Friday, August 5, 2016

Family Tree DNA Summer Sale!

Family Tree DNA is holding their excellent Summer Sale.  Some really good values there.  If you want to research your family's history, locate your family that stayed in Ireland, etc., this is a great opportunity to do so.  

For surname research the best test is the Y-DNA test.  Only men carry the Y chromosome, so only men can do this test.  The Y DNA will allow you to pinpoint your family's point of origin in Ireland, Scotland, etc., allow you to ascertain your paternal line's ethnic origin, to follow their migration path for thousands of years.  You will locate cousins, confirm links, break through those infamous 'brick walls' that one encounters in family history research.  

If you do not have access to a direct paternal descendant to test, there is another test of use; this is the autosomal DNA test, called the Family Finder test by Family Tree DNA.  Women can use this test to locate a male from the line they are researching and then use his Y-DNA test.  Men who are researching a line that comes through a maternal branch of their family can do the same.  I successfully used the Family Finder autosomal test to locate a male from the line of my father's mother's family.  It worked perfectly, I had a match to a female cousin and we had her brother test and in so doing obtained the Y-DNA of that line. 

Links are below.  If you are research and Irish family or family from the western Highlands or the Hebrides, do contact me if you need some help.  That is my field of study.

Summer is the perfect time for sun, fun and family…so jump into the gene poolnow with sizzling hot savings from Family Tree DNA!


Lowest Price Ever!

Sort Your Paternal and Maternal Matches!
All of our DNA tests are designed to deliver superior results with the most advanced technology to tackle any genetic genealogy challenge. Plus, our new parental phasing tool allows users to further refine DNA matches like never before. The more matches the better, so be sure to tell family and friends and take advantage of this incredible offer.

For even more bundle specials, check out our Sizzling Summer Sale! With savings this hot, what better way to discover, match and connect more dots on your family tree! All that, and no subscription fees! For more information,

The Family Tree DNA Team

Monday, August 1, 2016

1 August... Lughnasa

Lughnasa is a Celtic festival marking the beginning of the harvest season. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, on 1 August, or about halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox.  

Lughnasa is one of the four Celtic seasonal festivals; along with Samhain, Imbolc and Beltane. It corresponds to other European harvest festivals such as the Welsh Gŵyl Awst and the English Lammas.  In Old Gaelic the name was Lugnasad. This is a combination of Lug (the god Lugh) andnásad (an assembly).

The Gaelic Lugh is the same ancestral being as Lugus in Gaul and Celtic Britain. He is known as Wotan in Germany, and as Woden to the Anglo-Saxons, and as Odin to the Norse.  Lugh derives from the Proto Indo Euroepan root ‘leuk’ meaning ‘flashing light’ which is associated with solar attributes.  Lugh’s connection with the warmth and light of the sun and the importance of these attributes to the harvest season elevated  Lughnasa to a primary festival.  

modern illustration of Lugh

Monday, June 27, 2016

Ozark Mountains lore and history

A highly recommended book by Joshua Heston, of Branson, Missouri.  

In The State of the Ozarks, Joshua Heston is following the footsteps
of Ozark folklorist icon Vance Randolph. With a keen eye and ear,
Joshua records the people and cultures of the Ozarks in a collection
of enjoyable and very readable essays.  In the Ozarks many aspects of
life have changed, but the basic character and roots of the Ozarkers
remain and we are fortunate to have Joshua documenting Ozark society
here in the twenty-first century.

The State of the Ozarks, Essays and Photos of the Ozark Mountain Region, by Joshua Heston

To purchase: The State of the Ozarks

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Viking, a profession for many Gaels

Gaelic Lord and warrior circa 1000 AD (c) Ulster Heritage

Gaelic Lord and warrior circa AD 1000 in Argyll.  Mid Argyll was one of the homes of the Gall-Ghaeil, or the 'foreign Gaels,' in the early medieval period (AD 850 to 1150). These people were primarily Gaelic in ethnicity, but were very influenced by their exposure to the Norse.  They became Gaelic Vikings essentially. They adopted Norse technology in the accoutrements of war and shipbuilding.  The warrior caste society of Argyll founded by the Gall-Ghaeil gave rise to the families and clans that became the Gallóglaigh and later the Redshanks.   Many of these families and clans migrated to Ireland; the Gallóglaigh circa AD 1300 to 1450 and the Redshanks in the 1500s.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

