Monday, 30 November 2015

New Contents Pages help Navigation

Now that the this project website has been up and running for almost a year, it is clear that some pages are very frequently visited, and to help people navigate the website a little easier, I have created a new set of Pages to the right which will help newcomers easily navigate the website and find the information they require.

The new pages include a revised version of the original Welcome blog (Jan 2015) as well as separate pages for people who want to join the project and who want to upgrade their test. There is also a new page which has lots of useful tips on how to get the most out of your DNA Test and everyone should check this out, even if you have been a member of the project for a long time.

Lastly, there is a new page where people can post their pedigree, their Farrell Ancestral line, going back to their most distant Farrell ancestor (their current Brick Wall). This will help people collaborate and may even help some people get a generation or two further back than they currently are.

Here is the list of new pages. Please feel free to copy and paste this pages list into any email you might send to prospective DNA testers.

Maurice Gleeson
November 2015

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Boosting membership reduces the % Ungrouped

As an exercise, I compared the number of Farrell variants in the FTDNA database with the numbers in our project ... and boy was I in for a shock. There are 105 Farrell's in the database but only 26 of them are in the Farrell project!

I found these numbers rather stunning so I looked at all Farrell variants in the FTDNA database and compared them with the numbers in our project. The results are in the Table below and the bottom-line is quite amazing - there are 475 Farrell's or variants in the FTDNA database and only 66 in the project - that's only 14%.

Even if we assume half of these (237) are women (and therefore will not have Y-DNA data) and half of the remainder (119) have done some test other than the Y-DNA test, that only brings the percentage up to 55%. In other words, there are probably a lot of Farrell's out there who have Y-DNA results but have not yet joined the project. This could be an opportunity to boost membership of the project.

And what would happen if we did boost membership? Supposing we were able to recruit (in total) one third of all the close Farrell variants into the project? That would be (say) 35 out of the 105 Farrell's (an increase of 9 people), 20 of the 60 Farley's (up by 6), and 14 of the 41 Ferrell's (up by 3) - a total increase of 18 members. And if we added in the more distant Farrell variants (Farr, Farrar, Farris), we could potentially boost recruitment from 66 to 158 - an increase of 92 members.

And what immediate effect would that have on the project? It would increase the number of people matching with genetic cousins and would move more people out of the large Ungrouped category and into specific genetic families! This effect was observed by James Irvine in his Clan Irwin DNA Study. The more people who joined the project, the smaller the percentage of members who remained as ungrouped singletons.

I already sent a bulk email to these non-project Farrell's in February this year and this had the effect of gaining an additional 12 members for the project. And what were the consequences of that?
  1. Several of the 12 new members moved immediately into existing Genetic Families thus boosting their numbers
  2. More importantly, another 2 Genetic Families were created, allowing 3 people to move out of the Ungrouped category. And this is a very important consequence of boosting membership - the more people who join, the more people will move out of the Ungrouped category and into newly identified Genetic Families.

So how do we get more of these Lost Farrell's into the project? I'm glad you asked because this is where you as Project Members come in!

You may have some of these Lost Farrell's among your matches. So the first thing to do is to look among your matches and see if your close Farrell matches are already in the project. You can identify them by their Most Distant Known Ancestor. If you can't find them, email them, ask them if they are in the project, and if they are not, they can join by simply clicking on the JOIN button on the right in the photo at this link -

Tell them it's free to join and joining will help everyone with their genealogical research.

Any help with this is greatly appreciated!

In upcoming blog posts, we will be moving away from the genetic side and moving more toward the traditional paper genealogy side. We will begin by looking at each of the genetic families in turn and take a close look at what we know about each family, from a genetic perspective and from a traditional genealogical perspective.

Maurice Gleeson
16 July 2015

Monday, 27 April 2015

Farrell surname variants in Irish Surname Dictionaries

The previous post looked at the Farrell surname in Irish surname dictionaries. This post looks at some of the variants of the Farrell surname which may be genetically connected to the Farrell surname. Once again the dictionaries consulted are those of Woulfe (1923) and MacLysaght's main publications (The Surnames of Ireland, 1991; Irish Families, 1985; More Irish Families, 1996).

So far, apart from the 37 people with the surname Farrell, the DNA project has attracted a variety of Farrell surname variants, including the following (arranged alphabetically). The table also shows the number of people with each variant currently in the project and the numbers indicates which of the entries below refer to that particular surname variant.

Click to enlarge

Farrell surname variants in Woulfe (1923)

[1] Ó FAIRCHEALLAIGH—I—O Ferrally, O'Farrelly, Farrelly, Farley, &c.; 'descendant of Faircheallach' (super-war); the name of a distinguished ecclesiastical family who, until the suppression of the monastery, were coarbs* of St. Mogue, or erenaghs* of Drumlane, in Co. Cavan, and are now very numerous throughout the county. There was another family of the name in the neighbourhood of Duntryleague, in the east of Co. Limerick, but it has long since disappeared from that district and is probably extinct. (p520) ...

[2] Ó FEARGHAILE—I—O Farrialla, O Ferralla, Farrelly, Frawley, Farrell, &c.; 'descendant of Fearghal'; a variant of Ó Fearghail, which see; sometimes metathesised** to Ó Freaghaile, anglicised Frawley. (p524) ...

[3] Ó FEARGHUIS, Ó FEARGHUSA—I—O Farguise, O Farris, O Ferris, O Farrissa, Fergus, Ferris, Farris, Farrissy, &c.; 'descendant of Fearghus' (super-choice); the name (1) of a medical family in West Connacht who were hereditary physicians to the O'Malleys; and (2) of an ecclesiastical family in Co. Leitrim who were coarbs* of St. Mogue, or erenaghs of Rossinver. At the end of the 16th century, the name was very scattered. (p524) ...

[4] Ó FEARGHAIL—I—O Ferrall, O'Farrell, Farrell, Ferrall, Farrahill, Frahill, Fraul; 'descendant of Fearghal' (super-valour); the name of several distinct families, of which the best known are the O'Farrells of Annaly, in the present Co. Longford, of which they were for many centuries the ruling race. The head of the family resided at the town of Longford, which was formerly known as Longphort Ui Fhearghail, or O'Farrell's fortress. In later times, the O'Farrells divided into two great branches, the heads of which were known respectively as O'Farrell Boy, the yellow O'Farrell, and O'Farrell Bane, the fair O'Farrell. The O'Farrells maintained their independence as a clan down to the year 1565, when Annaly was reduced to shire ground by the lord-deputy, Sir Henry Sidney. Though suffering severely from the plantation schemes of James I, the O'Farrells were able to take a prominent part in all the political and military movements of the 17th century, and many of them were afterwards distinguished officers in the Irish brigades in the service of France. This family is now very numerous. Other families of this name were seated in Wicklow and Tyrone. The name is also written Ó Fearghaile and Ó Firghil, which see, and sometimes, by the aspiration of the initial f, changed into Ó hEarghail, Ó hEarghaile, which see. (p523) ... (this is also the subject of the previous post).

