While researching my family, I was very surprised to learn that my great, great grandfather who emigrated from Ireland was actually a Munnelly. I had never heard this before and I'm pretty sure that if the generation before me knew this, they would have said something. The immigration records at Grosse Ile, Quebec where he landed in 1846 record him as Edward Munnelly. Every other record after that records his name as Manley.
In researching the name Munnelly I discovered that the only place that it is really common is in the north west portion of County Mayo, Ireland which not surprisingly is where my gg grandfather came from.
You can clearly see this on the map of Ireland generated from searching "Munnelly" on Public Profiler/Worldnames. The dark blue area has by far the highest concentration of this surname. It indicates the root of the name as Celtic Irish.
Legend has it that a portion of the O'Doherty clan from the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal were forced out by the English and sent to County Mayo in the late 16th or early 17th century. The English thought this would be a fate worse than death. The first name of one of the O'Doherty men was O'Maonghaile and the story goes that his descendents took their father's first name as their last, possibly to distance themselves from conflict between the O'Doherty's and the English back in Donegal. Eventually the 'O' was dropped and the name became Munnelly. This O'Doherty clan has been traced back to Cathaoir O Dochartaigh, the leader of the O'Doherty clan in the 16th century and further back to Niall Noígíallach or in English, Niall of the Nine Hostages, High King of Ireland in the late 4th and early 5th centuries. This would be amazingly fabulous if it is true, but I have MUCH research yet to do to verify this.
Below is a history of the name Munnelly that I picked up last year at a little shop in Westport, Co Mayo, Ireland...
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