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McCleary Family HistoryRecorded in the spellings of O'Clery, O'Cleary, Clery, Cleary, MacCleary, McCleary, McCleery, McLeary, the "English" form of Clarke, and many others, this long-established surname is of Gaelic origin. It has both original and recent royal associations, and can be either Irish or Scottish. However spelt it is a form of the pre 7th century word "chleirich", meaning a clerk or cleric, and originally had the prefix of either "Mac, Mc or O', although these are often omitted. It has been claimed by the late Edward Lysacht, the famous Gaelic etymologist, that as O'Clery it was one of the earliest of all surname recordings anywhere in the world, dating from the 10th century.
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