Insights Into the O誰eills of Ireland from DNA Testing

 

Edwin B. O誰eill and John D. McLaughlin

 

 

The O'Neills of Ireland are one of the best known and important families in Irish history, descended from a long dynastic line that for centuries were Kings of Ulster and High Kings of Ireland. By traditional pedigree they are patrilineal descendants of Niall "of the Nine Hostages" who was the semi-historical High King of Ireland who died in 405 and who was the founder of the famous Ui Neill dynasty. But an examination of DNA data on males with the O誰eill, McLaughlin, O Cathain, McShane and other related surnames has led to a theory that the Royal Tyrone O誰eills of Ireland, from some point forward, were not, as history records, patrilineal descendents from the line of the Ui Neill. An analysis of available Y-DNA data on 102 males with the O誰eill surname reveals the existence of two different O誰eill Y-STR clusters, both primarily located in the region of Ireland associated with the Ui Neill line and the Royal O誰eills. Results of testing the Y-SNP M222 indicate that the two groups of O誰eills are distinctly separate. Documented Irish history, coupled with Y-DNA data on surnames linked to the Ui Neill line at different time periods (McLaughlin, O Cathain and McShane) suggest the approximate time frame of a non-paternal event (NPE) in the Royal O誰eill line occurred between the 900s and 1500s.

 

 

 

Address for correspondence: E. B. O誰eill, vix3205 (at) cox.net

 

Received: 10 July 2006; Accepted: 27 September 2006


 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

The purpose of the present research was to determine if available DNA and other data provide new insights into the O誰eills[1] of Ireland, including the relationship of the O誰eills to Niall 登f the Nine Hostages, the traditional founder of the Ui Neill dynasties in Ireland.

 

Irish Historical Background

 

One of the most important surnames in Irish history is O誰eill; persons bearing that surname were kings or rulers in Ireland for most of the period from 956 to the early 1600s. According to history/legend/myth, the O誰eills are patrilineal descendants of Niall Noigiallach (Niall 登f the Nine Hostages, herein referred to as N9H), King of Ireland 380-405 and the founder of the Ui Neill dynasty. Over the years the Ui Neill line separated into the Northern Ui Neill group, centered in the province of Ulster, and the Southern Ui Neill group, centered in the province of Leinster. By history/legend/myth Niall was also ancestor to persons bearing numerous other Irish surnames, including O奪onnell, Bradley, O竪allagher, O奪oherty, Flynn, McLaughlin, Byrne, etc.

 

 

 

Trinity College, Dublin (TCD) Studies

 

Y-DNA testing can help separate Irish history from legend and myth as in a study series conducted by Trinity College, Dublin (TCD). In their first study (Moore 2006 and Suppl), 796 males (no surnames identified) from all areas of Ireland were tested for selected SNPs and 17 Y-STR markers, revealing the existence of a unique cluster of haplotypes, the modal values of which they labeled as Irish Modal Haplotype (IMH). The IMH, along with a one-mutational-step which TCD called IMH+1 (one-step difference up-or-down at one marker from IMH), accounted for 8.2% of the island痴 sample of 796 males. A much higher percentage of IMH was found in northwest Ireland. Of the 796 participants, 85.4% belonged to the R1b3 haplogroup (R1b-M269, currently called R1b1c, see ISOGG, 2006).

 

To examine further the question of whether the IMH was consistent with patrilineal descent from the Ui Neill line, Moore et al. (2006) tested another 59 participants, all with surnames linked to the Ui Neill line (but not including O誰eills), at 19 Y-STR markers, the results showing . . . a significantly higher affinity with the IMH . . . than with a general R1b3 northwestern Ireland geographic population . . . .

 

Independent of, and prior to the TCD studies, Wilson (2006) identified what he named the NWIrish Variety Modal Haplotype with a higher percentage occurrence in northwest Ireland. At markers TCD tested (fewer than were included in the NWIrish modal haplotype) modal values are the same as NWIrish. IMH is possibly a smaller and more-recent subset of NW Irish. TCD estimated the IMH Time to the Most Recent Common Ancestor (TMRCA) as about 1,730 years ago while others believe the NWIrish line is 3,000 to 5,000 years old. For example, the estimate by McEwen (2006) is 3,362 years. For the remainder of this article, the modal haplotype for all IMH and NWIrish haplotypes will be referred to as the Northwest Irish Modal Haplotype (NWIMH) and haplotypes that cluster around the NWIMH will be referred to as the Northwest Irish Variety (NWI).

