My Surname “Killey”

Here are a few snippets of information about my Surname Killey which is pronounced Kil-yah in the Isle of Man.

KILLEY, originally Mac Gilla Ceallagh, anglicised in Ireland into Mac Killey Kelly and Killy Kelly.  The MAC & the KELLY have been dropped, leaving KILLEY, which is identical in meaning with Gale, Gell and Gill. (Gaelic, guilley: Irish Giolla, ‘a servant’) Indeed, in the Isle of Man, formerly, the same person was called Gale, Gell, Gill and Killey indifferently.

Further research has found that the original meaning of Killey would be “son of the servant of Ceallagh” where Ceallagh (pronounced KEL-akh) is an Irish name of uncertain origin, traditionally said to mean “bright-headed”.  Alternatively it could be derived from Old Irish Ceallach (variant of Ceallagh) “war, strife” or ceall “church”.

Killie is known in 1610, Killey in 1651 and Killiah in 1693. This last variation gives a good indication of the now Manx pronunciation of (kil-yah).

In many Isle of Man place names Killey has the meaning “of the church” as in Ballakilley, “the farm of the church”.

From the book “Surnames of the Manks” The author L. Quilliam also adds an interesting snippet from this book – The saying “Having a Killey’s thirst” which records a man with a prodigious liquid capacity!

If you are interested in Genealogy and/or the surname Killey then have a look at my other website where you will find some further interesting information and facts about my Surname Killey.

Thanks for dropping by and reading this.

Peter Killey…