Z3000 DNA of the Three Collas

By
Four Colla Descendants: Peter Biggins, with Josiah McGuire, Patrick McMahon, and Tom Roderick (1930-2013)
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Abridged Clan Colla Big Y SNP Tree

Z3000     (97 AD)
Z16270     (233 AD) Z29586
(915 AD)

Owens
Baty
McGuire
Barr
Z3006     (248 AD)
8501873
(392 AD)

Carroll
Casey
BY3165     (332 AD)
Morris
Godwin
Davie
McGuire
Almond
BY3160
(773 AD)

Smith
McKenna
Greenan
Z3004     (407 AD)
BY512/3
(402 AD)

Paden
O'Guin
Larkin
Z21270
(891 AD)

Lawlor
Roberts
Roderick
Adams
BY3162
(828 AD)

Calkins
Colla Uais Colla da Crioch
S953     (478 AD) BY39825
(TBD)

McDonald
F4142
(913 AD)

MacDougall
White
Z16274  (575 AD) A14079
(568 AD)

Hart
Monaghan
Shannon
Higgins
Collins
Glennon
BY3163
(630 AD)

Cooley
McGinnis
McGroder
McKenna
Neal
McDonald
FGC41930
(979 AD)

Duffy
ZZ2
(503 AD)

McDonald
McGuire
Biggins
McAuley
Boylan
FGC36408
(1561 AD)

Østerud
BY2869
(1543 AD)

Connolly
Z16278
(696 AD)

McMahon
Hughes
Carroll
Murphy
Clarke
BY3166
(1369 AD)

McQuillen

Kelly
283429292981075*7182213104**133196322
Complete Tree: The complete tree is at: Clan Colla Big Y SNP Tree
SNPs: SNPs are single nucleotide polymorphisms, or mutations, found on the Y chromosome and shared by a group of testers. Major SNPs are shown in the top part of the table. The very roughly-estimated year in which a SNP was born is shown in parentheses. Click on a SNP to see detail on Alex Williamson's Big Tree.
Surnames: Major surnames of testers are listed under the SNPs. Surnames in bold are said in ancient pedigrees to be descended from the Three Collas. There likely are surnames in the pedigrees that have not been tested or died out. Some have likely been included in error. Also, surnames have multiple origins, even within a clan.
Collas: Two of the three Collas are shown in italics. The Three Collas lived in Ulster in the fourth century. Descendants of the actual Colla brothers are most likely those with the SNP Z3004 (407 AD). Others are in parallel lines of descent from the Z3000 founder. See Origin of the Three Collas.
Testers: The bottom row shows the number of testers at FTDNA predicted by Clan Colla project administrators to have the SNP. The two most populous names are McDonald and McMahon.
  *McDonald: Includes four McDonalds who trace their ancestry back to Lt. Brian McDonald (MacDonnell), McDonnell of Antrim, Somerled, and Colla Uais in 43 Generations: Colla to McDonald.
**McMahon: Includes two McMahons who trace their ancestry back to Colla da Crioch in 51 Generations: Colla to McMcMahon.

Introduction

Data

Discussion

Summary

DNA helix Y-chromosome DNA shared by men with surnames that match names in ancient pedigrees of men descended from three Colla brothers who lived in the 4th-century in a part of Ireland called Airghialla or Oriel. Colla Josiah McGuire discovered Clan Colla DNA in 2007.

The Z3000 SNP identifies Clan Colla DNA. It was named by non-Colla Mike Walsh in 2013. It is downstream of R-L21, DF21, and S971.

Four key STR markers can predict Z3000 Clan Colla DNA: 511=9, 425=0, 505=9, 441=12.

BIG Y test results for 141 Collas have been analyzed by non-Colla Alex Williamson.

Colla geneticist Patrick McMahon traced his ancestry back to Colla da Crioch in 49 Generations: Colla to McMcMahon. Non-Colla genealogist Vaden McDonald has traced the the ancestry of Colla Frank Everett McDonald back to Somerled and Colla Uais in 43 Generations: Colla to McDonald.

Colla geneticist Tom Roderick (1930-2013) helped us get our story across at the 2011 FTDNA Conference in Houston.

Historian Donald Schlegel has provided valuable information on the history of the Three Collas.