 

Through 19-Marker Y-STR tests a second TCD study by McEvoy and Bradley (2006) (data, shown at McEvoy (2006)), examined 1,325 males of selected surnames including 80 O誰eills from all areas of Ireland. Other than their surname and location in Ireland, the O'Neill participants were anonymous.

Methods

 

The present study used the Y-STR data on the 80 O誰eills identified in the TCD surname study, supplemented with data from six additional DNA sources on O誰eills (and McLaughlins, O Cathains, McShanes and others). These sources were, the Y-STR database of Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF), Y-Base, Y-Search, the surname projects of Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), the Clan McShane-Johnson-MacSeai地 (McS) website and a separate McShane Family website.

 

SMGF has an extensive collection of haplotypes from samples donated for research purposes with online access and a surname-search capability. The Y-Search and Y-Base databases also allow for searches by surname. The FTDNA projects provide Y-DNA test results for specific participants, many of whom have also uploaded their results to Y-Search; these participants are identified by kit number. McS includes Y-DNA test results for several McShane, O誰eill and related surnames while The McShane Family website shows results for several McShanes. Y-STR haplotypes for 22 O誰eills were extracted from the six sources, which were then added to the 80 haplotypes from the TCD study, resulting in an overall total of 102.

 

Results

 

A most important finding was the presence of at least two distinct clusters within the 102 haplotypes, one associated with NWI, the other not. We have named the second cluster the O'Neill Variety (ON) and the modal haplotype for this cluster, the O誰eill Modal Haplotype (ONMH). Restricting the clusters to those haplotypes which are one-step up-or-down at two markers or less from NWIMH or ONMH there are twelve O誰eills in the NWI group but more than twice as many, 30 haplotypes, in the ON cluster. The remaining 62 O誰eills were apparently unrelated to the two largest clusters, representing multiple independent origins of the surname.

 

Table 1 displays those 12 O誰eills who form the NWI cluster. The authors have arbitrarily included in this table only those haplotypes within two mutational steps of the modal values, but a later table will include haplotypes of more mutational steps, but confined to territories associated with the Northern Ui Neill and the Tyrone O誰eills (O'Neills from in and around County Tyrone). Because the great majority of subjects was from the McEvoy and Bradley TCD study, the table displays only the 19 markers used in that study. More markers were available for the non-TCD-study participants, but those are omitted in Table 1. The TCD study tested a few markers not available in the other sources, so, where appropriate, some values are left blank in the table. 徹N-X denotes a participant from the TCD study, 徹-N29907 and 徹-49120 are from the FTDNA O誰eill Project, showing their kit numbers, and 哲-2274 is from the FTDNA Neal-O誰eal Project, also labeled by kit number. It is noted that 2 has been added to the DYS values of the TCD study for DYS 461 to make it compatible with conventions used by FTDNA, DNAH, DNA-FP, etc. Y-Search, Y-Base, SMGF and the two McShane sources did not yield any additional O'Neills beyond those included in Table 1.

 

 

 

Table 1 O誰eills with NWIrish Variety Haplotypes

 

DYS

19

388

390

391

392

393

434

435

436

437

438

439

389-1

389-2

460

461

462

385a

385b

NWIMH

14

12

25

11

14

13

9

11

12

15

12

12

13

29

11

12

11

11

13

ON62

14

12

25

11

14

13

9

11

12

15

12

12

13

29

11

12

11

11

13

ON31

14

12

25

11

14

13

9

11

12

15

11

12

13

29

11

12

11

11

13

ON68

14

12

25

10

14

13

9

11

12

15

12

12

13

29

11

12

11

11

13

ON76

14

12

25

10

14

13

9

11

12

15

12

12

13

29

11

12

11

11

13

ON1

14

12

25

11

14

13

9

11

12

14

12

12

13

29

11

12

11

11

13

O-N29907

14

12

25

11

14

12

 

 

 

 

 

12

13

29

 

 

 

11

13

ON57

14

12

25

11

14

13

9

11

12

15

12

13

13

29

11

12

11

11

14

ON44

15

12

25

12

14

13

9

11

12

15

12

12

13

29

11

12

11

11

13

ON22

14

12

25

11

14

13

9

11

12

15

12

11

13

29

11

11

11

11

13

ON19

14

12

25

11

14

13

9

11

12

15

12

11

13

29

11

11

11

11

13

O-49130

14

12

25

11

13

13

 

