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O'Riley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The O'Riley surname originally appeared in Gaelic as O Raghailligh, which means descendant of Raghallach.

Early Origins of the O'Riley family

The surname O'Riley 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 of Strongbow, 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'Riley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Riley research.
Another 189 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1598, 1669, 1630, 1695, 1689, 1640, 1703, 1689, 1646 and 1691 are included under the topic Early O'Riley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

O'Riley Spelling Variations

Just like the English language, the Gaelic language of Ireland was not standardized in the Middle Ages. Therefore, one's name was often recorded under several different spellings during the life of its bearer. Spelling variations revealed in the search for the origins of the O'Riley family name include O'Reilly, O'Reilley, O'Reily, O'Rielly, O'Riely, O'Riley, O'Rilley, Reel and many more.

Early Notables of the O'Riley 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...
Another 35 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early O'Riley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the O'Riley family to the New World and Oceana

Irish families left their homeland in astonishing numbers during the 19th century in search of a better life. Although individual reasons vary, most of these Irish families suffered from extreme poverty, lack of work opportunities, and exorbitant rents in their homeland. Many decided to travel to Australia or North America in the hopes of finding greater opportunities and land. The Irish immigrants that came to North America initially settled on the East Coast, often in major centers such as Boston or New York. But like the many other cultures to settle in North America, the Irish traveled to almost any region they felt held greater promise; as a result, many Irish with gold fever moved all the way out to the Pacific coast. Others before that time left for land along the St. Lawrence River and the Niagara Peninsula, or the Maritimes as United Empire Loyalists, for many Irish did choose to side with the English during the American War of Independence. The earliest wave of Irish migration, however, occurred during the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s. An examination of early immigration and passenger lists has revealed many people bearing the O'Riley name: 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.

Contemporary Notables of the name O'Riley (post 1700)

  • Donald Lee O'Riley (1945-1997), American Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1969 to 1970
  • Christopher O'Riley, American classical pianist and public radio show host of the NPR program "From the Top"
  • Grant O'Riley (b. 1960), former Australian rules footballer

O'Riley Family Crest Products

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