Finding the McCains

Finding the McCains, is an account of one Mississippi McCain’s 40 year odyssey to find his family in Ireland.  Senator John McCain and his cousin, novelist Elizabeth Spencer, both include a short history of the Mississippi McCain family in their respective memoirs Faith of our Fathers and Landscapes of the Heart.  This 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 story.  Faint memories of this past were told for generations in Mississippi and as the research progressed the facts behind these memories were uncovered.  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 also an excellent genetic genealogy how-to guide for people of Irish and Scottish ancestry. 

Barry R McCain is writer living in Oxford, Mississippi.  He has a degree in history from Ole Miss and is the author of The Laggan Redshanks, The Highland Scots in West Ulster 1569-1630.  Mr. McCain is available for interviews and appearances.

For booking presentations, media appearances, interviews, and/or book-signings contact:

"This is a unique piece of work.  Not only has Barry McCain produced a fine book that is very interesting to McCains--and it is that in spades--but to historians of Irish identity and Irish migration as well.  McCain uses the story of his search for his own Gaelic roots to demonstrate how the intelligent use of DNA helps to fill historical gaps that traditional historical techniques never could.  The results are dramatic and strongly challenge the traditional, nationalist mythologies of Irish historiography."  

Dr Rankin Sherling, author of The Invisible Irish: Finding Protestants in the Nineteenth-Century Migrations to America (McGill-Queen’s University Press, Fall 2015).

“In writing this book, Barry McCain has done a great service not only to those interested in the McCain ancestry, but to everyone fascinated by the millennia-old connections between Scotland and Ireland. In this volume he demonstrates the complexity of those connections, highlighting, for example, the often-overlooked Gaelic heritage of many of the families from Scotland that made Ulster their home. His use of DNA analysis to investigate otherwise hidden aspects of his ancestry serves as an exemplar of the way in which this technology can be applied to family history and the search for our forebears. Throughout this book Barry's enthusiasm for his ancestry in both Scotland and Ireland, and his love for the people of both countries, shines through. This is a book to encourage all of us as we seek to discover something more of our past.”

Dr William Roulston, Research Director of the Ulster Historical Foundation, County Antrim, N Ireland

To purchase from Amazon:  Finding the McCains
You may also purchase directly from Ulster Heritage for US $20 postage paid in the USA and Canada, and US $30 for Europe, South America, and Asia.
Ulster Heritage
PO Box 884
Oxford, MS 38655










Illustrations from Finding the McCains

author Elizabeth Spencer

Elizabeth Spencer is a first cousin once removed to Senator John McCain. She is a talented and accomplished writer of novels and short stories.  She could walk into a room with William Faulner and Eudora Welty and take her place among them.  One of her best known works is the 1960 short novel The Light of the Piassa.  It was made into a feature film in 1962 staring Olivia de Havilland, George Hamilton, and Yvette Mimieux.   

Ian McKean and Ivan Knox
Ian McKean and Ivan Knox are both cousins to the Mississippi McCains.  Ian is standing in front of his impressive 18th Century home at Port Hall, Donegal.  Ivan Knox is a well known figure in west Ulster.  He is a self made business man, and in retirement and establish writer, historian, and poet.

Derry's Seamus O'Kane with Donovan McCain of Oxford, MS
Seamus and Donovan enjoy a session in Seamus's house just outside of Dungiven. 

John McCain with Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern

Senator McCain is a frequent visitor to Ireland, here he is with the Irish Taoiseach

Joe McKane of Ballywatt, County Antrim, N. Ireland, was the first Irish born McCain to participate in the McCain DNA project and he was the first DNA match.

Mongavlin the castle of Iníon Dubh, where the McCains first settled in Ireland
Iníon Dubh (black haired daughter) or Fionnuala Ní Dhónaill was the mother of Aodh Rua Ó Dónaill.  She commanded an army of Clann Chaimbeul Redshanks in the service of the Ó Dónaill clan from 1569 into the early 1600s.  

McKane's Corner Stranorlar, County Donegal
McKane's Corner is a well known landmark in the Finn Valley. John McKane founded McKane's General Merchants Shop in the late 1800s at the corner of Chapel Street and Main Street in Stranorlar.  It was where men gather to discuss the events of the day and have a pipe or three.

Ivar Canning and Donovan McCain at the Aughlish Stone Circles, the Sperrin Mountains, County Derry.

Barry R McCain


Dwayne Knox said...

A wonderful read! History and genealogy told with flar, reads like a mystery and a travelogue rolled into one. I felt like I was there with the author, searching for our Scots Irish roots. I highly recommend this book.

Dwayne Knox

Dwayne Knox said...

A wonderful read! History and genealogy told with flar, reads like a mystery and a travelogue rolled into one. I felt like I was there with the author, searching for our Scots Irish roots. I highly recommend this book.

Dwayne Knox