Limerick." [3]

Early History of the Keely family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Keely research. Another 152 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1190, 1630, 1645, 1689 and 1863 are included under the topic Early Keely History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Keely Spelling Variations

One explanation for the many variations is that scribes and church officials frequently spelled the name as it sounded: an imprecise method at best. Understandably then, various spellings of the surname Keely were found in the many archives researched. These included Keily, Keiley, Keilly, Kiley, Kily, Kiely, Kieley, Keeley, Keely, Queally, Quealy, Quelly, O'Keily, O'Keilly, O'Kiely and many more.

Early Notables of the Keely family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Keely Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Keely migration to the United States +

Many Irish families boarded ships bound for North America in the middle of 19th century to escape the conditions of poverty and racial discrimination at that time. Although these immigrants often arrived in a destitute state, they went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of the United States and Canada. An inquiry into many immigration and passenger lists has revealed many early immigrants to North America bearing the Keely family name:

Keely Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Elias Keely, who landed in Virginia in 1634 [4]
  • Elias Keely, who settled in Virginia in 1637
  • Henry Keely, who settled in Virginia in 1654
  • Mundiff Keely, who settled in Virginia in 1656
  • Har Keely, who arrived in Virginia in 1666 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Keely Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Keely, aged 33, who arrived in New York in 1812 [4]
  • John P. Keely, who settled in New York State in 1821
  • Thomas Keely, aged 21, who landed in Ohio in 1847 [4]
  • Margaret Keely, aged 20, who landed in New York in 1854 [4]
  • Michael Keely, aged 23, who arrived in New York in 1854 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Keely migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Keely Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Frederick Keely, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Bolton" in 1849 [5]
  • Lewis Keely, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Caspar" in 1849 [6]
  • Mary Keely, aged 30, a dressmaker, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Lismoyne"
  • Mary Ann Keely, aged 24, a housemaid, who arrived in South Australia in 1858 aboard the ship "Bee"

New Zealand Keely migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Keely Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Lizzie Keely, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "British King" in 1883

Contemporary Notables of the name Keely (post 1700) +

  • Dorothy Jacqueline Keely (1928-2017), known by her stage name Keely Smith, an American Grammy Award-winning jazz and popular music singer, known for "That Old Black Magic", "I've Got You Under My Skin", "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen"
  • Conrad Keely (b. 1972), British-born, American musician
  • Robert William Keely (1909-2001), American coach in Major League Baseball
  • John Ernst Worrell Keely (1837-1898), American inventor from Philadelphia
  • Patrick Charles Keely (1816-1896), Irish-American architect
  • Peter Keely, Irish footballer
  • Séamus P. Keely (1889-1974), Irish Fianna Fáil politician
  • Alan Vincent Keely (b. 1982), Irish footballer
  • Dermot Keely (b. 1954), the former manager of Irish football team Shelbourne
  • Keely McGaffin, American director, known for her work on Last Call at Murray's (2015), Our Father (2014) and Carbon Dating (2015)

RMS Lusitania
  • Miss Annie Keely, Canadian 2nd Class passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [7]


  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York, Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)
  3. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, More Irish Families. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0)
  4. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The BOLTON 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Bolton.htm
  6. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The CASPAR 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Caspar.htm
  7. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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