Genetic Genealogy Analysis

It is frustrating to receive your DNA results and not see any usable information and still be confronted with that brick-wall.  There are multiple reasons this can happen.

Many of the families were Gaelic speaking when they took their surname.  Surnames were anglicized haphazardly.  Some families would translate their name, others would use a phonetic spelling of the Gaelic name, and still others would adopt a nickname associated with the clan or family. The result was several different surnames in use by one family.  Additionally, non-related families would even take the same anglicized form, causing great confusion with modern family historians.

Another issue is surnames were not in fixed forms until very late in parts of Scotland and Ireland. Clan names for instance were not in common use. Often, Gaelic patronymic traditions were followed and a single family might use four or five surnames in the course of a century. This is important to know for the family historian.  As clerks began to record surnames in the early modern period the branches of one family could use a different surname.

Analysis of a Y-DNA match group and SNP test can uncover a family's real history, and even discover bona fide Gaelic clan association.  This is done via an analysis of a match group using each name’s etymology, orthography, geographic links, and then research into the history of the parish or district linked to the match group.  The entire match group is studied cross referenced in this process.  To do this expert research is needed along with Gaelic language skills and knowledge of Gaelic onomastic practices.

*I will work with you, analyze your DNA results and make sure you have all the information revealed in your results.  Some of the analysis I will do:

*Some mutations are more relevant than others, I will look at your kinship match group for those mutations are significant.

*Recommend SNP tests needed for your research.  SNP research has become increasingly important in genetic genealogy.  Some of the newer downstream SNPs reveal family and clan data.

*Checking all relevant DNA databases for your kinship match group.

*Research ethnic origins; often it is possible to ascertain if a family is Irish, Scottish, or some related ethnicity through DNA match group and related geographic connections.

*Research your surname and non-surname match group for their Gaelic clan connections.

*Recommend additional genetic research that needs to be done.

Many times just having an educated eye look at your results will discover your family’s real history.

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Basic Y-DNA consultation

Many times a educated analysis of your Y-DNA match group will reveal details and connections that only the trained eye can see.  Some Irish and Scottish families anglicised their surnames several ways and each branch of the family eventually had a different surname.  Often there are geographic locations revealed in the surname group.  Certain surnames forms were used in a certain region of the Gaelic speaking world.   A study of the Gaelic origins of the names, the etymology of the surnames in the match group can produce usable data.  A Basic Y-DNA consultation is the best way to make sure you are getting all the information you can out of your DNA results.

Price US$ 95

DNA Test Plan & Anaysis

To set up a successful DNA project for your family requires not only testing, but also promoting the project, creating a family blog, contacting parties in Ireland and Scotland, to promote the project and encourage families there to participate in your project.  I show you how to set up the project and am available to answer questions and provide suggestions as the project gets up and running.  

This service is for people with specific questions about various tests, testing companies, and which tests are appropriate for your genealogical goals.  You receive a test plan that details which tests are needed and what you will learn from each one.  If you have not yet had your DNA tested for genetic genealogy I strongly recommend Family Tree DNA for their superior products, large data base, and analysis software.
Price US$ 350

Public Speaking

I provide talks on Ulster, West Highland and Scots-Irish, history and genetic genealogy. My sessions range from an hour to full 2 day workshops suitable for festivals, Highland or Irish Games, etc. My talks appeal to a wide variety of audiences with varying interests and levels of understanding. Topics include how to set up a Y-DNA project, how to analyze kinship match groups, and  historical topics.
Price varies

Books about DNA and related topics

Britain Begins, Barry Cunliffe
A Handbook of the Scottish Gaelic World by Michael Newton
Celtic From the West 2 by Dr John Koch and Dr Barry Cunliffe
Finding the McCains, A Scots-Irish Odyssey by Barry R McCain
Trace Your Roots with DNA: Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree by Megan Smolenyak and Ann Turner
DNA and Family History: How Genetic Testing Can Advance Your Genealogical Research by Steve Jones (Foreword) and Chris Pomery
Forensic Genealogy by Colleen Fitzpatrick
Unlocking Your Genetic History by Thomas H. Shawker


Ian said...

Hi there,
My name is Ian Gillespie, living in Northern Ireland. I have tested my Y-DNA 67 which suggests I am an R1a McDonald by descent. Is this something you can advise on as how to proceed with further research?
Kind regards
Ian Gillespie

Barry R McCain said...

Ian, with the 67 level, you should be able to place your family. Pay attention to the surname matches in all anglicised forms and also to the non surname matches, often they are just as important. Gillespie as you know is from Giolla Easpuig a forename that often became a surname. Many Argyll and southern Hebridean families took surnames late and used several surnames, some used a 'clan' surname others took a patronymic from an ancestor of note. Same thing with my family. The 'clan' was Clann Lachlainn, but my group had an ancestor named Ailean Mac Eáin, who held land under Clann Lachlainn, and some of his descendants took the name Mac Eáin, anglicised as McCain, McKean, etc. If you tested with Family Tree send me your kit number if you are in the Ulster Heritage Project and I will take a look for you. We have several from the Clann Dhónaill ruling line in the McCain DNA project also, so compare your results to them. The Ardnamurchan and Glencoe McDonalds used the surname Mac Eáin, anglicised as McCain, McKean, McKane, etc., we found them when researching my own family.