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.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

BBC Ulster, the Kist o' Wurds program

Barry R McCain on the Thacker Mt Trail
(Update.... a Rugby match on BBC is running long, our program rescheduled for  Wednesday 30th at 19.30 hour UK time and that is 1:30 PM CDT.   The show can is archived for a couple of weeks so can be streamed during that time also.  But on a brighter note, at least Ireland is winning the rugby match)


My BBC interview will be on today, evening in the UK, at 1:30 PM (13:30) on BBC Ulster Radio.  The program is the Kist o Wurds program and I was interviewed by Alister McReynolds, well known writer and personality in Northern Ireland.  (and a friend of mine)

Here is the link:   BBC Ulster Radio

This link should go to the program page from which you can click on a link to live stream the show.

The Kist o Wurds program focuses on Ulster Scots history, culture, and language.  It is a very good program, and a great way to discover an interesting aspect of Irish life and society.  This is my second time on the program.  I was also interviewed by them when I started my Finding the McCains book project.  This interview was done as the book is finished now and out at bookshops and on Amazon.  It is always enjoyable to talk with the lads and lassies back in Ireland and Northern Ireland.



Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Celtic Life Internation Magazine



A note to one and all; there is a review of my new book Finding the McCains in the October 2015 edition of Celtic Life magazine. This magazine is the premier magazine for those of Celtic ancestry around the world. I encourage you all to pick up the October edition.  Their magazine is a joy to read.  It is an old fashioned magazine, done the right way.  Good articles, plenty of colour illustrations, items of interest for the casual reader and those who are after in-depth information on a variety of topics to all those of Irish, Scottish, Scots-Irish, Welsh, Manx, etc. ancestry and those that just love Celts, this history and lore.

Link to their website:  Celtic Life International Magazine.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Highlanders in West Ulster, 1569-1630


In the sixteenth century Scottish Highlanders settled in the Laggan district of east Donegal. They were called Redshanks. Their story is told in the book The Laggan Redshanks.  The history of the Laggan Redshanks has many fascinating elements which include Clann Chaimbeul and their dynamic leader the fifth Earl of Argyll, Gaelic sexual intrigues, English Machiavellian maneuvers, and the Redshanks themselves.

The Redshank settlement in the Laggan took place in the tumultuous years during the sixteenth century that were dominated by Elizabethan English attempts to bring Ulster firmly under the control of the Crown.  The Redshanks were vital players in the affairs of those times and indeed it was their military skills that delayed the conquest of Ulster until the beginning of the next century.

The Laggan Redshanks remained on their lands in Portlough precinct after the Plantaion began.  Their Campbell connections, Reformed faith, along with their reputation as elite fighting men, which made them not only acceptable to the incoming Stewarts, but a welcomed van guard.  The Redshanks could be considered British subjects in an ecumenical Scottish sense, complete with appropriate loyalties, and a version of the Protestant faith.  In the Portlough area, the incoming Planter Scots came from Ayrshire and Lennox.  Lennox included lands in the Scottish Gaeltacht and parts of Ayrshire were still Gaelic speaking in the early 1600s.  The Scots from these areas were familiar with Gaelic language and customs and were ethnically similar to the Campbell Redshanks.

Many of the descendants of the Laggan Redshanks migrated to the English Colonies during the Ulster Migration and became part of the Scots-Irish people. Of interest to the genealogist, the book includes appendices of the muster rolls and surnames of the Redshanks and notes on their point of origin in Scotland.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Billy the Kid Update



This post in connection to my others on Billy the Kid.  I had posted before on the fact that Billy the Kid was a fluent Gaelic speaker and had even function as an interpreter for a young woman from Ireland in New Mexico who spoke only Gaelic.

This post another new piece of data on Billy the Kid.   A new photo of him has turned up.  A tintype and he is playing croquet in the photo.   Photo located in a shop in Clovis, New Mexico.   

Link to Billy the Kid new photo story:   Billy the Kid Photo 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Epigenetics

Epigenetics is the study, in the field of genetics, of cellular and physiological phenotypic trait variations that are caused by external or environmental factors that switch genes on and off and affect how cells read genes instead of being caused by changes in the DNA sequence.  In layman's terms, you inherit more than the basic genetic component from your parents, you also inherit the memories, the experiences, the phobias and loves, the feelings, of our ancestors.  In the DNA you inherit from your parents, some DNA material is switched on, others switched off.  The geneticists are still researching how this happens.  But... when you stand on the land your ancestors lived for centuries and you have that feeling of recognition and familiarity with the land, the sky, the location, there is more going on than you think.  Your ancestors are communicating with you. 