 

 

15

12

12

13

29

11

 

 

11

14

N-2274

15

12

25

12

14

13

 

 

 

 

 

12

13

29

 

 

 

11

13

 

 

 

Table 2 shows the Y-STR haplotypes for the 30 O誰eills of the O'Neill Variety. Of the 30, 13 had identical 19/19 matches, 2 had 16/16 matches, 10 had 18/19 matches, 1 had 15/16, 2 had 11/12 and 2 had 17/19. The table illustrates that this ON Variety is a very tightly clustered group, indicative of a very recent origin. Expanding the restrictions to 3 mismatches, yields only two more O'Neills. It is noted that, using only their 80 O'Neills and haplotypes within one mutational step or less of ONMH, McEvoy and Bradley estimated the TMRCA of about 1,100 years (about the year 900), very close to the time frame of the grandson of Niall Glundubh, Domhnall 登f Armagh, said to be the first to use the surname O誰eill. It is also noted that, in the TCD surname study, there were only two non-O誰eills closer than a 16/19 match with ONMH (McNeice and McVeigh).

 

 

Table 2 O誰eills with O'Neill Variety Haplotypes

 

DYS

19

3

8

8

3

9

0

3

9

1

3

9

2

3

9

3

434

435

436

437

438

439

3

8

9-1

389-2

460

4

6

1

4

6

2

3

8

5

a

3

8

5

b

 

ONMH

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

O誰13

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

S1

14

12

24

11

13

13

 

 

 

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

S5

14

12

24

11

13

13

 

 

 

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

ON5

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

11

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

ON29

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

11

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

ON30

14

12

24

10

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

ON38

14

12

24

10

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

ON27

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

12

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

ON32

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

29

11

12

11

12

15

ON35

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

30

10

12

11

12

15

ON80

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

13

11

12

15

O-36315

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

11

15

McS-1

14

12

24

11

13

13

 

 

 

15

 

11

13

30

 

 

 

11

15

O-42891

14

12

24

11

13

13

 

 

 

15

 

11

13

30

 

 

 

11

15

ON21

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

16

S2

14

12

24

11

13

13

 

 

 

15

12

12

13

30

11

12

11

11

15

ON59

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

11

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

13

15

ON60

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

29

12

12

11

12

15

 


 

 

In Table 2 O誰13 designates thirteen O誰eills from the TCD study (ON2, ON3, ON11, ON16, ON24, ON25, ON39, ON41, ON43, ON53, ON61, ON65, and ON71), all with haplotypes identical to the ONMH; other ON痴 identify other TCD O誰eills; 鉄X designates a SMGF participant, 徹-X, a FTDNA O誰eill Surname Project participant with his kit number, and McS-1 an O誰eill listed at the McS site. Note: one repeat has been added to DYS 461 on all the SMGF haplotypes for compatibility with current standards.


 

Table 2 O誰eills with O'Neill Variety Haplotypes

 

DYS

19

3

8

8

3

9

0

3

9

1

3

9

2

3

9

3

434

435

436

437

438

439

3

8

9-1

389-2

460

4

6

1

4

6

2

3

8

5

a

3

8

5

b

 

ONMH

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

O誰13

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

S1

14

12

24

11

13

13

 

 

 

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

S5

14

12

24

11

13

13

 

 

 

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

ON5

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

11

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

ON29

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

11

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

ON30

14

12

24

10

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

ON38

14

12

24

10

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

ON27

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

12

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

ON32

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

29

11

12

11

12

15

ON35

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

30

10

12

11

12

15

ON80

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

13

11

12

15

O-36315

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

11

15

McS-1

14

12

24

11

13

13

 

 

 

15

 

11

13

30

 

 

 

11

15

O-42891

14

12

24

11

13

13

 

 

 

15

 

11

13

30

 

 

 

11

15

ON21

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

16

S2

14

12

24

11

13

13

 

 

 

15

12

12

13

30

11

12

11

11

15

ON59

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

11

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

13

15

ON60

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

29

12

12

11

12

15

 


 

 

It is important to examine the frequency of occurrence of these two clusters of O誰eills in those areas associated with the Royal O誰eills (Tyrone O誰eills) and the Northern Ui Neill, those situated in the north and west of Ireland in the present counties of Tyrone, Armagh and Antrim and those where natural migration might have been expected (Counties Derry, Monaghan and Donegal). It is noted there were also unrelated septs of O誰eills located in Thomond (Counties Clare, North Limerick and North Tipperary), Co. Carlow, and the Decies (Counties Waterford and South Tipperary) (MacLysaght, 1985).


