By Alan Milliken
M222 HAPLOGROUP PROJECT
THE TCD STUDY AND THE M222 SNP IN NW IRELAND
The IMH 17 marker haplotype contained the following genetic markers (see here for data), sequenced using the FTDNA format and at DYS 389/2 and 461, respectively, adjusted upwards by 13 and 2 alleles.
DYS 393=13: 390=25: 394=14: 391=11: 388=12: 439=12: 389/1=13: 392=14: 389/2=29: 437=15: 460=11: 438=12: 436=12: 462=11: 434=9: 461=11: 435=11:
In TCD study, the occurrence of the IMH was explored further in a sample of 59 men possessing surnames with a purported common origin within the Ui Neill genealogies in Ireland. The sample included known family surnames from NW Ireland, e.g. Bradley, O’Gallagher, O’Docharty, O’Donnell and McLaughlin, and included two outlining non-
In the Irish genealogies some of these surnames are associated with major lineages within the Uí Néill dynasty, which from the seventh to the eleventh century held the high-
Since the publication of the study, increasingly its scope is being questioned particularly after the identification of other SNPs upstream and downstream of M222, which define the IMH clustered more accurately within the Male Y-
DYS 393=13: 390=24: 394=14: 391=11: 388=12: 439=12: 389/1=13: 392=13: 389/2=29: 437=15: 460=11: 438=12: 436=12: 462=11: 434=9: 461=11: 435=11:
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This search should produce a range of SNPs, including those listed below:
This simple test clearly demonstrates that even with a one-
This simple test clearly demonstrates a significant proportion of the males in the study ‘possessing surnames with a purported origin within the Uí Néill genealogies’ are not M222+. If the same exercise is applied again using the modal values of 25 at DYS 390 and 14 at DYS 392, the results produce a set of STRs closely matching the M222 haplogroup. In the study, this represents about 35 of the 59 or about 60% of the sampled males who carried that distinctive set of STRs that count towards a comparable M222+ match (see the attached excel spreadsheet), which suggests 24 or 40% of the males with a surname said to originate within the Uí Néill genealogies are not representative of the M222 haplogroup. This raises the question, to what extent is the M222 Haplogroup representative of the Uí Néill and its semi-
This dilemma is nowhere more apparent than within the O’Neill DNA Project a problem highlighted in a separate paper by Edwin B. O’Neill and late John D McLaughlin entitled “Insights Into the O’Neills of Ireland from DNA testing” in 2006. This study identified two major branches within the O’Neill kindred, the historic heirs and successors of the Cénel Eogan branch of the Uí Néill, one based on the IMH modal and the other a non-
The same problem also faces the Bradleys a surname derived from the Gaelic name O’Brolacháin, a Sept originating from the border counties of Tyrone and Derry. The O’Brolacháins were a prolific and adventurous people and a branch of the family, the O’Brologhans, was early established in the Western Highlands of Scotland via their connections with the monastery of Iona, where Domhnall Ua Brolcháin, prior of Derry, was abbot in the twelfth century. The Bradley DNA Project has a cluster of tests that appear to be M222+, but the project has no overall dominant group. Bradley was one of 43 surnames sampled in another study by the TCD team. In a Y-
THE AGE OF THE M222 HAPLOGROUP IN IRELAND
The TCD study also attempted to estimate the TMRCA of the Ui Neill and calculated it to about 1,730 (with a standard Deviation [SD] of 670) years ago to around AD 276. It also estimated a TMRCA for the IMH in north-
In February 2012, Sandy Paterson reported some interesting observations in the R-
Dr. Anatole Klyosov of the Russian Academy of DNA Genealogy posted a messages on the R-
These small lineages, although distant and fragmented, are said to descend from one common ancestor who lived almost 2000 years before present (ybp) or to around the beginning of the first Millennia AD. This common ancestor is placed before the bottleneck(s) and described as the lineage ancestor of all the “mainstream” and minor lineages. Unlike the average age to 1450 ybp, the estimate to around 2000 ybp has been reconstructed from a series of DNA-
In their study ‘A Dated Plylogenetic Tree of M222 SNP haplotypes’ (August 16, 2011), the late Bill Howard and John McLaughlin studied sixteen surname clusters known to be M222, and included a number from Scotland. In their study, they identified a major proliferation of the M222 in Ireland around AD 850, which appears consistent with the TCD study; it suggested the rise in frequency did not begin with the TMRCA but was rather associated with a group of descendants sometime later. Dr. Klyosov has pointed out there might be in the M222 Haplogroup, a higher proportion of younger and more populous lineages, which could account for the higher concentration of M222 in NW Ireland, where specific surnames can be linked to genealogies and the Irish Annals.