DNA has confirmed ancient Irish history, but it has also shown that the history is wrong in some areas. For example, the Three Collas were said to be related to Niall of the Nine Hostages (R-M222. The DNA of the descendants of the Collas, however, does not match the DNA of the descendants of Niall. Other historical pedigrees now known not to have the Y-DNA of the Three Collas are Manus McGuire (R-FGC9795), Hy Maine Kelly (R-FGC6545), Lord of the Isles McDonald (R-L176). See History Lessons.

poem
Quotation from an ancient bard in The History of Ireland by Geoffrey Keating (1569-1644). Translated into English from the original Irish by John O'Mahony, 1857.
The Three Collas lived in Ireland in the 4th century A.D. Their descendants have been kings, lords, chiefs, and saints. Their history survived through oral tradition and eventually written histories. Recent Y-chromosome DNA tests show a remarkable coincidence between two sets of surnames:

  1. Surnames of men with a certain type of DNA and
  2. Surnames mentioned in histories of The Three Collas.
The names include Biggins/Beggan, Boylan, Calkins/Colcan, Carroll, Connolly, Devine, Hart, Higgins, Hughes, Kelly, MacDougall, McAuley, McClain, McDonald, McGuire, McKenna, McMahon, McQuillan, Monahan, Neal, Roberts, Roderick, Rogers, etc. Most Irish names are found in multiple septs, so not all people with these names are descendants of the Three Collas. And, many names of people with Clan Colla DNA are not included in the Clan Colla histories because they did not have historical value or their genealogy simply had not been recorded.

Thomas Roderick, 1930-2013, one of the original contributors to this webpage and one of the original members of the international Human Genome Organization in 1988, summarized his views on our project in 2011:

The Clan Colla Null 425 Project stems from the discovery that in haplogroup R1b1a2a1a1b4 (L21) there is a single subset carrying a null at DYS 425 and probably unique or nearly unique values at 2 or 3 other loci. What is important is that this haplotype clearly is associated with only one grouping of Irish clans and surnames, each of which by historical records emanates from The Three Collas, a successful aggressive clan flourishing 300-400 AD. We are looking for evidence that this null is associated with other families with different ancestry and as yet have not definitively found it. This gives us an estimate of the time of the mutation to the null a little before 300 AD.
From the other markers, we find (using 67 Y markers) the genetic distances among the Colla Group and Colla Modal DNA range between 1 and 11, and have an average of 6. Of the 232 people, 218 or 94% of the group have a genetic distance of 3 to 9.
These data are consistent with our estimate of the timing of the null mutation.
One great advantage of this grouping is that it is well defined molecularly, therefore confined, small enough and yet old enough to make genealogical sense coordinating molecular and historical evidence. By more detailed analysis we can get better understanding of specific genealogical relationships among clusters of the several clans and many surnames.

A database has been compiled of over 600 men. These men are predicted to have Clan Colla DNA based key STR markers: 511=9, 425=0, 505=9, 441=12. All who have BIG Y test results share unique Y-chromosome mutations--the Z3000 SNP and many other unique SNPs downstream of R-L21, DF21, and S971.

Table of Contents     

Background

An Unusual Test Result. In 2008, Daniela Moneta started a Biggins DNA project. She found me through this website and asked me to join the project. With some skepticism, I had my Y-chromosone DNA tested for 67 genealogical markers. Results showed that I was of Atlantic European ancestry and matched up well with people named Biggins or Beggan. That was interesting but expected. Results also showed a good match with people named Maguire, Carroll, McDonald, McKenna, and McMahon. Furthermore, we all had an unusual null value for DNA marker 425. I described the results on my Web page: Biggins/Beggan Irish Roots.

My Web page related a conversation I had with Gerard Beggan, whom I had met in September 2007 at his home in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan. Gerard told me that in 1969 Rev. Peadar Livingstone (1932-1987) told him that Beggan was a branch of the Maguire family. I had found Gerard's name on the Web site of Al Beagan. Father Livingstone was a renowned scholar in both the Irish language and local history. He wrote comprehensive histories of two counties in Ireland, The Fermanagh Story in 1969, and The Monaghan Story in 1980.

Sciath Gabhra
Prehistoric burial-cairn within circular enclosure at Cornashee, Co. Fermanagh, reputedly Sciath Gabhra, inauguration-place of the Maguires, six-tenths of mile northeast of Lisnaskea, seat of the Senior branch of the McGuires.
An Email from Josiah McGuire. In March 2009, I received an email from Josiah McGuire. He was getting reports that he was matching up with me and found my Web page. He said, "I think it is really quite amazing and very interesting that Peadar Livingstone thought the Beggans had their origins from the Maguires, and here, of all things, are some fairly close matches that may confirm this."

Josiah's email went on: "I have been watching and studying the 425 nulls between the Carrolls, McMahons, McKennas, and McGuires since I had my markers upgraded to 67 markers in 2006. I suspected that we probably shared a common ancestor, but very few researchers took my comments very seriously. These surnames and several others who I also have matches with are said to descend from "Colla da Chrioch" as stated in the Irish Pedigrees by O'Hart." In 2007 Josiah computed modal values for the DNA of the Three Collas and put it on Ysearch with the user ID of DURRQ.

