O’Neill (or Neal, Neil, Nihil etc.) comes from the Irish Ó Néill – literally translated as “of Niall”. The main family of the O’Neills – dominant in Ulster for hundreds of years up to the 1600s were from around modern county Tyrone (the chief family of Cinel Eoghan) and descended from “Niall of the nine hostages” (but they took their name from a later Niall who was King of Ireland in the 10th century).
Niall, however, was quite a common first name – and a number of septs have sprung up around the country – some related to the Tyrone O’Neills and some not. They were found in counties Antrim, Down, Waterford, Tipperary and Carlow.
Today the name can be found in many places in Ireland in quantity – but is specially found in the Counties of Antrim and Tyrone.
The O’Neill family of Ulster have about sixteen castles in Ireland associated with their family.
My great grandfather was Thomas O’Neill, born in Dublin in 1810, He was married to Brigette Delaney.I don’t know when or where she was born. Thomas O’Neill Died in Savage, Howard County, Maryland USA in 1895. We dont know how or when he emigrated. That is all I know of him.
His Son ( my Grandfather )William James O’Neill was born in 1862. I don’t know where and died Dec. 1920 in Oakland, Howard County Md.The story we were told as Children was that our grandfather came to the US from Ireland via Copenhagen met my grandmother Katherine E. French who was also Irish. ( He often told my father that Katherine was of Irish royalty. Although that was a fabrication because we now know that she was born in the US.)We are curious to know if William James was born in Ireland and where and how he came to this country. We think William James had several brothers John, Louis and a sister Theresa . We would love to separate the fact from the fiction.CordiallyMary O’Neill Leidner
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