Friday, 27 February 2015

Snow Day in Oxford, Mississippi

Oxford had one of its rare snows; I post the short video by Scot Burton, that records the events with scenes from the Ole Miss campus and Oxford.  Enjoy.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Finding the McCains


Finding the McCains

Finding the McCains, is an account of a man’s 40 year odyssey to find the McCain family in Ireland.  Senator John McCain and his cousin, novelist Elizabethan Spencer, both include a short history of the McCain family in their respective memoirs Faith of our Fathers and Landscapes of the Heart.  Their history is a romantic tale of Highland Scots who supported Mary Queen of Scots and who fled to Ireland after her downfall in 1568.  The search for the McCains became a mystery story with clues, false turns, many adventures, and then ultimate success through Y chromosome DNA testing.  In 2008 the McCains were reunited with their family that remained in Ireland, after 289 years of separation.

The McCain history includes people and events familiar to readers of Irish and Scottish history; Redshanks, Iníon Dubh, Mary Queen of Scots, the Earls of Argyll, the Ulster Migration, and the Scots-Irish, are all part of this family’s history.  Faint memories of this past were told for generations in Mississippi and as the research progressed the facts behind these memories were uncovered. 

The Y chromosome DNA results revealed that the McCains of Mississippi, which include Senator John McCain’s family, are the same family of Wallace and Harrison McCain, the founders of Canada’s McCain Foods, one of the most successful corporations in the world.  They are also the same family as James McKeen who organized the 1718 fleet that began the great Ulster Migration to the English Colonies.  All these families are paternally related and they all descend from one Gaelic man named Mac Eáin that lived in Kilmichael Glassary parish, in mid Argyll, in the Scottish Highlands, in the 1400s.

The book tells of the author’s many trips to Ireland in search of his distant cousins there.  There are anecdotal stories, some humorous and others involving “famous” people; such as, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, Mary Coughlan (Irish Tainste or vice president), Cindy McCain (wife of Senator McCain), Seán Mac Stiofáin (1970s head of the IRA) , Alan Heusaff (WW II German officer in Dublin who later became president of the Celtic League), and Muhammad Ali.  There is even an encounter with a Bean Sí (faerie woman) on the windy cold hill of megalithic stone ruins at Loch an Craoibh.  All presented from the perspective of a native Mississippian.

Another theme in the book is the Scots-Irish.  Contemporary histories about the Scots-Irish present stereotyped and romanticized accounts of this dynamic group.  Finding the McCains reveals a more complex history and shows the cultural conflation common in Scots-Irish popular history.

Finding the McCains is an excellent read for all interested in Irish and Scottish history and is an how-to guide for those interested in how-to guide for those who would like to use genetic genealogy to locate their family in the old country and recover lost family history.

To purchase from Amazon: Finding the McCains

To purchase from Ulster Heritage directly send US $20 (postage paid) to:
Ulster Heritage
PO Box 884
Oxford MS 38655

Monday, 29 September 2014

The Scots-Irish: Scottish historian Tim Clarkson

The Scots-Irish: Scottish historian Tim Clarkson: This blog is primarily about the Scots-Irish in the New World from Colonial times to the present.  Occasionally, I will post items of intere...

Monday, 1 September 2014

DNA Genetic Genealogy Sale

All the DNA projects I administer and assist with, use Family Tree DNA labs in Houston, Texas.  Why?  Well, they are the best, they have the largest data base and are very user friendly.  Family Tree is having a very good sale on their DNA testing across the board which includes transfers from other projects.   I recommended the 111 Y chromosome test for paternal ancestry research, but the 67 level is also acceptable to start with.  This test is for men only, and women doing paternal research must have a male proxy test for them (usually they get their father, brother, uncle, etc., to do this).   For cousin finding up to five generations back, the Family Finder test (autosomal DNA) is also a good test to use and both men and women can do that test.

If you have ever wanted to do a DNA test, this is the time to do it.

Link:  Family Tree DNA

I receive so many emails from people wanting me to help them with their genetic genealogy that have tested with other companies, that is to say, they did not use Family Tree.  I have to turn them down as it is just too difficult to do so.  The Ulster Heritage Project, the Scots-Irish DNA project, the McCain family project, the Mid Argyll Group project, are all with Family Tree DNA.  So, anyone needing a transfer to Family Tree, this is your opportunity.

My next book, which is done and is in the pre publishing phase, will tell the story of how I located my cousins in Ireland and Scotland using DNA testing.  The book is a memoir of my travels and adventures, but is also a "how to do" guide to finding ancestors and your family back in the old country.

So I say to you all.... Shake a Leg.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The Scots-Irish: Scots-Irish Art Work of David Wright

The Scots-Irish: Scots-Irish Art Work of David Wright: Before the Long Hunt by David Wright Tennessean David Wright is a gifted and brilliant artist. Fortunately for us he often select Scots...

Friday, 20 June 2014

John McCain and the Taoiseach

Above is a photo of cousin John with Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern who served in office from 26 June 1997 to 7 May 2008.  I have spent a lot of time in Ireland myself, I have been travelling that way for four decades now.  I have met John McCain only one time and that was on the Ole Miss campus.  We talked about family history and lore.  His family as most know is from Mississippi. From the little town of Teoc, in Carroll County.  My family lived a few miles east of Teoc.  His family and mine descend from a group of McCain cousins that settled in Mississippi in the 1830s when the Choctaw Indian lands opened for settlement. Growing up I knew his branch of the family was related to mine, but when you are a child you do not give much thought to those things.  While writing my next book, Finding the McCains I researched the details of our kinship. The short version is we descend from the same immigrant ancestor who came from Ireland.