In June 2009, Josiah started the Clan Colla Null 425 Project at FTDNA to attract Clan Colla descendants, encourage upgrades to the 67-marker test, and promote Clan Colla research. I agreed to be a co-administrator and was the first one to join the new Clan Colla project.

Participation in the Biggins DNA project has turned out to be worth far more than I had anticipated. It confirms that the names Biggins, Beaghen, Beggan, and Little are based on the Irish word for small, beag, as mentioned in Irish surname books by Patrick Woulfe (1923) and Edward MacLysaght (1969). And it confirms what Professor Peadar Livingstone had told Gerard Beggan in the 1970s--that Beggans are related to Maguires. But most importantly, the DNA project established a connection with ancient Irish history. We Beggans were no longer just a humble people with a name based on the Irish word for little. With big names like Carroll, McMahon, McKenna, and Maguire, we were descended from the Three Collas who lived in the 4th century and established the ancient kingdom of Oriel in Monaghan and Fermanagh.

Corroborating Evidence. While Josiah was researching Clan Colla DNA, others were independently coming to the same conclusions.

In February 2008, Kevin Carroll, administator of the Carroll DNA Project, posted this news: "We think that a group of our participants may have hit the Jackpot! They may be related to the O'Carroll Princes of Oriel (Monaghan and Louth). This Kingdom located in the North of Ireland was founded by the three Collas Brothers around the year 327 AD. Wow! Will keep you posted on this as we get more news."

In December 2008, the McQuillan Clan Association announced "DNA Project Sheds New Light on McQuillan Connections." Specifically, they said that "our first "cluster" shows recent shared ancestry for Monaghan & Fermanagh McQuillans. The close match between these three McQuillans reveals the first localized McQuillan haplotype cluster to emerge in our study. This cluster also shows a relationship with some Cullens, and perhaps with the McMahons of Monaghan."

In August 2009, Joseph A. Donohoe V (1941-2011) reported on the DNA of descendants of the Three Collas in his Breifne Clans DNA Reports BCP Report 5, Part 7 and BCP Report 5, Part 8. He independently identified the Clan Colla group that was identified by the Clan Colla project started by Josiah McGuire in June 2009. He called it Airghialla 1 because he was not sure it was Clan Colla. He said he was "not fully persuaded yet of the validity or applicability of the Colla tradition, particularly in view of the great number of traditionally Colla surnames not represented here." As part of his study, Joseph established a modal DNA for Airghialla 1 at Ysearch under the user ID of WHYAA. It is the same as the DURRQ modal used here, which was established by Josiah McGuire in December 2007. To test the validity of Airghialla 1, Joseph came up with a second group called Airghialla 2. As part of his study, Joseph established a modal DNA for Airghialla 2 at Ysearch under the user ID of 9U5BW. In comparing Airghialla 1 and 2 on page 184 of the report, Joseph says that Airghialla 1 "appears to have been prominent in the South Tyrone – North Monaghan area from the sixth century, if not earlier," while Airghialla 2 "rose to historical prominence later . . . in the ninth century." He concludes that Airghialla 1 "would appear to be the best candidate" to represent the DNA of the Three Collas. Joseph himself is not Airghialla 1 or 2. He is a descendant of Niall of the Nine Hostages, also called R-M222 or Northwest Irish.

Table of Contents     

New SNPs. In 2008, the R-L21 SNP was discovered and all Collas who tested for it had it. As time went on, more SNPs would be discovered.

In 2011, the R-DF21 SNP was discovered downstream of L21, and all Collas who tested for it had it.

In 2013, FTDNA introduced Big Y, which tested a large portion of the Y chromosome. Clan Colla project members began receiving test results in November. In April 2014, Alex Williamson started his Big Tree, which included Clan Colla, and on which our Clan Colla BIG Y SNP Tree is based.

In February 2014, ScotlandsDNA announced SNPs downstream of DF21 in 10 anonymous cases. Among the SNPs were: S971, S951 (Z3000), S956 (Z3004), S962 (Z3008), and S953. They did not identify this DNA as Clan Colla.

Sciath Gabhra
Rathlin Island, with Scotland to the north and Northern Ireland to the south.
Rathlin 1 Man. A December 2015 study by scientists at Queens University Belfast and Trinity College Dublin was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It identified the DF21 SNP in the bones of a man uncovered in a Bronze Age cist to the rear of McCuaig's Bar in Church Bay on Rathlin Island. Church Bay is connected by a 25-minute ferry ride with Ballycastle in the Glens of Antrim. Rathlin Island is in the Sea of Moyle, 11 miles from the coast of the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland.

