The O'Raily surname originally appeared in Gaelic as O Raghailligh, which means descendant of Raghallach.
Early Origins of the O'Raily family
The surname O'Raily was first found in County Cavan
. They were known as the Princes of East Breffny
, descended from Raghallaigh, Prince of Breffny
in 981. They maintained their territory during the Anglo/ Norman invasion
, Earl of Pembroke, in 1172, but Sir John O'Reilly, Prince of Breffny
surrendered the principality to Queen Elizabeth I thereby ensuring that his territories remained intact.
Early History of the O'Raily family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Raily research.Another 95 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1598, 1669, 1630, 1695, 1689, 1640, 1703, 1689, 1646, 1691 and 1667 are included under the topic Early O'Raily History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
O'Raily Spelling Variations
The Middle Ages saw a great number of spelling variations
for surnames common to the Irish landscape. One reason for these variations is the fact that surnames were not rigidly fixed by this period because the general population had to rely on local
official's understanding of how their name should be spelt, hence spellings in records often changed through a person's lifetime. The following variations for the name O'Raily were encountered in the archives: O'Reilly, O'Reilley, O'Reily, O'Rielly, O'Riely, O'Riley, O'Rilley, Reel and many more.
Early Notables of the O'Raily family (pre 1700)
Notable amongst the family name at this time was Count John O'Reilly; Edmund O'Reilly (1598-1669), Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh; Hugh Reily (Reilly or O’Reilly) (c.1630-1695) Irish Member of Parliament for Cavan Borough in the Patriot Parliament of 1689; Philip Og O’Reilly (Gaelic was Phillip Óg O’Raghallaigh)(c.1640-1703), Irish... Another 48 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early O'Raily Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the O'Raily family to the New World and Oceana
became inhospitable for many native Irish families
in the 19th centuries. Poverty, lack of opportunities, high rents, and discrimination forced thousands to leave the island for North America. The largest exodus of Irish settlers occurred with the Great Potato Famine
of the late 1840s. For these immigrants the journey to British North America and the United States was long and dangerous and many did not live to see the shores of those new lands. Those who did make it were essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest and most powerful nations of the world. These Irish immigrants were not only important for peopling the new settlements and cities, they also provided the manpower needed for the many industrial and agricultural projects so essential to these growing nations. Immigration and passenger lists have documented the arrival of various people bearing the name O'Raily to North America: the families who settled in Newfoundland - in St. John's, Tilton Harbour, Placientia, Tickle Bay, Tilt Cove, and many more, between 1805 and 1871; James O'Reiley settled in New York in 1823.
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