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McAuley, McCauley, McGauley, etc.

 Arms of McAuley or McAwley of the Southern Ui Neill

 Arms of McAuley a branch of Maguire

The name MacAuley, which has many variants including MacAwley, MacAwly, MacGawley, MacCawley, Magawley, MacGauley, MacCauley, Cauley, Cowley and many more, is of three distinct origins in Ireland, two native and one foreign (if you consider Scotland as a foreign country, which many Irish historians do not).

Firstly is the sept known as Mac Amhalghaidh in the native tongue. The name is derived from the personal name Amhalghaidh (anglicised as Auley or Awly) and the particular individual from whom this family descends was himself a descendant of Maine son of Niall Mor, progenitor of the Uí Neill. Uí Néill is a term applied to the septs that descend from Niall Mór, or Niall Naoi-Ghiallach (Niall of the Nine Hostages), thus named from the royal hostages taken from nine countries by him subdued and made tributary - 1. Munster, 2. Leinster, 3. Conacht, 4. Ulster, 5. Britain, 6. the Picts, 7. the Dalriads, 8. the Saxons, and 9. the Morini - a people of France, towards Calais and Picardy. Niall's father was Eochaidh Muigh-Meadhoin [Moyvone], the 124th Monarch of Ireland who in the 8th year of his reign died a natural death at Tara, A.D. 365; leaving four sons. By his first wife Mong Fionn, Brian, Fiachra, Olioll and Fergus. And, by his second wife, Carthan Cais Dubh (or Carinna), daughter of the Celtic King of Britain, Niall Mór. Mong Fionn was daughter of Fiodhach, and sister of Crimthann, King of Munster and successor of Eochaidh in the Monarchy. This Crimthann was poisoned by his sister Mong-Fionn, in hopes that Brian, her eldest son by Eochaidh, would succeed in the Monarchy. To avoid suspicion she herself drank of the same poisoned cup which she presented to her brother; but, notwithstanding that she lost her life by so doing, yet her expectations were not realised, for the said Brian and her other three sons by the said Eochaidh were laid aside (whether out of horror of the mother's inhumanity in poisoning her brother, or otherwise, is not known), and Niall, the youngest son of Eochaidh, by Carthan Cais Dubh, was preferred to the Monarchy.

In Niall's rise to Kingship he had to overcome his wicked stepmother, Mongfhinn, who abandoned him as a baby, naked on a hill. He is raised by a wandering bard, Torna Eices. Sithchenn the Smith fortells he will be High King. Then he comes across an old hag who demands that he and his companions give her a kiss. Only Niall has the courage to do so, and she turns into a beautiful woman named Flaithius (Royalty), the personification of sovranty. She fortells that he will be the greatest of Ireland's High Kings. The Irish Annals of the Four Masters states that "Niall began to reign in 379. He was not only the paramount king of Ireland, but one of the most powerful to ever hold that office, and was therefore one of the few Irish kings able to mobilize great forces for foreign expeditions." Niall went to Scotland in order to strengthen his power and gained alliances with the Scots and Picts, he then marched to Laegria and sent a fleet to Armorica (France) in order to plunder. He established the Dal Riada which was the name for this conglomeration of Irish, Scots and Picts. These raids led to amazing results. Keating in his History of Ireland states that "St. Patrick was brought as a captive to Ireland in the ninth year in the reign of Niall," it was this time when Niall was on his expedition to Scotland and France. An Irish fleet went to the place where Patrick dwelt, then aged 16 years, and as was the custom of the Irish, they brought a large number of hostages with them along with Patrick's two sisters Lupida and Daererca. Niall had pillaged Wales, Scotland, England and France. Keating also states that "Niall having taken many captives returned to Ireland and proceeded to assemble additional forces and sent word to the chief of the Dal Riada, requesting him to follow with all his host to France." Niall set out for the new adventure with Gabhran, the chief of the Del Raida, to plunder France at the river Loire. With this group was Eochaida who had been banished as the King of Leinster and had plans to be the High King of Ireland. While crossing The English Channel Niall was killed by an arrow from Eochaida. Niall had been High King of Ireland for twenty-seven years. He had played a great part in breaking down Roman power in Britain and France between the years of 379 and 406. Keating states that "Wales ceased to be controlled by the central government from 380-400 due to Niall". He died a pagan, but after the dawn of Christianity in Ireland, his descendants were foremost in promoting and endowing the Christian Church in Ireland, and nearly 300 of them were canonized as Saints.