[5] Ó FIRGHIL—I—O Ferrill, O Phirell, O'Freel, Freel, Friel, Freal, &c.; 'descendant of Fearghal' (super-valour); a variant of Ó Fearghail, which see; the name of a family of Cinel Conaill who derive their descent from Eoghan, brother of St. Columcille, and were hereditary erenaghs of Kilmacrenan, in Co. Donegal. The name is still common in that county, but pronounced Ó Frighil, which see. O'Freel had the privilege of inaugurating O'Donnell as chieftain of Tirconnell. (p528-9) ...

[6] Ó hEARGHAIL—I—O Herrall, O Herrell, Harrell, Harrel, Herald, &c.; a variant of Ó Fearghail (which see), owing to the aspiration of the initial f. (p563) ...

[7] Ó hEARGHAILE—I—O Harrily, O Harely, Harrily, Harley, Herley, Herly; a variant of Ó Fearghaile, which see. Compare with Ó hEarghail. (p563) ...

[8] Ó FREAGHAILE—I—Frawley; a metathesised** form of Ó Fearghaile, which see. (p533) ...
Other possible variants of the Farrell surname in Woulfe (1923)

[9] FEARADHACH, genitive -aigh, Farry, (Ferdinand); an ancient Irish name, meaning 'manly'; rather common in early times; retained until recently among the O'Maddens and O'Naughtons of Connacht, by whom it was anglicised Farry. Finally it was turned into Ferdinand. Latin — Ferdachus. ...

[10] Ó FEARADAIGH—I—O Farry, O'Ferry, Farry, Ferry; 'descendant of Fearadach' (manly); a scattered surname, but found chiefly in East Ulster. ...

[11] Ó FHARRAIGH, Farry, Forry; a rare Mayo surname. ...

Farrell surname variants in MacLysaght (1985-1996)

Surnames of Ireland (1991) lists the following surname variants:
[12] Farley A common English name used as synonym of Farrelly especially in Co. Cavan.

[13] (O) Farrelly Wolfe gives Ó Faircheallaigh but Ó Fearghaile, a variant of Ó Fearghail – see previous entry – is acceptable as an alternative. An important co–arb family. People of this sept are still numerous in its homeland as Map, not elsewhere. IF Map Cavan.

[14] Farris This has been used in Connacht and adjacent areas for Fergus. It is mainly found in Leitrim and Cavan. Fr Livingston informs me that in Co. Donegal Farris is an anglicized form of Ó Fearaigh. See Fairy, Ferris and Paris.

[15] (O) Farrissy Ó Fearghusa (fear, man - gus, action). Formerly an important sept in Mayo and Leitrim but now rare. Though seldom found now, it was also a Munster variant of Fergus; Ferris is much more often so used. MIF

[16] (O) Fairy Ó Fearadhaigh (for question of derivation see MacAree). A Donegal sept of the Cenel Conaill; as Ferry it is now quite numerous in Co. Sligo and frequent also in other parts of Connacht in sixteenth-century records.

[17] (O) Fergus Ó Fearghuis (fear, man - gus, vigour). The name of two Connacht septs: (a) a medical family with the O'Malleys and (b) an ecclesiastical family in Leitrim. The name has become Ferris in Kerry. MIF Map Mayo.

[18] Ferris In Kerry a variant of O'Fergus. It is also traditionally a cognomen of a branch of the Moriartys. In Ulster it is the name of a branch of the Scottish clan Ferguson formerly MacFergus. MIF See Farrissy.

[19] Frawley Ó Freaghaile. A metathesized form of Farrelly in Cos. Clare and Limerick. MIF

Irish Families (1985) includes an entry for (O) Farrelly:
[20] (O)FARRELLY, Farley O'Farrelly - Ó Faircheallaigh in Irish - is the name of a Breffny sept associated in both early and modern times principally with Counties Cavan and Meath. Their leading family were erenaghs of Drumlane, Co. Cavan, and were also coarbs of St Mogue until the suppression of the monastries in the sixteenth century. The Gaelic poet Feardorcha O'Farrelly (d. 1746) was born in Co. Cavan.

The O'Farrelly sept seated at Knockainy, Co. Limerick, mentioned as such by O'Heerin in his fourteenth century "Topographical Poem" and still numerous in Co. Limerick when the 1659 census was compiled are no longer to be found there: even a century ago O'Donovan commented on the fact that they had disappeared.
In parts of Ulster Farley is used as a synonym of Farrelly, which leads to confusion since Farley is common English name. Cardinal Farley (1842–1918), Archbishop of New York, who was born in Co. Armagh, is an example of the use of this synonym.

More Irish Families (1996) includes entries for Fergus (Ferris, Farris, Farrissey) and Frawley (Farrelly): 

[21] (O) FERGUS, Ferris, Ferguson The name Ó Farghuis or Ó Fearghusa take several forms in English. Apart from Farrissy, which in modern times occurs only occasionally, the two usual forms are Fergus and Ferris. Fergus or O'Fergus is seldom found outside Connacht. Persons so-called, who are mainly in Co. Mayo at the present time, are of the sept of O'Fearghuis, which provided hereditary physicians to the O'Malleys. Knox in his History of Mayo tells us that O'Fergus held the parish of Burrishoole in 1303 and ranked then as a minor Chief, a status no longer obtaining in 1585, since they do not figure in the Composition Book of Connacht, though we know from the Strafford survey that they were still considerable landholders in Burrishoole and Carra about the year 1635. In that document the name is spelt Farregish, Faregesie and O'Farressie, while in the Mayo Book of Survey and Distribution, compiled some 50 years later, it occurs frequently as O'Farrissy. It must also be remembered that in the Connacht County of Leitrim there was an ecclesiastical family of the same name who were coarbs* of St Mogue and erenaghs* of Rossinver: O'Connell in his work on the diocese of Kilmore calls them O'Ferguson. It was in the northern end of that county, adjacent to Co. Sligo, that Petty's "census" shows them, as O' Fergussa, to have been most numerous in 1659. In the Fiants of the previous century they appear chiefly in Co. Sligo. In the form of O' Fergus or O'Fargus it occurs there only once - at Spiddal, Co. Galway. It may be of interest to add that in 1362 an O'Fergus was vicar of Omey, an island off the coast of Connemara.
Ferris (alias O'Farris etc) is more numerous both in the old records and today than Fergus. The name Ferris is now very numerous in north-east Ulster where it is that of a branch of the Scottish clan Ferguson – Fairy and even O'Ferry have been used as synonyms of it there but these are properly [sic; probably?] anglicizations of Ó Fearadhaigh, a Cinel Conaill sept. Ferris is also well known in Kerry. W.F. Butler in his Gleanings from Irish History States that Ferris there is traditionally believed to be the cognomen of a branch of the O'Moriartys. There were 27 families of Ferris in the 1911 census of Co. Kerry and the name was there at least as early as 1586. It occurs to five times in the diocesan wills of Ardfert and Aghadoe in the eighteenth century. From Tralee came three interesting characters. The amazing and chequered career of Richard Ferris (1750-1828), ex-priest, spy, politician and business man, is outlined in Richard Hayes's Biographical Dictionary of Irishmen in France; his brother, Edward Ferris (1738-1809), was a distinguished priest who, after many vicissitudes in France and Rome, became the first president of Maynooth college; while a kinsmen of theirs, another Edward Ferris, was also a political agent in France.
Other notable men were the exile Father Cormac O'Fergus, who came to Cork from Lisbon in 1571 and, while preaching at Clonmel, was captured and thrown into prison; the two O'Fearghusas of the O'Naghten poetic circle about 1725; and Dr Fergus the well-known patron of Gaelic learning at the same period. Late Bishop of Achonry and secretary to the hierarchy was Dr James Fergus. O'Farys etc., was also in Co. Wexford in 1659 and is still there, but as Vargus and Vargis, until quite recently used interchangeably with Ferguson. Ferguson, of course, is itself a Scottish name and has numerous in the north-eastern counties of Ireland, whence came Sir Samuel Ferguson (1810-1886), one of the best poets of the Irish literary renaissance and founder of the Protestant Repeal Association.
There was also a Norman name occurring occasionally in mediaeval records which must not be confused with O'Farys: Mgr. de Farys, for example, was canon of St Patrick's Cathedral in 1302.
Carrickfergus in County Antrim is said to be named after Fergus mac Rough, the "Red Branch" Hero of the Tain and reputed ancestor of several Ulster septs. This legendary personage is not to be confused with Fergus Mac Erc, Prince of Dalriada in North Antrim, who in A.D. 470 crossed to Scotland and founded the Gaelic kingdom there. Map
[22] (O) FRAWLEY Woulfe's statement that Frawley (Ó Freaghaile) is a metathesized form of O'Farrelly is correct but he gives no further information about these names. In Irish Families (p. 140) I mentioned that a century ago O'Donovan commented on the fact that the Co. Limerick sept of O'Farrelly had disappeared from that county. It is true that the name in that form is no longer there but as Frawley it is numerous there, and even more so in the neighbouring county of Clare. The change from Farrelly to Frawley dates from the seventeenth century, Fraly and Frally being the usual forms in the eighteenth; many testators so called are in the diocesan wills for Killaloe and Limerick and in rentals such as that of Lord Kenmare's Co. Limerick estate.