Here is a short program discussing the topic:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=245&v=fMxgkSgZoJs

Sunday, August 2, 2015

SNP Testing, Summer Sale from Family Tree DNA... Only $79


Some good news from Family Tree DNA regarding SNP testing.  They are running a special
summer sale of interest to those in the R1b groups.   It includes 139 downstream SNPs
from R-M269.  This is an excellent test and will help you fix your kinship group and the
geographic origins of your family.  You can order this from your Family Tree Page. 

 
 
Exciting news! If you haven’t already heard, we’re offering members of Y-haplogroup R1b the opportunity to purchase the beta release of our new R1b Backbone Panel for only $79! 
  
Starting today, Wednesday, July 29, we’re sending notices to customers who are eligible to get in on this great deal.
 
We created this panel of carefully curated Y-DNA SNPs with the assistance of Mike Walsh, who is administrator of several R1b groups, including the gateway R1b and All Subclades Project.
 
The 140-SNP panel includes R-M343, which is above the R-M269 SNP we use to designate the R1b branch, plus 139 downstream SNPs that come from a number of testing sources and which represent the upper portion of the R1b branch of the Y-DNA haplotree. Eighty of those 140 SNPs are being newly added to the FTDNA Y tree.  
 
Keep in mind that the R1b Backbone Panel is not meant to provide your project members with a terminal SNP. Rather, it’s designed to help identify the branch of the enormous R1b haplogroup to which those members belong, and will hopefully encourage further exploration of their ancestral origins. Even if your project member has done some preliminary SNP testing, this panel can be valuable since it includes SNPs not previously found on the tree.
 
This special beta price of $79 is just $1 more than the cost of testing two individual SNPs! All they have to do to order is click on the banner ad on their myFTDNA dashboard.
 
Here are the SNPs included in the R1b Backbone panel: 
  
SNPs Already on Tree
 
A6454
BY2896
A1773
A2150
A274
A4670
A517
BY2823
BY2868
BY575
CTS10429
CTS11567
CTS11994
CTS1751
CTS3386
CTS4466
CTS4528
CTS5330
CTS5689
CTS6937
CTS7763
DF103
DF110
DF13
DF17
DF19
DF21
DF41
DF49
DF63
DF81
DF83
DF88
DF90
DF95
DF99
F2691
F2863
FGC10516
FGC11134
FGC13620
FGC13780
FGC20761
FGC22501
FGC396
FGC5301
FGC5336
FGC5338
FGC5344
FGC5345
FGC5351
FGC5354
FGC5356
FGC5367
FGC5373
FGC5494
FGC5798
L1335
L2
L21
L23
L238
L277
L278
L371
L389
L408
L47
L48
L51
L513
L584
L617
L881
M1994
M222
M269
M335
M343
M73
MC14
P297
P310
P311
P312
PF3252
PF331
PF6610
PF6658
PF6714
PF7562
PF7589
PF7600
S1026
S1051
S11493
S11601
S12025
S1567
S16264
S1688
S18632
S18827
S6317
S7721
SRY2627
U106
U152
V88
Y5058
Z156
Z16500
Z17
Z17300
Z18
Z1862
Z195
Z198
Z209
Z2103
Z2106
Z2109
Z225
Z251
Z253
Z2542
Z255
Z2573
Z262
Z295
Z296
Z301
Z302
Z36
Z367
Z381
Z49
Z56
Z8056
Z9
 
New SNPs Being Added to Tree
BY2895
A6454
BY2896
A1773
A2150
A274
A4670
A517
BY2823
BY2868
BY575
CTS11994
CTS5330
DF103
DF110
DF17
DF41
DF81
DF83
DF88
DF90
FGC10516
FGC11134
FGC13620
FGC13780
FGC20761
FGC22501
FGC396
FGC5301
FGC5336
FGC5338
FGC5344
FGC5345
FGC5351
FGC5354
FGC5356
FGC5367
FGC5373
FGC5494
FGC5798
L1335
L277
L408
L584
L617
L881
M1994
MC14
PF331
PF6658
PF7562
PF7600
S1026
S1051
S11493
S12025
S1567
S16264
 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Anglicized Surnames; the many forms of John



Knowing the Gaelic form of our surnames is a very helpful in genetic genealogy research.  There are many surnames in Ireland and Scotland that include the name that we say in English as "John." However, that is not entirely true as the etymology of many of the "John" surnames are not from English, but Gaelic, taken from the Latin name Iohannes, which in turn is a loan word name from the Hebrew Yohanan.
 