The man was named Rathlin 1. His bones were carbon-dated back to 2025-1885 BC. He tested negative for nine SNPs downstream of DF21, but S971 and other SNPs were not investigated because they were not known to the researchers at that time. The negative downstream SNPs were FGC3213, P314.2, S3058, S280, S5488, Z16294, L1336, L130, and S7200. Shortly after the study was published, Aidan Kelly arranged to have Lara Cassidy and Daniel Bradley of Trinity College Dublin provide Alex Williamson with raw DNA data. Alex determined that Rathlin 1 was negative for S971 but positive for Z30233. In addition, he has SNPs downstream of Z30233 that no one else has. See Alex Williamson's Big Tree. See also L21 and DF21 SNPs for a look at how Rathlin 1 fits in with present-day testers.

Assuming five private "Big Y" SNPs for Rathlin 1 downstream of DF21 and Z30233, he would have six SNPs downstream of DF21. Assuming 120 years per SNP on average, the date of DF21 would be around 2700 BC (2000 + 120*6). As of December 2015, 70 Collas had an average of 39 Big Y SNPs downstream of DF21. Assuming 120 years per SNP on average, DF21 occurred around 4700 years ago (120*39), or around 2700 BC.

A 2006 report by Queens University Belfast stated that "The archaeological excavation was carried out to the rear of McCuaig’s Bar, Church Bay, Rathlin Island. Active erosion of a gravel slope had occurred following the disturbance of the ground in advance of the construction of a car park to the rear of the building. This erosion exposed the capstone of a Bronze Age cist burial and this was investigated by Declan Hurl of the Environment and Heritage Service: Built Heritage in February 2006. The initial excavation involved the lifting of the capstone, the recording of the contents and their removal. During the excavation, a pit containing human remains was observed in the section above the cist, and this provided a focus for a further investigation by the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork." Later, the report says, "Rathlin Island lies 11 miles from the coast of the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. Indeed, documentary evidence suggests that the ownership of the island was a point of contention between Scotland and Ireland for many centuries, cumulating in the massacre of the island’s population by Campbell forces in 1642. The location of the island would indicate that it has been the focus for outside influence for millennia."

False Start. One of the largest and earliest FTDNA projects is Clan Donald. They had an interest in Clan Colla from the start because most McDonalds were thought to be part of Clan Colla. McDonald is one of the two biggest names in Clan Colla. The other is McMahon. But, as it turns out, Clan Colla does not have the largest group of McDonalds. That distinction goes to a separate Norse group.

In February 2004, the Clan Donald project issued a press release saying they had identified an R1b group as Clan Colla (see Clan Donald 2004 press release). This group is now generally known as the Scottish Cluster rather than Clan Colla and is identified as R-L21>L1335>L1065. Clan Donald now identifies this group as the R1b-L21 Red-Black subgroup and refers to it as "a very common L21+ group in Scotland."

In March 2004, the Clan Donald project announced that an R1a Norse DNA identified "descendants of Somerled, ancestor to many MacDonalds, MacDougalls, and MacAllisters, including our Clan Chiefs." The R1a DNA that includes these Clan Chiefs is now generally accepted and is known as L176>YP326>CLD56. The only question is whether they descend from Somerled. For more on this question, see Two Somerled Pedigrees.

Table of Contents     

Timeline

Below is a timeline for Clan Colla DNA and ancient pedigrees. The timeline focuses on two the most well-known of our Colla subgroups: McDonald 1 and McMahon 1. For each we have a member who can trace his ancestry back to a Colla.

YearFrank McDonald kit #133546
Descendant of Colla Uais
Patrick McMahon kit #145687
Descendant of Colla da Crioch
BC 3900 to 3000L21 SNP occurs in a Celt in Western Europe
BC 2800 to 2700DF21 SNP occurs in a man with L21 DNA in Europe north of the Alps.
BC 2000 to 1900A December 2015 study by scientists at Queens University Belfast and Trinity College Dublin tells of finding Rathlin Man 1 buried in a Bronze Age cist to the rear of what is now McCuaig's Bar in Church Bay on Rathlin Island. His bones were carbon-dated back to 2025-1885 BC. He had the DF21 SNP, the Z30233 SNP, and five more downstream of that. While he is not an ancestor of Clan Colla, his DNA helps date the DF21 SNP.
BC 2300 to AD 100Z3000 and 19 other SNPs occur in a man with DF21 DNA
2nd centuryZ3006 SNP occurs in a man with Z3000 DNA
3rd-4th centuryZ3004 SNP occurs in a man with Z3006 DNA
4th centuryThree brothers named Colla with the Z3004 SNP, from Roman-controlled England and Wales, become known for their prowess in warfare in Ulster
5th-6th centuryS953 SNP occurs in a descendant of Colla Uais

