Breassal Breac DNA. Recent Y-chromosome DNA tests at Family Tree DNA show a similarity in DNA between men with the surnames O'Dwyer and Ryan. A 17th century history of Ireland connects these two names genealogically in Munster and ultimately back to Leinster. People with other names have been found to have this DNA as well: Carroll/McCarvill, Lee/Leary, Kennedy/Cannady, Gorman, Keogh/Cahoo. People who have this DNA are invited to join the Breassal Breac Project at FTDNA.
Background. Edmond Carroll, great grandfather of my wife Marilyn Carroll Biggins, was born in 1835 in County Limerick. He was baptized on February 17 at St. Patrick's Church in Ballyneety, which is in Donoughmore Parish in the Diocese of Limerick. In 1861, Edmond Carroll married Catherine Higgins in Herbertstown, County Limerick. Edmond worked as a slater in Stonepark. In 1880, Edmond and Catherine emigrated with their seven children to Chicago.
In 2011, Edmond's great great grandson, Michael Patrick Carroll, had his Y-chromosome DNA tested by Family Tree DNA. His DNA did not match the more common Carrolls of Oriel, Ely Carroll, or Carrolls of Niall of the Nine Hostages. He did, however, match a small group of Carrolls, as well as people named Ryan, O'Dwyer, Lee/Leary, Kennedy/Cannady, Gorman, Keogh/Cahoo.
An historical connection has been found between O'Dwyer, Ryan, Gorman, Carroll, and Lee/Leary. There are other names that are historically connected to these names but none have been found to have the same DNA. This could be due to a mistake in the history or the small proportion of people who have had their DNA tested at 67 markers.
Ancient Laigin and Osraighe. Dennis Walsh reviews the history, geography, and genealogy of Ireland, with a special focus on ancient and medieval Irish tribes and septs. He covers two geographic areas in the ancient kingdom of Leinster where the ancestors of people with Breassal Breac DNA came from in Ireland:
- Laigin. O'Dwyer, Ryan, Lee/Leary, Kennedy/Cannady, Gorman, Keogh/Cahoo come from this area.
- Osraighe. O'Carroll of Ossory come from this area. Ossory is an anglicized form of the Irish name Osraighe.
John O'Hart. In his Irish Pedigrees; or, the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation, published in 1892 (fifth edition), Volume I, John O'Hart ties together the ancient genealogies of Ryan, O'Dwyer, Carroll/McCarvill, Lee/Leary, Kennedy/Cannady, Gorman, Keogh/Cahoo. The following table is in two parts. Under the title "Descendants of Breassal Breac," the table shows how these names stem from Breassal Breac, King of Leinster around 200 or 100 BC. Under the heading "Men with Breassal Breac DNA," the table lists the kit number and name of men who have what we call Breassal Breac DNA.
|76. Breassal Breac: son of Fiacha Fobrug. Had two sons—1. Lughaidh, 2. Conla, between whom he divided his territory: Leinster and Ossory. O'Hart 640.
|77. Lughaidh (Luv): eldest son of Breassal Breac. Ancestor of the Kings, nobility, and gentry of Leinster, all the territories on the north side of the river Barrow, from Wicklow to Drogheda. O'Hart 640.
85. Cu-Corb: son of Mogh Corb; King of Leinster. Had four sons—1. Niadh Corb. 2. Messincorb. 3. Cormac. 4. Cairbre Cluitheachar. O'Hart 641.
|77. Conla: son of Breassal Breac. Ancestor of the Kings, nobility, and gentry of Ossory, he gave the south part, from the said river to the sea. O'Hart 640 and 449.
110. Cearbhall: son of Dermod; the 15th King of Ossory. Anglicized Carroll. Lived around the year 900 AD. O'Hart 450
111. Braonan: son of Cearbhall; a quo O'Braonain, anglicized O'Brenan, Brenan, and Brenon. O'Hart 450
114. Giolla - Padraig; a quo Mac-Giolla Padraig. O'Hart 450
119. Connor, who settled in Thomond, and who was the ancestor of Fitzpatrick, of Limerick and Clare. O'Hart 450
|86. Niadh Corb. O'Hart 641.
89. Cathair Mor: son of Felim Fiorurglas; the 109th Monarch of Ireland, in the beginning of the second century. O'Hart 641.
|86. Cairbre Cluitheachar: youngest son of Cucorb. This Cairbre went into Munster, where his grandfather Conair Mor, the 97th Monarch of Ireland, gave him the territory after him called Dal Cairbre, meaning "The lands of Carbery." O'Hart 430.
93. Ferruith: son of Inneach. O'Hart 431.
|90. Daire: son of Cathair Mor. O'Hart 655.
104. Gorman. The Gormans were originally located in Leinster. After their expulsion from Leinster, shortly after the English invasion, they were granted by O'Brien, Prince of Thomond, a territory in the barony of Ibrickan, co. Clare, where they settled. O'Hart 655.
|90. Fiacha Baicheda: youngest son of Cathair Mor. O'Hart 761
||94. Finchadh: son of Ferruith. O'Hart 431.
96. Luighneach. O'Hart 431.
|94. Armborah: son of Ferruith. O'Hart 515.
98. Macliagh (" mac:" Irish, bright; "liagh, a physician): son of Olchon. Anglicised MacLea and Lee. O'Hart 515. O'Hart does not mention it, but Leary and Leahy could be variants of Lee.
93. Dunlong: son of Enna Niadh. O'Hart 761
98. Eochaidh of Leinster, son of Muredach, was the ancestor of Keogh of Leinster. O'Hart 505, 420, 553
100. Seigne, son of Brandubh; was the ancestor of O'Muircatha; anglicized Murphy. O'Hart 761
108. Bran Fionn, son of Maolmordha; the 42nd King; a quo O'Brain, anglicized O'Byrne. O'Hart 612
108. Righin ("righin:" Irish, sluggish, dilatory): son of Dubhghall. Anglicised Mulrian, O'Ryan, Ryan, and Ryne. Lived around 900 AD. O'Hart 775, 761 and 553. The O'Ryans were styled princes of Hy-Drona, and were the stock of the O'Ryans who had extensive possessions in Tipperary. O'Hart 838.
|93. Brian Leth-dearg a quo Ui Briuin Cualan (or O'Brien of Cualan). O'Hart 761.