Surnames in the "John" category include Johnson, Johnston, Johnstone, Jones, Jackson, MacCain, MacCane, MacEoin, MacOwen, MacKane, MacKean, MacKeen, MacKeon, MacKeone, MacKeown, and  MacShane.   All these surnames come from the Latin Iohannes by one route or another. I discovered this complexity when researching my own surname early in my McCain genetic genealogy project.
 
You would think the etymology of the surname McCain would be simple enough, but it is not.  If you open a standard Irish or Scottish surname book, it normally says McCain is the anglicized form of the Scottish name Mac Iain. This is usually followed by a reference to either the Glencoe or Ardnamurchan Mac Iain families of Scotland.  What these books do not tell you is there were several dozen McCain families scattered throughout the Gaelic speaking world.  
 
To complicate matters, there are several Gaelic surnames that have been anglicized as McCain.   A list would include the surnames Mac Eáin, Mac Catháin, Mac Aodháin, Mac Caodháin, and Ó Catháin. Notice the surname book version, Mac Iain, is not listed.  This is because Iain and Mac Iain are late entries into the Gaelic world.  In the case of my own family, I knew the Gaelic form fortunately, which is Mac Eáin.
 
Eáin (said Ane) is a variation of the common Gaelic name Eóin (said Owen).  The Eáin form is peculiar to Argyll and the southern Hebrides and it is considered Scottish Gaelic in origin.  The surname was introduced into Donegal by Argyll Gaels that settled there in the 1500s.  Eóin appears in early medieval Irish sources and is the Gaelic form of the Latin name Iohannes, or as English speakers know the name, John.  Iohannes is itself a loan word to Latin from the Hebrew Yohanan (in full y'hohanan) meaning “Jehovah has favored.”   
 
As you read through the Gaelic manuscripts you will not find any evidence of the variant Eáin form of Eóin until 1499 AD.  That year in the Annals of Connacht one writer spelled the name of Eóin Mór Mac Dónaill, King of the Isles, as Eighín Mor Mac Domnaill, with Eighín being a slender vowel form of Eáin.  This Eóin Mór Mac Dónaill was the chief of the McDonalds in Argyll, Islay and north Antrim.  From that time on you can find the name sporadically written to reflect this Eáin form, but Eóin was still the dominant written form in literary Irish regardless if the name was said Eóin or Eáin.  Literary Irish was the Gaelic used in both Ireland and Scotland by the educated classes.
 
By the mid-1600s, the Mac Eáin variation had its own spelling in literary Irish.  The Scottish Mac Mhuirich family of Islay, historians and tradition keepers for the McDonalds, used several similar spellings of the surname when writing in the mid-1600s.  In their Red Book of Clanranald, they spelled the surname mac Ceaain, Mac Eaain and Mac Ea'ain.  The mac Ceaain spelling is an abbreviated form of the longer Mac Mhic Eaain, a clan surname form meaning “son of (the) son of Eáin.” This form functions much like the Ó does in Gaelic surnames, especially Irish ones.  I asked the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, which is the Gaelic college on the Isle of Skye, for the current spelling in Scot’s Gaelic and they gave me Mac Eain, with no accent over the “a.”  Mac Eáin is the modern Ulster Gaelic form.
 
The Lallans spellings also demonstrate the pronunciation shift from Mac Eóin to Mac Eáin by the 1500s in Argyll.  Lallans spellings of Mac Eáin from that time were McAne, McEan, Makayn, Mcayne, McEan, and McKean.  In my research, I made an interesting discovery. In the 1400s, the northern Spanish and Portuguese form of the Latin Iohannes was Ean.  In the northwest Spanish dialects and Portuguese the surname form of Ean was Eanes and Eannes.  The es suffix functions like the Gaelic Mac.  So Eannes means Son of Iohannes as does Mac Eáin.  In modern Spanish, you see this surname written Yanes and Yáñes.  It did occur to me there might have been some connection there, perhaps a loan word that had come into use from Portuguese or Spanish to Gaelic due to the increasing contact between Argyll and Spain during that time, but it would be a difficult point to research.
 
Mac Eóin itself is anglicised as MacEoin, McKeon, MacKeone, MacKeown, Keon, Keown, and MacOwen.  It can be found from the southern tip of Ireland to the far north of Scotland, everywhere were Gaelic is and was spoken.
 
