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This ancient Irish clan surname, is one of the very few that never lost its "O" prefix. It derives from the pre 10th century Gaelic O' Maoileoin, meaning "a descendant of a follower of St John", and was originally recorded only in the province of Connacht. The name has been anglicized as O'Malley, O'Mailey, or O'Melia. The original territory of the clan were the County Mayo baronies of Burrishoole and Murrisk, although the relative smallness of the clan always made it difficult for them to retain their lands. Whether this lack of strength forced the O'Malleys onto the water or not, is unclear, but what is certain is that they became renowned for their maritime prowess...
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