O'Cosgraidh, or O'Cosgrave, was a chief of Cualan. O'Hart 837
103. Faolin, the 18th King of Leinster, who d. 734, and a quo Ui Faolain or O'Felan of Cualan. O'Hart 762
109. Tuathal, King of Liffe: son of Ugaire; a quo O'Tuathail, anglicized O'Toole; d. 956. O'Hart 763
|97. Luchair. O'Hart 431.
103. O'Dwyer. O'Hart 431.
107. Padraic O'Dwyer, Lord of Kilnamanagh, county Tipperary. O'Hart 431.
|97. Greallan. O'Hart 431.
105. O'Dwyer of Kilnamanagh. O'Hart 432.
Men with Y5058 DNA
Men with Z255 DNA
It is possible that Breassal Breac had Z255 DNA instead of Y5058. The surnames below are supposed to be descended from Breassal Breac, but have Z255 DNA instead of Y5058. See Z255 Project and Alex Williamson's
Big Tree. Z255 DNA has also been called Leinster DNA and Irish Sea DNA.
Men with FGC5494 DNA
It is possible that Breassal Breac had FGC5494 DNA instead of Y5058 or Z255. The surnames below are supposed to be descended from Breassal Breac, but have FGC5494 DNA instead of Y5058. See L21 Project and Alex Williamson's
Breassal Breac Map. The Ryans and O'Dwyers are originally from Leinster but migrated to Tipperary, possibly around the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion in the latter part of the 12th century. The Breassal Breac Map provides some idea of the geographical distance among the people named Ryan, O'Dwyer, Lee/Leary, Kennedy, Gorman, and Carroll.
The Ryans historically are from the baronies of Owney in Co. Tipperary and Owneybeg in Co. Limerick. The central town is Newport in Co. Tipperary. The first mention in history of the O'Ryans is of the O'Ryans of Idrone about the year 1000. Idrone was a medieval barony in Leinster, in what is now County Carlow. The name Idrone derived from the old Gaelic Hy Drona. The chief of this tribe of O'Ryans was generally referred to as the Lord or King of Idrone.
The O'Dwyers historically are from the barony of Kilnamanagh, in the west of county Tipperary. The central towns are Borrisoleigh in Kilnamanagh Upper and Dundrum in Kilnamanagh Lower. The O'Dwyers are originally from ancient Leinster.
Sir Michael O'Dwyer. In 1933, Sir Michael O'Dwyer published a book entitled The O'Dwyers of Kilnamanagh: The History of an Irish Sept. The book is a historical and genealogical treatise detailing the O'Dwyer (Ó Duibhir) noble family who had commanded the area around Thurles from the pre-Norman era until losing their castles and land during the Cromwellian confiscations of the 17th century. Chapter I covers the early history down to the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. Sir Michael O'Dwyer traced his ancestry back to the ancient genealogies of Geoffrey Keating and John O'Hart.
John O'Dwyer, kit 161570, has Y5058 Breassal Breac DNA and traces his ancestry back to Sir Michael O'Dwyer.
Murnane. In 2018, Ruth Murnane Mckindles has her brother Mark Murnane, kit #847110, tested at FTDNA. He was found to have Breassal Breac DNA. In 1991, his cousin Edward D. Murnane wrote a book called It’s Not Such a Long Way to Tipperary: The Story of the Murnane Family of Cappauniac, County Tipperary. Edward was a journalist and traveled with President Reagan.
Geoffrey Keating. The names O'Dwyer and O'Ryan are connected genealogically on page 255 of the John Mahony translation of The History of Ireland, by Geoffrey Keating (1569-1644):
The reader must now be made aware, that all the true Lagenians, of the race of Erimhon, are the descendants of this Labraidh Loingsech, with the single exception of the clan of O'Nuallain, (or O'Nolan,) which is descended from Cobthach Cael Breagh. The following are the principal family names amongst the Lagenians, to wit, O'Connor Falghi, with the branches that have sprung therefrom; O'Cavanagh; O'Toohill (or Toole;) O'Brinn (or Byrne;) Mac Gilla-Patrick or Fitzpatrick; O'Dunn; O'Dimasaigh (or Dempsy;) O'Dwyer; O'Ryan; and all the Septs that trace their origin to any of these names. The chief part of the Leinster clans are descended from Cathaeir Mor, (Caheer Morr.) However, the clan of Mac Gilla-Patrick does not draw its origin from that king; for the race of Mac Gilla-Patrick branched off from the Lagenian stock at Bresal Brec, son of Fiacaidh Fobric, the fourteenth ancestor from Cathaeir upwards. This Bresal had two sons, namely, Lugaidh Lothfinn and Conla. The principality of Leinster was divided between these two, and what lies from the Barrow eastwards fell to Lugaidh and to his posterity, and the part that lies westward, from the Barrow to Slighe Dala (Shlee Dawla) fell to Conla. Of these sons, and of this division made between, these chiefs we find the following testimony in the duan which begins thus, "The blessed Story of the Saints of Fal:"
O'Dwyer and O'Ryan, who are said to be related in the first and last paragraphs, have what we call Breassal Breac DNA. But the other names mentioned in the first paragraph do not (that is, O'Connor, O'Cavanagh, O'Toole, O'Byrne, Fitzpatrick, O'Dunn, Dempsey). This could be due to a mistake in the history or the small proportion of people who have had their DNA tested.
