McNally surname history

MacNally, MacAnally and Nally all share the same original Irish origins, in the two Irish names Mac an Fhailghigh, "son of the poor man", and Mac Con Uladh, "son of the hound of Ulster". As might be expected, the latter name is almost entirely confined to Ulster, in particular to that part of the modern province originally called Uladh, the south-east, including most of what are now counties Armagh and Monaghan. Today, the anglicised versions of the name remain very common in these counties, with the "Mac-" forms in the majority. Outside Ulster, the principal origin of the name is in north-west Connacht, in counties Roscommon and Mayo, where it is said that the name was adopted by the descendants of Norman settlers. The most common form in these counties is the simple "Nally".

In 1890, McNally was concentrated in counties Antrim, Armagh and Monaghan, (MacNally was among the 20 most common names in Monaghan in 1970) while Nally was almost exclusive to Roscommon and Mayo. Traces of the family are found in the placenames of the north and west, with Ballymacanally in Magheralin parish in Co. Down, Cahermacanally in Killursa in Co. Galway and Tanmacnally in Ematris in Co. Monaghan. Occasional variants of the name have included MacAnnuly, MacAnnulla, Knally and Manally.

One extremely prominent bearer of the name was the Reverend David Rice MacAnally (1810-1895), a sheriff and Methodist preacher who is said to have weighed more than 360 lb.

Ray McAnally (1926-1989) was one of the most gifted Irish actors of his generation. He was a member of the Abbey company from 1947 to 1963 and later pursued a very successful film career, appearing in such films as The Mission, Shake Hands with the Devil, We?re No Angels, and Billy Budd.

Dermot Nally (1927 - ) was one of Ireland?s most influential civil servants this century, acting as secretary to the government from 1980 to 1993, negotiating Irish entry into the European Monetary System, heading the team which negotiated the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement.


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