Daly Name History

Daly Irish Coat of Arms

Daly is an Irish surname, derived from the Gaelic Ó Dálaigh. The modern Irish surnames O'Daly, Daly, Daley, Daily, Dailey and Dawley are derived from Ó Dálaigh. The name Ó Dálaigh means 'descendant of Dálach'. The derivation of the personal name Dálach is not entirely obvious, but the most widely accepted theory is that it derives from the same root as dáil meaning "assembly;" the Irish Parliament is called 'Dáil Éireann.' Dálach therefore probably meant "assemblyman" or "councillor."

The earliest records of the family place them in the region of Tethba in what is now Westmeath, their lands were in Moyashel & Magheradernon barony, Westmeath. The ancestral clan was called Corca Adaimh ('Race of Adam') and they claimed descent from a son of Niall of the Nine Hostages (High King of Ireland circa 400AD) via Máel Dúin mac Máele Fithrich of the Cenél maic Ercae, who was king of Ailech in Ulster. Máel Dúin's sons included the high king Fergal mac Máele Dúin and Adamh, the Ó Dálaigh ancestor. However, one source claims that Adamh was a son of, confusingly, another Máel Dúin the son of Fergal mac Máele Dúin. The great-grandson of Adamh was called Dálach, from whom the later surname derived. The Ó Dálaigh claimed kinship with the O'Neills and O'Donnells.

Gofraidh Fionn Ó Dálaigh asserted a descent for the family from a 6th-century Dálach, who was the pupil of the saint and poet Colmán the patron of the cathedral town of Cloyne. Dalach is said to have become a bishop of the early Irish Church.

The Ó Dálaigh who settled in Munster seem to have been given an alternative descent from the Eóganacht kings of Cashel, in particular from Aenghus the king of Cashel who was baptised by St. Patrick. However, this pedigree is less well attested than that deriving from Niall and there is no clear indication that the Munster branch of the Ó Dálaigh were considered to have had separate origins from the others. It may merely represent an attempt to integrate the bardic family with the local dynasties they served.

Learn more about the Daly family and coat of arms

For detailed Daly name history information, our Framed Irish Family Name History (#1760) has more information on Daly family origins, coat of arms, and surname.

Visit Daly's in Ireland

There's at least one Irish pub that can boast the Daly name. Visit Katie Daly's Bar and Restaurant in Gorey, County Wexford.

If you can't visit in person, our personalized pub gifts are the next best thing!

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