DNA Test Sale with Family Tree

Barry R McCain with Ian McKean and Ivan Knox, two of his Irish cousins located using DNA testing
For a very short time, until midnight of 26 April, Family Tree DNA is running a significant sale on their testing.  If you have been curious about genetic genealogy, this is the opportunity to do it.  Sale prices:

Family Finder test (autosomal test) $79
Y -DNA 37 marker test: $129
Y-DNA 67 marker test: $199
Y-DNA 111 marker test: $289

Those are very good prices.  If you want data on your ethnicity which incorporates both your paternal and maternal ancestors, then the Family Finder test is best.

If you wish to do genetic genealogy and locate your cousins in Ireland and Scotland and recover lost family history, then the Y-DNA test is best.  The more markers to have the better data you will have.  The Y-DNA 37 and 67 are particularly good bargains.  If you have the coins, I recommend the 111 level Y-DNA test. However, you will get quite a bit of data with the 37 marker test.

Link to purchase the kits:  Family Tree DNA Test Sale

And... should you want to read a book with chronicles the use of DNA testing to locate your cousins in Ireland and discover your family's point of origin, etc.,  I highly recommend my last book Finding the McCains.  I go into great detail on how I did the deed. 

Take advantage of this excellent sale.  It is a good time to start that genetic genealogy project.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

An Irish Christmas Present, Finding the McCains

Mongavlin Castle, Donegal, Ireland
A wonderful read that covers 40 years of travel in Ireland; it includes stories and insights into the relationship between Diaspora and Homeland and reconnecting with one’s cultural roots; it tells the history of Highland Gaels and their migration to Ireland in the 1500s; it is mystery story solved using Y chromosome DNA testing and an excellent guide for families on how DNA testing to locate their family in Ireland and Scotland and uncover their real history.   Available on Amazon in time for Christmas:  Finding the McCains, a Scots Irish Odyssey
McKane's Corner, Stranorlar, Co. Donegal
Ivar Canning & Donovan McCain at the Auglish Standing Stones, Co. Derry

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Irish & Scots Female Ancestor Names in Primary Sources

As you progress with your genetic genealogy research you will eventually reach a point where records were not written in modern English.   The records are in Gaelic or written is an English dialect, such as Lallans, with the surname rendered into phonetic Gaelic.

With men’s names this does not present too much difficulty if you are familiar with their Gaelic forms, but, do not overlook the possibility of locating a female ancestor from this time period.  Most records and pre 1600 genealogies tend to feature only male names.  However, in some cases the name of a female ancestor will appear, but you will need to know how to recognize the surname when you see it.

Finding the name of a male ancestor is fairly straight forward.  It will appear in some anglicized or phonetic spelling of the original Gaelic surnames.  Most people are familiar with male surnames in Gaelic; Ó means “descendant of” and Mac means “son of.”   Mag is an alternative spelling of Mac and was sometimes used when the name that follows it began with a vowel.  The ladies used a similar system. Girls and unmarried women with surnames that began with Ó would have before their surname.  Girls and unmarried women whose family surname began with Mac would use Nic.

Married women would take their husbands names, but the prefix form was different than the male form.  Ó became and Mac became Mhic.  This name change did not always hide the surname of the woman’s father however.  In traditional Gaelic society some women were known by their maiden names due to the strong sense of family and clan affiliation.

Two examples from the mid to late 1500s:  Fionnuala Nic Eáin married Dónaill Mac Ailín.  Her “married name” becomes Fionnuala Mhic Ailín.  In actuality, she retained her maiden name in the community and is listed by that name in the records.  Her name appears crudely anglicised as Finvall Nikean.  Here is an entry from the Argyll records where she appears:
…In the same year (1572) Finvall Nikean, the wife of Donald M'Alane V'Donile of Dunnad, resigned to James Scrymgeoure of Dudhope constable of Dundee the twenty shillinglands of Carnyame, the said Donald warranting the constable free of all harm in respect of the lands from the heirs of the deceased Lauchlane M'Donald V'Alane.

This data allowed me to place Fionnuala Nic Eáin to the House of Dónaill Mac Ailín’s cousin.

