Irish Y-DNA 'Surname' Analysis - How It Works

Seventy million Irish diaspora know they have something intense and unexplainable coursing through their DNA. Perhaps, more than any other country in the world, Ire-land has left an extremely strong emotional connection to it's land through the DNA of it's people.   While we were working the night shift at a summer camp I mentioned my upcoming Ireland trip to a woman from Israel.  A light from her eyes seemed to light up the dark as she exclaimed that she had always wanted to go there.  This connection to this mysterious Isle from people the world over continues to fascinates me. 

A couple of years ago I discovered a brand new website called and a biotechnologist with a passion for genealogy.  I interviewed Dr. Tyrone Bowes for TheWildGeese and then, in Part Two, I  published Tyrone's analysis of my cousin Danny Martin's Y-DNA test in search of the land associated to our ancestor first awarded the surname of Martin.  The farthest back we had got was 1749 Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada and the persistent rumor that he was from 'Galway'.  The Y-DNA test did not bring any solid results but Tyrone's analysis discovered our closest matches were from the Scottish clans in the area known as 'Galloway'. The following is a portion of Tyrone's report in part two of my interview with him:

"There is a lot of cross-over with Scotland and Ireland, the Bruce invasion of Ireland, Gallowglass mercenaries settling here from Scotland and then later plantations! If you look at the Bell Case study on the website, his recent ancestry is Catholic Irish, but his DNA matches point to lowlander protestant Scots from Dumfriesshire this may be most relevant to your own ancestry...Regards Tyrone"

"I completely overlooked Bruce's Ireland campaign. That could possibly be the scenario. I've been reading about the Maxwell and Ramsay clans and they were both allied with and supporters of Robert the Bruce. Ramsays apparently did accompany Edward Bruce in his invasion of Ireland and most likely included Maxwells as well. Seeing as our family's connection, dna-wise, is quite distant I'm assuming it's been a number of centuries since our ancestor lived in the Maxwell/Ramsay lands otherwise there would be closer matches. Bruce's campaign was in 1315 so it could be in the ballpark. This is making Peter Martin being from Ireland quite plausible. Also from what I've been reading about the Maxwell and Ramsay clans is that they were actually of Norman extraction (this is from internet research so it could be pure fantasy) which is interesting as well considering the Martin-Norman connection...Danny"

I have continually discovered incredible levels of disappointment from many who have discovered their ancestors proved to not be Irish as if they had just lost some magical part of their essence.  Included is my own Mother's who was very upset when I revealed her Dublin born Grandfather was actually a poor orphan from Liverpool (long line of Liverpudlians and no Irish that I could find) sent to Canada as a home child, and the now famous reaction of actor John Hurt when he was told he wasn't of Irish descent on WDYTYA UK

As I write this I await another cousin's analysis of his Y-DNA test from Dr. Bowes.  For 13 years I had been operating on a hunch that my Wexford Scallian ancestor from early 1800s Nova Scotia was related to my Johnson ancestor from the adjacent fishing village.  Last September I got as close as I could to the largest concentration of Scallian/Scallion/Scallan people now and in the early records of Carne, Wexford.  I posted my own magical experience in the Carne area.  My cousin, a Johnson, received his Y-DNA test back from Family Tree DNA which showed his two closest matches were 'SCALLANS'.  After contacting them he learned that they had traced their tree back to the Carne area of Wexford confirming my 'hunch'.   There is a beautiful manor house in Wells, Gorey in the county of Wexford that was originally part of the Doyne estate.  For ten years I have had a wee note from another Johnson Wexford researcher who found a transaction of land from a William and Catherine Johnson in Tomgarrow to the Doyne estate.  A pdf file of the Doyne Estate papers is now online.  As my cousin and I await Tyrone's analysis he did drop him a hint.  He said the Johnsons were from Ballycarney which is in Tomgarrow.  This stuff is Sherlock worthy!

I had introduced, via my wild geese articles, Adrian Martyn, the Martin Tribe Historian, to Tyrone as both are in Galway and both of them presented their work at the Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 conference.  The lectures were sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA (at and organised by ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy at  I have embedded their lectures from Youtube here and they are fascinating.  Anyone interested in how these men work with DNA test results  to find the land most associated with a surname regardless of what surname your ancestor was awarded will find these videos extremely interesting.

Tyrone Bowes - Pinpointing Your Irish Origin using Commercial Ancestral DNA Testing

Adrian Martyn - The Medieval Families of Galway Town

Views: 9343

Tags: ancestry, bowes, galway, genealogy, irish, irishorigenes, surnames, tyrone, wexford, y-dna

Comment by Marjorie Baker on May 7, 2014 at 8:01pm

DJ, can you give us a website for the Oxford Ancestry DNA people.

Comment by DJ Kelly on May 8, 2014 at 12:35am

I have not used them myself so am not in a position to recommend them, but I googled 'Oxford Ancestry' and the site came up immediately:-

Do google them yourself before sending off any money though Marjorie, then you can see if on any other sites there's any feedback about them, good or not so good.  I have bought most of Professor Sykes' books though and they are both interesting and a good reflection of his knowledge and research.

Comment by Marjorie Baker on May 8, 2014 at 5:25pm

thanks DJ.

Maybe we should poll the members here to see which DNA company is most useful and the best value, 

Comment by Richard R. Mc Gibbon Jr. on May 10, 2014 at 7:17pm

Enjoyed Adrian Martyn's Medieval Families presentation. I will have to look into the DNA project soon. Did Mr. Martyn say that he had some Mc Gibbon's in his family?? Very interesting ,...... Slainte!

Comment by Martha Bowes on July 30, 2014 at 1:13am

I'm a big fan of genetic genealogy, but since you're discussing some of the various companies and theories pertaining to deep ancestry, you might wish to be aware of a new resource from some geneticists highlighting some of the companies and theories to avoid based on their lack of rigorous science. It happens to include Irish Origenes.

Comment by Marjorie Baker on July 30, 2014 at 8:05am

a very good chart for DNA companies compared.

Comment by Tom [Thomas] on July 30, 2014 at 4:08pm

I looked up my Surname -[ Eustace]-some years ago, traced it back to the Spanish Armada-

-and a Roman Soldier


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