The Irish Name O'Neill, O'Neal, McNeill, MacNeil..

O’Neal, O’Neill, McNeill, MacNeill

Neal; Nihell; Nealy, McNeilly, O’Neillan .......

Family Name History from the Irish Roots Cafe

( Notes from an early family history work by Mike O'Laughlin ).

The Difference ?

To settle the family arguement - there is a difference

historically between McNeill and O’Neill, but it might

take a DNA test of a male member in the family to

find out which O’Neill line you are closest to in Ireland.

I saw a piece on national news that said DNA had

recently found that nearly all the ONeals in Northern

Ireland descend from the ancient Irish chieftain

“Conn of the Hundred Battles” - a remarkable feat to

say the least.

Switching Mac and O

In some places there is also the rare possibility that

some McNeals have changed the name to O’Neal

(using any spelling they please). So while McNeal

and ONeal are considered seperate families - you’ll

have to do some research to be sure in your case!

Most Numerous

ONeill is one of the 12 most numerous names in

Ireland. One clan served as chieftains in Northern

Ireland, That family bore the ‘red hand of Ulster’

for its coat of arms, one of the most ancient symbols

of Ireland. This is also the ONeill family noted in the

Flight of the Earls and the collapse of the gaelic culture.

A likely separate Irish clan is found in County Clare,

in the barony of Bunratty, others are said to exist in

Carlow and Waterford.

Bear in mind also, the name of O'Neilland or Neyland,

etc.., which can be shortened to O'Neill at any time.

Mc and MacNeill

The MacNeills, who also settled in the province of

Ulster in Northern Ireland, came from Scotland. Some

of these were mercenaries or ‘galloglass’, most often

found in Antrim and Derry. Perhaps due to the shortness

of the name, it has retained the O’ before the name more

often than most in Ireland. The very same family can

spell the name as McNeill, MacNeil, and so on in records.

O'Neill of Tyrone

By the way, Castle Hill, in County Tyrone, a seat of


Log in with your social accounts:

Or, log in with your IrishCentral account:

Forgot your password ?

Don't have an account yet? Register now !

Join IrishCentral with your social accounts:

Already have an account ?

For Newsletter Subscribers – Draw for 1 Prize on December 31st.

Prize: Your Piece of Ireland – a Square of Land in the heart of the Glens of Antrim, Ireland

More details here (or you can buy a little piece of Ireland directly):

Terms & Conditions

Or, sign up for an IrishCentral account below:

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

Make sure we gathered the correct information from you

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

You already have an account on IrishCentral! Please confirm you're the owner.

Our new policy requires our users to save a first and last name. Please update your account: