At present the Clan Connolly are scattered to the far corners of the globe, predominantly in Scotland, however there are three distinct origins to the Irish surname Connolly. These origins are in the tribe names O’Conghaile of Connacht and of Monaghan, and O’Conghalaigh of Munster. The Monaghan tribe was the most important of these in early times, as it was one of the ‘four tribes of Tara’, and a branch of the southern O’Neill Clan. It later lost this prominent position when it was forced out of its original territory during the Anglo-Norman invasion and the arrival of Duke William of Hastings in 1066.A.D. The Munster Connolly’s were of great importance in West Cork and were subjects to the O’Donovans.
Today the name is most frequently recorded in the three counties where it originated, namely, Monaghan, Galway and Cork. Several spelling variations were found in the archives researched. Most of these were the result of families trying to translate the name from the Gaelic to the english or vice versa. Amongst the many variations of the name Connelly, from time to time, included Connolly,Conolly,Connally, O’Connolly, Connolley, Connally, Connelly, Conoley, Connaleigh, Connelay, O’Conghaile, O’Conghalaigh and these changes in the spelling frequently occurred. It was most common to find the name several different ways during the lifetime of the same person, when he or she was born, married and died. The legendary Kings of Ireland some 1500.B.C., were descended from King Milesius of Spain, the grandson of Breoghan, (Brian), king of Galicia, Andalusia, Murcia, Castile and Portugal. Milesius, a great General/King, was instrumental in defending Egypt from the King of Ethiopia. Milesius turned his attention northward to Ireland to fulfill an ancirnt Druidic prophecy. He sent an army to explore this fertile island. On finding his son had been murdered by three resident Irish kings, (The Danans), Milesius gathered another army to take his revenge on the Irish. He dies before he embarked on the voyage. His remaining sons conquered Ireland. Heremon, eldest son of Milesius, reigned in Ireland for fourteen years. His brothers, Heber, Ir and Ithe, named the land Scota or Scotia, their mother’s name, the land of the Scots. This name would later be taken by the Irish King Colla in 357.A.D., when he was exiled to Scotland, leaving the name Ir – land, land of the Ir, the youngest of the sons of Milesius. The four Irish Kingdoms eventually broke into five separate nations under the High King, or ‘Ard Righ’.
This great Gaelic family of Connelly emerged in later years on Monnaghan. They settled in very ancient times in that county and formed part of one of the four tribes of Tara. They were descended from Congal, a 10th century cheif of the southern Hy Niall. The family name sept claim descendancy from Mahon, brother of the geart King Brian Boru of Ireland, who died in the battle of Contarf in the year 1014. The sept flourished for the next three or four centuries. They were affected by the Cromwellian invasions in the mid 17th century. Notable amongst the family at this time was Connolly of Monaghan.