 

Nearly all of the O誰eill study sample subjects who were not in the TCD study were unable to identify the province or county of origin in Ireland, so they are excluded from what follows. The 80 TCD O誰eill subjects were from: Ulster (30), Munster (17), Leinster (11), Connaught (6), Unknown Ireland (7) and Outside Ireland (9), where the province listed was the domicile of the paternal grandfather of the participant. Table 3 shows the provinces and counties of origin for these subjects.

 

 


Table 3 Distribution of TCD O'Neill and NWIrish Varieties in Ireland

 

Province/County

Total

ON

NWI

1. Ulster

Tyrone

14

7

2

Derry

3

3

0

Armagh

3

1

0

Antrim

3

0

0

Donegal

2

1

0

Monaghan

2

0

2

Down

2

0

0

Other

1

0

0

Total Ulster

30

12

4

2. Leinster

Dublin

5

2

1

Carlow

1

0

0

Kilkenny

3

0

0

Laois

1

0

0

Wicklow

1

0

0

Total Leinster

11

2

1

3. Munster

 

 

 

Clare

2

1

0

Cork

6

1

0

Kerry

1

0

0

Limerick

6

1

0

Tipperary

1

0

0

Waterford

1

0

0

Total Munster

17

3

0

4. Connaught

Mayo

3

1

0

Sligo

3

1

0

Total Connaught

6

2

0

5. Ireland

7

2

1

6. Outside Ireland

9

3

0

 

 

 

Examining only R1b and those O誰eills identified by TCD as being from the territory of the Tyrone O誰eills results in 27 O誰eills. Because NWI is an older cluster, it is difficult to determine with Y-DNA alone which of the O誰eills are actually related to NWI. Table 4 identifies the percentage of those 27 in the TCD study which are in the NWI and ON clusters, depending on how many mutational steps are allowed in each cluster.

 

 

Table 4 Percentage of NWIrish and O'Neill Varieties with

Different Mutational Steps from the Modal Haplotype

Mutational

Steps

0

1

2

3

3+ **

NWI

3.7%

3.7%

14.8%

25.9%

29.6%

ON

25.9%

40.7%

44.4%

48.1%

48.1%

** Includes some two-mutational steps at the same marker


 

 

 

Table 4 shows that, for entries from Tyrone O誰eill territory, NWI and ON together represent a large percentage of O誰eills in the area.

 

Table 5 compares the ONMH and the NWIMH, showing differences at 7 of 19 markers.

 

 

 

Table 5 ONMH and NWIMH Comparisons

 

DYS

1

9

3

8

8

3

9

0

3

9

1

3

9

2

3

9

3

4

3

4

4

3

5

4

3

6

4

3

7

4

3

8

4

3

9

3

8

9

i

3

8

9

ii

4

6

0

4

6

1

4

6

2

3

8

5

a

3

8

5

b

ONMH

14

12

24

11

13

13

9

12

12

15

12

11

13

30

11

12

11

12

15

NWIMH

14

12

25

11

14

13

9

11

12

15

12

12

13

29

11

12

11

11

13

 

 

 

Using all 102 O誰eills and markers beyond those used by TCD it is possible to propose an expanded ONMH and to compare it to the NWIMH. Such an expansion is shown in Table 6, but it is only preliminary because of the small database.


Table 6 Comparison of NWIMH and Expanded ONMH

 

DYS

NWIMH

ONMH

DYS

NWIMH

ONMH

DYS

NWIMH

ONMH

19

14

14

441

13

 

462

11

11

385a

11

12

442

12

13

463

22

 

385b

13

15

444

12

 

464a

15

15

388

12

12

445

12

 

464b

16

15

389-1

13

13

446

13

 

464c

16

17

389-2

29

30

447

25

25

464d

17

17

390

25

24

448

18

19

570

17

 

391

11

11

449

30

 

576

18

 

392

14

13

452

11

 

607

16

 

393

13

13

454

11

11

IB07

10

 

425

12

 

455

11

11

A10

13

 

426

12

12

456

17

15

C4

23

 

434

9

9

458

17

17

CDYa

37

 

435

11

12

459a

9

9

CDYb

39

 

436

12

12

459b

10

10

GATAH4

11

11

437

15

15

460

11

11

YCAiia

19

19

438

12

12

461

12

12

YCAiib

23

23

439

12

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Surnames Linked to NWIrish

 

According to the traditional pedigrees and mythology of Ireland most of the septs in the northwest of Ireland descend from either Niall of the Nine Hostages (N9H) or one of his two brothers, Brian (or Brion) and Fiachrach. Descendants of Brian and Fiachrach are referred to as 鼎onnachta, or descendants of Conn 登f the Hundred Battles, an earlier ancestor of Niall. The descendants of Niall in the northwest, according to these traditions, are mainly Cenel Conaill or Cenel Eoghain, meaning descended from Conal gulban or Eoghain, sons of Niall.