A descendant of Colla Uais migrates to the Scottish Highlands
Z16274 SNP occurs in a descendant of Colla da Crioch
11th centurySurnames first adopted in Ulster
12th centurySomerled (1113 to 1164), a descendant of Colla Uais, becomes known as Lord of the IslesFaolan MacMathghamhna (Felim/Phelan MacMahon), a descendant of Colla Da Crioch, early 12th century
13th centuryA938 SNP occurs in a man with the S953 SNP
14th centuryAlasdair Og, Lord of the Isles, deposed in 1308 by his "brother" Angus Og.
Angus Og descendants had L176>YP326>CLD56 Norse DNA, very different from the DNA of Alasdair Og. See: Two Somerled Pedigrees
Briain Mor (Big Brian), died in 1372; the first McMahon to officially claim the title of Ardri Oirghialla (High-King of Oriel)
1390Clan Colla described in Book of Ballymote
15th centuryCharles Thurlough Mor McDonald: born in Antrim; acquired lands being known as the Clan Donnell Country, including Tynekill Castle at the base of the boundary of the mountains of Leix and Wicklow; died 1435A77 SNP occurs in a McMahon

Ardghal McMahon died in 1427 in Monaghhan; he is probably the ancestor of all in the McMahon 1 subgroup
1607 to 1609Plantation of Ulster
1632 to 1636Clan Colla described in Annals of the Four Masters, Michael O'Clery (1580-1643) at al., 1632 to 1636, translated from Irish in 1845 by Owen Connellan.

The posterity of the three Collas, called Clan Colla, founded many powerful clans and noble families in Ulster and other parts of Ireland.
From Colla Uais were descended the MacDonnells, earls of Antrim in Ireland, and lords of the Isles in Scotland . . . . From Colla da Chrich, were descended the MacMahons . . . MacKennas . . . O'Duffys . . . Boylans . . . MacDonnells . . . O'Connellys . . . MacGuires.
1634Clan Colla described in Keating's The History of Ireland, translated from Irish in 1902 by David Comyn and Patrick S. Dinneen
1641 Rory Og McMahon fought in the Irish Rebellion of 1641; died in 1650
1652Cromwellian Settlement
1684Lieutenant Brian McDonald, who served in an Irish Volunteer Regiment in the cause of King James II, emigrates to America and settles in Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware
1892Clan Colla described by John O'Hart (1824–1902) in Irish Pedigrees
1988Thomas Roderick (1930-2013) becomes one of the founding members of the international Human Genome Organization. He had his DNA tested by FTDNA in 2005 (kit #8551) and later became an administrator of the Clan Colla project
1990 to 2003Human Genome Project
2003Thomas McKenna, kit #6419, is the first person with Colla DNA to be tested by FTDNA: 25 STR markers
200667-marker STR test offered by FTDNA
2008R-L21 SNP discovered
2009Josiah McGuire, kit #23171, starts the Clan Colla DNA project at Family Tree DNA
2011R-DF21 SNP discovered
2011111-marker STR test offered by FTDNA
2011Presentation on Clan Colla DNA included in the FTDNA Conference in Houston
2014Clan Colla R-Z3000 SNP discovered as a result of Big Y testing at FTDNA

Table of Contents     

Origin of the Three Collas

On May 17, 2018, Patrick McMahon, Administrator of the Clan Colla 425 null Project, sent an email to all Project members reviewing the origin of and establishment of the Three Collas. Patrick, a geneticist, put the review together with his brother Eugene, who is a historian. Patrick and Eugene have traced their family back to Faolan MacMathghamhna (Felim/Phelan MacMahon), who lived in County Monaghan in the early 12th century (see 51 Generations: Colla to McMahon). The review was based on "the Colla genetic position and the few pre-history snippets of information that are available."

Several people commented on the review. Their comments follow the review.

The Origin and Establishment of the Collas

The contention that the Collas are “descended from the sons of Eochaid Doimlen, younger son of Cairbre Lifechair, High King of Ireland in the 3rd century A.D" has been the position taken by people involved in the genealogy of the Collas over the last few years. This interpretation is incorrect both on genetic and historical evidence and should be abandoned.

The Colla Genetic Profile

It was evident from early analysis that those later classified as Colla were uniquely R1b having a deletion at DYS 425. Deletions by their nature are non reversible and thus it was possible to identify (among all testers) those who belonged to the Colla group as the deletion is faithfully transmitted from generation to generation. More recently, the overarching SNP mutation, Z3000 (and descendants), have been identified as defining what was then called the Colla group even though its occurrence pre-dated the arrival on the scene of the (named) Colla brothers. It therefore follows that the Z3000 clade encompasses more than those descended from the Colla brothers.