He was twice married: - his first Queen was Inne, the daughter of Luighdheach, who was the relict of Fiachadh; his second Queen was Roigneach, by whom he had Nos. I., II., III., IV., V., VI., and VII., as given below. This Niall Mór succeeded his Uncle Crimthann; and was the 126th Monarch of Ireland. Niall had twelve sons: -

After Niall's death, a number of his sons, led by Eoghan and Conall Gulban, headed north from Tara to rule the northern territories of Ulster. Their descendants became known as the Northern Uí Neill. The Northern Ui Neill divided into three great clans, the Cineal Eoghain. Cineal Conaill and Cineal Cairbre. Meanwhile, the remaining sons ruled their territories in the Kingdom of Meath and became known as the Southern Uí Neill.

The Southern Ui Neill alternated the High-Kingship of Tara with their cousins of the Northern Ui Neill. They established themselves near Tara in the late fifth century, as several of the sons of Niall of the Nine Hostages settled in the east of the territory of Mide (Westmeath and North Offaly) just west of Tara. By the seventh century the Southern Ui Neill were masters of Brega (which included the sacred center at Tara in what is now County Meath) and were also firmly established as masters of the whole of the expansive territory of Mide (Westmeath and North Offaly). This territory stretched across the center of Ireland to the Shannon, and included Uisnech, the important traditional center of the Island, as meeting-place of the traditional "five fifths" of Ireland. The great families of the Southern Uí Neill were Clann Cholmain (O'Melaghlin, later MacLoughlin), Cineal Fiachach descend from Fiacha (MacGeoghegan and O'Molloy), Cineal Laoghaire descend from Laoghaire (O'Quinlan), Fir Teathbha (O'Caharney or Fox, O'Daly, MacAuley, MacCaron and O'Brennan).

The MacAwleys (Mac Amhalghaidh) were, prior to the English conquest of the sixteenth century, lords of a wide territory known as Calry (Calraighe) which in its broadest extent comprised land in the west of County Westmeath and north of County Offaly, but which was centered on Ballyloughloe in Westmeath. This territory was knownn to the English as MacGawley's Country. The Four Masters describe them as "Chiefs of Calry".

Like many of the Irish septs, many of the MacAuleys fled their homeland for Europe. In 1631, Field Marshal Philip Henry Magawly, who was of this family, was given the hereditary title of Count (of the Holy Roman Empire) by Emperor Charles VI. His desendants married into the influential Cerati family and in the nineteenth century, the Chief of the Name was Count Magawley Cerati, son of the Prime Minister of the Empress Maria Louisa. Up till that time they preserved a close connection with their homeland in Co. Westmeath.

The other native sept was called in Irish Mac Amhlaoibh. These are a branch of the MacGuires and belong to Co. Fermanagh, where they have given their name to the barony of Clanawley. If ever one Irish family was inextricably linked with an Irish county, the family is Maguire or MacGuire and the county is Fermanagh. They possessed the entire county, also known as Maguire's Country, from about 1200 A.D. and maintained their independence as Lords of Fermanagh down to the reign of James the First, when their country was confiscated like other parts of Ulster. The Maguires supplied Chiefs or Princes to Fermanagh, from about A.D. 1264, when they supplanted the former Chieftains (O'Daimhin, or Devin). They were inaugurated as Princes of Fermanagh on the summit of Cuilcagh, a magnificent mountain near Swanlinbar, on the borders of Cavan and Fermanagh; and sometimes also at a place called Sciath Gabhra or Lisnasciath, now Lisnaskea. Even after the seventeenth century confiscation, Connor Roe Maguire obtained re-grants of twelve thousand acres of the forfeited lands of his ancestors, and was created Baron of Enniskillen - a title which was also borne by several of his successors. They also spawned several well known branches which became septs in their own right, including MacManus, Caffrey, MacHugh and of course MacAuley or Macawley.

