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MCNEILLY Family HistoryIrish surnames tend to be complex, but this is one which is out on its own. It is generally recorded in Ulster, and derives from either of two early Gaelic surnames, Mac an Fhilidh, translating as 'The son of the poet to the clan' and MacConghaile, which apparently means 'The son of the seal', there being an ancient tradition that early members of the clan had metamorphosed into these animals. You cannot beat a good Irish fable. Either way the two names were anglicized as MacAnellye and MacEnelly in the 16th century, and although the latter has a predominance in the surname of 'Conneely', most spellings have become hopelessly entwined.
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