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Driscoll DNA Project
Eiderscel, Etersceoil, Eterscél, Edirsgel

A great deal is known about the O'Driscoll of Cork in part because their ancestors were the ruling family of the Corca Laidhe and typically better records are kept for such families. The traditional progenitor of the modern O'Driscoll is Eiderscel, son of Finn, the sixteenth in descent from Lughaidh Maccon, monarch of Ireland. It is estimated Eiderscel was alive circa 942 AD. The DNA project has revealed that not all Driscoll are of the same haplogroup and this in turn means they do not all patrilineally descend from Eiderscel.

According to O'Donovan (Miscellany of the Celtic Society, 1849 ) "Eiderscel was formerly very common as the name of a man denoting interpreter or interlocutor." That being the case it is not unreasonable to think that as surnames came to be there might have been other Eiderscel that resulted in an independent but undocumented genesis of the surname O'Driscoll. More so given that documentation of the day is practically limited to the royal lines. To that end where O'Driscoll are found outside Cork is now examined followed by an inventory taken of the various other Eiderscel that can be found and a survey of DNA types based on the locales where other Eiderscel are found.

Geographic Distribution

The tables below show the distribution of the surname O'Driscoll and variants in Ireland circa 1850s. Using Griffth's Valuation about 80% of all O'Driscoll households are in county Cork and 99% within the province of Munster. Using the 1901 census and limiting the data to male heads of house about 85% of all O'Driscoll are born in Cork and 99% within the province of Munster.

O'Driscoll Households
Griffiths Valuation
Province County Count
Connacht Galway 1
Connacht Mayo 1
Leinster Dublin 4
Leinster Dublin city 2
Leinster Kildare 1
Leinster Wexford 2
Munster Clare 36
Munster Cork 1017
Munster Cork city 56
Munster Kerry 96
Munster Limerick 15
Munster Limerick city 1
Munster Tipperary 8
Munster Waterford 32
Ulster Derry 1
Ulster Donegal 2
Total   1275
O'Driscoll Male Heads of House
1901 Census
Province Birth Place Count
Connacht Galway 1
Connacht Roscommon 1
Leinster Dublin 1
Leinster Dublin City 1
Leinster Kilkenny 2
Leinster Wexford 2
Munster Clare 26
Munster Cork 569
Munster Cork City 27
Munster Kerry 51
Munster Limerick 5
Munster Limerick City 1
Munster Tipperary 2
Munster Waterford 9
Ulster Donegal 1
  Total 699

About 1% of Driscoll households are outside the province of Munster. How they came to be in these other locales is unknown. One reason could be the surname spontaneously appeared in these other locales but by the time of Griffith's Valuation they either left or are on the verge of extinction.

Eiderscel, Etersceoil, Eterscél

The table below lists instances of the name Eiderscel in ancient documents. Of particular interest is that in 773 AD, Edersgel, son of Aedh, son of Colgan, lord of Ui Ceinnsealaigh, died. The Ui Ceinnsealaigh are said to be of Kildare, Wicklow, Carlow and Wexford. Of the 1% living outside Munster in the 1850s are a few in county Wexford in the province of Leinster. Examination of the 1901 census reveals that there are O'Driscoll who were born in Wexford circa 1850. In the registry of deeds for 1719 there is a Thomas Driscoll living in Tintern, County Wexford. So here is at least one example of an ancient Edersgel and some 1850s Driscoll in more or less the same locale.

Citation [Source] Additional [Source] Locale Surnames
Eóganacht Áine  
Cathussach mac Eterscélai son of Eterscél mac Máele Umai [W] Eterscél mac Máele Umai (obit. 721, EA)