 


The Trinity College team listed the following surnames as having haplotypes (with number) matching the NWIrish Variety:

 

(O')Gallagher (12), (O')Boyle (9), (O')Doherty (5), O'Donnell (4), O'Connor (3), Cannon (3), Bradley (2), O'Reilly (2), Flynn (2), (Mc)Kee (2), Campbell (1), Devlin (1), Donnelly (1), Egan (1), Gormley (1), Hynes (1), McCaul (1), McGovern (1), McLoughlin (1), McManus (1), McMenamin (1), Molloy (1), O'Kane (1), O'Rourke (1), and Quinn (1).

 

STR analysis (data not shown) of the same surnames in public databases such as Y-Search confirm that at least some participants in each surname project match the NWI.

 

These surnames can be divided into clan names, following Irish traditions, as follows:

 

Cenel Conaill: O竪allagher, O達oyle, O奪oherty, O奪onnell, Cannon, McMenamin.

 

Cenel Eoghain: Bradley, Devlin, Donnelly, Gormley, McCaul, Campbell, McLaughlin, O狸ane, Quinn.

Ui Briuin: O辰onnor, O坦eilly, Hynes, Flynn, McGovern, McManus, O坦ourke

 

No surnames of the Clan Ui Fiachrach were mentioned by the Trinity team, but several haplotypes of surnames of that clan were found in the Y-Search database that match the NWI: O奪owd, O担haunnessy.

In addition to the Irish matches, a large number of people with Scottish surnames also match the NWI, as do a lesser number of English surnames. There are also many surname matches in Ireland itself that cannot be assigned a definite clan affiliation, a good number of which were probably late Plantation Period stock of the 17th century, when English and Scottish adventurers were granted huge tracts of land in northern Ireland after the failed rebellion of Sir Cahir O奪oherty in 1609. These new landowners in Ireland imported settlers from lowland Scotland and England in huge numbers in an attempt to pacify the countryside.

In short, for every surname that the Irish pedigrees would lead us to believe were descended from N9H or his brothers, including O誰eill, there are participants who closely match the NWI.

Another branch of the Ui Neill were the southern Ui Neill, centered in the midland counties, and descended from yet other sons of Niall. But these are as yet poorly represented in DNA databases.

 

Impact of M222 SNP Results on Data Interpretation

 

A recent observation by McEwen (2006) is that all males with STR values associated with NWIrish who have been tested on the SNP M222 have tested positive.[2]

This group includes a number of known Ui Neill surnames: a Gallagher from County Derry (Cenel Conaill), a Cannon of unknown origin (a Cenel Conaill surname; the O Canannans were Kings of Tirconnell prior to the O奪onnells), a Slaven from Tyrone (Cenel Eoghain) and a Burns from Sligo (Ui Briuin) all have tested M222+. Several other surnames with less definite Ui Neill clan affiliations have also tested M222+, including a Flannagan from Tyrone (possibly Cenel Cairbe mac Neill), a Bonner from Donegal and a Magonegill (both probably Cenel Conaill). The Magonegill listing states only an 登rigin in Ireland but McGonagle (a variant form) is a common Donegal surname, almost unique to the northwest of Ireland. Bryson, another Donegal surname, is said to be the anglicized form of O Muirgheasain (Cenel Eoghain). A Gormley of unknown origin could be either O Goirmleadaigh (Cenel Eoghain) or O Gormghaile in Connacht, both of Ui Neill origin. A Donohoe from Cavan is probably Ui Briuin. McNickle (Mac Nicholl) is yet another surname from Ui Neill territory (Tyrone). All of these latter have also tested M222+.

