Origin of the O'Kelly Clan Name


Kelly comes from the anglicised irish name, Ó Ceallaigh which means descendant of Ceallach (meaning strife). The name originates from the County of Galway in the region formally known as Uí Maine which was one of the oldest Kingdoms of Connacht; the area included parts of Galway, Roscommon and County Clare.

Tadhg Mór O’Kelly who was the 36th King of Uí Maine and first carrier of the name, heard the call from Brian Boru and marched by his side on Clontarf in 1014.  He was among those who fell at the Battle of Clontarf defending his nation against the Viking Danes. The powerful O' Kelly chieftain and his army together with the O'Hynes was the only Connacht chieftain to rally with Boru at the famous battle in 1014.

Kelly Clan of Ireland

Brian Boru and Tadhg mór O’Kelly were also related through marriage as Brian married one of Tadhg’s sisters; they were close allies and stood together in battle on many occasions.

Spelling variations of the name include: Kelly, Kellie, O’Killia among many others.

The Kelly coat of arms family crest has the motto, “God is a strong tower to me”.