These are a selection of the main variants but there will be others. It is quite clear that the surname variants are of multi-origin and this will be reflected in many different genetic signatures of the members of the DNA project.

However, there appear to be several broad categories based solely on the nature of the surname:
  • those who are a close variant of Farrell (including Ferrall, Ferrell, Farrelly, Frawley) - there are probably several distinct groups (within this larger group) who will have a common genetic signature indicating a common ancestor.
  • those who are a close variant of Farris (including Faris, Ferris, Farrissy, Fergus, Fairy, Farry, Ferry, and even Ferguson) - again, several smaller genetically distinct subgroups will probably emerge from this larger group.
  • Farley - largely an English name, but sometimes interchanged with Farrelly, especially in Co. Cavan.
  • Rarer categories, with no immediately apparent link to any of the categories above (Ferrill & Friel; Harrell, Harley & Herley).

Explanation of some terms in the text:

* coarb/co-arb, erenach/erenagh ... A coarb, from the Old Irish comarbae (Modern Irish comharba), meaning "heir" or "successor", was a distinctive office of the later medieval church among the Gaels of Ireland and Scotland. In this period coarb appears interchangeable with "erenach" or "erenagh", denoting the episcopally nominated lay guardian of a parish church and headman of the family in hereditary occupation of church lands. The coarb, however, often had charge of a church which had held comparatively high rank in pre-Norman Ireland, or one still possessed of relatively extensive termon lands. Such lucrative monastic offices as “coarb” (comarbae “heir” to a saint) or “erenach” (airchinnech “superior”), otherwise transmitted by natural or nepotic descent within ecclesiastical families, which were often the politically displaced branches of royal dynasties.

** metathesisis = the transposition of letters, syllables, or sounds in a word, e.g. Farrelly becomes Frawley

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Farrell name in Irish Surname Dictionaries

There are several surname dictionaries that address the topic of Irish surnames, but perhaps the most well-respected are those of Woulfe and MacLysaght. Over several blogs we will review what each says about the Farrell surname and its various variants.

The Rev. Patrick Woulfe (1872-1933), or as he preferred to be known, An tAthair Pádraig de Bhulbh, was born in Cratloe to Seamus Woulfe, a farmer. He became a priest, worked in Limerick, and spent 25 years collecting names, communicating with native Irish speakers and studying the different forms of Gaelic to compile the Irish Names and Surnames dictionary. There are two versions of his book – a small version (138 pages) and a larger version (742 pages). The smaller version was originally published in 1906 and reprinted in 1922 – this is available online in its as original print form from here. The larger version was printed in 1923 (reprinted in 1967) and consists of 696 pages, with 46 pages of preliminary text. A digital version of the book is available free of charge online from Library Ireland here. The search feature is very useful and allows you to find any mention of a particular name within the book. Woulfe’s work helped to popularise the use of Irish first-names during the last century and has been an important resource for genealogists. His work was subsequently superseded by that of other scholars, such as Edward MacLysaght.
Woulfe, Patrick. Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall: Irish Names and Surnames, collected and edited with explanatory and historical notes (1923).
Edward MacLysaght was an interesting character. He lived to be 99 years old (1887-1986) and packed a lot into his lifetime. His father was from Cork, his mother from Lincolnshire, and he was born near Bristol. He went to school in Rugby and then Corpus Christi College, Oxford to study law. But a rugby injury changed his life - he went to Lahinch in Co. Clare and lived in a caravan for 6 months recovering. During this time he developed a love for genealogy, history, and the Irish language, in which he became fluent. He started a pioneer farm in Raheen and introduced electricity 40 years before his neighbours. He also set up local community projects and was deeply involved in the Irish Cultural Revival and the movement for Irish independence. His loyal support of Eamonn de Valera (then member of parliament, and later President of Ireland) resulted in his imprisonment. After independence (1922), he was elected to the Seanad Éireann (the Irish Senate). He later became an Inspector for the Irish Manuscripts Commission (1938), a member of the Royal Irish Academy (1942), Chief Herald of Ireland (1943-1954), Keeper of Manuscripts at the National Library of Ireland (1948-1954), and Chairman of the Irish Manuscripts Commission (1956-1973). It was during this latter period that he wrote his indispensible books on Irish surnames.
MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland. 1957 (sixth edition 1991)
This is a comprehensive list of over 4000 Irish surnames with a short description of each. It includes 1500 surnames not considered in the other books below, which only deal with about 20% of the surnames described in this present book (albeit in a lot more detail). 
MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families. Their Names, Arms and Origins. 1957 (fourth edition 1985) 
MacLysaght, Edward. More Irish Families. 1970 (first paperback edition 1996, incorporating Supplement to Irish Families, 1964)
These latter two volumes (frequently abbreviated to IF and MIF) give a much more detailed account of many of the most common Irish surnames. Second hand copies can be bought online, usually for quite inflated prices.

