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The O'Hourihane, Hor(ri)gan
Han(d)rahan, and Horan DNA Projects

Project Report November 2012. #1.

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FTDNA is having a winter sale through December 31, 2012. Now is a good time to upgrade your markers if they are not up to at least 67.

The O'Hourihane DNA project was launched August 2012 and we now have six members. (There is a seventh member pending but for some reason the kit - with Y-DNA results already completed - is not showing up in the FTDNA project administration interface.) Four are A-DNA Testers and three are Y-DNA testers. Our three Y-DNA testers fall into the R1b* super-haplogroup. More below.

Testers are represented on maps as follows. Yellow denotes an A-DNA tester, blue denotes a Y-DNA tester, and green denotes a tester who has taken both.

Website Updates

A second count of surnames of interest out of Griffith's Valuation was completed and the surname distribution map has been updated. Overall, a number of duplicates have been weeded out (e.g., two people with the same name in the same townland). Proportions of surnames have changed somewhat but have maintained the same relationships relative to each other. The province of Munster, minus Waterford, plus the country of Galway are represented. As time permits, I will try and expand that coverage to Waterford and further north. We will have to live with a map lop-sided towards south Ireland for now.

With surname distribution, I would expect gradually increasing or decreasing clines across the map. That is largely the case, with the exception of the Han(d)rahan and Hor(ri)gan names. Han(d)rahan is plentiful in the Limerick/Tipperary area but drops off steeply in Cork. Conversely, Hor(ri)gan is plentiful in Cork/Kerry, and drops off steeply in Limerick/Tipperary. This could be an illustration of how one surname gets "lost" upon absorption into another, but we don't have the data to know that for sure.

Some news clippings of possible genealogical interest are placed under regional Scrapbook pages linked from the home page.

After a consultation with a professional genealogist with well over a decade of Y-DNA testing experience, the Y-DNA testing guide for Ireland has been revised. The upshot is that a test of 37 markers usually doesn't tell us enough, and 67 markers is strongly recommended as a minimum number of markers to test.

Autosomal DNA Results

All four A-DNA testers have ancestry from the civil parish of Caheragh in West Cork. Test kits #248002 and #N73108 match. The common match is presumed to be based on O'Hourihanes from Cloghane Beg, Cloghane More, and Bawnishal, along the southern edge of the parish on the west side. Taking the test and expecting to find a match was a gamble. Two testers sharing triple-great-grandparents (i.e., testers are fourth cousins) have maybe a 50% chance of matching. The shared ancestry between these two kits goes back further.

Kit #253758 has Hourihane ancestry from Bauravilla, which is situated just east of R593, the road that runs from Skibbereen to Drimoleague. The ancestral family eventually moved to Inchinagotagh, outside of Skibbereen. #253758 does not match the Cloghane kits. However that would not rule out the possibility that the Hourihanes from Bauravilla were not related to the ones further southwest, but we need many more data samples before A-DNA can tell us about a relationship between Cloghane and Bauravilla through Hourihanes.

Kit #171005 has Horrigan ancestry from the Skibbereen area, possibly from Skeams East in Aghadown parish. This kit matches #253758 but not the first two kits. These latter two kits share other ancestral surnames, so it is not yet completely clear how they match. If this tester had a male Horrigan relative who is willing to do a Y-DNA test, it would be a wonderful addition the project.

These four A-DNA kits are grouped together as the "Skibbereen Cluster" on the A-DNA page.

Y-DNA Results

See also: Irish Haplogroups and Haplotypes

You will hear "modal haplotype" mentioned over and over in relationship to Y-DNA testing. Recall from that statistics class that you might have taken that a mode is a value that occurs the most frequently in a list of numbers. So the mode of the list of numbers [11, 11, 12, 13, 14, 11, 11] is 11. The Atlantic Modal Haplotype (AMH) is a frequently occurring set of six values in males particularly of Western European descent. The Western Atlantic Modal Haplotype (WAMH) is a frequently occurring set of 12 values in males with Western European descent, etc. A modal haplotype is a set of alleles that occur most frequently in a population.

A caveat in regard to haplotypes: Due to the randomness of mutations, it is entirely possible that a particular set of alleles can appear in more than one haplogroup, and that two DNA testers could carry the same alleles but belong to different groups. (This is analogous to a physical feature, like red hair, appearing in unrelated families.) However at this stage of the project, this is not a concern.

– Haplogroups/Haplotypes –

Back to our three Y-DNA testers, kits #164120, #253758, and #255002. R* is a branch stemming off the tree trunk representing the family of man. R1b* is a branch off of R*. By FTDNA's estimate, all our members branch off of R1b1a2* (labeled M-269), roughly equivalent to a Western Atlantic Modal haplotype. This is good to know, because they are now immediately delineated from the many men in the British Isles who are on the I1 branch, which is believed to be of Scandinavian origin. So far, there are no Viking surprises. R1b*, with strong Spain and Ireland roots, is where we would expect most Irish men to fall. M-269 is the branch from which all the major Irish R1b-based haplotypes are believed to have been derived.

Kit #Markers Tested Haplogroup Haplotype Name
16412067 R1b1a2a1a1b4 * L-21 - unable to confirm Leinster Modal or Irish Type II
25375812 R1b1a2 (M-269) Western Atlantic Modal
25500237 R1b1a2 (M-269) Western Atlantic Modal

* = Confirmed by FTDNA

– Haplogroup Findings –

–– The Haplogroup Predictor ––

A useful tool is Jim Cullen's Haplogroup Predictor. Try running it a few times on your own data, making sure to reset the predictor between each run.

