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Conley Surname History

Breoghan conquered and became king of Galicia, Andalusia, Murcia (Spain), Castile and Portugal. Bile, son of Breoghan became king of these countries after his father’s death. Milesius, the son of Bile was the ruler of Spain. He fought for a time in Scythia and then later went to Egypt where he fought for the pharaoh against Ethiopia. He found great favor with Pharaoh Nectonibus who gave Milesius his daughter Scota in marriage. Milesius later returned to Spain to find a great famine had occurred. He superstitiously believed the famine to have fallen upon his people as a judgment for failing to seek out the land foretold by prophecy to be their final abode.

Milesius sent his uncle Ithe along with a force of men to bring him a report of these western lands. The rulers of the island where Ithe came were suspicious of Ithe and had him killed. Milesius made preparations to invade the land and also avenge his uncle's death. Before the invasion took place, Milesius died and left the expedition to his eight sons. During the initial invasion, a great storm arose and five of his sons were killed. The three surviving brothers, Heber, Heremon, and Amergin with Heber Donn, son of Ir (one of the brothers lost in the storm), invaded the island and gained possession of the country foretold them.

The sons of Milesius named the land Scotia in honor of their mother, Scota. Heber and Heremon divided the kingdom between them and became jointly the first of many of the Milesian race that governed Ireland. Heber and Heremon reigned jointly one year only, when because of family quarrels, Heremon slew his brothers Heber and Amergin. Heremon became sole king. From these three brothers, Heber, Ir, and Heremon (Amergin died without children) are descended all the Milesian peoples of Ireland and Scotland.

Later kings of Scotia were exiled for a time to another island to the east and they took the name Scotia with them. The land was subsequently renamed Ireland in honor of Ir, the brother of Heremon and Heber. The island of exile was later to become Scotland.

Through direct lineage, Niall of the Nine Hostages later became king of Ireland. He was so named because of his practice of taking prominent hostages from the lands he conquered. Niall had many sons and was the progenitor of many Irish families one of which was O’Conghalaigh. O’Conghalaigh comes from the Gaelic word conghal which means “fierce as a wolf” and was based in the Connacht province of Northern Ireland which includes the counties of Galway and Leitrim. Variations of the name were later found in the counties Cork, Ulster and Monaghan.

Variations of the name included Connelly and Connolly with the Monaghan Connolly’s having been the most prominent. Members of the family are first noted as coming to prominence in the 15th century and are recorded as having “chiefs of the name” up to the 17th century. They were instrumental in organizing the native Irish rebellion of 1641; however, following its failure, they lost much of their power and possessions. English versions of the name now include Conley, Conely, Connelley and Conneely.