          The next example is Aifric Nic Dhonnachaidh Rua the wife of Malcolm Scrymgeour.  Again, this Gaelic woman does not use her husband’s surname, but rather a name that identifies her clan.  In this case she is linked to the family of Donnchadh Rua Mac Ailín of Dunemuck, a thane in Glassary and who held his lands through Clann Lachlainn.  In the actual record her name is recorded as “Effreta nein Donche roy.”

 When you get on the trail of your ancestors pre 1600 be aware of both male and female forms of your surname.  You might make a great find, I have done it several times now.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Scots-Irish: Scots Irish Surnames

The Scots-Irish: Scots Irish Surnames: Below is a list of families participating in the Scots-Irish DNA Project as of November 2015.  There are now over 900 participating familie...

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Scots-Irish: William McIntosh Jr 1778-1825

The Scots-Irish: William McIntosh Jr 1778-1825: McIntosh and Menawa Real history is always more complex and multilayered than the history told by the modern media and even in most basic ...

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Iníon Dubh

Iníon Dubh (said, Nee-an doo) is one of the most remembered and beloved heroines in Irish history.  Iníon Dubh was her pet name which means 'black haired daughter.'   Her real name was Fionnuala Ní Dhónaill née Nic Dhónaill.

Iníon Dubh was a pivotal figure in the history of Ireland.  She was the catalyst of a migration of Highland Scots, called Redshanks, into west Ulster.  This migration began in the late 1560s and continued on into the early 1600s.  Most of these Redshanks were from mid Argyll and Lennox.   

She was a Gaelic aristocrat, the daughter of the Taoiseach (chief) of clann Dhónaill, Seamus Mac Dónaill, and Anna Chaimbeul, the daughter of the third Earl of Argyll, head of clann Chaimbeul. 

She was a woman of considerable skills and talents.   She was born on Islay and spent much of her early life in the Scottish Court in Edinburgh. She was multi lingual, speaking her native Gaelic, Latin, and English.   She left the Scottish court just prior to the fall of Mary Queen of Scots.  This move very probably suggested by her very powerful cousin, Giolla Easpuig Donn Caimbeul, the Taoiseach of Clann Chaimbeul and the fifth Earl of Argyll.  

Due to a complex series of events and a course of action initiated by her cousin Lord Argyll, she married Aodh Mac Manus Ó Dónaill in the summer of 1569.   She moved to the Laggan district of Donegal with some 1,000 Redshanks recruited from clans Caimbeul and Mac Dónaill.  Over the next thirty years more Highland Scots, called Redshanks, migrated to east Donegal, brought there by Iníon Dubh and later her son, Aodh Rua Ó Dónaill, as part of an Ó Dónaill military build-up to counter both Clann Uí Neill and later the English.

the ruins of Iníon Dubh's Mongavlin Castle today

With her husband's health failing, she became the de facto taoiseach of Clann Uí Dhónaill by the mid 1580s.  She was by this time also the most powerful person in west Ulster, because she commanded her own army of very devoted Redshanks. 

Iníon Dubh was the mother of Aodh Rua Ó Dónaill who led his west Ulster army to many victories against the English in the Nine Years War (1594-1603).  During the time when her son Aodh Rua was imprisoned in Dublin, she was threatened, by the English and rival claims to the headship of the Ó Dónaill clan.  Iníon Dubh used her Redshank and Ó Dónaill followers expertly and successful thwarted all attempts to oust her.  She even personally lead her army of Redshanks to victory at the battle of Derrylaghan in 1590.  

She lived at Mongavlin just south of St Johnston, in east Donegal.  The remains of her castle are still standing.  Her legacy still lives in Donegal in the many families there that are of Redshank origin.

I had studied her life and times when working on my history degree.  I found her one to be one of the most remarkable figures in both Irish and Scottish history.  Years later, I discovered my own family was connected to her.  My family, the McCains, i.e. the Mac Eáin family of Dunamuck, Glassary, in mid Argyll, were one of the Redshank families that migrated with her to the Laggan district in east Donegal. 

An account of her remarkable career, and life and times, is in the book Finding the McCains.  I also told her story in my first book,  The Laggan Redshanks, which also includes a 1630 muster roll from the Port Lough precinct (from Port Hall to just north to St Johnston area in the Laggan) and included notes on some of the clans and surnames of the Highland Scot families that settled there.