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

Early Origins of the O'Quelly family

The surname O'Quelly 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 O'Quelly family

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

O'Quelly Spelling Variations

Official documents, crafted by early scribes and church officials, primarily contained names that were spelled according to their pronunciation. This lead to the problem of one name being recorded under several different variations, creating an illusion that a single person was many people. Among the many spelling variations of the surname O'Quelly that are preserved in the archival documents of the time are 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 O'Quelly family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the O'Quelly family

The 18th and 19th centuries saw many Irish families immigrate to North America in search of land and opportunities. The largest influx of Irish immigrants to the United States and British North America came during the 1840s when the Great Potato Famine laid waste to their homeland. Hundreds of thousands left the island in an attempt to escape the starvation and disease it brought. Although the arrival of such a large number of destitute Irish was not welcomed by the established population in the United States and what would become known as Canada at the time, these Irish were an essential element to the rapid development of these growing industrial nations. They filled the demand for the cheap labor needed for the work in factories and in the construction of bridges, roads, canals, and railways. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has revealed many immigrants bearing the name of O'Quelly or one of its variants: William Keeley who landed in America in 1765; Dennis and Ellen Keeley settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1849; Michael Keeley settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1852.



  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)


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