Downey surname history

Moloney, along with its variants Mullowney and Maloney, is the English version of O Maol Dhomnaigh, meaning "descendant of the servant of the church", Maol means "bald", and refers to the distinctive tonsure common in the early Irish Church, while domhnach means "Sunday", and was used by extension to refer to the place of worship on that day. The surname arose in Co. Clare, near the modern town of Tulla, and remains extremely common there, as well as in the adjoining counties of Limerick and Tipperary.

Mullowney has also sometimes been used as the anglicisation of the Ulster surname Mac Giolla Dhomnaigh, meaning "son of the servant of the church", usually anglicised as "Downey" or "MacEldowney", which is found principally in counties Antrim and Derry. Both of these name were sometimes used for the illegitimate offspring of clergymen.

In addition O Maolfhachtna, a north Tipperary name, is now generally found as Moloney, perhaps reflecting the proximity of the Clare family. Other, rare, anglicisations of this name include Loughney and MacLoughney.

O Maolanfaidh, a Cork name usually rendered Molumby, is also on occasion found as Moloney.

The Moloney family are represented in the placenames of their home territory, with Ballymoloney in Killokennedy parish in Clare and Feenagh (Moloney) in Feenagh parish in the same county.

Martin Molony (1847-1929) was an emigrant who made his fortune in the USA and devoted much of his wealth to good causes.

Helena Molony (1884-1967) was a feminist, a revolutionary and a trade unionist. After the political struggles of the early years of the century she fought on the Anti-treaty side in the Civil War. In 1936 she was elected President of the Trades Union Congress.

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