Kelley / Family History
The ancient origin of the name Kelley was found in the irishsurnames.com archives. Meaning 'warrior', variants of Kelley and Kelly include O'Kelly, Queally, Kealy, Kiely, Kealy and Keily. This Sept derive their name from Ceallach, a celebrated 9th century chieftain. They had many different septs, some of which were O'Kelly of Ui Maine, O'Kelly of Breagh, O'Kelly of Ulster and many others that came from the midlands. O'Kelly of Ui Maine was the most outstanding of all these, and there are authentic pedigrees of their chiefs from the earliest of times to the present day. O'Kelly of Gallagh is recognized as chief of the name. In 1351 the O'Kelly chief invited all the musicians and poets to spend Christmas with him, a gesture which originated the expression 'O'Kelly's Welcome'. Grace of Monaco was a Kelly from America where there are now more Kellys than in Ireland. Not least was Ned Kelly from Australia. The name Kealy is the variant form used by the Kellys of Kilkenny and Tipperary and Queally by the Kellys of Waterford.The Kelley 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 Kelley descendants.