This family and its variants McILROY and GILROY are found predominantly in Ulster. They derived from the Irish Mac Giolla Rua. Early places of settlement of families of the name are pinpointed by the names of three Ulster townlands, Ballymacilroy in Upper Toome barony, County Antrim, Ballymackilroy in Clogher barony, County Tyrone, and Ballymackilroy in Magherastephana barony, County Fermanagh. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. The name was also found in Scotland at an early date and Ewen Gilry witnessed a deed of resignation of lands in the barony of Drumelzier in 1331. Michael M'Gilrey was a tenant in Thornhill, Dumfriesshire in the year 1376, and Donald M'Gileroi was a notary public in 1465. Ade M'Gilroy was a tenant of Eglisdisdane and Balnegregane in 1480. Michael Mak Gilroy was the bailie of Ayr in 1488, and appears again in 1500 as M'Ylroye. John MGilroy was an attorney in Perth in 1545. Alba, the country which became Scotland, was once shared by four races; the Picts who controlled most of the land north of the Central Belt; the Britons, who had their capital at Dumbarton and held sway over the south west, including modern Cumbria; the Angles, who were Germanic in origin and annexed much of the Eastern Borders in the seventh century, and the Scots. The latter came to Alba from the north of Ireland late in the 5th century to establish a colony in present day Argyll, which they named Dalriada, after their homeland. The Latin name SCOTTI simply means a Gaelic speaker.
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