Sunday, October 9, 2016

Autosomal DNA Test in Irish genetic genealogy

Y-DNA test When No Paternal Relative Is Available II 



This post will again address genetic genealogy for Irish, Scots, and Scots-Irish, when no male relative is available to DNA test.  Why is a male needed?   In surname studies we use the Y chromosome, it is only passed from father to son.  

Women cannot take this test.  And, males that are researching a line other than their father's cannot use their Y chromosome test to find matches.  Males only carry the Y chromosome of their father and no other Y chromosome will show up in their DNA test.

Gaelic Warrior Lord AD 1000

So, what do women, and men researching lines other than their father's, do?
Here is an example:  I have already researched my father's paternal line, all the way back to Ireland and Scotland.  Found them, have been over to visit, found the progenitor in the primary sources.  Total success.

But, I wanted to research my father's mother's father's line.  Their surname is Tweedy and I do not carry the Tweedy Y chromosome.  However, I do carry a lot of Tweedy DNA, just not the Y chromosome.  I used another test which used this other DNA material.

I did the Family Tree Autosomal DNA test.  They call it their Family Finder test.   Through this test I located a female Tweedy cousin.  She had a brother.  He did carry the Tweedy Y chromosome and we had him do the Y chromosome DNA test.  Through this simple method we obtained the Tweedy Y chromosome and are using it to research the family.

We have many ladies that participate in our projects.  They use a male relative to proxy test for them.  If they have no known male relative from the line they are researching they will use the Autosomal DNA test to locate one, as I did.

I manage several large Irish and Scottish DNA projects.  There are hundreds of people that have used this method to research a family line where they do not have access to a known male descendant. 
Autosomal DNA testing does have limitations.  As a research tool, it can only go back around five generations.  But, most people can locate a co-lateral line they need within this time frame.  In my case it was fourth cousins and the time connection was mid 1800s.

All you need is one good match to the family you want to research and then have a male in that family test their Y chromosome.  Once you get the Y chromosome, you are set.  The Y chromosome does not have time limitations, you will find close cousins, find distant cousins in Ireland and Scotland, confirm real clan connections,  and even research tribal histories going back several thousand years. 

My recent book, Finding the McCains is a guide that illustrates how much can be accomplished through a well run Y chromosome genetic genealogy project

Good luck with your research and do not fret about those brick walls, they can be smashed.

Barry R McCain

Irish and Scots Female Ancestor Names

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.

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.