 

If these results are reinforced as more persons are tested, it would imply that M222+ is a necessary, though perhaps not sufficient condition, to be part of the NWI grouping and, perhaps, associated with the Ui Neill. To date one of the authors of this paper (shown in Table 2 as O-36315, and identified as SKX6A in Y-Search) is the only person known to be associated with the ONMH to have been tested on M222 and he tested negative for M222. Though this is a single data point, it suggests, along with STR data, that the ON Variety is not part of the NWI. Further, it suggests that people with the ONMH are not patrilineally descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages.

 

Timeline for Analysis

 

The timeline from Niall of the Nine Hostages forward, as per history/legend/myth is:

 

         380-405: Niall of the Nine Hostages (N9H), 127th King of Ireland

 

         380-980: Almost all of the surnames historically linked to N9H or his brothers, branched off from the genetic line of the Tyrone O'Neills:

 

718: Fergal Mac Maele Duin, King of Ireland died. He was the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) of O Cathains and Tyrone O'Neills,

 

862-875: Either Aedh Finnliath, King of Ireland, was the MRCA of McLaughlins (MacLochlainns) and Tyrone O'Neills, or

 

956-980: Domhnall Ardmacha Ua Niall (O'Neill), King of Ireland, was the MRCA of McLaughlins (MacLochlainns) and Tyrone O'Neills. Domhnall, grandson of Niall Glundubh, 170th King of Ireland, was said to be the first to use O誰eill as a surname

 

         1004-1030 and 1033-1036: Flaithbertach an Trostain O誰eill, King of Ailech

 

         1176-1177: Aedh Macaemh Toinleasg O誰eill (鏑azy Youth), King of Cenel Eoghain, was the MRCA of Tyrone and Clannaboy O'Neills

 

         1432-1455: Eoghan O'Neill, King of Ulster, was the MRCA of Tyrone and Fews O'Neills

 

         1519-1542: Conn Bacach O誰eill, King of Tir Eoghan and, 1542-1559, 1st Earl of Tyrone, probable MRCA of O誰eills and McShanes

 

As shown, almost all surnames historically linked patrilineally to N9H or his brothers are from lines branching off from the N9H line somewhere after N9H (circa 380) and before Domhnall Armacha O誰eill (died 980). The O誰eill (Ua Neill) surname was first introduced circa 950.

 

The patrilineal line of O誰eills is well established from 1176 to the present time but between 1036 and 1176 the historical accuracy of the O誰eill pedigree has been questioned by O Ceallaigh (1951, 1994). The period of 1036-1176 may therefore be a time of suspicion for O誰eill patrilineal decendancy. In 1176 Aedh Macaemh Toinleasg O誰eill reinstated O誰eill power after years of supremacy by their kinsmen the McLaughlins. About 400 years later, an O誰eill is said to have begun the surname McShane.

O Cathains and McLaughlins

 

The two closest kin to the O誰eills of Ireland were the O Cathains (O狸ane) and the McLaughlins of Derry/Donegal.

O Cathains

 

The O Cathains were descended from Conchobhar or Conor, son of Feaghal, the Irish High King (d. 718), also an O誰eill ancestor. In later centuries they were the leading sept of the Clan Conchobhar, originally located in Magh Ith on the Donegal/Tyrone border. Sometime in the middle of the 12th century they re-located to County Derry. In later centuries the O Cathains were an important sub-chieftain of the O誰eills of Ulster with branches extending into Co. Antrim. Trinity College included the O Cathains of Ulster in their list of Ui Neill matches; and entries in Ysearch for Kanes/O狸anes in Antrim and Tyrone confirm that this sept were NWI or Ui Neill. The McHenrys were a branch of the O Cathains of Ulster. Entries in Ysearch for McHenrys from Tyrone and Antrim also match the NWI.

 

McLaughlins

 

The McLaughlins were the closest kin to the O誰eills of all the Cenel Eoghain septs. Unfortunately the McLaughlin pedigrees are in disarray making it impossible to say exactly when they branched off from the main line of the Ui Neill. Rawlinson (c1130) has the McLaughlins descend from Muirdaigh, a son of Domhnall 登f Armagh (d. 980). A slightly later source, the Book of Leinster, has the McLaughlins descend from Domhnall (d. 980), son of Aedh Finnleith (d. 876). According to traditional pedigrees (the Books of Ballymore and Lecan, both circa 1390) the O誰eills descend from Muirchertach, a different son of Domhnall 登f Armagh.

