Cawley surname history

MacAuley and its many variants - Cawley, Gawley, Macauley, Magawley etc. - may be either Scottish or Irish in origin. They are anglicisations of two distinct Irish surnames, Mac Amhalgaidh ("son of Auley") and Mac Amhlaoibh ("son of Auliff"). The former derives from a native personal name now obsolete, and the family bearing the surname were rulers of a territory in what is now Offaly/Westmeath. The centre of their power was near ballyloughnoe in Co. Westmeath, at the heart of what the English called "McGawley?s country".

In Ulster, the name derives from Mac Amhlaoibh, incorporating a Gaelic version of the common Norse name "Olaf", the family claim descent from Amhlaoibh son of the first Maguire king of Fermanagh, Donn Carrach Maguire, who ruled at the end of the thirteenth century. The family are reputed to have conquered south Fermanagh for the Maguires. They gave their name to the barony of Clanawley in that county. Mac Amhlaoibh is also the Irish original of an entirely distinct family, the MacAuliffs of Munster, who are descended from Amhlaoibh MacCarthy.

In Scotland also the surname and its variants, entirely coincidentally, have the same two distinct origins, from the Gaelic and Norse personal names. The MacAulays of Lewis in the Hebrides share their ancestry with the MacLeods. The MacAulays of Dumbartonshire are a secondary branch of the Clan Alpin. The Scottish origin is most common in the north east of Ulster, where a branch of the MacAuleys settled in the sixteenth century.

In 1890 MacAuley was most numerous in Antrim and Donegal, with Gawley found chiefly in Sligo and Cawley in both Mayo and Sligo.

Catherine McAuley (1787-1841) founded the Mercy Order of nuns, now active world-wide. She is depicted on the Irish #5 note.

.Dave McAuley (1961 -), of the Antrim McAuleys, was a well-known boxer. He became British flyweight champion in 1986 and IBF world champion in 1989. He defended the title successfully 5 times, before losing it in 1992 on a points decision which is still controversial.


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