Woulfe’s Surname Dictionary

Woulfe’s entry for Farrell as a surname can be found here -
Ó FEARGHAIL—IO Ferrall, O'Farrell, Farrell, Ferrall, Farrahill, Frahill, Fraul; 'descendant of Fearghal' (super-valour); the name of several distinct families, of which the best known are the O'Farrells of Annaly, in the present Co. Longford, of which they were for many centuries the ruling race. The head of the family resided at the town of Longford, which was formerly known as Longphort Ui Fhearghail, or O'Farrell's fortress. In later times, the O'Farrells divided into two great branches, the heads of which were known respectively as O'Farrell Boy, the yellow O'Farrell, and O'Farrell Bane, the fair O'Farrell. The O'Farrells maintained their independence as a clan down to the year 1565, when Annaly was reduced to shire ground by the lord-deputy, Sir Henry Sidney. Though suffering severely from the plantation schemes of James I, the O'Farrells were able to take a prominent part in all the political and military movements of the 17th century, and many of them were afterwards distinguished officers in the Irish brigades in the service of France. This family is now very numerous. Other families of this name were seated in Wicklow and Tyrone. The name is also written Ó Fearghaile and Ó Firghil, ... and sometimes, by the aspiration of the initial f, changed into Ó hEarghail, Ó hEarghaile.
And the entry for Farrell as a forename or personal name reads as follows:
FEARGHAL, genitive -ghail and -ghaile, Fergal, Farrell; an ancient and once very common name, especially among the MacDonnells, MacDonoughs, Mageoghegans, O'Farrells, O'Neills and O'Rourkes; still in use, but rare. It is supposed to have been the Irish name of the celebrated St. Virgilius, the Irish fear- having been equated with the Latin vir-(man). Latin — Fergalius.

MacLysaght’s Surname Dictionary 

MacLysaght gives a brief account of the Farrell surname in his Surnames of Ireland and a much more detailed account of the Farrell name in his Irish Families
(O) Farrell, Ferrall Ó Fearghail (man of valour). Numerous and important sept of Annaly whose chief’s seat was Longford, formerly called Longphort Ui Fhearghail (i.e. O’Farrell’s fortress). The name is now widespread throughout the four provinces. IF   Map Longford
(from Surnames of Ireland, p104)
The abbreviation IF refers to his book Irish Families, and Map Longford refers the reader to the map in that book on page 223. 
(O)FARRELL, (O)Ferrall Farrell, with and without the prefix O, is a well known name in many parts of the country and it stands thirty-fifth in the statistical returns showing the hundred commonest names in Ireland. It is estimated that there are over thirteen thousand of the name in Ireland; the great majority of those were born in Leinster, mainly in Co. Longford and the surrounding areas. This is as might be expected for the great Ó Fearghaill (O’Farrell or O’Ferrall) sept was of Annaly in Co. Longford. The chief of the sept, known as Lord of Annaly, resided at Longphuirt Ui Fhearghaill (i.e. O’Farrell’s fortress), hence the name of the town and county. So important were they that references to them in the “Annals of the Four Masters” occupy more than seven columns of the index to that monumental work. There were two branches of the sept, the chiefs of which were distinguished as O’Farrell Boy (buidhe, i.e. yellow) and O’Farrell Bane (bán, i.e. white or fair). 
There were a number of distinguished churchmen of the name, of whom the Capuchin Father Richard O’Farrell (c. 1615-1663), of Annaly, was perhaps the most notable. Notwithstanding the misfortunes which befell the great Gaelic families through the conquests and confiscations of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the O’Farrells of Annaly were not entirely submerged and many of them took a worthy part in Irish resistance to English aggression. Three sons of Ceadagh O’Ferrall of Annaly, who was killed at the Battle of the Boyne in 1691, greatly distinguished themselves as officers of the Irish Brigade in the service of France. The family settled in Picardy. Later on in the political field Richard More O’Ferrall (1797-1880) was a prominent supporter of Daniel O’Connell. Sir Thomas Farrell (1827-1900) was a noted sculptor, many of whose statues adorn the city of Dublin. The compiler of one of the best known Irish genealogical manuscripts, “Linea Antiqua” (1709) now in the Genealogical Office, Dublin, was Roger O’Ferrall. 
(from Irish Families p84)
Implications for DNA Research

It is interesting that Woulfe says that the name Farrell represents several distinct families. This is not surprising given the meaning of the name and one can easily imagine that many different families may have had a "man of valour" among their stock from whom they subsequently took their family name. However both Woulfe and MacLysaght focus on the Longford Farrells and only Woulfe makes mention of other possible origins, namely Wicklow and Tyrone, where "other families of this name were seated".

If the surname is indeed multi-origin, then one would expect to see several distinct genetic signatures among Farrells alive today. If there are surviving descendants, and enough people test, we might see several Farrell signatures, perhaps localised to the places mentioned in the surname dictionaries - Longford, Wicklow, & Tyrone.

As the Farrell name is of Gaelic origin, and would probably have been introduced between 900-1100 AD, one would expect to see the dominant haplogroup of all Farrell septs to be Haplogroup R1b, particularly R1b-L21. Haplogroup R1b is the most common haplogroup in Western Europe, with highest concentrations in Ireland (moreso as one moves west). The Neolithic people who built Newgrange (3200 BC) were probably Haplogroup G2a and I2a1; the majority of the Proto-Celts who arrived about 2000 BC were Haplogroup R1b-L21, making it the quintessentially Gaelic lineage; Norwegian Vikings (800 AD onwards) would tend to be R1a-Z284 (they settled in Leinster & Munster); whilst the Anglo-Normans (1169 onwards) would be largely a mix of I1, I2a2a, R1a, and R1b-U106. [1]


Of the genetic families currently identified in the Farrell DNA project, 5 families belong to Haplogroup R1b, consistent with a Celtic origin. A large number of project members remain ungrouped, and this would be consistent with a multi-origin surname.

The characteristics and possible origins of each genetic family will be explored in subsequent posts. At this stage in the project, it appears that certain potential surname variants have their own specific genetic signature - for example, people with the surname Farley are found predominantly in genetic family R1b-GF1, people with the potential surname variant Farrar are found in R1a-GF1 (see also the Farrar DNA Project), and people with the Ferrell variant predominate in R1b-GF2.

As more people join the DNA project, the association (or lack thereof) between the potential surname variants will become more clear. It may also be possible to localise the origins of each genetic family to a particular place and even to a particular era.

Furthermore, both Woulfe and MacLysaght make mention of the two major branches of the clan in Longford, the O'Farrell Boy and the O'Farrell Bane. These two branches apparently spring from the same root and thus would be expected to have similar genetic signatures, but there may be distinct genetic differences that distinguish these two branches. When the split took place is not mentioned by either author but DNA testing (including SNP markers) could help date this divide.

More information about the history of the Farrell surname can be found on the Farrell Clan website and the wikipedia entry for the Farrell clan.

[1] Genetic History of the British and the Irish, available at

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Cheapest Way to Upgrade

Okay! The secret is just about to be let out of the bag!

Here is how to make the most of the current FTDNA special offers and save the maximum amount of money while upgrading your Y-DNA test to at least 37 markers, and even 67 or 111 markers. The trick is to do step-wise upgrading and use a different coupon code for each step! There you have it ... simples!