Cathussach mac Eterscélai [Eoghanacht Kings of Munster to 963]
Limerick O'Kirby
Eoghanacht Chaisil  
Eterscél mc. Maíl Dúin, rí Cassil, moritur [I] 721 AD, Eterscel son of Mael Dúin, king of Caisel, dies. Tipperary  
  The chief families spread into counties Cork and Kerry with the rise of the Dal gCais dynasty and the arrival of Normans.
[Tribes & Territories of Mumhan]
Cork, Kerry McCarthy, O'Callaghan, O'Sullivan
Eóghanacht Chaisil, Clann Donngaile  
Beirgíne m. Eterscéoil m. Donngaile [R] Clann Faílbe Id Est Clann Donngaile
¶1164] Donnchad m. Domnaill m. Áeda m. Cind Fáelad m. Éoganáin m. Beirgíne m. Eterscéoil m. Donngaile. [R]
Eóganacht Glendamnach  
Eitirscel m. Ceallaigh episcopus Glinne Da Locha [U] ETIKSCEL (edirscel, Eitirscel), son of Ceallach, bishop and abbat of Glendaloch, to. Wicklow, died A.D. 814 (Ann. Ult. A.D. 813; Four Mast. A.D. 808). [DC] Wicklow  
Etirscél mac Ceallaigh, epscop & abb Glinne Dá Locha [A] Eitirscel m. Ceallaigh episcopus Glinne Da Locha, & Cinaedh m. Ceallaigh episcopus & abbas Trelic Moer, obierunt [A]
  Tribes & Territories of Mumhan Cork O'Keefe
Laigen, Uí Ceallaig Cualann  
Eterscel m. Cellaigh Cualann [U] Uí Ceallaig Cualann were on the Dublin/Wicklow border in the foothills of the Wicklow mountains from whom the O'Kelly Wicklow Kelly
Eterscéoil, mac Cellaig Cualann [T] Dalcassian, Irish III DNA
Eittirsgeól, mac Ceallaigh Cualann [A] 86. The "Kelly" (of Wicklow) Family [O]
According to MacFirbis, Main Ma, a younger brother of Cathair Mor, Monarch of Ireland in tbe second century, and who is No. 89 on tbe " O'Connor " (Faley) pedigree, was tbe ancestor of O' Ceallaigh, of Cualan.",
93. Etersceol : his son.
101. Etersceol : son of Ceallach Cualan ; slain, 721
Laigen, Úi Ceinselaig  
Eterscel m. Edha filii Colggen [U] Eterscel, mac Aedha, mic Colgan, tigherna Ua Cennsealaigh, d'ég. Cennselach mac Brain (died 770) was a king of the Uí Cheinnselaig of South Leinster. Kildare, Wicklow, Carlow, Wexford Kavanagh, Kinsella, Murphy, O'Garvey
n-Etersgel, mac Aodha, mic Colgan [A] 765. Sraineadh etir Uí Cennsealaigh, in ro meabhaidh ria n-Etersgel, mac Aodha, mic Colgan, & in ro marbhadh Cennsealach, mac Brain, lais. [A]
Etersceili m. Aedho m. Colggene regis H. Cennselaig [U] 773 Eterscel, mac Aedha, mic Colgan, tigherna Ua Cennsealaigh, d'ég

773, Edersgel, son of Aedh, son of Colgan, lord of Ui Ceinnsealaigh, died.

770 Bellum inter Nepotes Cennselaig ubi cecidit Cennselach m. Brain, & Eterscel m. Edha filii Colggen uictor fuit. [U]
Eterscel, mac Aedha, mic Colgan, tigherna Ua Cennsealaigh [A] Ui Ceinnsealaigh (Hy Kinsella), held nearly all of counties Carlow and Wexford, as well as parts of counties Wicklow and Kilkenny. [Clann Caomhánach ]

Hy Felimy, who after the tenth century took the family name of O’Murcada (now Murphy) [G]
Duibghiolla, mac Eittirsceóil, tighearna Ua c-Ceinnsealaigh [A] Uí Cheinnselaig Descended from Labraid Laidech, son of Bressal Bélach, son of Fiachu Baicced, son of Cathair Mór. [TL]
Laigen, Úa Máil  
Muaich mc Etersceóil mc Áengusa Ailchi Genelach Úa Maine.
¶348] Trí mc Seanaich mc Cáirtind Muaich mc Etersceóil mc Áengusa Ailchi mc Fheargusa Forcraid mc Thuathail Tigich mc Maine Máil .i.{facsimile page & column 125a} Áed, Erníne, Cillíne. Eirníne a quo Úi Sluagdae, Úi Máele, Úi Émíne. [R]

