Friday, October 22, 2010

Mid Argyll Kinship Group

The Mid Argyll Kinship Group is a group of families that originate in the mid-Argyll district of the Highlands of Scotland. This is the area from Dunadd north to Loch Awe. The main parishes are Kilmichael Glassary and Kilmartin. This kinship group was discovered during the DNA testing done in the McCain Family DNA Project. It is a collection of families from this region that share the same paternal DNA. The families to date in the group include, MacArthur (Mac Artur), MacCain (Mac Eáin), MacLea (Mac an Leagha), MacDonald (Mac Dónaill), MacAlpin (Mac Ailpín), Duncan (Mac Donnchadh), Henry (Mac Eanruig) and a few more that I will mention later.

These surnames are not 'clan' surnames, but rather simple Gaelic patronymic surnames taken circa mid 1400s and the 1500s. There is considerable evidence however, that these families are linked to the Mac Lochlainn family of Dunadd. I will be using this blog to post updates on the research being done of the Mid Argyll Kinship Group. The Mac Lochlainn of Dunadd family received a charter to lands in Mid Argyll in 1434. Ailean Mac Eáin Mhic Lochlainn received a grant to lands there in that year from his cousin, Eáin Mac Lochlainn, Lord of Strathlachlan, in Cowal.

This research is based on both Y chromosome DNA testing and primary sources. In the research I have not attempted to reconcile the deeper ancestry of the Mac Lochlainn of Dunadd family with the late Medieval genealogies which link this kinship group to a mythical founder named Anrothan Ó Neill. It is very likely, in my opinion, that the mythical founder was a socio-political construction, for the purposes of enhancing the status of Clann Mhic Lochlainn, and is not a literal genealogy.

The Mid Argyll Kinship Group's paternal DNA results show no genetic links to a paternal line from northern Ireland, nor to the celebrated Niall of the Nine Hostages haplogroup. On the contrary, the base paternal DNA of the group shows them to be indigenous to Argyll and no links outside of the area have appeared yet.

One of the key historical figures in the group is Donnchadh Mór Mac Eáin, of Dunamuck, Kilmichael Glassary. His burial stone is located in the village of Kilmichael Glassary. He was active from circa 1440s to 1500 AD.

One of the families in the group is my McCain family of course. This is also Senator John McCain's family, his my 8th cousin, and also the McCain family of New Brunswick, the McKeen family of New England and Nova Scotia. In my upcoming book, Finding the McCains, I do go into some detail about the family in the primary sources in Argyll. The Teoc McCains (Senator McCain's branch) had a very interesting oral history about connections to events surrounding Mary Queen of Scots, which turned about to have considerable circumstantial evidence to support their lore. I will be posting more on that in future as well.

Gaelic family history and lore is an acquired taste to be sure, that is for those outside our ethnicity, but perhaps others might find the story of this old Gaelic family of some interest, I hope so.

I will be posting updates on the research as time allows.

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