Kelly family shield and crest
Ui Maine 800 AD
Connaught 1400 AD
Welcome To Province Connaught, Ireland
The Connaught area of Ireland owns a long and proud history extending back into pre-christian times. According to Irish mythology, the Fomorians who occupied Ireland after the last ice age eventually died from a plague. Then came three tribes of Firbolgs who existed as distinct tribes until recent history. Then came the Tuatha De Danaan who substantially enslaved the Firbolgs.
Still in the BC era, Milisians came from Spain or France, scattered the Tuatha De Danaan with their serfs, the Firbolgs, into the swamps and divided the island into two parts.
Starting arguably before 800 BC, three tribes of Celts came in waves, the last arriving in Ireland around 300 AD. That last Celtic tribe to arrive was known as the Laigain.
In 357 AD a northern tribe from now Ulster and identified as Colla moved into East Galway and divided the island into three parts, one kindom apiece for each son.
Until relatively recent times the Connaught area has been the home base of ancient Kings, from the Milesians who divided Ireland into two parts, down to High King Brian Boru who united the clans for the first time in recorded history and went on to drive the Vikings from the battlefield at Clontarf (near Dublin) in 1014 AD.
The tribes of Connaught were very resilient and by joining forces were able to defend themselves from the Vikings and the Normans to such an extent that the invaders found it unprofitable to pay the price in blood to dig the inhabitants out of their hiding places in the swamps.
In the sixteenth century the British Empire attacked Ireland with a large well trained army armed with firearms and other modern weapons. They substantially broke the clan structure, seized their lands, drove many into the swamps, displaced Brehon Law and brought Connacht under nominal English control. Connaught was the last bastion of the old ways to fall.
One of many interesting parts of Connaught genealogy is the history which provides clues to how the social structure of the Irish people evolved. Some historians say that our ancestors in Ireland were Celts, but history suggests we are much more than Celts. This page is dedicated to point to those links that will best describe what we are and how we got that way.
From Ancient Colla da Crioch to Modern Kelly
Grandma Kelly told me that our original family name was O'Collaugh, that they lived in Northern Connaught for a thousand years and around Tuam, County Galway, for two hundred years before emigrating to Colonial Virginia in the early 1700's.
If the history of Connaught is correct, the Kelly Clans assumed a Milisian pedagree around 400 AD thereafter descended from Colla da Crioch (one of the three Colla brothers) through a searies of name changes from O'Ceallaigh to O'Kelly to the Kelly surname as dictated by Norman law.
If the Book of O'Kelly ( Book of Ui Maine) was correctly translated, the Clan O'Kelly may in fact descend from a Celtic clan that occupied Connaught much earlier than the fifth century when the Milisians first appeared in Irish history, Celts who came to Ireland perhaps before 800 BC.
Early Connaught was called Ui Maine ( Hy Many) after Clan Chief, Maine Mor O'Kelly. Then in 1014 Clan O'Kelly, led by Chief Taig Mor O'Kelly with two companies of Scot kinsmen, combined forces with High King Brian (O'Brien) Boru to soundly defeat the Danes at the battle of Clontarf near the Viking stronghold of Dublin. Though the Vikings stayed on as traders, never again could they raid Ireland with impunity.
The prominent kinfolk septs of the O'Kelly Clan were O'Donnellans ( O'Donnells ) (after whom I was named) and the O'Maddens (now surname Madden). Seems we are all related folks.
Old Irish Kindoms
This page cites the history and best known names of tribes that settled Ireland, from the mythical seafaring Fomorians down through history to the so called Tribes of Galway who were conquered by Cromwell.
There were thirteen families in the Town of Galway when Cromwell came; surnames Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, D'Arcy, Ffont (De Fuente), Ffrench, Joyes, (Joyce), Kirwan, Lynch, Martin, Morris and Skerrett. Some of those families were Norman. It appears the O'Kelly's were not city folks, yet lived near enough to Galway to suffer 400 casualties in that war.
These are good resources because history references are documented for source. Sources of Irish history often disagree on major points, like names or dates, yet make for very interesting reading.