"Lugaidh and Conla, generous hearts,
From Lugaidh descended the O'Dwyers also, who had branched off from the stock of Cathaeir Mor, in the fifth generation before him. Cathaeir Mor was the son of Feidlimidh Firurglas, son of Cormac Gelta-gaeth, son of Niacorb, son of Cucorb. Carbi Cluthecar, from whom the O'Dwyers are sprung, was the son of Cucorb, the last named of these. Again, it was from Nathi, son of Crimthann, son of Enna Kennselach, the seventh generation from Cathaeir downwards, that the O'Ryans sprang.
Were the sons of mighty Bresal Brec;
From Conla of wounds the Osraide came,
And of Laighen, Lugaidh was the sire."
Y-Chromosome DNA. What we call Breassal Breac DNA is Y-chromosome DNA. By testing the Y-chromosome DNA, one can determine the origin of a paternal line. Note that the Y-DNA strictly checks the paternal line, with no influence of any females along that line. Females do not receive the Y-chromosome, and therefore females cannot be tested for the paternal line. If you are a female and would like to know about your paternal line, you would need to have a brother or a male relative from that line to be tested. ((By testing the mtDNA, males and females can determine the origin of their maternal line. Note that the mtDNA strictly checks the maternal line, with no influence of any males along that line. Both males and females receive the mtDNA from the mother.)
Breassal Breac DNA is identified by mutations in the Y chromosome. There are two kinds of mutations: STRs and SNPs.
For more on these mutation types, see DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy.
- STR. Short Tandem Repeat. Markers 481 and 520 are key for Breassal Breac.
- SNP. Single Nucleotide Polymorphism. Y5058 identifies Breassal Breac DNA.
Predicting Breassal Breac DNA with STRs. There are two Y-chromosome STR markers that are fairly unique for Breassal Breac participants who have tested 67 markers.
- Marker 481, the 58th marker, is 24, with a few at 23, 25, 26, and 27.
- Marker 520, the 59th marker, is 21, with a few at 20 and 22.
SNPs. Some people in the database have been tested for Y-chromosome SNPs. A SNP is a "single nucleotide polymorphism," a mutation that occurs very infrequently. The major SNPs are:
Lucas McCaw, administrator of the DF27 Project at FTDNA, has set up several categories for the Y5058 SNP in the DF27 Project.
- DF27. This SNP is downstream of P312. The DF27 SNP, which became available for testing at FTDNA in May 2012, was discovered in the 1000 Genomes Project. It is known to be much broader than the Breassal Breac group. All Breassal Breacs are projected to have the DF27 SNP.
- Y5058. This SNP is downstream of DF27. The Y5058 SNP was discovered in the BIG Y test in 2014.
The following pointers will help to navigate the Breassal Breac Big Y SNP Tree shown in the window below.
- SNPs. SNPs (e.g., Z3000) are single nucleotide polymorphisms, or mutations, found on the Y chromosome of male BIG Y testers. SNPs that are inherited by two or more testers allow the creation of tree branches with named SNPs.
- Alex's Big Tree. Click on a SNP in the table below to see the SNP on Alex Williamson's Big Tree, including tester names and kit numbers, the block of SNPs in which the SNP is included, and the estimated year.
- Testers. After each SNP are the names of Big Y testers whose DNA named the SNP.
- Subgroup. Click on the subgroup after a SNP to see the names of Big Y testers (y) and other members who are predicted to have the SNP. The subgroups are based on surname, genetic distance among group members, and unique STRs. Shown is a matrix of the the 67-STR genetic distances among the members based on the McGee Utility.
- Year. The year shown after a SNP is the estimated year of the most recent SNP in the block of SNPs in which the SNP occurs. A block of SNPs consists of one or more SNPs possessed by all testers who descend from the block. The order of a block's SNPs is unknown. The number of SNPs affects the year estimate. Estimates are made by Alex Williamson using a method developed by Iain McDonald. Estimates are necessarily very rough. Click on the SNP block in Alex's Big Tree to see information about the estimate.
- Unique STRs. Shown after some SNPs are STRs (short tandem repeats) that are unique for that SNP.
- Y5058/A641. Year 152 BC. STR 481=24, 520=21. Part of a large block of 24 SNPs. Shared by all who have Breassal Breac DNA. Downstream of R-M269, P312, and DF27. Probably the SNP of Breassal Breac, who was King of Leinster around 200 or 100 BC
- Y5061. Year 73 BC
- Y38571 SNP. Year 41 AD. Not on FTDNA tree
- M756. Ryan subgroup, Kennedy 1 subgroup. Year 1401 AD. This SNP is fairly recurrent.
- PH3275: Ryan B144574, Ryan 338080. Year TBD
- Unnamed SNP: Butler 155150, Ryan 325245, Dwyer N88747, Ryan B8280, Smith 115560, Ryan B79146, Ryan 349432, Ryan B167367, Ryan N37009, Cannady 207164
- Y19125. Dwyer 1 subgroup. Year 289 AD
- BY42892. Year TBD
- BY67158: O'Dwyer 489156, O'Dwyer 743776. Year TBD
- Unnamed SNP: Foley 79047, Dwyer 144981
- Unnamed SNP: Dwyer 563592
- BY19114. Cosgrove subgroup. Year 164 BC
- BY19115: Unknown 273017, Carew 305367. Year 24 AD
- A13134 SNP. Year 146 BC
- BY19118. Year 808 AD
- BY19121. Cosgrove B52811, Cosgrove 556125. Year 1413 AD
- Unnamed SNP: Cosgrove 331268
- Unnamed SNP SNP: Sheehy B100083, Kelly 182120
- BY61861. Year 178 AD
- Unnamed SNP: Wilkinson 121153
- Unnamed SNP: Kennedy 59497
- Unnamed SNP: Condra 50661. Condra subgroup
- Unnamed SNP: Ryan 472126
- Unnamed SNP: Lynch 446571
- Unnamed SNP: Naughton 145027
|Source: Alex Williamson's
Big Tree. See also
SNPs are listed in the order of their position on the Build 37 human reference genome. SNPS beginning with letters have been named. Continuing in the tradition that SNPs found by the community have the prefix Z, Alex Wlliamson has added Z names for many of the recently found shared SNPs on the tree. The CTS SNPs were discovered by Chris Tyler Smith of The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, a charitably funded genomic research centre located in Hinxton, nine miles south of Cambridge in the UK. The A SNPs were recently named by Thomas Krahn to add names to some new shared SNPs. The F SNPs were named by Li Jin at Fudan University in China. The FGC SNPs were named by the Full Genomes Corp. of Virginia and Maryland. The L SNPs were named by Thomas Krahn in honor of the late Leo Little. The M SNPs were named by Peter Underhill, Ph.D., of Stanford University. The PF SNPs were named by Paolo Francalacci at the Università di Sassari in Italy. PH SNPs were named by Pille Hallast, Ph.D., University of Leicester, Department of Genetics, United Kingdom. The S SNPs were named by James F. Wilson at Edinburgh University in Scotland. The Y SNPs were named by the YFull Team using data from the 1000 Genomes Project.
