Delaneys Corner sign at Nirranda, Australia

Origins of the name Delaney

The name that John & Bridget Delaney brought with them to Australia was first written by him without the second 'e' but they seemed to have settled on using the '-ey' spelling before long. I myself have seen “Deleaney” on an ancestor's gravestone in Ireland, so English spellings of Irish names were pretty flexible back then.

The extracts below give some detail of the history of the name, firstly from Hilary Murphy and then from the Irish Midlands Ancestry website.

Delaney–A distinguished name associated with counties Laois and Kilkenny.

from Famous Irish Names: Hilary Murphy's Popular Series, by Hilary Murphy, Ireland's Own, issue unknown, page 18

The Delaneys belong, historically, to Counties Laois and Kilkenny and it is in these counties that they are still most numerous. Their original habitat was Coilluachtarach, now Upperwoods, at the foot of Slieve Bloom near the source of the rivers Nore and Barrow in County Laois, in particular the parish of Offerlane.

The name itself, however, is said to be derived, in part, from the river Slaney. In it's original Irish form it is Ó Dubhshlaine. The component words mean black and Slaney1. Commenting on this, MacLysaght2, the leading authority on Irish surnames, says that if the reference is to the river Slaney, it suggests that the Delaneys originally possessed a wider territory than that usually assigned to them.

O'Heerin's fourteenth century Topographical Poems makes the following reference to the Delaneys:

The high chief of the fruitful cantred3
Of the delightful Coill Uachtarach
Is O'Dubhshlaine, hospitable the man,
From the mountain of the most beauteous rivers.

In 1659, when Petty's census was made, Delaney appears as a principal Irish name in four baronies of County Laois and in five of County Kilkenny. Among the most historic bearers of the name were Felix O'Dulany, Cistercian Bishop of Ossory, who died in 1202; Malachy Dulany, also Bishop of Ossory, who died in 1731, and Daniel Delaney, Bishop of Kildare and Leighéon who died in 1814.

Bishop Malachy Dulaney appears to have been a native of Kilkenny city or its neighbourhood, and was born in 1658. He first joined the Capuchin order before becoming a secular priest and later parish priest of St. Canice's in Kilkenny. He was consecrated Bishop of Ossory in Dublin on February 17th, 1714, by Archbishop Edmund Byrne.

According to Carrigan's History of the Diocese of Ossory, his appointment was violently opposed by Dr. Richard Pierce, the exiled Bishop of Waterford and Lismore. In the beginning of his episcopate the Penal Laws were enforced with great vigour in his diocese. He joined the Archbishops of Dublin and Cashel and the Bishops of Clonfert and Elphin in petitioning the Holy See to sanction the publication of a translation of the New Testament by the Dublin priest, Dr. Cornelius Nary.

John Delaney, a native of Kerry is included in Hayes's Biographical Dictionary of Irishmen in France. He was a medical student at the Irish College in Paris immediately before the Revolution of 1789. After the closure of the college and the order to arrest all British subjects in France, he and another student were imprisoned by the Revolutionary Committee.

Soon after his release, Delaney became private secretary to M. Defermon, councillor of state and notable politician of the day. During their exile in France, Delaney was an intimate friend of Thomas Russell and Thomas Addis Emmet. Emmet, while trying to obtain an interview with the Minister of War regarding an Irish invasion, wrote in his diary of May 5th, 1803:

"I have requested Delaney to apply to Defermon to procure the interview for me."
Delaney died at Paris in 1812.

His brother, for whom he obtained a commission in the third battalion of the Irish Legion, went through the Peninsular War and displayed much valour in the 1810 siege of Astorga.

The only Delaney mentioned in Boylan's Dictionary of Irish Biography is Patrick, Dean of Down, who dies in 1768. He was educated as a poor scholar at Trinity College, Dublin, where he took Holy Orders and became a Senior Fellow. In 1730 he became chancellor of St. Patrick's Cathedral Dublin. He was renowned as a preacher and published a number of pieces on religious and biblical subjects; besides an interesting defence of his friend, Dean Swift, in 1754. His home was a Delville, Glasnevin, Dublin.

The most notable person of the name in recent times has been Ron Delany, who won the Olympic Gold Medal in the 1,500 metres in 1956 and became the world record holder. He is now chairman of the National Sports Council.

1 Another source says it "derives from the Irish Dubhshlaine from dubh meaning black and slan meaning defiance".

2 Edward MacLysaght Irish Families, Their Names, Arms & Origins

3 A cantred is the territorial district held by a family or sept.

Laois and Offaly Surnames–Delany

From the Irish Midlands Ancestry website

Delany is a surname never seen today with the prefix O which probably belongs to it. It is O Dubhshlainte in Irish, Delaney being a phonetic rendering of this–the A of Delaney was formerly pronounced broad. An earlier anglicized form was O'Dulany e.g. Felix O'Dulany, Bishop of Ossory from 1178 to 1202, who built St. Canice's Cathedral in Kilkenny. Dubh means black and slainte is topographical–Slaney in English. If it refers to the river Slaney it suggests that this sept originally possessed a wider territory than that usually assigned to it, namely Coilluachtarach (now Upperwoods) at the foot of Slieve Bloom near the source of the rivers Nore and Barrow in Co. Leix.

At the present time the name is chiefly associated with Counties Leix and Kilkenny and in 1659, when Petty's census was made, it appears as a principal Irish name in four baronies of Queen's County (now Leix) and in five of Co. Kilkenny. It is sometimes abbreviated to Delane in Co. Mayo, and this was the form used by Dennis Delane (d. 1750), the celebrated Dublin and London actor. Dillane, however, is not a synonym of Delany, but the anglicized form of O'Duilleain, a Co. Limerick surname, sometimes disguised as Dillin. Dean Patrick Delany (1684-1768), the friend of Dean Swift, was a Leix man. His wife, the famous Mary Delany (1700-1788), was also prominent in the Swift circle. Michael Roland ("Ronny") Delaney, champion athlete who brought honours to Ireland in the 1956 Olympic Games, is a Dubliner.

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