Omalley / Family History
The family history of the ancient name O'Malley was found in the irishsurnames.com archives. The ancient name O'Malley is one of the few Gaelic names from which the prefix O was never widely dropped. It belonged exclusively in the past to County Mayo, and this is almost equally true of the present day. Over eighty per cent of the O'Malley births recorded are in Connacht and most of these are in Mayo. Their particular territory is in the baronies of Burrishoole and Murrisk in that County. Unlike the majority of septs located on the coast the O'Malleys were famous for their naval exploits and their prowess at sea is enshrined in their motto 'terra marique potens' meaning 'powerful by land and sea'. Outstanding in this connection was Grace O'Malley, the 'warrior princess' who is still the subject of so many romantic tales. She was known as Grace or Graine Mhaol but in Irish her name is Graine Ni Mhaille, Mhaille being O'Malley. When found in County Meath O'Malley is often anglicized Melia, the variant in Irish being O'Maele.The O'Malley 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 O'Malley descendants.