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

Where did the Irish Keely family come from? What is the Irish Keely family crest and coat of arms? When did the Keely family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Keely 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 Keely is O Cadhla, which is derived from the word "cadhla," which means "graceful."

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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.

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 Keely research. Another 469 words(34 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.

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

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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
  • Elias Keely settled in Virginia in 1637
  • Henry Keely settled in Virginia in 1654
  • Mundiff Keely settled in Virginia in 1656
  • Har Keely, who arrived in Virginia in 1666


Keely Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • William Keely, aged 33, arrived in New York in 1812
  • John P. Keely settled in New York State in 1821
  • Thomas Keely, aged 21, landed in Ohio in 1847
  • Margt Keely, aged 20, landed in New York in 1854
  • Michael Keely, aged 23, arrived in New York in 1854


Keely Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Frederick Keely arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Bolton" in 1849
  • Lewis Keely arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Caspar" in 1849
  • Mary Keely, aged 30, a dressmaker, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Lismoyne"
  • Mary Ann Keely, aged 24, a housemaid, arrived in South Australia in 1858 aboard the ship "Bee"

Keely Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Lizzie Keely arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "British King" in 1883

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  • Patrick Charles Keely (1816-1896), Irish-American architect
  • John Ernst Worrell Keely (1837-1898), American inventor from Philadelphia
  • Robert William Keely (1909-2001), American coach in Major League Baseball
  • Conrad Keely (b. 1972), British-born, American musician
  • Dermot Keely (b. 1954), the former manager of Irish football team Shelbourne
  • Alan Vincent Keely (b. 1982), Irish footballer
  • Séamus P. Keely (1889-1974), Irish Fianna Fáil politician
  • Peter Keely, Irish footballer
  • Miss Annie Keely (d. 1915), Canadian 2nd Class passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking


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  1. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  3. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  4. Kennedy, Patrick. Kennedy's Book of Arms. Canterbury: Achievements, 1967. 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. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  7. Harris, Ruth-Ann and B. Emer O'Keefe. The Search for Missing Friends Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the Boston Pilot Volume II 1851-1853. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1991. Print.
  8. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992. Print.
  9. Grehan, Ida. Dictionary of Irish Family Names. Boulder: Roberts Rinehart, 1997. Print. (ISBN 1-57098-137-X).
  10. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  11. ...

The Keely Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Keely 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 13 November 2014 at 16:22.

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