These latter are the descendants of Amhlaobh (a gaelic form of the Norse name Olaf), a son of Donn Carrach Maguire, the first Maguire King of Fermanagh who died in 1302. It is thought that it was this Amhlaobh or Auley and his sons who first crossed the Erne and won south Fermanagh for the Maguires. The name in Fermanagh is mainly spelt MacCawley or MacCauley, but it is also found as Cauley, Cawley, Gawley, Macauley, MacAwley, MacGawley and Magawley. Auley was one of four brothers the others being Flaherty, who continued the Maguire line, Craith, ancestor of McGrath and Gafraidh, ancestor of the Caffreys. Their ancestry is arguably as royal as that of the Uí Neill, their ancestors including Conn Ceadchadhach, or Con of the hundred Battles, whose grandson, Cormac Mac Art was High King of Ireland in the third century. From him the line of descent continues as follows:-

It should be noted that Mac Amhlaoibh is also the name of a quite distinct Munster sept, descended from Amhlaoibh MacCarthy, the anglicized form there being MacAuliffe.

Finally, the Scottish name Macaulay is derived its name in a similar way to the MacAuleys of Ireland. Many of the Irish born Macauleys and MacAuleys, particularly those living in the counties adjacent to Belfast, are descendants of Scottish settlers in Ulster. There are two origins for the name in Scotland.

The MacAulays of Lewis in the Hebrides, a sept of Clan MacLeod, were in Gaelic Mac Amhlaibh (Olaf). These MacAulays are said to be Norse in origin and to descend from Olave the Black, brother of Magnus, last king of Man and the Isles. (The MacLeods themselves descend from Leod, a son of Olave.)

The MacAulays of Ardincaple in Dumbartonshire are a minor branch of the royal Clan Alpin (of which MacGregor is the most senior). They were in Gaelic Mac Amhalghaidh and this obsolete Irish personal name was also pronounced Auley. Gallowglasses were mercenary soldiers, imported by the Irish clan chiefs, mainly in Ulster but also further afield, to aid in the defence of their clan territories. The first recorded arrival of the Galloglass was in 1259. Prince Aedh O'Connor of Connaught, son of King Feidhlim married a princess, daughter of Dubhgall MacRory King of the Hebrides. As part of her dowry she brought with her a force of 160 Galloglasses. They came for the most part from Inse Ghall (The Hebrides) and were Gaelic speaking Scots interbred with Vikings. Because of their Viking blood they earned the name from the words gall (foreign) and óglaigh (a warrior). The Scots themselves were Irish, mainly the Dal Riada from Northern Ireland who had traveled to Western Scotland and Hebrides. A fifteenth century account of them states: "They, the Irish, have one sort of footmen which can be harnessed in mail and basinettes, having every man of them a kind of battle-axe and they be named gallowglasses. These sort of men be those that do not lightly abandon the field, but bear the brunt to the death. These men are commonly wayward by profession than by nature, big of limb, burly of body, well and strongly timbered, chiefly feeding on beef, pork and butter." They earned their reputation the hard way, and were the biggest reason the chiefs Ui Neill slowed the English advance northward from the Pale several hundred years. Many of them got grants of land from the Irish chiefs and went on to found some of the most respected septs of the Ireland. The best known of there are MacSúibhne (MacSweeney), MacDomhnaill (MacDonnell), MacSíothaigh (MacSheehy), MacDubhgaill (MacDougall), MacCaba (MacCabe) and MacRuari (MacRory). Lesser known Galloglass families include MacAulay, MacSorley, MacNeill, MacGreal, MacAnGhearr (Short/ Shortt / McGirr), MacAnGallóglaigh (MacGallogly / English), MacClean(MacAlean / MacLean / MacClane), MacAilín (MacCawell / Campbell / MacCampbell / Allen / MacEllin), MacAlister (MacEllistrum / MacAllister / MacAlistrum), MacAlexander, Agnew (O'Gnimh / O'Gnimha / O'Gnive) and MacPhaidín (MacFadden). A branch of the Dumbartonshire MacAulays came to the Glens of Antrim with the MacDonnells in the early sixteenth century and these are the ancestors of most of the MacAuleys in Co. Antrim. In the mid-nineteenth century MacAuley was the most common name in the barony of Lower Glenarm and was also very common in Carey.

The outstanding figure of the name in Irish history is Catherine MacAuley (1787-1841), foundress of the Order of Mercy.