O'Kelley Septs in American

O'Kelley of Bregia
Co Meath
It is a common misconception that all O'Kellies no matter where in the world they live, all descend from  a single ancestor, that of Teige O'Kelly, King of Hy-Many Ireland and who died in the battle of Brian at Clontarf in the year 1014.  This believe isn't supported by any published research that I am aware of.  It is commonly accepted in Ireland that at least 8 to 10 different lines of O'Kellys came into being independently and in different locations.  Some of the Mac Giolla Cheallaigh (Kilkelly) of southern Galway and Co Clare changed their names to Kelly or Kelley on arrival in America as did some of the Scottish McKellys.  The Kelley DNA project is attempting to identify these different lines as to determine if they are related and how and I would encourage any male Kelly who is interested to join the Kelly DNA Project and submit their DNA to learn where they fit in the large Kelly family scattered around the world.

Like Ireland, here in America are different O'Kelley clans having descended from different Irish ancestors.  We are not all closely related as many believe so the purpose of this page it to attempt to document the different lines of American born O'Kelleys.  To my knowledge only two distinct lines that have been identified but from ship records it seems likely there are a great many more, likely most are going by Kelly or Kelley and are unaware they were once O'Kelly and before that Ua Ceallaigh.  If you have a family line that doesn't appear to connect to the lines I have listed below and you would like your family included, please contact me at my email link on the main page of this website.

O'Kelly of Hy-Many
Co Roscommon
Ancestor Ancestry Arrival Primary Location Irish Family DNA Confirmed
David OKillia Irish in the third quarter of the 1600s Yarmouth Massachusetts and Maine O'Kellys of Hy-Many, Co Roscommon No, by records only
James O'Kelley Irish in Virginia about 1748 Ar, Ca, Ga, Mo, Or, OK, TN O'Kelley of Breiga or Tara Co Meath. Yes and records
DNA test confirm David OKillia and James O'Kelley are related but one has to go back maybe 1500 years or more to find the ancestor that we have in common so I wouldn't say they are closely related, at least 40 generations removed.

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