  • Z16270 (133/550 testers)
    This clade is one of two major sub-clades (from Z3000) and contains NW European names such as Godwin (Godswen - pre 7th c. Anglo-Saxon), Almond (Norman French 'Aleman', German), Bumgarner (Austrian), Judd (old German, 'Jordanes') and almost certainly remained continentally based until later invasions such as that of the Anglo-Saxons. Sub-sub clades contain names, such as Paden, Johnson, Robertson, Newell, Webb, Roderick, Calkins, and Carroll, most typically found in NW Britannia.
  • Z3004 (389/550 testers)
    This is the second major Sub-clade (from Z3000) and is where history tells us known Colla descendants such as Oriel McMahons, Hughes, Carroll, Callan, McQuillin, McDonald (of the Isles), McGuire, Biggins, McKenna, Connolly are to be found.

As Z3000 pre-dates the earliest mention of the Colla brothers by about 300 years, it would seem logical (now that there is a clearer genetic picture) to refer to Z16270 and its sub-clades by their clade names. Colla should only be used for the nested clades under Z3004. (See The Colla Phylogenetic Tree.)

The Colla Historic Profile

One view is that the 4th c. Colla brothers were Roman trained mercenaries of the Trinovantes Tribe who came from Colchester[1]. Schlegel is persuasive in arguing in favour of the Roman method of nomenclature and the possibility of Colchester origins. An alternative might be migration via the Dal Riada bridge as there are about 50% of Collas who have Scottish names (McDonald and the like). If migration from Britain (and everything points to this at present) was the Colla origin, then the notion that they are descended from Fiacha Srabhteine (ancestor of O'Neill) cannot hold. Genetically, they are totally different from Niall of the nine hostages alleged haplogroup (R-M222 which branched from DF13 and is therefore mutually exclusive from the Colla DF21 heritage). Putting Colla in among O'Neills is genetic nonsense.

Geographic Spread

The mounting genetic evidence supports the view that the progenitor (of the Collas) arose in NW Europe or Southern England. The question is how did they spread and become prolific in Scotland (Highlands/Western Isles) and Ireland (almost exclusively in greater Oriel)? It could be argued that they moved with the migratory flow northward and westward and the 17% or so detected today in England and Wales represent the genetic footprint of their passage. They obviously were very successful in establishing their presence in Oriel and Western Scotland, today's testers being equally represented in both areas. Did they (1) fork at say Chester as the genetics suggest establishing parallel cultures in both areas; (2) go to Oriel as Schlegel suggests and from there, in the form of Colla Uais, go to Dal Riada; (3) go to Scotland and from there invade Oriel by the shortest sea crossing.

They obviously did establish themselves (very successfully) in Oriel. Was this the result of an opportunistic raid by disgruntled and probably unpaid, ex Roman military (like the Vikings years later) or a well organized logistically supported invasive army (although undocumented), organized by the High King (Establishment). A most probable embarkation point would have been Chester (the largest military town in Britannia at that time with access to boats and the Irish Sea). They would have to have made landfall somewhere like Carlingford to get into the heart of Oriel all of which is creditable as Tacitus states ... "the approaches and harbours [of Ireland] are [better] known due to trade and merchants". There must have been navigational knowledge available to (Roman) sailors on how to get to the Eastern side of Ireland.

Mythology

Schlegel in a further expansion of his work[2] acknowledges that “the history of lreland before the sixth century, as passed down to us from the seventh and later centuries, is a construction by the scholars of that later era. Because of their efforts to synchronize the undated records of Irish pre-history with each other and with events in the classical world, these monastic scholars have sometimes been called the 'synchronists'. The tasks they carried out were to give Ireland a glorious past in which all of the people of the island were a single nation, and to place that nation within the biblical history of the world”. Further, he doesn't seem to have much time for the far-fetched story of the Colla brothers working for their alleged (O’Neill) uncle, then killing him, stealing his throne, being chased out of Ireland by the King's son and then (shortly afterwards) returning to work for said son. Schlegel seems to put this down to later scribes massaging history and indeed getting into all sorts of chronological difficulties through their efforts to coordinate the reigns of the kings of Ulster with those of the High Kings at Tara.

Historic Background

We should forget about attributing any real prominence to the title of "High King", as it held little political sway before the advent of Brian Boru in the early 11th c. Instead, what we are dealing with is the ongoing efforts of provincial kings to extend their territorial sway. And, of course, beneath them you had smaller kingdoms and, beneath them in turn, you had the lords of petty kingdoms (tuatha).