FTDNA maintans a tree for Y5058 as part of its
Haplotree & SNPs, which is accessible by each tester from his homepage at FTDNA. Click here to view the Y5058 portion of the FTDNA tree as of January 2019.
FTDNA maintans a tree for Y5058 as part of its
Big Y Block Tree, which is accessible by each Big Y tester from his homepage at FTDNA.
A641. In August 2015, FTDNA made a test available for the A641 SNP alone. It is listed in bold in the tree above.
Y5058. In November 2016, FTDNA made a test available for the A641 SNP alone. Y5058 is in the same group of SNPs as A641.
Major Surname Projects. The FTDNA surname projects for the major historical surnames are as follows.
Modal DNA. A 67-marker Breassal Breac modal has been put on Ysearch at: C8WMT. The genetic distances between the people and the 67-marker Breassal Breac modal as of February 2017 ranged from 1 to 12. The mean was 5.3.
Genetic distance occurs because of mutations from one generation to another. If two people are identical in all markers except they are off in one marker by 1 point, the genetic distance would be 1. In other words, they match on 66 of the 67 markers. If they were off at 2 different markers by 1 point in each marker, then the genetic distance of those two samples would be 2. If they are off by 2 points at one marker and 1 point in a second marker, then the genetic distance would be 3. Based on FTDNA practice, the genetic distance for some faster-mutating markers is limited to 1. This method of computing genetic distance is called the hybrid mutation model.
The distances among the participants as of February 2017 ranged from 0 to 19. The distances from the modal range from 1 to 12. These genetic distances are typical of a sept like Breassal Breac.
Evolutionary Tree. The tree below shows how the Breassal Breac members might have branched off from each other over time. It is a PHYLIP tree, prepared by Sean MacGorman Powell, administrator of the Gorman project at FTDNA. The tree is inferrred assuming that the branching occurred in a parsimonious way. The tree is just a very rough estimate of the actual branching points between the testees' lineages. We do not know how the branching actually did occur. The width of the tree is about 850 years, as indicated by the scale of 200 years. (My wife Marilyn's cousin, Michael Patrick Carroll, kit No. 198624, is 13th from the bottom.)
Irish Surnames: Ryan, O'Dwyer, Gorman, Lee/Leary, and Carroll
|Sources for the table below:
- Irish Names and Surnames by Rev. Patrick Woulfe, Dublin,1923. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co. in 1967, 1969, 1993
- Irish Families, Their Names, Arms and Origins by Edward MacLysaght (1887-1986), Irish Academic press, 1957. Revised or reprinted in 1972, 1978, 1985, and 1991
- Irish Times, Irish Ancestors Surname Search, by John Grenham
See also Maurice Gleeson's Ryan Blog
|Ó MAOILRIAGHAIN, Ó MAOILRIAIN—I—O Mulrigan, O Mulryan, O Mulrean, Mulryan, Mulroyan, Mulryne, Mulrine, Mulrain, O'Ryan, Ryan; 'descendant of Maolriain' (follower of Riaghan or Rian); the name of a family of Leinster origin who settled in the 13th or 14th century in Uaithne-tire and Uaithne-cliach, now the baronies of Owney, in Co. Tipperary, and Owneybeg, in the east of Co. Limerick, where they became very numerous and powerful. In 1610, William Ryan surrendered to the. king all his landed property and all his rights of or in the barony of Owney O Mulrian, and received them back by letters patent. The family property was, however, lost in the confiscations of the 17th century. There are many very respectable families of the name in Tipperary and Limerick, and the name itself is very common in these counties. It is to be distinguished from Ó Riain, which see.
Ó RIAGHAIN, Ó RIAIN—I—O Rian, O'Ryan, Ryan: 'descendant of Riaghan,' or 'Rian'; the name of a Carlow family who were lords of Uí Dróna, the present barony of Idrone, and are now numerous through Leinster; to be distinguished from Ó Maoilriain of Munster and Ó Ruaidhín of Connacht, which are both now incorrectly anglicised O'Ryan or Ryan.