For example, if you have only tested to 12 markers (i.e. the Y-DNA-12 test), you would first upgrade to Y-DNA-25, then Y-DNA-37, and then (if you wished) to Y-DNA-67, and Y-DNA-111. Each step would save you at least $10-$20 so you could easily save $40 on the price a Y-DNA-37 test, or $80 from the price of a Y-DNA-111 test.

Coupon Codes

There are several coupon codes available:

  • You can save $15 by using the repeat-use coupon code: 15for15 ... this is valid until Feb 28th so hurry! This can be used on multiple occasions for any type of test so it is great if you want to buy several different tests or want to do step-wise upgrading.
  • You can save at least $10, frequently $20, and up to $100 by using the one-use-only coupon code that I post each day in the Farrell Clan Facebook page. Or you can check it out for yourself by visiting the Activity Feed on the Farrell DNA Project website where the daily codes are automatically posted at 10am Central Time.
  • Alternatively, you could wait for a Sale at FTDNA - they have them at several times during the year. Below is an example of the discounts on offer in their Christmas 2014 sale ... which has already ended but at least it gives you an idea of prices! However, you are not likely to save as much money as you will with the current coupon codes.

FTDNA's last Sale (currently over) - click to enlarge

Who should Upgrade?

Not everyone needs to upgrade their test. And those who don't should save their money and use it for some future DNA testing or other genealogical endeavours. But those who should upgrade include the following ...
  • Everyone should test to at least 37 markers (Y-DNA-37) - it's not possible to reliably allocate project members to specific genetic families unless they have tested to at least this level.
  • Anyone who is Ungrouped and in Haplogroup R and has tested to 37 markers should consider upgrading to 67 markers (Y-DNA-67) - this may reveal close connections to other project members which are not apparent at the lower level of testing, and may thus facilitate allocation to a specific genetic family.
  • Similarly, if you are Ungrouped, in Haplogroup R, and have tested to 67 markers, you should consider upgrading to 111 markers.
  • If you are already in a Genetic Family (GF), and you and your GF members want to find out who within the GF is more closely related to whom, then step-wise upgrading to Y-DNA-111 is recommended for all members in that GF. If everyone tests to 111-markers, then a Mutation History Tree can be generated which may be able to show how each of the family branches are connected to the common ancestor and which branch is most closely related to which other branch. We will cover this in a future post. This will also help focus traditional genealogical research as those GF members who are more closely related to each other should focus their efforts at joint research and collaboration. 

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here's how you should upgrade from the 12-marker test (Y-DNA-12). To upgrade from 25 markers or higher, just skip Step 1 and go to Step 2.

Step 1 - upgrade from 12 to 25 markers ... This is a bit tricky and I'm not sure it will work for everyone. In brief, you will have to leave the Farrell project and then rejoin it.

  • Go to and Sign In to your account.
  • Hover over My Projects on the top menu bar, and click on Manage Projects from the drop-down menu.
  • Navigate to the Farrell project and click on leave the project (don't worry - you will be rejoining the project in 2 minutes).
  • Click on Sign Out in the top right hand corner (the next steps won't work if you are logged in).
  • Click on Projects in the top menu bar and in the Search box enter the surname Farrell - you should land on the page below.

  • Opposite the Y-DNA-25 test for $109, click on the orange Order Now button on the right.
  • On the next screen (see below), under the image in the middle, click on the blue text which reads: Is Kit #1 for an existing customer?
  • Now enter your kit number and password and click Sign In.
  • The price will drop from $109 to $49  (I had to try this several times before it worked).
  • In the bottom right, below the green Proceed to Checkout button, click on the text which reads: Do you have a coupon?
  • Enter one of the coupon codes mentioned above and click Apply - the price will drop again by whatever amount the coupon is for (at least $10).
  • Then click on Proceed to Checkout and pay for the test. 
  • You will now have upgraded from 12 to 25 markers and will have rejoined the Farrell DNA Project.

Step 2 - upgrade from 25 to 37 markers

  • Click on the Upgrade button in the top right of your MyFTDNA Homepage (see below).
  • Then click on the appropriate Upgrade Price button on the right ($49 for upgrading to Y-DNA-37 from Y-DNA-25).

  • In the bottom right, below the green Proceed to Checkout button, click on the text which reads: Do you have a coupon?
  • Enter the coupon code and click Apply - the price will drop by the coupon amount.
  • Then simply click the Proceed to Checkout button and pay for the test.
  • You will now have upgraded to the Y-DNA-37 test.

Steps 3 & 4 - upgrade from 36 to 67 markers, or from 67 to 111 markers

  • Simply repeat the process in Step 2 to continue upgrading to higher marker levels.
  • Enter a coupon code each time to make sure you get the most from the current discounts on FTDNA tests.
If you have any problems just leave a comment below, or in the Farrell Clan Facebook page, and I will do my best to assist.

Maurice Gleeson
25th Feb 2015

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Why are the majority of members still ungrouped?

The Great Ungrouped - who are they?

The identification of the 8 genetic clusters (among the 89 project members who have taken a Y-DNA test) has resulted in 31 project members being allocated to a specific genetic family. Members within a genetic family are highly likely to be related by a common ancestor who lived some time since the introduction of surnames and possibly a lot more recent than that, perhaps in the last 200-400 years. 

However, this exercise has left 58 members as ungrouped "singletons". That's 65% ... almost two thirds of the members of the project. Is there any way that we can allocate these people to a group? Are you one of these people? 

The Ungrouped category can be broken down into those who belong to Haplogroup R (52 in number) and those who don't (it was 6, but has just gone up to 7). Haplogroup R is the most common haplogroup in Western Europe accounting for between 60-90% of the population of Britain & Ireland. It is also the most difficult to organise into distinct genetic clusters so moving members out of this group will be a challenge. However, the good news is that for some members this will be easier than you might think.

Of the Ungrouped Haplogroup R members (52), 38 are Farrell variants. Of these, 15 have only tested up to 12 markers and this accounts for over 40% of the total. Interestingly, 8 of these 15 people are transfers from the National Genographic project (as indicated by an N at the start of their kit number). If these 15 people upgraded to at least the 37 marker level, there is a good chance that about half of them would be reallocated to a genetic family. 

All members are encouraged to test at least 37 markers as a minimum as this may result in your allocation to one of the existing genetic families. This in turn will help you identify which members you should be collaborating with, and collaboration is the secret to success in breaking through some of the Brick Walls in your own personal research. 

Farrell singletons in the Ungrouped Haplogroup R category

Two members have tested up to only 25 markers (they should upgrade to 37 markers), and the rest (21, 55%) have tested to at least the 37-marker level. For these latter people, success is a waiting game. But in time, most of them will be matched up with genetic cousins and allocated to genetic families as more people join the project or upgrade their results to the Y-DNA-37 test. Thus, this percentage of singletons will gradually decrease as more people are "paired up" with their genetic cousins.

To upgrade to the Y-DNA-37 test, simply follow the instructions on the Welcome page here -

I took a closer look at each of the Farrell singletons in "Ungrouped R" to see if we could predict to which genetic family they might eventually be allocated. Check and see if your kit number is below. 

