Donlevy is a surname of Irish origin. Also spelt as MacDonlevy, Donleavy, Dunleavy, MacAleavey, and McAlevey, it derives from the Irish Mac Duinnshléibhe, meaning "cheiftain of the mountain". Ó Duinnshléibhe is a variant Irish spelling. Their eponymous ancestor is Donn Sléibe mac Echdacha, who ruled as king of the Irish petty-kingdom of Dál Fiatach, as well as its over-kingdom, Ulaid, in the late 10th century. In the aftermath of John de Courcy's conquest of Ulaid in 1177, some of the dynasty migrated to present-day County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland, whilst others went to Scotland. In Donegal they became the hereditary physicians (Old Irish: ollahm leighis) of the Cenél Conaill of Tír Conaill.

After the Battle of Kinsale in 1602, the sept migrated to the province of Connacht, where their name is now most common.[1][2] Some MacDonlevys in Donegal adopted the surname Mac an Ultaigh, meaning "son of the Ulsterman", which was anglicised as MacAnulty and MacNulty.[3]

Notable peopleEdit





Mac DuinnshléibhesEdit

Ó DuinnshléibhesEdit

List of Mac Duinn Sléibe kings of UlaidEdit

  • Donn Sléibe mac Eochada 1081–1091, the eponymous ancestor of the Mac Duinn Sléibe dynasty.
  • Donnchad mac Duinn Sléibe 1091–1095
  • Eochaid mac Duinn Sléibe 1095–1099
  • Donnchad mac Duinn Sléibe 1099–1099
  • Eochaid mac Duinn Sléibe 1099–1108
  • Donnchad mac Duinn Sléibe 1108–1113
  • Áed mac Duinn Sléibe 1113–1127
  • Cú Ulad mac Conchobair Chisenaig Mac Duinn Sléibe 1131–1157
  • Áed mac Con Ulad Mac Duinn Sléibe 1157–1158
  • Eochaid mac Con Ulad Mac Duinn Sléibe 1158–1166
  • Magnus mac Con Ulad Mac Duinn Sléibe 1166–1171
  • Donn Sléibe mac Con Ulad Mac Duinn Sléibe 1171–1172
  • Ruaidrí mac Con Ulad Mac Duinn Sléibe 1172–1201
  • Cu-Ulahd Mac Duinn Sléibe (fl. c. 1178)

List of physiciansEdit

This is a partial list, based on the Irish annals of members of the MacDonlevy and McNulty physicians of the Cenél Conaill of Tír Conaill.

  • Muiris MacDonlevy (d. 1395) is the first member actually entered in the Irish Annals where they are listed as ollahm lieghis chenel Conaill, the physician to the Cenel Conaill, the ruling dynasty of Tír Conaill.
  • By his agnomens Paul Ultach or Paul the Ulidian, Muiris's father is also mentioned at this 1395 A.D. entry to be physician who flourished both before and after Muiris.
  • Murtough Ultaigh Donlevy is recorded as being a physician under an entry for 1497.[4]
  • Donnell Ultaigh Donlevy the son of an unnamed Ultaigh “ollav” to the O’Donnell in Tir Chonaill, is recorded as having been slain in the year 1567.
  • Donnchadh mac Eoghan Ó Duinnshléibhe (Donnchadh MacDonlevy), M.D. is recorded as a physician. Donnchadh was educated on the continent at Paris.[5]
  • Eoghan MacDonlevy, M.D. or Owen Ultach (d. 1586) was the son of Donnchadh and also educated at Paris. Considered throughout Ireland and much of Europe as the finest physician of his time, with his skills are not only recounted by the Irish Annals and at the Dictionary of National Biography but also by Stanihurst.[citation needed]
  • Cormac MacDonlevy (fl. c. 1460) was an influential medieval Irish physician and medical scholar, who advanced Irish medieval medical practice by, for the first time, translating seminal continental European medical texts from Latin to vernacular. His translations provided the then exclusively Gaelic language speaking majority of Irish physicians with their first reference access to these texts.

The Annals note further that the branch of the MacDonlevy, who had been the physicians, still existed near Kilmacrenan, County Donegal in the early 17th century.

Tradition is that the MacDonlevy physicians educated in the medical arts Tír Conaill native Niall Ó Glacáin (Latinised as Nellanus Glacanus). Glacanus became a famed physician, professor of medicine and medical researcher at the University of Bologna.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Keating, p. 728.
  2. ^ a b Bell (2003), p. 60.
  3. ^ a b Bell (2003), p. 180.
  4. ^ a b Hack, pp. 18-21.
  5. ^ a b A New History of Modern Ireland, p. 611


  • Bell, Robert (2003). The Book of Ulster Surnames. The Blackstaff Press. ISBN 978-0-85640-602-7.
  • Keating, Geoffrey (1983). Keating's History of Ireland. Irish Genealogical Foundation. ISBN 978-0-686-44360-5.
  • Hack, G.H. (1901). Genealogical History of the Donlevy Family Columbus, Ohio. Chaucer Press, Evans Printing Co.</ref>
  • T. Moody; F. Mortin; F. Byrne (1993). A New History of Modern Ireland (Early modern Ireland 1534–1691). Oxford University Press.</ref>