Ó RUAIDHÍN—I—O Ruyne, O Royn, O Roen, Rouine, Royan, Rowen, (Ruane, O'Ryan, Ryan); 'descendant of Ruaidhín' (diminutive of ruadh, red); the same as Ó Ruadháin, which see, both forms being used by the same family, and equally common in Connacht. Some of the name have been long settled in Leinster.
|RYAN, O'Mulrian. Ryan is amongst the ten most numerous surnames in Ireland with an estimated population of twenty-seven thousand five hundred. Only a very small proportion of these use the prefix 0. Subject to one exception, to be noticed later in this section, it is safe to say that the great majority of the twenty-seven thousand five hundred Ryans are really O'Mulryans—this earlier form of the name is, however, now almost obsolete: even in the census of 1659 in Co. Limerick Ryan outnumbers Mulryan by about four to one, and to-day there is not one O'Mulryan or Mulryan in the Telephone Director. The sept of O Maoilriain was located in Owney, formerly called Owney O'Mulryan, which forms two modern baronies on the borders of Limerick and Tipperary, in which counties the Ryans are particularly numerous to-day. They do not appear in the records in this territory (formerly belonging to the O'Heffernans) until the fourteenth century, but after they settled there, they became very powerful. Nevertheless they did not produce any really outstanding figures in Irish history or literature, except the romantic character known as Eamonn a 'chnuic, or Ned of the Hill, i.e. Edmond O'Ryan (c. 1680-1724), Gaelic poet, gentleman, soldier and finally rapparee, beloved of the people, though he met his death through the treachery of one of them. Two abbes called O'Ryan were executed during the French Revolution. Luke Ryan (c. 1750-1789), first an officer in the Irish Brigade, made a huge fortune as a privateer, was condemned to death and four times reprieved, and having been cheated out of his money died in a debtor's prison. Many Ryans have distinguished themselves in the United States. Father Abram Joseph Ryan (1838-1886), of a Clonmel family, was poet of the Confederates in the Civil War; another Tipperary man, Patrick John Ryan (1831-1911), was Archbishop of Philadelphia, and Stephen Vincent Ryan (1825-1896) from Clare was Bishop of Buffalo. In other walks of life the most noteworthy Irish-American of this name was Thomas Fortune Ryan (1851-1928), a millionaire who began life as a penniless youth. The Ryans of Co. Carlow and other counties in that part of Leinster, are distinct from those dealt with above, though both are of the race of Cathaoir Mor, King of Leinster in the second century. These are O Riain, not 0 Maoilriain: the chief of this sept was lord of Ui Drona (whence the name of the barony of Idrone in Co. Carlow).
||Ryan. Ryan is today one of the commonest surnames in Ireland. The vast majority of Ryans today are descended from the family of Ó Maoilriagháin, meaning "descendant of a devotee of St. Riaghan". The anglicisation "Mulryan" began to fade as early as the seventeenth century, and is today virtually unknown apart from a few pockets in counties Galway and Leitrim, possibly derived from a different family. As Mulryan it has also been recorded in Spain, among the descendants of Irish émigrés. The surname first appears in the fourteenth century in the barony of Owney, (formerly Owney O’Mulryan) on the borders of counties Limerick and Tipperary, where the Ó Maoilriaghain displaced the O'Heffernans. Even today the surname is highly concentrated in this area. In Carlow and adjoining areas, Ryan may also derive from Ó Riagháin, sometimes confused with Regan. From their origin in the barony of Idrone in Carlow (they were chiefs of the Uí Drone) this family spread widely into the adjoining counties of Wexford and Kilkenny. Members of the Ryan family of Tomcoole in Wexford have been prominent in Irish politics for almost a century, over three generations. The surname was ranked 7th most common in 1890 and 6th in 1996. An educated guess at the total of Ryans in Ireland at present puts their number at something over 28,000. Patrick J. Ryan (1883-1964) emigrated to the U.S., won a gold medal for hammer-throwing for that country in the 1920 Olympics, and then returned to farming in Pallasgreen in Limerick. The record he set in 1913 stood for 25 years. Tony Ryan (1936 - ) has had mixed fortunes as one of Ireland’s leading businessmen. His aircraft leasing company Guinness Peat Aviation was one of the most successful in the world until its virtual collapse in 1992. With his sons, he now controls Ireland’s only independent airline, Ryanair. Richard Ryan (1946 - ) is a distinguished poet and currently Ireland’s ambassador to Korea. John Ryan (1925-1992) had a long and varied career as a broadcaster, painter, publisher and owner of the famous Bailey pub in Dublin, but will be remembered best for his association with Flann O’Brien, Patrick Kavanagh and Brendan Behan.
See also The O'Dwyer Clan
|Ó DUBHUIDHIR—I—O Duvire, O Duire, O'Dwyer, Dwyer, Dwire, &c.; 'descendant of Dubhodhar' (black Odhar); also written Ó Duibhidhir, which see; the name of a Tipperary family, of Leinster origin, who were chiefs of Coill na manach, now the barony of Kilnamanagh, in the west of that county. Philip O'Dwyer and Owen O'Dwyer were exempted from pardon for life and estate in the Cromwellian Act of 1652. Some of the name held high rank in the service of France, Austria and Russia. The name is now common in all the south of Ireland. Ó Duibhidhir is also a Donegal name, but whether or not the family is a branch of that of Tipperary, I am unable to say.
||O'DWYER. The O'Dwyers (in Irish Ó Duibhir, descendant of Duibhir) were an important sept in Co. Tipperary, though not comparable in power or extent of territory with the neighbouring great septs. Their lands were in Kilnamanagh, the mountainous area lying between the town of Thurles and the county Limerick. The O'Dwyers were always noted for their staunch resistance to English aggression and many are recorded in this connexion in mediaeval and early modern times. Coming down to 1798, Michael Dwyer (I771-1816) defied the English Government forces for five years: his end, after being sentenced to transportation following his voluntary surrender in 1803, was to become a policeman in Australia. In our own day, Most Rev. Edward O'Dwyer (1842-1917), the Bishop of Limerick, endeared himself to the people of Ireland by his manly stand on behalf of Sinn Fein and the men of 1916. In America Joseph O'Dwyer (1841-1898) was noted as a pioneer physician, particularly in regard to the treatment of diphtheria. William O'Dwyer (b. 1890) also had a remarkable career: starting as an emigrant labourer from Co. Mayo he became Mayor of New York and one of the most notable of United States ambassadors. A very full account of this sept is given in The O'Dwyers of Kilnamanagh by Sir Michael O'Dwyer.
||O'Dwyer. In Irish the surname is Ó Duibhir or Ó Dubhuidhir, made up of dubh, meaning "dark" or "black" and odhar, meaning "tawny" or "sallow". The resumption of the "O" prefix has now made "O'Dwyer" much the most common version. In 1890 less than 14% of births were recorded as "O’Dwyer", while in 1996 it had reached almost 65%. Their original homeland was in the mountains of west Tipperary, at Kilnamanagh between the modern town of Thurles and the Limerick border, where they held power and resisted the encroachments of the English down to modern times. The surname is still extremely common in this area, but Dwyers and O'Dwyers have now also spread into the neighbouring counties of Limerick, Cork and Kilkenny. There is also now a significant settlement of O’Dwyers in Co. Kerry, where the townland of Ballydwyer in Ballymacelligot parish records their influence.