O'Tighe [TL]
Wicklow O'Tighe
Southern Uí Néill, Etarscél, king of Loch Gabair (Brega) 
Diarmait m. Etersceili, ri Locha Gabhor [U] 677 A battle between Fínnachta and the Laigin at Loch Gabair, with mutual slaughter, but nevertheless Fínnachta was the victor. [FA] Meath Ó Tighearnaigh, Tierney
Diarmaid mac Eidirsceli rí Locha Gabar [CS] Cath Cille h. nDaigre re nAodh Finnliath mac Nell ri Teamrach & re Concupar mac Taidg rí Connacht .i. uiii. Id. Septembir oc Cill h. nDaigre for Aibh Nell Breg & for Laignib & for slúgh mór do Gallaibh .i. tri ced no ní as uille; coig míle do Flann mac Conaing & aen míli d'Aedh Finnliath; in quo bello ceciderunt Flann mac Conaing rí Bregh uile et Diarmaid mac Eidirsceli rí Locha Gabar et Gaill iomdha do marbadh ann & Factna mac Maeiliduin rigdomna an Fhochlai do-rocair a frithguin an catha.
Diarmaid, mac Etersceoil, tigherna Locha Gabhar [A] The battle of Cell Ua nDaigri won by Áed Finnliath son of Níall, king of Temair, and by Conchobor son of Tadc, king of the Connachta, that is, on the 8th of the Ides of September, at Cell Ua nDaigri, against the Uí Néill of Brega and against the Laigin, and against a great army of foreigners, that is, three hundred or more. Five thousand with Flann son of Conaing, and one thousand with Áed Finnliath; in which battle Flann son of Conaing, king of all Brega, and Diarmait son of Etarscél, king of Loch Gabair fell, and many foreigners were killed there; and Fachtna son of Máel Dúin, prince of Fochla, fell in the counter-attack of the battle. 868 AD [V]
Dal Fiatch. Edirsgal
Bee Boirche had twelve sons, viz., Edirsgal, o quo the Kinel Edirsgal [EA] The Inquisition of William de Burge, A.D. 1333, gives the name Edrescall to a tract of land between Ballyoran and Holywood, in the N.E. of the county Down [EA]

Bee Boirche d. 716 AD [EA]
Down Dunleavy, Haughey, McNulty
Dal Riada, Eterscél Mór  
{MS folio 22b}Mór hua Iair. is é ro marbsat Lagin i nAlinn. & Conaire Mór mac Etersceóil. & Conaire mac Moga Lama. clíamain Cuind .i. athair na tri Carpre .i. Corpre Musc a quo Muscraige. & Corpre Baschaín The Cairpre Moso here mentioned was son of Conaire, son of Mug Lama, of the Degaidian race of Munster, [EB]

Conaire Mór was High King of Ireland circa 1st-century BC [W]

The author of Carbrice Notitia is certainly in error, when he writes that O'Driscoll is descended from Conaire Mor son of Eiderscel, monarch of Ireland. [M]
Antrim Campbell, Ferguson, Livingston, MacLea, McGregor, McRae
2825] Tráig Brenaind fona fiachaib. Conid desin ro lensom Fiacha Fer Mara. Ocus gabsat a chland ríge Herend & Alban .i. Eterscél Pedigree of the Kings of Scotland
Genelach Ríg N-Alban
...Cairpre m. Conaire Móir m. Eterscéla m. Éogain m. Ailella Áin m. h-Éir ... [R]
Fianna, Etersceoil Temhrach  
An céd-bhliadhain do Conall Collamrach, mac Etersceoil, 'na righ ós Erinn. M4880 Iar m-beith cúig bliadhna h-i righe n-Ereann do Conall Collamrach, mac Etersceoil Temhrach, mic Eathach Ailtlethan, do-rochair lá Nia Sedhamain. [A]    
Eterscel .ui. bliadna. Tri mc. la h-Eochach .i. Laebhcor & Eterscel temra & Aenghus tuirmech. Conall Collamrach, son of Eterscél Temrach, son of Eochaid Ailtlethan...killed by Nia Segamain [W]

Conall Collamrach was High King of Ireland circa 3rd-century BC [W]

Haplogroup Distribution


There are some specific DNA signatures associated with some of the Eiderscel locations in the table above. R1b-Leinster is associated with the Laigen but no Driscoll are of this type. The Dal Riata are R1b-Scots and having invaded Scotland are found there in large numbers; no Driscoll are of this type and there are hardly any Driscoll born in Scotland. The Southern Uí Néill are related to Neil of the Nine Hostages and are R-M222, there is in fact one Driscoll known to be of this type. The Eoghanacht have a connection to R1b-South Irish and about 25% of all Driscoll are of this type.

The main reason for so many different DNA signatures is interbreeding or non-paternal events due to such reasons as assimilation and conquering between tribes. No doubt the tribes' were heterogeneous long before scribes and poets started tracking genealogies. Herein a case as been made that an independent genesis of the name Driscoll from that of that of the traditional progenitor is a possibility as well.

This page was last modified: Sunday, 25-Aug-2013 15:19:50 MDT

Susan J. Barretta, Administrator Colin Ferguson, Co-Administrator

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