Origin of the Donnelly Clan Name


Donnelly or Ó Donnáile in Irish is a personal name and means ‘brown-haired warrior’ or boy, as donn means brown and gal means brave.

This branch is descended from Domhnall O Neill who died in 876, who was descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, a fifth century High King of Ireland during the time of St Patrick. There is also a connection with Niall Glúndubh (Niall of the Black Knee), who was High King of Ireland, and was killed by Norsemen in 919 AD at the Battle of Dublin. 

Donnelly Clan

The name originates from the counties of Tyrone in Ballydonnelly and Derry in the north of Ulster, and later in Donegal.  

The first recording of the name is that of Donnell O Donnelly in 1603 from the Battle of Kinsale in County Cork, which signalled the end of the Gaelic Order and power of the clans and earls in Ireland as the Tudor Conquest took hold.

The Donnelly crest bears the red hand of Ulser of the UÍ Néill dynasty as well as the Salmon of Knowledge. the colours represent militart strength (red) and loyalty (blue). It is almost identical to the O'Neill coat of arms, as they were at various times rivals and allies with this large clan.