 

There are currently twelve McLaughlin DNA samples on Ysearch. Out of these, 9 match the NWI, including a sample from Letterkenny, Donegal and one from Tyrone. Another McLaughlin from Donegal in the Sorenson database matches the NWI, as did the one McLoughlin sample in the Trinity College study

 

Conclusion Based on O Cathains and McLaughlins

 

It appears then, based on the evidence available to date, that the main line of Ui Neill kings in Ulster were NWI at least through the 870-980 period when the McLaughlins branched off from the main line.

 

Discussion of McShanes

 

As stated above the McShane surname has been historically linked to the O誰eill line circa 1500s. Y-DNA values for eight McShanes were found at the various databases, seven of which appear to be consistent with ON as shown in Table 7. Four McShanes, two from Tyrone (McS 1 and 2) and one each from Ireland (McS 3) and Derry (McS 4) were found at two McShane websites (2006), all similar to ON. Two were found using Y-Search, with one (McS 5) identifying his most distant ancestor as being from Desertmartin, Ulster (Co. Derry), the other (McS 6) from Ireland. SMGF yielded two additional McShanes, one (McS 7), most distant ancestor in Kansas, had ON, the other not. None of the eight McShanes can be associated with NWI. For reference in Table 7, the ONMH, from Table 6, is shown in the left column.

 

 

Table 7 Y-STR Values for McShanes

 

 

ONMH

McS 1

McS 2

McS 3

McS 4

McS 5

McS 6

McS 7

393

13

13

13

13

13

13

13

13

390

24

24

24

24

24

24

24

24

19

14

14

14

14

14

14

14

14

391

11

11

11

11

11

11

11

11

385a

12

12

12

12

12

12

12

12

385b

15

15

15

15

15

15

15

15

426

12

12

12

12

12

12

12

12

388

12

12

12

12

12

12

12

12

439

11

11

11

11

11

11

11

11

389-1

13

13

13

13

13

13

13

13

392

13

13

13

13

13

13

13

13

389-2

30

31

31

31

30

30

31

31

458

17

16

16

16

16

 

 

16

459a

9

9

9

9

9

 

 

9

459b

10

10

10

10

10

 

 

10

455

11

11

11

11

11

 

 

11

454

11

11

11

11

11

 

 

11

447

25

25

25

25

25

 

 

25

437

15

15

15

15

14

 

 

15

448

19

19

19

19

19

 

 

19

449

 

29

29

29

29

 

 

29

464a

15

15

15

15

15

 

 

 

464b

15

15

15

15

15

 

 

 

464c

17

17

17

17

17

 

 

 

464d

17

17

17

17

18

 

 

 

460

11

 

 

 

 

11

 

11

GATA H4

11

 

 

 

 

11

 

11

YCAIIa

19

 

 

 

 

19

 

19

YCAIIb

23

 

 

 

 

23

 

23

456

15

 

 

 

 

15

 

15

607

 

 

 

 

 

15

 

 

576

 

 

 

 

 

17

 

 

570

 

 

 

 

 

18

 

 

CDYa

 

 

 

 

 

36

 

 

CDYb

 

 

 

 

 

37

 

 

442

13

 

 

 

 

13

 

13

438

12

 

 

 

 

12

 

12

461

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

462

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments on the O誰eills of Clannaboy and Fews

 

The territory of the Clannaboy O誰eills, who branched off from the main Tyrone O誰eill line circa 1100s, was primarily in counties Antrim and Down, both greatly under-represented in the TCD studies (2 samples, both in Antrim) making it impossible to draw any conclusions relative to the NWI or ON. The same is true of the O誰eills of the Fews, located mainly in County Armagh (2 samples), who branched off circa mid 1400s. It would be of immeasurable help in sorting through the O誰eill patrilineal decendancy if the persons recognized by the Chief Herald as heirs to the Clannaboy and the Tyrone/Fews O'Neills, or a patrilineal child/grandchild, could be persuaded to agree to DNA testing. Efforts by one of the authors have, as yet, been unsuccessful.

Summary of Major Findings

 

The major findings of the present research are:

 

1.     Many men with surnames patrilineally linked to the Ui Neill line have Y-STR NWIrish Variety signatures.

 

2.     There are at least two separate and different groupings of O誰eills, one related to the Ui Neill (NWIrish Variety), the other not (O'Neill Variety). Together they represent a large percentage of all O誰eills in the Tyrone O誰eill (Northern Ui Neill) areas of Ireland.

