This name, with variant spellings Quilty, Keelty, Keeltagh and O'Kielt, is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "O Caoilte". The Gaelic prefix "O" indicates "grandson" or "male descendant of", plus the personal byname "Caoilte" which originated either as a nickname for a slender person, from "caol", thin and slight, or as a topographical name for one resident in a wooded area, (Gaelic "coillte", woods). The form Quilty is mainly found in Munster, especially in County Limerick, whereas, the variants Kielty and Keetlty are more widespread in Connacht. Kiety, Keeltagh and O'Kielt are also sometimes used in Ulster as Gaelicized forms of the name Small, because of the "caol" i.e., "slender" association. On June 6th 1848, the birth of one, Elizabeth Kielty was recorded in Ballinderry, County Derry, and on June 15th 1865, Jane, a daughter, was born to Pat Kielty and Margret Dilon in Aughrim, County Roscommon. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of O'Kilte, which was dated 1313 - "Justiciary Roll of County Limerick", during the reign of King Edward 11, known as "Edward of Caernafon", 1307 - 1327. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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