IN SEARCH OF THE R-
Scotland has nowhere near the kind of genealogies found in Ireland, which makes the task of isolating creditable hard data for comparison more difficult. All this has implications for the study of both the Irish and Scottish M222, as all the dates for the current age of the M222 Haplogroup have been calculated using variable mutations rates for genetic markers, extrapolated from testees currently living in this era with few discernible patterns in Scotland.
As Bill Howard and John McLaughlin highlight in their article, future work is needed to achieve a deeper understanding of the place or origin of the M222 SNP, as the location of the progenitor of the M222 mutation is an unsolved problem. The current age of the M222 SNP certainly presents its own set of problems and in the absence of any significant break-
In 2011, I decided to search for a surname in Co. Donegal known to be primarily M222+ with a reasonable number of DNA results that could be compared with a number of Milligan/Milliken results known to originate in Dumfriesshire and Galloway. My history in Scotland stems from the lineage-
The earliest reliable reference to the O’Docharty surname is found in the Annuals of Ulster, which notes the obit of Aindiles Ua Dochartaigh who died in Derry of St. Columcille in 1180. It also had one DNA test attached to the chief line of O’Docharty, whose ancestral territory is known to have been located in the Finn Valley at Ardmiran near Stranorlar. The genealogy of the O’Docherty chiefs of ‘Ard Miodhair’ have been re-
On January 8, 2012, 38 DNA results, 19 from each DNA Project, were sent to Dr. Klyosov to calibrate using his method of analysis, as defined in his paper ‘DNA Genealogy, Mutations Rates, and Some Historical Evidence Written in the Y-
In relation to the O’Docharty haplotypes, Dr. Klyosov observed two early branches in the O’Docharty lineage with their current descendants having their common ancestor to around 800 and 825 ybp, respectively, to around 1212 and 1187 (with +/-
In the Milligan/Milliken lineage, Dr. Klyosov observed two main branches, each with their own sub-
In a separate study by Sandy Paterson, four Milligan/Milliken haplotypes, one drawn from the first branch, no. 21 kit 23702 (haplotypes 20 to 27) and three from the other branch, nos 30, 31 & 33 (haplotypes 28 to 38), where all compared and in summary, the TMRCA calculated per generation was estimated as follows:
No. 21 and No. 30 (kit 135550) to 39.21 generations with a 95% frequency interval 25.5 to 48.3 generations.
No. 21 and No. 31 (kit 191000) to 41.52 generations with a 95% frequency interval 32.7 to 47.9 generations.
No. 21 and No. 33 (kit 12068) to 36.59 generations with a 95% frequency interval 29.0 to 47.3 generations.
With the highest probable frequency of 48.3 generations, this study suggests the TMRCA is unlikely to be any earlier than 48.3 x 30 = 1449 ybp or to around AD 563. It is more likely, however, the average is about 39 generations ago or to around AD 842. In a similar comparison between the chief line of Amuligane, no. 20 (kit. 11045), and that of O’Docharty, no. 1 (kit 38173), Sandy estimated 35.8 generations with a 95% frequency interval of 25.8 to 47.1 generations. This suggests an average age to 1078 ybp or to around AD 937 is interesting, as Dr. Klyosov estimated the O’Dochartys split from the overall common lineage around AD 602. Since both lineages share the M222 SNP, we can speculate both shared a common ancestor downstream from the first man to mutate at M222, and he might well have lived sometime after the ‘origin’ perhaps in the mid first Millennia.