I have been over and visited the McCains in Ireland several times, which is always a great joy. My upcoming book is the story of how I located them.  This book has been several years in the writing and I am looking forward seeing it in print at this point.  It is a fascinating story, an account of my 40 year odyssey to find the McCain family in Ireland.  John McCain and his cousin, novelist Elizabethan Spencer, both include a short history of the McCain family in their respective memoirs (Faith of our Fathers and Landscapes of the Heart).  It was a romantic tale of Highland Scots who supported Mary Queen of Scots and who fled to Ireland after her downfall in 1568.  

After 40 years of searching for them I used DNA testing to find them in the end.  A lot of the oral history told by the Teoc McCains turned out to be true.  I had many adventures in Ireland, all revealed in the upcoming book.   



Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Scots-Irish: Scots-Irish Books

The Scots-Irish: Scots-Irish Books: Three centuries of life in a Tyrone parish. A history of Donagheady from 1600 to 1900, by William Roulston (USD $ 12.95) Format Ebook.  ...

Monday, 19 May 2014

McCain... IRA Man? Nay...

In 1984 having a Gaelic surname could cause travel complications.  On my 1984 trip over, not only did I meet Muhammad Ali, but I also was questioned by United States security "agents" when I was returning back to the USA.  On 12 October, the IRA had planted a bomb in the Grand Hotel, in Brighton, England, because the Conservative Party conference was being held there.  Their target was Margaret Thatcher. Prime Minister Thatcher narrowly escaped injury, but five people were killed, including two high-profile members of the Conservative Party, and 31 were injured.  It was bloody business.

In September 1985, Patrick Magee was found guilty of planting the bomb, detonating it, and of five counts of murder. Magee received eight life sentences.The judge recommended that he serve at least 35 years. Later Home Secretary Michael Howard lengthened this to "whole life". However, Magee was released from prison in 1999, having served 14 years under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

As for me, I was making the return flight to the USA in early September of 1984.  Security was understandably heightened.  Macs and Os doing unusual things on international flights were suspect. I was making a connecting flight between Aer Lingus and Delta back in Newark and was running late.  Aer Lingus, being the sports they used to be, whisked me through customs by some semi-secret door, and presto I was making my way toward the Delta aircraft.  Then "security" caught up with me.  It was Federal agents, I forget the brand name, but they had guns and the whole business.  You see, the IRA bombers were thought to be leaving the UK and trying to make for the USA and here comes this man name Barry McCain (a suspiciously Irish sounding name) that is being allowed to go around the customs station and placed directly on his flight. 

Well, the Federal agents were, with their guns, expecting a hard core IRA man, but instead got an educated Mississippi Redneck of Gaelic ancestry  The interrogation should have been taped as it was not without its points of humor. Back then there were clever people working as these Federal agents, it took the older man with gray highlights in his thinning hair about thirty seconds to realize exactly who and what I was, he began to grin. Now the younger ones, full of piss and vinegar were not ready to give it up, but gray hair trumps.  He allowed me to pass and even helped me get to my plane in time.

Meeting Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali September 1984

One day I met Muhammad Ali.  t was 11 September 1984 on one of my many trips over to Ireland.  I was flying out of Newark, New Jersey, to Shannon, in County Clare, Ireland.  I had an hour or so to kill so was just sitting in the waiting area of my loading gate.  I notice a large black man come into the area and take a seat.  Now I recognized him immediately, it was Muhammad Ali.  And do not ask how I knew, in my age group, one knows Muhammad Ali.  I had seen him on television many times dating back to the mid 1960s, he was iconic to say the least.  I was a fan of his, had always pulled for him in his bouts.  I liked his style in the ring and also his rebel spirit. I was intrigued that he was by himself.  I got up from where I was sitting, walked over and sat down beside him and say, "hello Muhammad, what brings you here."

I am six foot two inches and fairly well built, so I was not overly impressed with his size, but I did notice the easy way he moved, the way athletes move, fluid and with power there. There were introductions and we talked.  I told Muhammad I was a native born Mississippian, to which he smiled broadly.  This grew into a conversation about ethnicity, the War Between the States, race relations in the North, in the South, things in Ireland, etc.   Muhammad was friendly, talkative, and liked my up front casual nature with my Southernness.  He told me he had great respect from the white Southern male as he found dealing with them straight forward and honest.  He was interested in my travel to Ireland as I told him I was hunting for ancestors.  We also had fun talking about the pilot, who was female.  In fact, the airline people told me at the time this was the first woman trans-Atlantic pilot when I went to check in.  For some reason they wanted me to know.  Muhammad made some good natured humorous remarks about our upcoming flight and female pilot. We had about twenty minutes to talk and were having a very good time.  Then the local airport security realized they had a major celebrity in their midst. A guard appeared, then two, then several of Muhammad's entourage came up, I suppose they had been checking luggage or something.  Within five minutes around twenty people were gathered around him, within thirty minutes there were near a hundred as word got out that he was there.  It was no longer possible to talk to him at this point, and I wished him well and got up to leave.  Then, for some reason, I decided to ask him for an autograph, just to prove to others the conversation had taken place, as a rule, I do not ask autographs from famous folk I meet, but I did this time.
11 September 1984