 
Seaán Ó Neill an Diomais
Seán came into Gaelic from the French form of the Latin Iohannes which was Jehan and Gaelicized as Seán.  In the northern dialects of Gaelic, Seán is said 'Shane.'  From this we get the surname Mac Seáin.  Some of the descendants of the great Seaán Mór Ó Neill an Diomais use the surname MacShane today, while others have translated their surname and use both Jackson and Johnson.  Andrew Jackson, the 7th president of the United Stages, claimed to be a direct descendant of Seaán Ó Neill and it is very true some of his descendants took the surname Jackson.
 
The Johnson and Johnston form are obvious as they are simple translations.  Some families, for reasons unknown, chose Johnston and Johnstone, as the anglicised form of their Gaelic surname.   It is a mistranslation as Johnston is from the two words 'John' and 'ton' the latter meaning a town. 
 
It is very helpful know the Gaelic form of your surname and the anglicised forms also.  Some of the non surname DNA matches may turn out to be just another form of your surname.  
 
 
 

Friday, July 24, 2015

An Ruaille Buaille


an tábhairne
Tagann an pótaire seo isteach sa tábhairne agus labhraíonn sé le fear an tí.  "Gloine uisce beatha go gasta, le do thoil, sula dtosaíonn an ruaille buaille."
gloine uisce beatha

Déanann fear an tí gáire beag, ach tugann sé an deoch do...  agus ólann an pótaire siar é agus ansin, labhraíonn sé le fear an tí, "Ceann eile, le do thoil, sula dtosaíonn an ruaille buaille."
 
"Seo do dheoch," arsa fear an tí (fear an-chineálta atá ann).   Labhraíonn fear an tí, "ach cad é seo fá ruaille buaille?  Cá huair a thosaíonn an ruaille buaille?"
 
"Nuair a fhaigheann tusa amach nach bhfuil pingin rua agam," deir an pótaire!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mo Shinsir Gaeil

an scríobhnoir i nDún na nGall
Bhí suim agamsa i mo shinsir Gaeil nuair a bhí mé thart ar 12 blain d'aois, nuair a bhí mé ag léamh leabhar faoi stair.  Sa leabhar sin, bhí na Sasanaigh Eilíseach ag cuir cogadh ar na 'Macs agus Os.'  Dúirt liom mé féin, is mise duine de na 'Macs agus Os.' 
 
Ón lá sin bhí suim agam i mo shinsir Gaeil.  D'fhag mo mhuintir Éire i bhfad ó shin, i 1718, go dtiocfadh leat a rá mar sin gur Domhan Nua Gael mé.  Cosúil le bradán ag filleadh go dtí an sruth beag a rugadh é, bhí me tarraingthe chun filleadh go dtí an talamh de mo aithreacha agus mo mhuintir. 
 
Cé gur thóg sé 40 bliain seo a dhéanamh, i 2003 fuair mé mo theaghlach Mac Eáin in Éirinn agus bhí muid athaontaithe tar éis 286 bliain de scaradh.  D'usáid mé tástáil DNA a aimsiú chun iad a dhearbhú agus go raibh an teaghlach ceart agam.



Laoch Redshank
Tá mo clann Mhic Eáin scaipthe suas agus síos Ghleann Na Finne agus thart timpeall Bhaile Suingean, agus tá roinnt thar i gContae Thír Eogháin, i nDoire, agus tá uimhir beag díobh suite i iarthuaisceart Chontae Aontroma.
 
D'fhág roinnt na Mhic Eáin Dhún na nGall go luath (sa 1700idí) agus tá na teaghlaigh seo ins na Stáit theas i Mheiriceá agus i Sasana Nua.  D'fhad teaghlaigh Mac Eáin eile thart ar am an Ghorta Mór agus chuaigh siad go gCeanada, bhí mórán díobh i New Brunswick.