In the 4th-5th c. A.D. period that we are dealing with, there were three main kingdoms in Ulster alone, although the inhabitants were referred to collectively as the Ulaidh (people of Ulster). Among them, the principal native population was identified as Cruithni (pre-Gael people likened to the Scottish Picts). Moving against them, seemingly, were the Ui Neill dynasty that originated in North Connacht, but spread eastwards from there into Meath (where they occupied Tara) and northwards into Inishowen. This would have been the dynasty that engaged the services of the Collas under Muredach Tirech.

According to Schlegel, this militaristic effort was spread over three campaigns spanning 70-80 years, following which the Cruithni nobility were driven into Antrim (Dal Riada). Various branches of the Ui Neill dynasty then successfully established themselves in separate kingdoms such as Tir Conaill and Tir Eoghan.

The Collas also got their reward in terms of territory to the south of that, but always subject to the overlordship of their original employers (who were now called the southern Ui Neill), based in Tara. It wasn't until about 650 A.D. that the overlordship to which they were subject became that of the northern Ui Neill.

This adds credence to the notion that the Irish in Dalriada colonized western Scotland, rather than the other way around. Indeed, Mallory[3] dates this to around 500 A.D.

Conquest/Timeline

Schlegel ties the Colla arrival in Ireland with the mass desertions that occurred in the Roman army in Britain in 367 A.D, as the Empire slowly imploded. Also, he maintains that the mercenary services of the Collas and their sons and grandsons (for the Tara dynasty) lasted for 70 or more years, from the very late 4th century until well into the 5th.

As for "mighty battles", I think that we should presume that they were more on the modest scale, given how long that it took them to complete the conquest of Ulster. That being said, the first such recorded one was the battle of Carn Achad Leth Derg (Carn Roe in Currin Parish, Dartrey) was probably fought in 392 A.D. This ties in with the previously-mentioned notion that the Collas only arrived in Ireland sometime well after 367 A.D.

Then fast forward to the battle of Creeve Derg where the fortress of Eamhain Macha was finally captured from the Ulaidh c. 470 A.D. through the efforts of the Airgialla (confederation of Ulster clans including the Collas).

So the Collas didn't come by their kingdom of Oriel that easily, and it certainly took a few generations of Collas to complete it. 367 A.D. makes chronological sense of the written narrative. The name of the game is to marry up in the most sensible way the sparse (but possibly as good as it gets) genetic data and perceived prehistory and finally lay the ghost of the less than honest written accounts of our forebears.

Conclusions

Having analysed the current genetic, historical and published information, it can be stated with a fair degree of confidence, that the following is a close approximation of events that led to the evolution of the Colla sub-population within the DF21 clade:

  • In or around the beginning of the first millennium, the Z3000 mutation occurred in the DF21 population, probability in Continental Europe. This and subsequent nested SNP mutations define the Z3000 sub-populations.
  • About 300 years later, three brothers who were named in the Roman convention as Cairell Colla Uais, Muredach Colla fo Crich, Aed Colla Mend, were identified historically as fighting the Ulaidh in Oriel, mid 4th c. Historically known descendants of the Collas (Carroll, McMahon, McKenna etc) are in the Z3004 clade along with others and can be referred to as Collas.
  • Also in the Z3000 clade, with very similar genetic profiles, are people with totally different names and geographic locations outside Ireland. These are in and descend from the Z16270 clade (a sub-clade of Z3000). These should not be referred to as Collas but rather as belonging to Z16270 or its nested sub-clades.
  • In the absence of any documented large scale Roman incursion into Ulster, it can only be concluded that the Colla force was in Oriel by invitation of the overwhelming Ui Neills and acted as a blocking force against the Ulaidh. As a small (though successful opportunistic raiding party), they would hardly have been tolerated by Ui Neill unless they offered something beneficial. This was in all probability a military disciplined extended fighting family (common among Roman military) with the latest Roman weaponry and tactics.
  • Such a small disciplined force would wreak havoc among the largely untrained rural dwellers allowing them to capture crannog after crannog. Whatever the details, the Collas were able to acquire enough territory to sustain and grow their population over the next few generations.
  • Ultimately, with increasing population sizes, pitched battles were fought by the Collas and others (Airgialla) finally defeating the Cruithni at Eamhain Macha. Much of the territory formally held by the Cruithni then passed to the Collas.

Patrick McMahon (Gorey, Wexford, 2018) ©
Eugene McMahon (Hamilton, Ontario, 2018) ©
[1] Donald M. Schlegel, “The Origin of the Three Collas and the Fall of Emain”. The Clogher Record, Volume XVI, No. 2, 1998, pp. 159-181.
[2] Donald M. Schlegel, “Reweaving the Tapestry of Ancient Ulster”; Clogher Record, Volume XVII, No. 3, 2002, pp. 689-750.
[3] J. P. Mallory, The Origins of the Irish, 2013.

Commentary

The foregoing review was distributed to members of the Clan Colla project by Family Tree DNA on May 16, 2018. Following is an exchange of emails among members.

