or Tomas Ó Ceallaigh as his name
would have appeared when he was
likely born about 1555 AD in the Province of Meath somewhere east of
Tara near the Irish Sea in Bregia and he was a descendent of the
Irish Monarch Aedh of Slaine Co Meath Ireland, every O'Kelley on this website
has Irish Royal blood. Because his descendant James
O'Kelley came to America
with his Irish surname intact and with the tradition story that
we descend from the "old Irish High Kings" it seems likely he
was also a descendant of the
172nd Irish Monarch Congall
In those days the counties didn't exist,
they were just part of "Kingdoms" in Irish tradition and
Earldoms in English tradition. Monaghan was part of
Kingdom of Airgíalla and Co Cavan part of the Kingdom of
Breifne and Meath was its own province and also of the Nine
Kingdom that descend from the
Irish Monarch Aedh of Slaine and Meath included Bregia the
great plain that extended from Tara east to the Irish Sea,
Westmeath and parts of Co Cavan and Monaghan.
These were the places of my ancestors and Thomas O'Kelley
was James O'Kelley's great, great, great Irish grandfather.
Co Monaghan was taken from the Earldom of Tyrone and shired in
1585 and settled by loyal English subjects by 1591. Like other Gaelic Chiefs,
Thomas likely felt he had little choice but
abandoned his Irish Catholic faith
surrender what ever lands he may have possessed in Co Meath or
Louth and about 1585 become an
Anglican Protestant and receiving lands as he
appears in the Survey of County Monaghan in 1591 as "Thomas Kelly"
a name forced upon him by the Engish, he
is found in two places within the Parish of Tullycorbet Co
Monaghan. Queen Elizabeth believed the Gaelic surnames
created disaffection of the English so to obtain free land she
required the Irish Gentry to become Anglican and use an English
styled surname. Those were turbulent times in
Ireland when if the English didn't kill you then your neighbors
and family might. Many of the Irish went back to being
Catholic during the
Nine Years War that soon followed but I have found no records to show that his
descendents ever returned to the Catholic faith and his son
William seem to become a devote protestant while his son
Owen O'Kelley is found in a 1614 Pardon with many other
Catholics. Tullycorbet Parish sets
north of Carrickmacross and south of Dough Parish both in Co
Monaghan Ireland and these have become key locations for records
about my early family.
Killnamaddy is located near Clones.
Corvally is 4 miles southwest of Drumbanagher Dough Parish
which was a
principal place for the McGonnells who DNA suggest to have broken off
from the O'Kelleys in the 1400s.
I believe this Thomas Kelly is my ancestor for a number of
reasons but author and descendent
Macon claimed in her 1969 book that "Best Evidence"
caused her to believe our ancestor to come from Ireland to
America was Thomas O'Kelley but she fails to share her "best
evidence" and I believe she based her belief on a misunderstood
story handed down for 8 generations that
identified Thomas O'Kelley as our first protestant Anglican Irish ancestor a
man of great importance to so many of his protestant descendents
so surely he was to be remembered.
I don't yet know who Thomas O'Kelley married, her name may have
been Elizabeth, she could even have even been an Elizabeth Deane
there will be parish records and it seems certain that
the William Kelley in Carrickmacross was his son.
Thomas O'Kelley "Gentleman" and my grandmother married in Ireland about
and had the following children:
||Owen O'Kelley born about 1587
William O'Kelley or
Liam Ó Ceallaigh was born about 1590
in Tullycorbet Parish in modern day Co Monaghan
||Daniel O'Kelley born about 1595