The Clan/Sept History
The history of the name MacNally dates back to a time before Irish names were
translated into English. The original Gaelic form of MacNally was Mac an
Fhailghigh, which is derived from the word failgheach, which means poor man.
The Middle Ages saw a great number of spelling variations for surnames common to
the Irish landscape. One reason for these variations is the fact that surnames
were not rigidly fixed by this period because the general population was
illiterate and could not specify an exact spelling for their names. The
following variations for the name MacNally were encountered in the archives:
McNally, McAnully, McAnalley, McAnally and others.
First found in counties Armagh and Monaghan, where they held a family seat from
A great mass of Ireland's native population left the island in the 19th century,
seeking relief from various forms of social, religious, and economic
discrimination. This Irish exodus was primarily to North America. If the
migrants survived the long ocean journey, many unfortunately would find more
discrimination in the colonies of British North America and the fledgling United
States of America. These newly arrived Irish were, however, wanted as a cheap
source of labor for the many large agricultural and industrial projects that
were essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest
nations in the western world. Early immigration and passenger lists indicate
many people bearing the MacNally name: Bernard, Biddy, Charles, George, Henry
John, Michal, Patrick, Thomas and William McNally all arrived in Philadelphia
between 1840 and 1860; Daniel, Francis and Patrick McAnully all arrived in
Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860.
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