Teaghlach 'Redshank' ab ea an teaghlach Mhic Eáin, nó ceann de na teaghlaigh Gael ó Gaeltacht na hAlban a tháinig go Dún na nGall sa 1500s chun freastal ar Chlann Uí Dhónaill.  Is trí úsáid a bhaint as torthaí DNA agus acmhainní bunscoile a bhí mé in ann a lan a fhoghlaim fá ár stair. Is ár n-ainm, Mac Eáin, foirm de Mac Eóin sa Gaeilge ó thuaisceart Uladh agus ins na h-Oileáin agus in Earra-Ghaeil.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Second Sight among the Scots Irish

Sarah Pearl Tweedy circa 1905
The phenomenon of Second sight has fascinated me for many years.  I was exposed to the Second Sight early in my life, before I even knew what it was.  My grandmother had the Second Sight.  She was Sarah Pearl McCain née Tweedy, born in Carbondale, in southern Illinois, in 1883.  She passed away in 1962, when I was only twelve years old, but I was close to her and despite her passing when I was young, I remember her countenance and personality well.  I also remember she had a unique quality to her; it is hard to describe in words, other than to say she had an other world quality.
I found out about her Second Sight through a child's eyes and ears.  I heard her friends and relatives talk about it and tell stories. She never mentioned it to me.  She had a strong case of it one could say.  She 'saw' things and had experience that exist in a world that is not well understood by our sciences. 

The Second Sight is so called because normal vision was regarded as coming first, and with certain individuals a  supernormal vision developed.  The Gaelic term is An Da Shealladh which means "the two sights," meaning normal sight and the sight of the seer. There are many Gaelic words for the various aspects of second sight, but An Da Shealladh is the one mostly recognized by non Gaidhlig speakers, even though, strictly speaking, it does not really mean second sight. 

Simply put, Second sight is a form of extrasensory perception, the ability to perceive things that are not present to the senses, whereby a person perceives information, in the form of a vision, about future events or events at remote locations.  Other manifestations include knowing things about a person just by meeting them, such as their true nature and history, or sometimes by perceiving this by merely handling an object that the person owns.  In popular culture it is also called 'the sixth sense.'

The Second Sight happens in several peoples and cultures, but it is in Scotland perhaps that it is most recognized and studied.  My grandmother's Tweedy family originated in Scotland and migrated to Ireland very early in the 1600s or even late in the 1500s.  In Scotland, the Tweedys had a penchant for getting into feuds that resulted in legal issues and even their surname was proscribed at one time.  Migration from Scotland to Ireland and other parts of the Isles was an often used path for them to 'get out of town.'   I have found records of them in the 1620s with a group of native Irish in County Cavan and being listed as 'Irish.'  This means the clerk thought them born in Ireland.  I know many of the Tweedys spoke Irish and were often Protestant and in the Established Church (the Church of Ireland, i.e. Anglicans). 
Her family migrated to the English Colonies in the late 1600s, oral history remembers the place of entry as Rhode Island.  The Tweedys migrated to the Carolinas in the early 1700s.  They were what popular history likes to call Scots-Irish.  They were an adventurous family as several of them were in Daniel Boone's party that crossed the Cumberland Gap in the 1770s.  Their history is one of trailblazing adventures, ferocious battles with Indians, and eventually settling in southern Illinois by 1805.  That area was very dangerous and very few white people lived there at that time. Hostile Indians were very active and their family records has accounts of Indian raids and several brutal deaths to members of the extended family.
As an adult my research discovered that the Second Sight runs in their family.  This is not unusual and Scottish families with the Second Sight often report it as an inherited trait.  I found records of a Tweedy woman that had been accused of witchcraft in the mid 1600s.  I do not know if the woman was a relation to my grandmother's family, but it is very possible.  In the mid 1600s people with the Second Sight were sometimes accused of witchcraft and brought to trial.  Such was the case of the poor Tweedy woman whose records I read.  She was arrested and a trial held.  I found the record of the trail, her charges, and also found the brutal method with which she was interrogated.  It involved a government paid witch hunter.  He would ask questions and then stick her with long metal needles, about the size of a small knitting needle.  If the wound bled it meant she was telling the truth, if it did not bleed, this indicated a lie.  Yes, I know what you all are thinking, that is insane.  She was found guilty and did not survive the ordeal.


17th Century witch pricking needles
In my work and travels I have discovered many accounts of families that have the Second Sight, particularly in the Southern Uplands and Backsettlments.  It was a normal aspect of Scots-Irish culture well into the 1900s and even today it is known.  When you read the literature written on the Scots-Irish in their traditional homelands the phenomenon of Second Sight or 'Seers' is a common theme. 'Seer' was a common term for people with the Second Sight in the Uplands from the Ozarks to the Appalachians.   I am researching Scots-Irish families that have a tradition of the Second Sight for a new writing project now.
I am collecting stories from Scots-Irish families now that have experience with the Second Sight, have old tales of it in their family, etc. So, anyone reading this who has a story, do please contact me, I would love to hear your Second Sight experiences.
  

Sarah Pearl Tweedy circa late 1800s