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CAHILL Family HistoryÓ Cathail- meaning probably 'strong in battle' from 'cath' or 'battle'. One of the oldest Irish surnames according to Woulfe, ('Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall' 1923)
Mac Cathail- either the same meaning as above, according to Woulfe; or, according to MacLysaght ('Surnames of Ireland' 1980s ed) from personal name 'Cathal' meaning 'valour'.
Mac Cathmhaoil - meaning possibly 'battle chief''.
Ó Cathail- several unrelated septs of the name, of which the most powerful were a sept of Cinel Aodha (Hugh's People) in Co Galway, and a sept of the Eoghanachta of Loch Léin in Co Kerry, and thus descendants of the legendary king Aillil Olumm. There was also another notable sept who gave their name to Ballycahill ( the settlement of the O'Cahills) in Co Tipperary; and yet another near Corofin in Co Clare.
By the time of Griffith's 'Valuation' of Irish households (1848-60) the highest number of Cahill households were found in counties Tipperary (311) Kilkenny (236) Cork (203) and Clare (88).
Mac Cathail is rarer, being found in counties Donegal, Tyrone and Cavan.
The Registrar General's Report on births in 1890 recorded most Cahill births in counties Cork, Kerry, Dublin, Kilkenny and Tipperary.
Two famous bearers were:
Joseph Cahill (1891-1959) Premier of New South Wales in Australia.
Joe Cahill (1920-2004) Commander of the Belfast Brigade, and one time Chief of Staff of the Provisional IRA during the recent 'troubles'
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