The book The O’Dwyers of Kilnamanagh (1933), the best history of the family, was written by Sir Michael O’Dwyer, prominent in the Indian civil service for many years. He was held politically responsible for the massacre of Amritsar in 1919 and was assassinated in London by an Indian nationalist in 1940.
In 1890 the surname was the 101st most common in Ireland; today it is ranked 94th.
Joseph O’Dwyer (1841-1898) was a doctor in the U.S., famed for his innovations in the treatment of Diphtheria.
William O’Dwyer was another Irish-American, an emigrant labourer who went . on to become Mayor of New York and United States ambassador.
The most famous bearer of the name in modern times was Michael Dwyer (1771-1825), who took part in the 1798 Rising against the English, and continued his resistance single-handed up to 1803. He was transported to New South Wales, and became High Constable of Sydney.
Rev. Edward O’Dwyer (1842-1917) was a distinguished Roman Catholic Bishop of Limerick.
Mick O’Dwyer (1936 - ) was Gaelic football’s most successful coach. After a career which brought him four All-Ireland medals, he went on as coach to lead Kerry to 8 All-Ireland championships between 1975 and 1986.
||Mac GORMÁIN—IV—M'Gormane, M'Cormaine, MacGorman, Gorman, (O'Gorman); 'son of Gormán' (diminutive of gorm, blue); the name of a Leinster family who were formerly lords of Ui Bairche, in the barony of Slievemargy, in the south-east of the present Leix. Soon after the Anglo-Norman invasion, they were driven from this territory and settled, some in Monaghan, others in the barony of Ibrickan, in West Clare, where they became very numerous. The head of the Clare branch of the family was marshal of O'Brien's forces. Even before the end of the 16th century, the name had spread into the neighbouring counties of Galway, Tipperary and Limerick. O'Gorman has been adopted in modern times, but incorrectly, as the anglicised form by some of the name in Munster; but MacGorman, the more correct form, is still retained in the North.
This name is of particular interest philologically because although it is (with rare exceptions) really a Mac name it is almost always found to-day—when not plain Gorman—as O'Gorman. This can be accounted for by the fact that in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when the native Irish were in complete subjection, the Gaelic prefixes Mac and 0 were universally allowed to fall into disuse, particularly in the case of some names like Gorman; then, when the spirit of the nation revived, these prefixes were gradually restored, but so completely had the form MacGorman fallen into oblivion that its rightful bearers when resuming a prefix assumed the wrong one and became O'Gorman, with the result that MacGormans are hardly to be found at all in Ireland today except in Co. Monaghan. O'Gormans are found chiefly in Co. Clare, while plain Gorman is more usual in Co. Tipperary. The Irish form is Mac Gorma'in (derived from gorm, blue). Originally this sept inhabited the barony of Slievemargy in Co. Leix near the town of Carlow, of which their chief was lord, but they were driven out at the Norman invasion and settled in Ibrickan, West Clare, and in Co. Monaghan. In the former they attained considerable influence and the head of the sept became hereditary marshal to O'Brien of Thomond. The MacGormans of Ibrickan were noted especially in the fifteenth century for their wealth, hospitality and for their patronage of the Gaelic poets.
Probably the man chiefly responsible for the substitution of O for Mac in the name was the celebrated gigantic Chevalier Thomas O'Gorman (1725-1808), exile vineyard owner in France, who, after being ruined by the French Revolution, became a constructor of Irish pedigrees. Several O'Gormans were prominently associated with Irish politics, notably Nicholas Purcell O'Gorman (1778-1857), secretary of of the Catholic Association, and Richard O'Gorman (1820-1895), the Young Irelander. The original name has a place in the roll of distinguished Irishmen, in the early days before the prefix was dropped, in the person of Finn MacGorman who was Bishop of Kildare 1148-1160 and is famous as the compiler of " The Book of Leinster."
Gorman is a relatively common name in England, where it is derived from the Middle English personal name Gormund, from gar, meaning "spear", and mund, meaning "protection". A few Irish Gormans may be of this connection, but in the vast majority of cases in Ireland, the surname comes from the original Irish Mac Gormain, from a diminutive of gorm, meaning "blue". The original homeland was in Co. Laois, in Slievmargy, but they were dispossessed by the Prestons, a Norman family, and removed to counties Clare and Monaghan. The Clare branch became well-known in later years for the extent of their wealth and hospitality, and for their patronage of poetry. From Clare they spread also into the adjoining county of Tipperary. When the native Irish began to resume the old Ó and Mac prefixes to their names in the nineteenth century, the Clare family mistakenly became "O'Gorman", probably following the error of the then best known bearer of the surname, Chevalier Thomas O'gorman (1725-1808), an Irish exile in France. In Tipperary, the name has generally remained "Gorman", while in Monaghan the original MacGorman still exists, along with the other two versions.
|Leahy, Lee, Leary
||Ó LAOCHDHA—I—O Leaghy, O Leahy, Leahy, Leehy, &c.; 'descendant of Laochdha' (heroic); an old Munster surname; now very common in Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary; to be distinguished from Ó Lathaigh, which is sometimes similarly anglicised.