Assessment of those singletons who have tested up to 37-markers reveals the following: 

  • No close matches exist for the following kit numbers … 
    • 278451, 80754, 56335, 134599, N10126, 117543, 331160, 46471, 168478, B1778, 197440, 121852, B1164, 328907, 72325, 73900, 61790
  • A (poor?) match exists with an individual but not with a group for the following singletons … 
    • 169133 …   GD 4/37 cf 262693 (R1b-GF2b) but 8/37 from MH37 for R1b-GF2a [1]
    • 27344 …     GD 4/37 cf 166772 (R1b-GF2b) but 7/37 from MH37 for R1b-GF2a
    • 81500 ...      GD 4/37 and 8/67 with N112356 but not close to any genetic family
    • N112356 ... GD 4/37 and 8/67 with 81500 but not close to any genetic family
Evaluation of Ungrouped R Farrell singletons with only 25 markers tested reveals the following … 

  • 68963 … closest match is GD 3/25 => left in Ungrouped R
  • 81222 … closest match is GD 4/25 => left in Ungrouped R
Lastly, I examined those Ungrouped R Farrell singletons with only 12 marker values and assessed to which of the existing Genetic Families they most closely matched. In many cases, these members match not one but several of the existing genetic families so it is not possible to predict to which one they might eventually belong. 

    • 190328 … 0/12 with R1b-GF1 (x4), and 1/12 with R1b-GF1 (x2) 
    • 244045 … 0/12 with R1b-GF2 (x4), and 1/12 with R1b-GF2 (x3) 
    • 46123 … no matches at 12-markers with others in the project 
    • N8929 … 1/12 with R1b-GF1 (x4) and R1b-GF2 (x1) 
    • 73576 … 0/12 with R1b-GF4 (x4), R1b-GF2 (x2), GF3 (x1), & GF5 (x1) 
    • N3297 … 0/12 with R1b-GF5 (x1), and 1/12 with GF4 (x4), GF2 (x1), & GF5 (x1) 
    • N27745 … 0/12 with R1b-GF5 (x1) 
    • 76572 … 0/12 with R1b-GF2 (x3), 1/12 with GF2 (x6), GF4 (x4), & GF5 (x1) 
    • 92367 … 0/12 with R1b-GF2 (x3), and 1/12 with GF2 (x6), GF4 (x4), & GF5 (x1) 
    • N4064 … 0/12 with R1b-GF2 (x3), and 1/12 with GF2 (x7), GF4 (x4), & GF5 (x1) 
    • N59173 … 0/12 with R1b-GF2 (x3), and 1/12 with GF2 (x6), GF4 (x4), & GF5 (x1) 
    • N83661 … 0/12 with R1b-GF2 (x3), and 1/12 with GF2 (x6), GF4 (x4), & GF5 (x1) 
    • 141870 … 0/12 with R1b-GF5, and 1/12 with GF2 (x3), & GF5 (x1) 
    • N70429 … 1/12 with R1b-GF4 (x4) and GF2 (x1) 
    • N41702 … 0/12 with ungrouped 72325 
Thus, the 12-marker Y-DNA test does not allow us to separate members into different genetic families and (for many) upgrading to 37 markers is the only way that such allocation will take place. As we said above, t
o upgrade, simply follow the instructions on the Welcome page here -

But there is another way that we can move members out of the Ungrouped category and allocate them to a genetic family ... but I'm keeping that a secret until the next blog post!


[1] GD, Genetic Distance; 4/37, 4 "steps" away from an exact match at 37 markers; cf, compared to; MH37, Modal Haplotype at 37 markers

Monday, 2 February 2015

Reasons for grouping into Genetic Families - R1b

- the rationale for allocating members to the Genetic Families of R1b

The majority of project members belong to Haplogroup R1b (25 members in genetic families, 52 members in the Ungrouped category, giving a total of 77 out of 88 members who have been Y-DNA-tested in total = 88%). This is as expected as Farrell and most variants are Western European (and more specifically Irish or British) in origin where up to 90% of the population is likely to be R1b. However, this haplogroup is also the most challenging in terms of trying to separate out its members into distinct genetic families.

The first step in identifying genetic families within this group was to identify those members who are exact or very close matches to each other. These very close matches formed the seed or nidus around which the rest of the genetic family was built.

For those who are interested (and for future referral), the process I employed for doing this was as follows:
    • I started by copying the existing Y-DNA results to a spreadsheet 
    • Then I sorted the results by each individual marker in turn up to 37 markers (omitting the multi-copy markers) 
    • Then deleted those who had only tested 12 markers 
    • Then copied the resultant tabulated data to the section below the original tabulated data (so that there were two tables with exactly the same data, one below the other) 
    • In the lower table, starting with the first marker value in the SECOND row of data, I made this equal to the value of the same marker (i.e. same column) in the FIRST row in the table ABOVE minus the value of the same marker in the SECOND row in the table ABOVE (e.g. =G102-G103 was entered in cell G166). 
    • I copied this formula into every cell in the entire table below the first row. 
    • In short, I was subtracting each marker value from the one above it. This revealed the genetic distance (GD) for each individual marker compared to that marker's value belonging to the person immediately above it in the table. A string of zeroes indicated an exact match between a given member and the person above him. These identical matches formed the basis (or nidus) for a new genetic family. 

Four new genetic families were initially identified using this technique.

The modal haplotype [1] for each of these groups was determined and the member whose haplotype was closest to the modal was used as a basis for the identification of other “close” matches, which were subsequently added to the group.

Initially, members were grouped on the basis of GD alone, with some help in borderline cases from the TiP24 score. Thereafter, other criteria (e.g. same surname variant, same MDKA, same MDKA locations) were assessed to support the allocation of each individual to a particular group. Lastly, the data was assessed for the presence of “rare” marker values and SNP data was examined to make sure that the terminal SNPs in each group were consistent with the allocation of all members to that group.

As a double-check, a Genetic Distance matrix was generated using Dean McGee’s Y-DNA Comparison Utility (FTDNA Mode) and the results were examined to ensure that the same genetic families that were generated by the methodology above were also detected by the McGee utility. The results can be viewed by clicking here (to be inserted later). No unexpected findings were revealed and the McGee’s GD Matrix supported the identification of the 8 distinct genetic families previously identified. [2]

R1b-Genetic Family 1 (R1b-GF1)
  • The Modal Haplotype at 37 markers (MH37) is represented by 116740 (an exact match to the MH37) 
  • All members of this group differ by a GD of either 1 or 2/37 from the MH37, and the largest GD between any two group members is 3/37. 
  • Member 32988 has only tested to 25 markers and the GD from the MH37 is 1 in this case, with a TiP24 score (at 25 markers) of 97.5%, supporting his inclusion in this group. 
  • Possible “rare” marker values: none obvious 
  • The terminal SNP’s for the group members are consistent, with U198 (subclade R1b1a2a1a1c2a) being downstream of Z381 (subclade R1b1a2a1a1c) - see
  • Following the allocation of 6 members to this group on the basis of their genetic data alone, it became clear that all but one shared the surname Farley, further supporting their allocation to this group. The remaining member (surname Ambrose) is highly likely to have an NPE (Non-Paternity Event) somewhere along his direct male line. In other words, his father’s father’s father’s line will eventually go back to an ancestor called Farley. 
  • MDKA information is incomplete and should be updated, but two members have Virginia (US) as a common location. 
Click for larger image

