This Irish surname of NELLIGAN is Anglicized from the Gaelic O'NIALLAGAIN. The name is also spelt NELIGAN and O'NELLIGAN. In the 1901 census for county Kerry, there were 34 NELLIGAN families in that county, and the name is also familiar to county Cork. In 1864 there were 8 NELIGAN registrations and in 1865, 12, nearly all in Cork and Kerry. The maritime county of Cork, in Munster, is bounded by the sea on the south-west, the south and the south-east. To the east it has land boundaries with the counties of Waterford and Tipperary, and to the north with Limerick and to the west with Kerry. Anciently the country formed part of the kingdom of Desmond. After the Anglo-Norman Invasion the whole of the present county, save the City of Cork (which had been founded by the Vikings) and its surroundings, was granted in 1177 by Henry II to Anglo-Norman knights who brought over their followers and established a military colony. Tralee is the chief town of the county and was a borough, the only other market towns were Dingle, Cahirciveen and Killarney. Before the Anglo-Invasion of Ireland the principal families in County Kerry were the O'Connors, O'Sullivan, O'Moriartys, O'Mahonys and O'Donoghues. Soon after the invasion, as the newcomers pushed into western Munster, the McCarthys' retreated into Kerry. The Geraldine FitzMaurices and FitzGeralds gained a foothold in the county by the 13th century and eventually extended their power there at the expense of the earlier overlords. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Richard NELGAN, who was an interpreter for Richard II during his meeting with the Irish chiefs. At the end of the 14th century Nicholas NELIGAN is recorded as being a householder in Kilkenny. John Moore NELIGAN (1815-1863) was a physician, who wrote a standard book on medicines, born at Clonmel, and the Rt. Rev. Moore Richard NELIGAN (1863-1922) the noted Anglican bishop, was Irish born. The father of Emile NELLIGAN (1879-1941) the French-Canadian poet, was an emigrant from Ireland.
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