Kelly Family History
Kelly Name Meaning
Irish: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Ceallaigh or in some areas Mac Ceallaigh ‘descendant (or son) of Ceallach’ an ancient Irish personal name originally a byname meaning ‘bright-headed’ later understood as ‘frequenting churches’ (Irish ceall). There are several early Irish saints who bore this name. Kelly is now the most common of all surnames in Ireland. Scottish: habitational name from either the lands of Kelly near Arbroath (Angus) Kellie in Carnbee (Fife) or Kelly in Methlick (Aberdeenshire). Each of these placenames is from Pictish celli or Gaelic coille ‘wood’ + the placename forming suffix -in. Alternatively from the lands of Kelloe in the barony of Hume (Berwickshire) whose name is of uncertain origin. English: habitational name from Kelly (Devon). The placename probably derives from a British cognate of Cornish kelli ‘grove small wood’.
Source: Dictionary of American Family Names 2nd edition, 2022