R1b-Genetic Family 2a (R1b-GF2a) 
  • The MH37 is represented by both 67960 and 95271 (both exact matches) 
  • All 4 members of this group are exact or very close matches, and the largest GD between any two group members is 1/37. 
  • Member 78131 has only tested out to 25 markers but has a GD of 0/25 and so is included in this group. 
  • Possible “rare” marker values: none obvious 
  • Terminal SNPs are all M269 (and therefore consistent). 
  • Following allocation on the basis of DNA results alone, it became clear that all 4 members shared exactly the same surname (Ferrell), thus supporting their allocation to the same group. 
  • MDKA information is missing for 3 of the 4 members and needs updating. 
Click for larger image
R1b-Genetic Family 2b (R1b-GF2b) 
  • R1b-GF2b was originally part of R1b-GF2a and consisted of people who were more distant matches to the MH37 of GF2a (and subsequently matches of those matches). I later split this group into 2a and 2b to separate the outliers from the core members of the group. 
  • Member 262693 was included despite a GD of 5 from the MH37 of GF2a, because he had a Farrell variant (Farley) and a TiP24 score of 76%. [3] This member is the only one in the group to have tested to 111 markers. If either of the two members who exactly match the GF2a MH37 test out to 111 markers this will help clarify whether or not member 262693 should belong in the group. 
  • Of note, 262693 shares many similar marker values to the previous member (155650) and they may eventually form their own genetic family. Member 155650 is likely to be an NPE due to the different surname (Kelley) but is included in this group because the TiP24 score vs GF2a MH37 is 96% (GD 4/37). Alternatively, the common ancestor could be prior to the common usage of surnames. It would be interesting to see if this family had a history of a possible name change along their direct male line.
  • Several additional members were added following a review of their GD from member 262693 and the GF2a MH37: 
    • 166772, Farrell 
      • GD 7/67, and TiP24 of 96% cf 262693
      • GD 6/37, and TiP24 of 83% cf GF2a MH37 (67960) 
    • 123181, Farrell 
      • GD 5/67, and TiP24 of 97% cf 262693 
      • GD 5/37, and TiP24 of 91% cf GF2a MH37 (67960) 
    • 237657, Ferrell 
      • GD 8/67, and TiP24 of 82% cf 262693 
      • GD 5/37, and TiP24 of 78% cf GF2a MH37 (67960) – this participant actually falls just below the threshold for inclusion but has been included for the moment 
    • 204990, Farrell 
      • GD 9/67, and TiP24 of 80% cf 262693 
      • GD 6/37, and TiP24 of 93% cf GF2a MH37 (67960) 
  • It must be borne in mind that the above additional members may be examples of convergence (given the relatively greater distance from 262693 and GF2a MH37) 
  • The group members are very widely dispersed around the MH37 for this group and in fact none of the members are an exact match for the MH, lending support to the possibility that they have been wrongly grouped together. The minimum GD between any two members is 1/37 and the maximum GD is 9/37, further emphasising that they are not a tight-knit group and some or all members may eventually be reallocated to another group. 
  • Possible “rare” marker values: none obvious 
  • The terminal SNP’s for the group members are consistent, with P312 (subclade R1b1a2a1a2) being downstream of both L23 (subclade R1b1a2a) and M269 (subclade R1b1a2) - see
  • This subgroup does not have a dominant surname: Farrell (x3), Ferrell (x1), Farley (x1), Kelley (x1) 

R1b-Genetic Family 3 (R1b-GF3)
  • The modal haplotype is represented by member 176224 (an exact match) 
  • The other Ferrel member (91040) differs from the MH37 by a GD of 1 
  • The third member of the group (319357) has the surname Burk and also differs by a GD of 1 from the MH, with a TiP24 score of 99% so it is likely that this person has an NPE in their ancestral line. 
  • Possible “rare” marker values: 
    • DYS449 is 26 (occurs in only 1.7% of the general population, and only 0% of R1b – see 21st table – so this is very rare) 
  • The terminal SNP’s for the group members are consistent, with L21 (subclade R1b1a2a1a2c) being downstream of P312 (subclade R1b1a2a1a2) - see
  • In fact, all 3 members appear to list the same MDKA (or at least the same MDKA location), which supports the idea that this third member has an NPE somewhere on his father’s father’s father’s line. 
Click for larger image

R1b-Genetic Family 4 (R1b-GF4) 
  • The modal haplotype is represented by member 307389 (an exact match) 
  • The members differ from the MH37 by a GD of 2 or 3/37 and from each other by a maximum GD of 5/37. The TiP24 score for these latter two members (167989 and 108691) is 92%. 
  • Member 108691 bears the surname Vance and is probably an NPE (GD from MH37 = 2) or is connected to the group via a common ancestor who existed prior to the common usage of surnames. 
  • All 4 members in this group have tested out to 67 markers so more comprehensive comparisons can be made. At this 67-marker level, the members differ from the MH67 by a GD of 1 to 4/67, and from each other by a maximum of 6/67, with the TiP24 score (at 67 markers) for the most distant individuals being 97%. 
  • Possible “rare” marker values: none obvious 
  • The terminal SNP’s for the group members are consistent, with L21 (subclade R1b1a2a1a2c) being downstream of both M269 (subclade R1b1a2) and M173 (subclade R1) - see
  • No surname variant predominates in this group (Ferrell, Farris, Farrell, & Vance). This may change as more people upgrade their results to 37 markers and as new members join the project and are allocated to groups. 
Click for larger image

Following this initial allocation of project members to new genetic families, singletons [4] (with at least 25 markers tested and with a Farrell surname or variant) were assessed for closeness to any of the existing genetic families above or to any particular individuals. This process revealed one final genetic family (R1b-GF5) as detailed below. 

R1b-Genetic Family 5 (R1b-GF5)
  • There are only 2 members in this group. 
  • The modal haplotype is represented by member 20515 (a GD of 1/37) 
  • The other member (297075) differs from the MH37 by a GD of 3/37, and they differ from each other by a GD of 4/37. 
  • The TiP24 score between these 2 members is 98%, supporting their allocation within the same group. 
  • Possible “rare” marker values: 
    • DYS448 is 18 (occurs in only 8.2% of the general population, and 16% of R1b so this is reasonably rare) 
  • Both members have the same terminal SNP, namely L159 (subclade R1b1a2a1a2c1e1) – see
  • It is quite conceivable that the surnames in this group (Farley & Farrelly) are variants of each other. 
  • Both members give their country of ancestral origin as Ireland but the MDKA information needs updating with specific locations. 
Click for larger image

Next time ... in about 3 weeks - I'm going on vacation to Trinidad for Carnival (smiley face) ... we'll be looking at those members who remain Ungrouped and what can be done to get them out of there and into a genetic family!

[1] The modal haplotype is a fabricated haplotype. It consists of the most frequently occurring value for each individual marker among the haplotypes of the members of a given group. It can be seen in the Colorized View of the Y-DNA Results below the minimum and maximum haplotypes (indicated by MIN and MAX respectively). It is likely to be an exact match or very close match to the haplotype of the common ancestor for that particular group.

