Fennelly Family History
The ancient origin of the name Fennelly was found in the irishsurnames.com archives. Variants Fennell, O'Fennelly, Fennelly, Hennelly. These names are derived from the Gaelic is O'Fionnghailaigh sept that was located in Ormond. This Gaelic sept name translates as 'fair valour'. A sept or clan was a collective term describing a group of persons whose immediate ancestors bore a common surname and inhabited the same territory. They have been on record since the fourteenth century and appear in the Ormond Deeds in the year 1324 as Fynnel and Fenell. In the seventeenth century the name is recorded as one of the principal Irish names in King's County and at this time a Dr. Gerald Fennell is recorded as taking a lease of Athassal, County Tipperary in 1634. The name Hennelly is a variant of Fennelly and this variant name has been found in County Mayo for many centuries.
The Fennelly family crest (or coat of arms) came into existence many centuries ago. The process of creating these coats of arms began as early as the eleventh century although a form of Proto-Heraldry may have existed in some countries prior to this, including Ireland. The new more formalized art of Heraldry made it possible for families and even individual family members to have their very own family crest, coat of arms, including Fennelly descendants.