Ó LAOIDHIGH—I—O Loye, O Lye, O Leye, O Lie, O'Lee, Lee; 'descendant of Laoidheach' (poetic); the name of a West Connacht family, who, according to MacFirbis, were chiefs of Ui Briuin Eola. They were also erenaghs of Annadown, and some of them were distinguished as ecclesiastics; but they are best known as a medical family, having been for many centuries hereditary physicians to the O'Flahertys. As early as the 15th century, a learned member of the family produced a most complete course of medicine, written in Latin and Irish. The family is now widely dispersed.
Mac LAOIDHIGH—IV—MacLea, MacLee, Lea, Lee, Leigh; 'son of Laoidheach' (poetic); the name of an old family in Leix.
|O'LEE, MacAlee. Lee is a fairly widespread name in Ireland, but as it is also a very common indigenous surname in England it is impossible to say in the absence of a pedigree, or at least a well-established tradition, whether a family of the name in Ireland is Gaelic in origin or of planter stock. The latter were well established in Co. Tipperary and elsewhere at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Confining our attention to the former it may first be stated that there are four distinct septs to be considered, two O's and two Macs, so that in English we find occasional O'Lees and MacLees side by side with the simple form Lee. Ó Laidhigh is the Connacht form, centered in Co. Galway ; and Ó Laoidhigh the Munster, chiefly associated with Counties Cork and Limerick. MacLaoidhigh belongs to Leix and is written Lea in the census of 1659; and Mac an Leagha to Ulster, anglicized as Lee, MacAlee and MacAlea. Laoidhigh is the genitive case of laoidheach the adjective formed from laoidh (a poem).
The most important of these septs were the O'Lees of West Connacht, best known as a medical family, not only chiefs in their own right but also hereditary physicians to the powerful sept of O'Flaherty. The Lees, indeed, were traditionally doctors by profession, for in addition to the family just mentioned a number of mediaeval medical treatises in Irish and Latin were written by MacLees. The form MacLee was sometimes used by the O'Lees of Connacht, who were also erenaghs of Annaghdown: among the many ecclesiastics of this sept was John O'Lee, notable Dominican Bishop of Killala from 1253 to 1275. Another Father John Lee (b. c. 1560) was an Irish priest prominent in the educational sphere in Paris. He came from a leading family in Waterford, of which city another member of it was Sheriff from 1575 to 1580. Andrew Lee (1650-1734), colonel successively of Clare's and Mountcashel's Regiments, was one of the very greatest soldiers ever to fight for France in the Irish Brigade.
|Lee. In appearance Lee is a common English name, used either for a person who lived near a pasture or meadow, from the Old English lea, or for a person from one of the many places so called, such as Lea in Shropshire, and many bearing the name in Ireland today will be descended from English settlers. In the majority of cases, however, Lee is the anglicised version of a number of original Irish names: Ó Laoidhigh, from laoidheach, meaning "poet" or "poetic", which arose separately in Connacht in west Galway, and in the south in the Cork/Limerick area, and Mac Laoidhigh, ("McLee") from the same stem, which is found in Co. Laois. In Ulster Mac an Leagha ("McAlee"), was also sometimes anglicised as Lee, as was, in Co. Monaghan, Mac an Giolla Eachaidh "(McCloy"). The most historically notable of the families were the O'Lees of Galway, powerful subchieftains under the O'Flahertys.
||Ó CEARBHAILL—I—O Carrowill, O Carwell, O Carvill, O'Carroll, Carroll, Carvill; 'descendant of Cearbhall' (a very common Irish personal name). There are several distinct families so named, of which the following are the best known:
The MacBradys of Cavan are said, but erroneously, to be a branch of this family.
- Ó Cearbhaill of Eile, who derive their name and descent from Cearbhall, lord of Eile, who fought at Clontarf. The head of this family was originally lord of all Eile, which comprised the baronies of Clonlisk and Ballybritt, in the present Offaly, and Ikerrin and Eliogarty, in Co. Tipperary; but after the Anglo-Norman invasion, Ikerrin and Eliogarty became tributary to the Earl of Ormond, and only the portion of Eile subsequently called Ely O'Carroll, remained in possession of O'Carroll, who resided at Birr. This family is now very numerous.
- Ó Cearbhaill, of Oriel. This family is of the same stock as the MacMahons and Maguires, and were chiefs of Oriel until about the period of the Anglo-Norman invasion, when they disappear from history. They are still numerous in Monaghan and Louth.
- Ó Cearbhaill of Loch Lein, anciently chiefs of the Eoghanacht of Loch Lein, the district about Killarney, until dispossessed by the O'Donoghues.
- Ó Cearbhaill of Ossory who are descended from Cearbhall, a celebrated chieftain of Ossory at the middle of the 9th century.
- Ó Cearbhaill, of Tara, a branch of the southern Ui Neill. This family disappeared from history at an early period.
- Ó Cearbhaill of Calry, in Sligo and Leitrim.
Mac CEARBHAILL—IV—M'Carrowle, M'Carvell, M'Carwell, M'Kerwell, MacCarroll, MacCarvill, MacCarville, MacKervel, MacErvel, Carroll, Carvill, (Cardwell); 'son of Cearbhall'; a celebrated family of musicians in Ulster. In 1594, Ballym'Carroll, parcel of the lands of Gillekeaghe M'Carroll, of Ballymack-Carroll, was escheated. There was also a family of the name in Leix.