[2] To use the McGee Utility, I exported the Y-DNA results as an .xml file (click on Export to Spreadsheet), opened Excel, clicked Open File and chose the .xml file, deleted columns 2-5 so that just the kit numbers in the first column were left, followed by the marker values for each of the individual markers, then I broke the multi-copy markers out into separate columns (using the text to columns function), unchecked the markers after DYD565 (which is the last one that corresponds with FTDNA’s panel), copied the entire table (without the marker headings) and pasted it into the box indicated, & clicked Execute. You can watch it on a YouTube video by clicking here.

[3] The threshold for inclusion of a member based on TiP24 scores varies from project to project. Some Administrators use a threshold of 60%, others 80%. I initially used a 60% threshold for same surname members, and a 95% threshold for non-same-surname members (i.e. possible NPEs).

[4] i.e. project members who had not yet been allocated and who remained in the Ungrouped category

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Reasons for grouping into Genetic Families - E, G, I & R1a

- the rationale behind the allocation of people to each of the new Genetic Families

There are 4 haplogroups represented in the project (E, G, I, and R). A haplogroup is simply a group of people with a similar genetic signature. There are 20 Y-DNA haplogroups altogether, named after the letters A through S. Each of these haplogroups can in turn be subdivided into smaller and smaller subgroups (or “subclades”). And all of these groups can be placed on an evolutionary tree (the haplotree) that summarises the evolution of the human Y-DNA signature from its earliest origins in Africa to its arrival in Europe about 45,000 years ago, and Ireland about 13,000 years ago.

Genetic Families can be considered the smallest subgroups of this evolutionary tree - the final twigs on the branches of the haplotree.

But to start with, let’s take a look at each of these major haplogroups in turn, and the genetic families that have been identified within each one.

 The 20 Haplogroups on the Y-DNA Haplotree (from FTDNA)

Haplogroup E and G

The members belonging to these haplogroups are singletons (i.e. no close matches within the project) and have been allocated to the “Ungrouped (non-R)” category.

Haplogroup I

Of the 7 members in Haplogroup I, four have been grouped into 2 distinct genetic families and the remaining 3 are ungrouped singeltons.

I1-Genetic Family 1 (I1-GF1)

  • The 2 members of I1-GF1 both bear the surname Farrell.
  • They differ from each other by a GD of 0/37 and 1/67, which indicates a very close relationship between the two individuals, possibly as close as second or third cousins.
  • The TiP24 score [1] is 100%. In fact, their TiP Report suggests that there is a 95% chance that the common ancestor was born sometime within the previous 8 generations (which equates to sometime after about 1700 assuming 30 years between generations and a date of birth of the participants of about 1940).
  • Possible “rare” marker values: none obvious
  • The terminal SNP [2] for both these members is I-L205, placing them in the following subclade of the ISOGG Y-DNA tree 2015: I1a1b2 (see
  • Their MDKA information does not list any specific locations but further research may reveal that their MDKAs were born in the same area.
  • Given the estimated closeness of their relationship, these participants should share their genealogical data and try to ascertain who is their common ancestor or where he may have come from.

I1-GF1 and I1-GF2 (click to enlarge)

I1-Genetic Family 1 (I1-GF2)

  • The 2 members of I1-GF2 share the surname O’Farrell.
  • They have been grouped together despite the fact that member 103146 appears to have some trouble with his results. Specifically, some marker values are missing (the multi-copy markers DYS459, DYS464, and CDYa & b). I’m assuming that this is a technical issue. If one ignores these marker values, the two haplotypes are identical and therefore have been grouped together.
  • The TiP24 score for these two members is only 51% but this may be due to the technical error with the marker values (or alternatively they may be incorrectly grouped together). I will check with FTDNA and see if the error can be corrected. If the corrected data shows that the two haplotypes (i.e. genetic signatures) are identical, then these two individuals are probably very closely related and may share a common ancestor within the last 8 generations or so (i.e. since 1700).
  • Possible “rare” marker values: none obvious
  • The terminal SNPs for these two members are consistent, with P109 (subclade I1a1b1) being downstream of M170 (Hg I) - see
  • The country of origin of both these members MDKA (Most Distant Known Ancestor) is given as Ireland (see Results in Classic mode). However, all other MDKA data is missing completely for one member and there are no locations mentioned for the second member, so it is not currently possible to see if the MDKAs for these two members came from the same part of Ireland. Both members should update their MDKA data accordingly.

Haplogroup R1a

The 2 members who belong to Hg R1a now form a distinct genetic family, namely R1a-Genetic Family 1 (R1a-GF1 for short).

  • Their surnames (Farr & Farrar) could well be variants of each other.
  • They differ by a GD of 4/37.
  • On the TiP calculator, the TiP24 score is 96.96% supporting the placement of these 2 members within the same genetic family.
  • Possible “rare” marker values:
  • DYS19 is 16 (occurs in only 10.6% of the general population, but 38% of the R1a population so this is not really rare)
  • DYS439 is 10 (occurs in only 8.5% of the general population, but 77% of the R1a population so this is not really rare)
  • DYS448 is 21 (occurs in only 15% of the general population, and only 2% of the R1a population so this is rare, and its presence in both individuals supports their being grouped together)
  • The terminal SNP’s for these two members are consistent, with Z93 (subclade R1a1a1b2) being downstream of M512 (subclade R1a1a) - see
  • The members of this group are probably not very closely related to each other as the TiP tool estimates a 90% chance of a common ancestor within the last 20 generations approximately (91.77% in fact). That would mean that there is a roughly 90% chance that the common ancestor was born some time after 1340 (if one allows 30 years per generation and a dob of the members of about 1940). Equally, there is a 10% chance that their common ancestor was born before 1340 (approximately). Nevertheless, these members should share their genealogical data and try to ascertain who is the common ancestor or where he may have come from. If one or both of them have an extensive pedigree then they might get lucky.

R1a-GF1 (click to enlarge)

Next week we’ll take a look at the largest haplogroup within the project, Hapolgroup R1b, and the 5 genetic families that belong to it.

[1] The TiP24 score is the value obtained from the TiP Report at 24 generations with the following settings: 1) comparison set to the 37-marker level; 2) default settings (i.e. they do not share a common ancestor more recently than 1 generations ago; display every 4 generations). In this situation, the TiP Report is not being used to estimate the time to most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) but rather as a more accurate estimate of relative closeness than merely GD. This is because GD does not take into account the variable mutation rates of markers whereas the TiP Report does. This technique was developed by James Irvine and is used in his Clan Irwin Surname DNA Study (

[2] There are two types of marker on all chromosomes - SNP markers and STR markers. STR markers are the row of numbers you see on the Results page. SNP markers are a different type of marker and are used to subdivide members of a haplogroup into smaller and smaller subgroups/subclades. The terminal SNP is the marker that identifies the current end of a particular branch of the haplotree. More SNP markers will be discovered in time that will identify additional (smaller) subgroups further “downstream” from the current “terminal SNP”. In other words, the “terminal SNP” changes over time as more markers are discovered and their position on the haplotree is clarified.