The tool's predictions of the haplogroups of our testers are as follows:

#253758, with 12 markers, is assigned > 80% probability of belonging to the South Irish (Type II) group. Small probabilities of below 10% are assigned to R1b-Ub, R1b-S21 Scottish2, and R1b-Irish III (Dal Cais).

Mentally, I have been associating Tipperary-originated families with Dal Cais, and I have assumed that some Hourihanes from west Cork started out as Han(d)rahans from Tipperary. However, other than geography (the Thomond region of Munster) there is no data in particular on which to base these assumptions. While it is too soon to completely discard them, this one data point does not support those assumptions.

#164120, with 67 markers, and which has tested positive for SNP L21, has > 75% probability of belonging to the Leinster group, with origins bordering the Irish Sea (on both sides). However, this kit has tested negative for the L159.2 SNP, as well as a basket of other SNPs. So all I really know at this point is that this kit is at the L21 "junction."

#255002, with 37 markers, has about a 55% probability of belonging to the Leinster group, and > 30% probability of belonging to R1b-S28. The latter is not considered an Irish haplotype, so I favor the first probability. Small probabilities of < 10% are assigned to subclades R1b-Ub and R1b-Frisian. I don't know what these small-probability haplotypes are.

The more significant haplotypes are listed on the Irish Modal Haplotypes page.

–– Other Means of Anticipating Haplogroup ––

There are too few markers tested in #253758 and too many exact matches on those markers to even come to any conclusion based on just match data. A variety of Irish surnames are represented in those matches. The surname Burgess appears a few times in the matches of #255002.

– Genetic Distance and MRCA –

Based on the predicted haplotypes above, one would expect substantial genetic distance between #253758 and #255002 and that is indeed the case. On the other hand, #164120 and #255002 match each other. FTDNA calculations of the chance of a Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) within the past 24 generations (roughly 800 years) are shown in this table.

Probability of a MRCA within 24 Generations

Test Kit/Test Kit #164120 #253758 #255002


For kit #164120, the ancestor Charles Harrigan (b.c. 1812) may have been too young to have been represented in the Tithe Applotment books, though the surname in this form was present in much of Ireland and well represented in Munster, especially Limerick, in this census substitute. There is one Charles Harrigan in Upper Cumber, Londonderry in Griffith's Valuation.

The ancestor of kit #255002, Summet Horgan, is represented on the participant map in the ocean off of Skibbereen, because we don't know where he is from. A search of several genealogy sites has come up empty. Thinking like a bad record transcriber, it might be useful to think of men's names starting with S: Samuel, Simon, Simeon, Sonny, Stephen, Sylvester. Initial S- and L- names are often confused for each other so it might be worth looking at men's names starting with L- too. The project surname distribution map would suggest that Cork and Kerry would be the best places to look for this ancestor. That is assuming that the Horgan ancestor lived at about the relevant time of the distribution map; Griffith's Valuation is a very recent event in the big scheme of things. The map is also weighted towards south Ireland in its current state. In light of the haplogroup prediction, this ancestral Horgan may have come from further north.

– Further Testing –

What to test further depends on goals. If budget is a major consideration for you, FTDNA strongly recommends not purchasing more testing than you need.

To meet the goals of this project – distinguish between different family groups, link family lines together, aid people with their genealogy within the last few centuries, trace family lines back a bit further, and to look at our list of surnames of interest and identify those masquerading as others in the list – then Y-DNA 67, and maybe Y-DNA 111 will serve our immediate purposes.

Deep Clade testing looks at SNPs and carves out very ancient haplogroups, which would not normally meet those needs. However, in light of earlier comments about the randomness of mutations, knowledge of a tester's haplogroup is a great guide when placing people into groups. And it is probably more economical to order one Deep Clade test rather than trying to pick out individual SNP tests. At this time there is no need for additional Deep Clade testing and I would vastly prefer to see more members in the project with more refined STR results.

An advantage to waiting on Deep Clade testing is to see what members who have done Deep Clade testing show up in the project. You might match them very well. It is also worth waiting for developments from FTDNA in terms of what it will do in conjunction with National Geographic and its Geno 2.0 project, and see if these organizations will "sweeten the deal" for you later to perform such a test. Testing should not become more expensive, it should become less expensive as time passes. For genealogical purposes it appears that the FTDNA Deep Clade test is more suitable than Geno 2.0, which is more for anthropological purposes. Every once in a while the DNA trees undergo reorganization. There have been Copernican center-of-the-universe style shifts in mtDNA and Y-DNA already. Any debate over whether a branch broke off from another 15,000 YBP or 23,000 YBP or whether a very ancient ancestor came from Anatolia or from Spain or from Sweden is largely irrelevant to your recent genealogy and the genealogy problems you are trying to solve.

If you have taken the Family Finder test (or an autosomal DNA test) you may want to upload your results to GEDMATCH and if you know you have West Cork/Kerry ancestry join that A-DNA project. Instructions on uploading data can be found here. If you are a Y-DNA tester, make sure your data is uploaded to Y-Search.

Next report

Notification of the next project report will be sent out over the Rootsweb email list. If you wish to discuss this report or genealogy research related to the project, sign up for the Rootsweb mailing list and let's discuss it there, as I cannot devote a lot of time answering individual emails.

Have a good holiday and may New Year 2013 be a joyful one!

This email is ONLY for DNA project related questions. The administrators are not an email-forwarding service between non-members and members.
Susan J. Barretta, Project Administrator (or message hourihanedna on
Colm Ó hAnnracháin, Co-Administrator (in training)

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Last updated: Monday, 13-Oct-2014 20:22:20 MDT