 

3.     To date, all persons associated with the NWIrish Variety who have been tested for M222 have tested positive.

 

4.     One person with the Y-STR O'Neill Variety haplotype was tested and found to be M222-.

 

5.     Y-STR test results confirm the association of O Cathains and McLaughlins with the NWIrish Variety.

 

6.     Y-STR test results strongly suggest association of McShanes with the O誰eill Variety.

 

Conclusions and Discussion

 

1.     From the time of the introduction of the O誰eill surname until an unknown later date, it is likely the Royal (Tyrone) O誰eills were patrilineally connected to the Ui Neill line. This conclusion is based on the fact that a number of O誰eills have Ui Neill signatures (NW Irish Variety), as did numbers of O Cathains and McLaughlins, both of whom historically had common patrilineal ancestors with the Tyrone O誰eills (approximate 700s to 800s or 900s era). This is reinforced by the number of NW Irish Variety signatures and a number of positives for SNP M222 of persons with other Ui Neill-related surnames.

 

2.     At some time the Royal O誰eill line was interrupted by a Non-Paternal Event (NPE) such that later Royal O誰eills had Y-STR O'Neill Variety signatures. This is based on the size of the ON Variety, the Y-DNA results of the McShanes, who have patrilineal ancestors common to the Tyrone O誰eills circa 1500s, and the SNP M222 negative test of one person related to the O誰eill Variety.

 

3.     The most likely period for the NPE was the time frame of 900s-1500s.

 

 

4.     Another alternate (but in our opinion, less likely) scenario would be that the main O誰eill Variety were non-related male introgressors absorbed into the clan from the surrounding population. But the main O誰eill Variety shows a strong founder effect more consistent with a single NPE or introgression event than with a random gathering of unrelated males into the clan. Furthermore, Y-STR signatures suggest the connection of the McShanes to the O'Neill Variety, consistent with historical links. The large numbers of O誰eills who match the main O誰eill variety appear to be the line of the chieftains who would have had a selective advantage in the survival of their genes.

 

Electronic-Database Information

 

www.smgf.org Y-STR database

www.ysearch.org Y-STR database

www.ybase.org Y-STR database

 

Addresses of Surname Project Web Sites

 

The McShane Family

http://members.aol.com/maryferns/myhomepage/mcshane-y.htm

 

Clan McShane-Johnson-MacSeai地 Registry

http://www.clanmcshane.org/registry.htm

 

O奪owd Clan DNA Project

http://mysite.verizon.net/cdowd7/dna.htm)

 

O誰eill

http://www.familytreedna.com/(dcc5umelsf3kyl55cprh0ubg)/public/oneill/index.aspx

 

Neal-O誰eal

http://www.familytreedna.com/(nbqin355gwwm2gy2t1srh445)/public/Neal-2/index.aspx

 

O誰eal

http://www.familytreedna.com/surname_join.asp?code=K91143&special=True&projecttype=S

 

 

References

 

ISOGG (2006) The Y-DNA Haplogroup Tree. (website)

 

Moore LT, McEvoy B, Cape E, Simms K, Bradley DG (2006) A Y-Chromosome Signature of Hegemony in Gaelic Ireland. Am J Hum Genet 78:334-8. See also Supplementary Data.

 

McEvoy B, Bradley DG (2006) Y-Chromosomes and the Extent of Patrilineal Ancestry in Irish Surnames. Hum Genet 119 (1-2):212-219. See also Supplementary Data.

 

McEwen J (2006) R1b1c7 haplogroup M222 SNP aka North West Irish Variety, IMH and R1bSTR19Irish (website).

McEwen J (2006) Estimating TMRCA and mutation rates for the phase 3 Y chromosome STR clusters via ASD estimates. (website).

 

MacLysaght E (1985) The Surnames of Ireland, 6th ed, Irish Academic Press, Dublin.

 

モ Ceallaigh S (Cork 1951; 2nd. edition with introduction, Additional chapter and indexes, Draperstown 1994) Gleanings from Ulster history.

O辰orrain D [compiler] Manuscript: 敵enealogies from Rawlinson B 502. CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: A project of University CollegeCork, College Road, Cork, Ireland, 1997. http://www.ucc.ie/celt/online/G105003/

 

Wilson D (2006) The Northwest Irish Variety of Y-DNA Haplogroup R. (website).



 

 



[1] The surname O誰eill used in this paper includes all alternate spellings (e.g. O誰eill, O誰eil, O誰eal, etc.).

[2] McEwen calls his cluster R1bSTR19Irish which he says is essentially the same as NWI