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A Donlin Family History by Dan Jensen
The Donnellan and Mealy Names

Mike Donlin’s parents had the surnames Donnellan and Mealy. We begin with some background information on these names.

The Donnellan Name
The O’Donnellans were a sept of the Ui Máine. They belong, therefore, by origin to the south-eastern part of Co. Galway where the place name Ballydonnellan perpetuates their connexion with the district between Ballinasloe and Loughrea. They claim descent from Domhnallán, lord of Clan Breasail. The original castle of Ballydonnellan is reputed to have been built by them in 936 A.D.; it was certainly rebuilt by them in 1412 after being destroyed by fire. They are chiefly known as ollavs or poets, many of whom are mentioned in the "Annals of the Four Masters," the "Annals of Connacht" etc. The best known of them was Brian Mac Owen O’Donnellan (fl. C. 1610), poet to MacWilliam of Clanricard, whom Hyde describes as one of the last of the classic poets. His contemporary, Rt. Rev. Nehemiah Donnellan (d. 1609), Protestant Archmbishop of Tuam, also a Co. Galway man, translated a great part of the New Testament into Irish. He was the direct descendant of Chiefs of the Name, of Ballydonnellan, and ancestor of the Donelans of Sylanmore, Tuam. The majority of the Donelans of this line reverted to the Catholic faith. The name is quite common to-day in Co. Galway and also in the adjacent counties of Clare and Mayo.

It is also spelt Donlan and Donlon. In Irish it is Ó Domhnalláin, indicating descent from the Domhnallán mentioned above[4].

The Mealy Name
Genealogies traditionally follow paternal lines, as do surnames, but maternal lines contribute as much, and often more, to anyone's background. Mike Donlin's mother was Alice Mealy[5]. The Mealy name is a variation of Malley, or O'Malley. The O'Malleys are an ancient Irish line that originated in the province of Connaught, specifically among the Islands along West coast of the Counties Mayo and Galway from Achill to Inishshark.

According to ancient genealogies of Ireland, the O'Malley clan was descended from the eldest son of the High King of Ireland, Brian Orbsen, king of Connaught, who was killed at the battle of Dam Chluain near Tuam, circa A.D. 388. In the Book of Rights (leabhar na gCeart), the O'Malleys are listed as being tributary kings to the provincial kings of Connaught. They were the hereditary lords of the region called Umhalls (umall, territory) which was latinised as Umallia and later anglicized as the Owels, a territory which compromised the baronies of Murrisk and Burrishoole. The barony of Murrisk was called Umhall Uachtarach of Upper Owel and included the islands of Clare, Inishturk, Caher, Inishbofin, Inishark and the smaller islands in the neighborhood, including a multitude in Clew Bay. The barony of Burrishoole was called Umhall Iochtarach or Lower Owel and originally included Achill. The two baronies were referred to as 'Umhall Ui Mhaille' (territory of the O'Malleys) or the Two Owels.

The Life and Times of Grace O'Malley [6]

The "Mealy" surname of West Ireland is not the only occurrence of "Mealy". Mealys appear to have immigrated from England, Germany, and Italy, so all Mealys cannot be expected to descend from the Irish O'Malley line.

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Donnellans, Mealys and
Mulvihills of County Clare