Both the surname CURLEE and Turley (which is less numerous) derived from the Gaelic Mac Thoirdealbaigh, and they are both to be found in Connacht, principally in County Galway and County Roscommon, although the population movement in this century has displaced a number of families of both names from their original location. The townlands of Ballymacurly South and Ballymacurly North in Ballymoe Marony, County Roscommon, indicate an early homeland of the family, come of whom are still in that immediate neighbourhood. In the latter part of the sixteenth century, an influx of settlers arrived under the patronage of Elizabeth 1 of England, and colonized the country beyond the 'Pale', the area around Dublin that was the only part firmly under English control. At the same time , groups of Presbyterian settlers were encouraged to migrate from Scotland to Ulster, thus establishing the distinctively Scottish surnames of Ulster. During the long centuries of English domination, Irish surnames were crudely Anglicized either phonetically or by translation. In the 19th century, political repression and famine combined to force many Irish people to seek other countries in which to live. Large numbers emigrated to the United States, where strong emotional ties to Ireland are still preserved in many families, while others found themselves transported, willingly or otherwise, to Australia, often after having first tried to make a living in England. Irish surnames are now very widely dispersed, and are common in England as well as in Ireland, the United States and Australia. The eagle depicted in the crest is emblematical of fortitude and magnanimity of mind. The Romans used the figure of an eagle for their ensign, and their example has been often followed. It is the device of Russia, Austria, Germany and the United States of America.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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