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Daly Genealogy

Origins of Daly Surname

This is one of the oldest and most heroic of all Irish family names. The Dalys claim descent from one of Ireland's epic heroes from Celtic mythology, Niall of the Nine Hostages. He was the High King of Tara from AD 380 to 405. The hill of Tara can still be seen today, an impressive sight, even though the remains of the royal palaces there are long gone. The name Daly comes from the Irish word dáil, which means a place where councils or assemblies are held. The present day Dáil (lower house of parliment in Dublin) has this same meaning. Originally, the Dalys were to be found in Co Westmeath, but there were sub-septs in many different localities in counties Clare, Cork and Galway. O'Daly may be said to be the greatest name in our Gaelic literature. Other septs may have produced one or two more famous individuals, but the O'Dalys have a continuous record of literary achievement from the twelfth to the seventeenth century and, indeed, even to the nineteenth. Hardiman speaks of no less than thirty O'Dalys distinguished as writers between 1139 and 1680. the first of these famous poets was Curonnacht O Dalaigh (such is the Irish form of O'Daly), who flourished in the early twelfth century. He presided over a bardic school in Co. Meath, not far from the territory traditionally belonging to the parent sept of O'Daly, who were located in the barony of Magheradernon, Co. Westmeath. They were of the southern Ui Neill. Thence they spread to other parts of the country, always continuing the literary tradition and forming sub-septs in each of the places they settled in pursuit of their calling. One was the first of a line of poets in north Clare on the shore of Galway Bay. The most famous of these was Donogh Mor O'Daly (d 1244), who was born at Finvarra, Co. Clare: He has been called "The Irish Ovid". In the same way the O'Dalys became associated with Co. Cork and Co. Cavan. Diarmuid Og O'Daly was made the official poet of the MacCarthys of West Cork, thus acquiring for his family lands and privileges in the barony of Carbery. One of these, Angus O'Daly (d. 1617), was somewhat of a renegade, being the author of the anti-Irish propagandist satire The Tribes of Ireland. The Cavan O'Dalys were similarly attached to the O'Reillys of Breffny. The Dalys, who became Barons Dunsandle in Co.. Galway, achieved great wealth and power in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Not only did the name become widespread, but the descendants of these scattered sub-septs increased and multiplied so that the name is now one of the commonest in Ireland, holding as it does twenty-fourth place in the statistical list, with an estimated population of nearly 16,000 persons in Ireland at the present day. In addition to the mediaeval poets already referred to, two modern O'Dalys have upheld the family tradition, viz., Robert Daly (1783-1872), Protestant Bishop of Cashel, and John O'Daly (1800-1878), both of whom were early contributors to the Gaelic revival. The Catholic Church, besides several mediaeval bishops of western dioceses, has Rev. Dominic O'Daly (1595-1665), a Kerryman who had a most distinguished career in Portugal, both as ecclesiastic and statesman. Many of the name were attainted under the Cromwellian and Williamite regimes for the support of the Irish and Stuart cause. One Richard Daly (1750-1813) was a leading figure in the eighteenth century Dublin theatre as actor and manager. Daly's opened in Dublin in 1791, was the most celebrated of the club-houses which were a feature of eighteenth century social life. The building is now the office of an insurance company. There are now more than 30,000 Dalys in Ireland alone. The name is also known as Dawley. In the last century, Marcus Daly, from Ballyjamesduff in Co Cavan, who emigrated to California, became enormously wealthy from his mining activities and was nicknamed the "Copper King". He lived from 1841 to 1900.

Daly Genealogy Links

Daly Genealogy Homepage

Daly Family Genealogy Page

Daly Genealogy Forum

Tim Daly's Homepage

Daly Email List

Daly Resources (Distant Cousin)