Y-DNA - A GENEALOGICAL AID by Richard Byrne of Russeltown, Co. Wexford.
In my youth ancestry was something I gave very little thought to. With maturity came a strong interest in the subject. My father did relate stories about his life and many of them help me now to shed some light on the ancestry of the Byrne side my family. Family tradition is that four brothers came down from Wicklow, one going to Ballinaleigh near Ballymitty , one went to Grallagh, one went to Nash and another went to Doonooney. He mentioned cousins in Doonooney, Ballylibernagh and Ballynabola. Then, a few years ago I was advised of a web site called “Byrne families of South Wexford”. The site was created by Kevin Byrne from the isle of Colonsay in Scotland. Kevin is descended from the Newtown Byrnes and before that from the Byrnes of Doonooney. He was trying to establish a link between the Byrnes of Doonooney and the Byrnes of Dunganstown, Bonegrew, Ballycapple and Ballymanus in Co. Wicklow. Kevin believes that many of the Byrnes in south Wexford are inter-related. On the site I found numerous references to my own family, the Byrnes of Muchtown (Mustoon). We are also related to the Byrnes of Doonooney. I communicated with Kevin and we discussed and confirmed the various oral traditions of the Doonooney, Newtown, Grascur, Ballylibernagh and Muchtown Byrne families. About this time, two books, The Byrnes and the O’ Byrnes Volumes 1 and 2 were published. Written by Daniel Byrne-Rothwell and published by Kevin’s family on the Isle of Colonsay. There is a chapter in volume 2 where Daniel discusses the Byrne families of south Wexford, based mainly on information contained in Kevin’s site, and gives a possible hypothesis on the descent of John Byrne of Doonooney (1690 -1761). Kevin suggested I join the Byrne DNA Project. Which I did. There are numerous companies conducting DNA testing. Most Byrne Project
members have tested with FTDNA, Family TreeDNA. FTDNA is a Commercial
Company so there is a cost involved in having a test done. The prices
are available on the FTDNA web site. The expense can be shared by
other family members as the test results will represent family members
also. The test results are passed to you and to the administrator of your particular DNA Surname Project if you have joined one. Through the FTDNA site you can quickly find out if there is a project for your particular surname. If you have joined a project your results will be displayed, (only with your consent) on the projects Results page. You will also have a personal page with a password at FTDNA which is constantly being updated. It will contain a wealth of information about your results including your “matches” in the project. You can compare your results with others with the same surname and also with the entire data base held at FTDNA. When a test is ordered, a small package will be sent to you from the University of Arizona USA which contains three small bottles and three swabs. You wipe the swabs around inside your mouth for a few minutes and the swabs are then inserted into the bottles, sealed, and sent back to FTDNA. The test should be completed in approximately three weeks and the results sent by e-mail, as will all future communications, such as new matches in your project. The Y-DNA test is for male members of the family only as the Y-chromosome is passed from father to son from generation to generation for thousands of years. There are maternal (mtDNA) tests available for female and male family members. Female family members can get a brother or other close relative to take the Y-DNA test. The charges involved are for the test alone. There are no charges for your FTDNA site or for project membership. You can make a donation to the project if you wish. There are several tests available, 12, 25, 37, 67 or 111 marker tests. 12 markers will only tell them you are human, not recommended. 25 and 37 marker tests give more information, and you can always update to 67 or 111 at a later date. Most project administrators prefer the 67 marker test. My test results confirmed I am a Byrne of Leinster. I tested to 67 markers initially and of the 258 Byrnes, O’Byrnes and Burns tested, Kevin Byrne was my closest match at 67/3, which means that we had three markers which differed. This would be considered a fairly close match. I have one 67/4 match, six 67/5’s, four 67/6’s and four 67/7’s. To all these people I am related with various estimates to the time of our common ancestor. Persons with matches 67/8 to 67/9 may possibly be related. Those with a 67/10 match or over are considered not related. The result of my subsequent update to 111 markers was a 111/4 match with Kevin. On my FTDNA site is a facility where I can check the approximate distance to Kevin’s and my common ancestor. Our 111/4 match estimated that there was a 50% chance of a common ancestor within the last the last 6 generations, and a 90% chance within the last 10.8 generations. A generation is estimated to be 25 years. So, if we use the 90% estimate our common ancestor most likely lived sometime from 1680 onwards. This would indicate, based on family traditions that a son of John Byrne of Doonooney or a grandson was our common ancestor. The Byrne DNA project places members in their relevant lineages or family groups. Lineage 1 being Leinster with 46 members, with lineages and family groups of 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d, and 1e. I am in lineage 1e, a group of 28 who are descended from a man living in 1194. I have constructed a family tree, based on family traditions, paper trail, DNA and information contained in Daniel Byrne-Rothwell’s books, which dates back to the ancestor of our branch of the Byrnes of Wicklow, Murchad Mór O’Byrne of Duine Coamhoige, Duffry, Co. Wexford who was executed by Strongbow in 1172. Further research and developments in the DNA project will help to prove or disprove sections of the tree where the paper trail has not yet been found. There is an interesting finding that DNA testing has brought to light. Of the 258 Byrne project members tested so far only 20% are Byrnes of Leinster or Wicklow. The general belief was that all Byrnes were descended from the Byrnes of Leinster from a single progenitor. DNA testing has now proved that the Byrnes from the northwest and northeast of the country, mainly from Donegal, Sligo, Roscommon, Monaghan and Louth are unrelated to the Byrnes of Leinster. The Byrnes of Louth believed they were descended from a brother of Wicklow’s Fiach McHugh O’Byrne of 16th century fame but DNA testing has proved this to be incorrect. . Volumes three and four of “The Byrnes and the O’Byrnes” are still to be published, with a possibility that a fifth will follow. Volume 3 is to be published in May or June of 2012. At the back of volumes 1 and 2 are numerous very interesting Byrne family genealogical charts. You can purchase these volumes from Kevin Byrne’s publishing company. A discount may be available if several volumes are purchased, on the internet at www.houseoflochar. Otherwise they are available from Amazon. I have no connection either with the House of Lochar or FTDNA. The more people that join DNA Projects the more information will become available about our history and genealogy. For Byrnes, FTDNA is accessible on the internet through The Byrne DNA Project: Byrne Clan, or you can view the DNA results chart at – The Byrne DNA Project: Results. Those with other surnames go to the FTDNA site and select a Surname Project. If you are curious where your ancestors came from or need some more information where the paper trail appears to have ended, maybe Y-DNA or mtDNA will answer some of the questions for you. So, get on line and find cousins both close and distant you never knew you had and much more.