In his conclusion, Dr. Klyosov estimated the TMRCA of both the O’Docharty and Amuligane families lived at the beginning of first millennia AD, and that he gave rise to both lineages. This assumes bottlenecks with both surnames sharing one or two haplotypes more distance from the main branches, which has the effect of eschewing the average estimate to the TMRCA. In the case of O’Docherty no. 18 & 19, seem to extend the age, yet both also share the distinctive allele value of 22 at YCAIIb, which to me, argues against an earlier period. I rather think, YCAIIb=22 acts as a check to all the estimates so far mentioned in the O’Docharty lineage. For us, it is relevant to note that in SW Scotland it is extremely unlike the Amuligane lineage ever shared a common ancestor with the O’Dochartys after AD 1000. So what happened in the centuries prior to this date?
Much of what has been said about the M222 Haplogroup relies heavily on predicated rates of mutation, at each genetic marker, in a given DNA sequence. The statistical analysis used to calculate estimates and/or genetic distance to a TMCRA, also relies on extensive theories and methods to minimize the random effects of mutations over time that include for example, slow to fast mutation rates, and multiple, pair wise and back step mutations. This is still an evolving field of science and estimates are only averages, and in some cases, predictions are made without any independent verification. If we are to believe the claim that many of the Scottish M222s are direct descendants of Niall, High King of the Irish, then arguably, the Ua Dochartaigh might provide an interesting timeline back to Niall, their legendry ancestor. His floruit can be dated within a reasonable span by the dates when Irish Historian’s credit Niall with a reign as high king in medieval Ireland. Traditional dating, which relies mainly on annalistic material, has shown to be unreliable with most modern historians, usually placing Niall’s reign to the middle of the fifth century or towards the end of the century.
Traditional accounts name Conall Gulban, Eogain, Enda, Coripre, Loeguire, Maine, Conall Cremthainne and Fiachu sons of Niall and in the genealogies, the Ua Dochartaigh lineage is traced back through the Cenel Lugdach to Conall Gulban, founder of Cenel Conaill. By the time the Ua Dochartaigh appear in the Irish annals, some 700 years after Niall’s floruit, they emerge as lords of the Cenel Enda or Enna, traditionally ascribed a lineage descended from Enna son of Niall and brother of Conall Gulban. The Cenel Enna is first mentioned in 1011, when the Annals of Ulster note the death of ‘Aengus ua Lapain’, king of Cenel Énda, who was slain by the Cenél Eógain of Inis [Eogain]. Ua Lapain is said to be one of the oldest hereditary surnames in Ireland and some of the family where erenaghs of Daire Colum Cille. The name is first recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters, which gives the obit of Aengus ua Lapáin, bishop of Rath-
The O’Docharty family only begins to emerge into history after the defeat of the Cenel Enna by Echmarcach Ua Cathain and Niall Ua Gairmledhaigh (O’Gormley) in 1177. In the same year, Niall Ua Gairmledhaigh, called king of the men of Magh-
According to the O’Clery Book of Genealogies, the O’Dochartys are traced from Fiamhain said to be one of the sons of Cenn Faelad (pronounced Cenn Falla) and brother of Mael Duin, ancestor of the Ui Domnaill (O’Donnells). In the O’Docharty genealogy, three lineage ancestors bore the name Maenghuile, Moenghuile or Maonghail in the ninth and tenth centuries, which in the genealogies of Cenel Lugdach is only found in the lineage of Fiamhain. I wonder if there is a possibility Fiamhain might not have been a son of Cenn Faelad, but was only made a son after the Ua Dochartaigh chiefs asserted their claim to the kingship of the Cenel Conaill in 1197. Traditionally, the Gaelic poets refer to the O’Dochartys as the ‘Clann Fiamhain’ or ‘Fiamhain’s seed’, suggesting this clan already existed prior to 1100. In the townland of Ardmiran, there is a raised ring fort at Dunwiley, which is thought to preserve the name of Fiamhain’s son Maonghuile. The first element in Maenghuile, Gaelic maoin, means wealth or treasure. In the second element, ‘ghuile’, “gh” can be “dh” pronounced like ‘y’ or if it is located in the middle or end of a name, it is usually silent. ‘Ghuile’ is thought to equate to ‘wiley’ in ‘Dunwiley, rendered as Dun Mhaonghuile’ or fort of Maonghaile and if the case, it would seem the history of the O’Dochartys can be tentatively traced to the ninth century.
Updated 21st May, 2017
In February 2006, a team of researchers from Trinity College in Dublin (TCD) published a report on ‘A Y-