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Introduction

Donnelly is O'Donnghaile in Irish, from Donnghaile. The prefix "O" denotes one who is the ancestor of Donnghaile. The word Donnghaile translates to "Brown Valor" or "Brown-haired Warrior." This name was given to someone who was dark and brave.

The Donnellys originally were a division of the clan Cineál Eoghain who derive their descent from Donnghal the fourth in descent from Domhnall, King of Aileach -- brother of Niall Glundubn and ancestor of the O'Neills, the chief family of ancient Ireland.

An original ancestor was Donnghaile O'Neill, who died in 876, was himself a descendant of Eoghain and ancestor of the royal house O'Neill. Donnghaile O'Neill was seventeenth in descent from Niall of the Nine Hostages, the fifth-century king who supposedly kidnapped St. Patrick to Ireland.

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