|O'CARROLL, MAcCARROLL, MacCarvill. Prior to the Gaelic resurgence, at the end of the last century, under the influence of the Gaelic League, and later of the Rising of 1916, a minor result of which was the resumption of the prefixes 0 and Mac so widely discarded two or three centuries earlier, the simple form Carroll was almost universally used. As MacCarroll, an entirely distinct surname (a note on which appears at the end of this section), is also often shorn of its prefix Mac, confusion may well arise in the case of the name Carroll. However, undoubtedly, the great majority of people called Carroll are, in fact, O'Carrolls. Before the Anglo-Norman invasion there were six distinct septs of O'Carroll, the two most important of which were O'Carroll of Ely O'Carroll (Tipperary and Offaly) and O'Carroll of Oriel (Monaghan and Louth). The others disappeared, except as individuals, before the end of the thirteenth century and need not be considered here—O'Carroll of Oriel lost his status of chief and his sept disintegrated as a result of the Anglo-Norman invasion (they cease to appear in the Annals after 1193), but the clansmen themselves were not dispersed, and a fair number have remained in their territory to this day. The very large and well-known tobacco firm, Carrolls of Dundalk, have their factory in this area, though it may be mentioned that, curiously enough, the head of it has substantiated a claim to be descended from the O'Carrolls of Ely O'Carroll. That sept retained its Gaelic way of life and its distinct independence until the end of the sixteenth century, and its activities are frequently recorded throughout the Annals. They derive their name O Cearbhaill from Cearbhal, lord of Ely, who was one of the leaders of the victorious army at Clontarf (1014), and thus descend from King Oilioll Olum. Before the advent of the powerful Norman Butlers they possessed a very extensive territory in Co. Tipperary, but they were later restricted to the district around Birr, Co. Offaly. Carroll has a high position in the list of most numerous surnames in Ireland, taking twenty-second place with an estimated population at the present time of approximately 16,000, the majority of whom belong to the four counties stretching from Cork to Kilkenny. Many noteworthy O'Carrolls figure in the "Annals of the Four Masters." Maolsuthain O'Carroll (d. 1031), confessor of Brian Boru and contributor to the "Book of Armagh," was of the Kerry sept; Margaret O'Carroll (d. 1451), famous for hospitality, encouragement of learning, and as builder of churches, roads and bridges, belonged to the Ely O'Carroll sept, as did Charles Carroll (1737-1832), who is remembered as an Irish signatory of the American Declaration of Independence. It is with America rather than with the home country, that notable Carrolls have been associated during the past two centuries: the Dictionary of American Biography includes four others closely related to the Carrollton family, for so their place in Maryland was called (not to be confused with Carrollton, a town in Georgia, U.S.A.), the most distinguished of them being Most Rev. John Carroll (1735-1815), the first Catholic bishop in U.S.A., and the first Archbishop of Baltimore. Rev. Anthony Carroll, S.J. (1722-1794), who was robbed and murdered in a London street, was a brother of the Archbishop. Three members of the Ely O'Carroll sept distinguished themselves in the armies of James II and of France. The best known of these was Brigadier Daniel O'Carroll (d. 1712). As we have seen there is a distinct sept of MacCarroll: the Irish Mac Cearbhaill is now more usually anglicized as MacCarvill in Ulster where its mediaeval territory is indicated by the place name Ballymaccarroll. One of these, Donslevy MacCarroll (d. 1357), is described by the Four Masters as "a noble master of music and melody, the best of his time"; and another, Mulrory MacCarroll (d. 1328), was called Chief Minstrel of Ireland and Scotland: indeed the family was noted for its musicians. James MacCarroll (1814-1892), who emigrated to U.S.A. at the age of 17, was a well-known American poet, dramatist and inventor. A Bishop of Cork and three Archbishops of Cashel, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, were MacCarrolls, but these were probably of the Ely O'Carroll sept: it appears that its members sometimes used the prefix Mac instead of 0 during that period. The name Lewis Carroll, famous as the author of Alice in Wonderland, is a nom de plume and has no connexion with O'Carroll or MacCarroll.
||Carroll. One of the twenty-five most common Irish surnames, Carroll (or O’Carroll) comes, in the vast majority of cases from the Irish Ó Cearbhaill, meaning "grandson of Cearbhall", a very popular personal name thought to mean "fierce in battle". It is widespread today throughout the three southern provinces of Connacht, Leinster and Munster, reflecting the fact that it arose almost simultaneously as a separate surname in at least six different parts of Ireland. The most famous of the O Cearbhaill families were those based in Ely O'Carroll, an area covering modern Co. Offaly as well as parts of north Tipperary, and the O'Carroll, Princes of Oriel, a territory including most of the modern counties of Louth and Monaghan. Mac Cearbhaill, anglicised as MacCarroll and MacCarvill, was a separate surname based on the same root, and limited to Ulster. The lords of Ely O'Carroll derived their name from Cearball, King of Ely, one of the leaders of the victorious native Irish army at the battle of Clontarf in 1014. Although their power was much reduced over the centuries in the continuing conflict with the Norman Butlers, they held on their distinctive Gaelic customs and way of life until the start of the seventeenth century. The Oriel family lost most of their territory in the twelfth century, as a result of the Norman invasion, but remained powerful in Church affairs;. The O'Carroll arms are those of the Oriel family, and may derive from a canting pun on the name of the race from whom the O'Carrolls claimed mythical descent, the Laighin, in Latin Gallinga, whence dhá leon (two lions). Lions are in any case a very common heraldic symbol. The O'Carrolls were also reputed to possess a sword with magical powers of destruction. Hence, perhaps, the sword in the arms. The crest, a hawk, relates to the traditional war cry of the family's followers, An Seabhac Abú, "the hawk forever", referring to their ancestral nickname. As late as 1843, at the great monster meeting organised at Tara by Daniel O'Connell to demand Home Rule, it was being used as a rallying cry by the inhabitants of the lands which had traditionally been ruled by the O'Carrolls. . Donogh O'Carroll founded the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland at Mellifont, Co. Louth c. 1145, and the family provided no fewer than six abbots of nearby Louth Abbey before its dissolution in 1540. Charles Carroll (1737-1832), a signatory of the American Declaration of Independence, was one of the old Ely O’Carroll family. Dubliner Paul Vincent Carroll (1900-1968), playwright and sharp critic of the Irish clergy and Irish provincial life, was of the same stock. He won New York Dram Critics’ Circle Awards in 1938 and 1939 and, after emigrating to Scotland, was one of the founders of the Glasgow Citizen’s Theatre