Ceallach Tomas Ó Ceallaigh of Ireland
Co Meath Ireland -> Virginia -> Georgia Sept of
James O'Kelley in America
Ua Ceallaigh - Ó Ceallaigh McGonnell - McConnell
O'Kelley - Kelly Ó Neill

Kelley DNA Project
The O'Kelley Name

Ui Ceallaigh of Eirinn
 Kelly Clan Association of Ireland
"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning." - Albert Einstein

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DNA -> Co Meath Ireland!

Chief InvestigatorNot long after I was born the forename of my immigrant ancestor said to have come to America before 1750 AD became disputed by the researchers of my family but his surname has never been disputed it has always been claimed that he arrived in America as a Protestant O'Kelley having descended from "Old Irish Kings" and his descendents scattered over many states and all research slow and manual this is understandable that not everyone would be in agreement.  The Internet gives me considerable advantage.  DNA and records make it certain this disagreement over my ancestor's forename came from two corrupted stories handed down for generations, one naming "Thomas" as our first Protestant Ancestor and the other story naming "James" as our Protestant Ancestor to leave Ireland and come to America before 1750 AD and 200 years and 5 or maybe 6 generations separate these two men but by 1966 they had become confused into a single ancestor that some claimed was Thomas while others claimed his name was James. 

My four year investigation based in DNA, records, and tradition stories concludes that everyone who is blood related to me descend from Aed Slaine a Monarch of Ireland in the 6th Century and we are the O'Kelley of Bregia which is pronounced and sometimes appears written as "Brey" and they lived next to  Tara the place for the coronation of the Monarchs of Ireland.  Conglach O'Kelley who died 1292 AD was the last known "Lord" and the English invasion a century before reduced and scattered the O'Kelley of Bregia so low that they were no longer a recognizable Sept when my ancestor left Ireland about 1748.   Just as our family tradition claims, our first protestant ancestor was Tomas O Ceallaigh, pronounced "Thomas O'Kelley" and he was a "Gentleman", a man of land and title and was born  in Ireland about 1540 AD and to appease the English he converted to Anglican and took an English styled surname as he appears as Thomas Kelly in the Survey of 1591 with land near Glaslough Co Monaghan Ireland.  His son William also a Gentleman and Protestant appears in 1640 and again in1641 records in Carrikmacross Co Monaghan and William's son Thomas O Kelly, Gentleman and Protestant is found in the 1663 records in the same place.  This Thomas O Kelly 's grandson William Kelly, Merchant and Gentleman is found in the Prerogative Wills of Ireland leaving a Will in Kells Co Meath Ireland in 1748 and I believe it was William's death that caused our ancestor James O'Kelley and his wife Nancy "Anna" Dean and their son the future Rev James O'Kelly to leave Kells Co Meath Ireland and settle in the portion of King and Queen County that become Caroline Co Virginia near James O'Kelley 's older brother William Kelley who like their father was also a merchant but in Virginia.  Nancy "Anna" Dean died about 1758 and James married her younger sister Elizabeth Dean and James died at the Battle of Brandywine Sept 11 1777 and over the 200 years that followed our ancestors stories became corrupted and lost.  

 From Ruth Barton Pullium my 4th cousin 2x removed comes our family tradition story handed down to her father from her grandmother Salina O'Kelley who was the granddaughter of Thomas O'Kelley  and her story says that our ancestors were "prominent" and came from  Co Meath.   Ruth's story is supported by my closest DNA matches making it likely that my ancestor came from O'Kelleys who were of the Four Tribes of Tara said to once be "Styled Princes".  For them to still have their Gentry status in the 16th and 17th Century is proof they came from an Irish Chieftain line and by following the demands of the English Tudor Monarchs my family would have been favored over their Irish Catholic cousins so it is likely my ancestors were a protestant Sept of the O'Kelly of Bregia pronounced "Brey" who are found on the map due east or those found Northeast of Tara.  My ancestors were a Sept of Bregia who didn't take to the woods or become outlaws solely because they changed their faith and received favored by the English but lost their ancestral lands and were forced to Co Monaghan.  It seems certain that some of my DNA matches to surnames other than O'Kelley are O'Kelleys who remained Irish Catholic and dropped their O'Kelley surnames to distance themselves from their traitor Protestant O'Kelley family but just as my family changed their faith, some may have changed their surname because it improved their condition to do so.   Ireland was a war zone for many centuries. 

It is from  a 110 year old family pedigree  written in the hand of Dr Thomas K O'Kelley and passed down to Judith Knowles Ries my 6th cousin that comes the names James O'Kelley and Anna Dean and their first born son the famous Rev James O'Kelly,  Charles, Thomas, Elizabeth, Polly Ann, Benjamin, Francis, and George.  This great family treasure predates the Alethea Jane Macon Pedigree by more than 60 years but it doesn't stand alone as Mary Evelyn O'Kelley my 4th cousin 1x removed also wrote her 1960 college paper about our ancestors and she names our ancestor as James O'Kelley and his six sons that most migrated to Georgia.

Maybe the once greatness of my ancestors living in Co Meath Ireland near Kells and also in Co Monaghan near Carrickmacross and near Castle Leslie in Glaslough can be discovered as there are likely Irish Kelly families who are my cousins and they might not know they came from a line of O'Kelley who were a thousand years ago great "Princes of Tara" and likely cousins of the 2nd Earl of Tyrone Hugh "O'Kelley" O Neill but it is also possible they know much more about my family's story than I know and they can tell us so much more.  For those who always dreamed of taking a trip to Ireland but didn't know where to go, you have an amazing opportunity to stay in Castle Leslie and walk a few miles away over the lands our ancestors once walked  five centuries ago.  Please click on the Email Us link to aid our discovery.  I hope you enjoy your visit.  Click on my family Coat of Arms to begin your journey back in time.   

Rick O'Kelley, Webmaster


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Rick O'Kelley
14324 Briar Cr
Fayetteville, AR 72704
Chief Investigator   Much of the information found on this web site was provided to me by my Aunt Kathleen O’Kelley and originates from her independent research.  Some has it's source in the 1966 book by J Fred O'Kelly, titled "Some Descendants and Ancestral Kin of James Stamps O'Kelley and Lucy Woodruff England"; the 1969 book by Alethea Jane Macon, Four O’Kelley Sons and Some of their Descendants – Allied Families; Harold O'Kelley's 1985 book "Four Families Through Georgia", "The Life of Rev James O'Kelly" by W E MacClenny, some came from Ancestry.com, Fold3.com, on line books, US Census records, Newspapers, or other independent sources.   James O’Kelley and Anna Dean source documentation originates from five pages created by Dr. Thomas Katlet O’Kelley, and the contents of some of those pages has been kindly shared by his great-great granddaughter, Judith (Knowles) Ries.  Judith is a published author of the book Ed O’Kelley: The Man Who Murdered Jesse James’ Murderer and A Patchwork of Memories, a Knowles/O’Kelley genealogy.  If you use any of Dr. O’Kelley’s data, please credit Judith Ries.  You may use any photograph or scan found on this website for non commercial purposes. 
Retired Chief Investigator
Washington Co Sheriff's Dept
Fayetteville, AR


This website has ran continuously on the Internet since 1 May 1997.  It is perhaps the oldest and most conclusive O'Kelley source on the net.
Webmaster:  Rick O'Kelley

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