May 24 Comments by Ron Hendrickson on The Origin and Establishment of the Collas

It was interesting to read Patrick and Eugene McMahon’s review of Colla status and their provocative opinions regarding genetic origin and status.

Colla Brothers: There are some who believe the Colla brothers story is an historical fiction based solely on medieval Irish legend. For those who accept their existence, there are several theories regarding the brother's origin, location, and time frame. The 2017 publication of “The Irish DNA Atlas” confirms a substantial link between Gaelic Ulster and Southwest Scotland, which would seem to support the Dal Riada theory of Colla origin. Don Schlegel’s centurion origin proposal is very appealing not least because of the sheer beauty of the Roman “tria nomina” convention.

Several reasonable origin theories exist and each has its proponents. The Clan Colla 425 null Project has traditionally included all “other possible origins” in its Background material. I respectfully submit that it would be a mistake for the Project to conclude that only one of the origin theories is correct, and exclude the others.

Colla Descendants: The ending statement that “These (Z16270 clade members) should not be referred to as Collas …” was a real shocker. I would have thought that a proposal to delete 25% of the membership would justify some warning, or at least a headline to let those affected (like me) know what was going on. Even so, DNA tests have upset me (and no doubt others) in the past and I was prepared to accept this status down-grade if the data (and the interpretation of that data) were conclusive. But the interpretation is not conclusive.

Dating SNP mutation is problematic. The difficulty with 120 (or 144, or 150, or 160) years per SNP is that this is just a working figure that may not be accurate for a limited pedigree. The mutation of one more SNP is still just a random and rare event that could occur at any time. In a 120-year period there might be no mutations, or half a dozen.

So the Colla SNP data could be interpreted by a measure to conclude that all Z3000 members are Colla descendants. At the other extreme, the data could be interpreted to drill down to the point where members below Z3004 (and lower) are excluded.

There are four branches to Z3000, but I respectfully disagree the there is a “fair degree of confidence” that only one branch produced Colla descendants. A fairer statement is Peter’s declaration that "Descendants of Colla cousins (Z16270, Z29586 and 7513772-A-G) may be descendants of the Three Collas if the actual timeframe is earlier than assumed.” (Z3000 Man, Note at bottom). Just like the different origins theories, the Project must continue to offer alternate opinions about Colla descent based on how the data is analyzed.

Although I take issue with some points in the recent review, my comments do not diminish my gratitude for the good work accomplished by the Colla administrators. I am grateful to Josiah for his foresight to found the Clan Colla 425 null Project, and my good luck to be recruited as a member in 2010. Peter’s web site "PetersPioneers” is my default resource for all things Clan Colla related. I have collected all of Patrick’s papers and continue to admire the depth of his analysis.

I hope that reasonable people may disagree yet still be united in their commitment to a common goal.

May 28 Comments by Patrick McMahon on Ron Hendrickson's Comments

Sorry to hear you found the outcome of our analysis provocative. It was not intended as such. As a scientist, I simply analysed the current genetic data for the most logical outcome and this time with the aid of my brother, marry it to the most creditable pre-history information. Work of this nature is very much a 'work-in-progress' whose analysis may change with the emergence of new data. Obviously, you are perfectly free to disagree with it but I would like to hear your reasoning for an alternative analysis.

The aim of the exercise was threefold,

  1. To disassociate the Colla population from Ui Neill descent.
  2. To introduce the more precise way of referring to a genetically distinct population by its lead SNP (in this case, Z3000).
  3. To attribute Colla inheritance to one of the two major branches of Z3000, i.e. Z3004 and determine their origin and arrival in Ulster.
The first point is unambiguous as genetically, Z3000 members are totally different from 'Niall of the nine hostages' (Ui Neill) descendants whose alleged haplogroup (R-M222 which branched from DF13) is totally different from the Colla DF21 heritage which spawned Z3000. You obviously believe the Collas were real people (as I do) and there is a substantial amount of information suggesting that they arrived in Oriel in the 4th c.and were not of Ui Neill descent. Unlike other migrants, their descendants were concentrated in the greater Oriel area only. They were probably responsible for the major sub-clades of Z3004, Z16274 (which ultimately gave rise to McMahons, Carroll, Calan, Hughes, McQuillan) & S953 (which ultimately gave rise to McDonalds, McGuires, Biggins, Connally).

Irrespective of the Colla name, where and when it arose, there is no change of status for Project members and no deletion of members - they are still Z3000, 425 null. Using the Colla name is anathema to some, beloved of others but is irrelevant to the genetic picture. In your case being in clade Z16270>Z18003 (c. 2 c.), I was simply pointing out that you couldn't be descended from the Colla brothers per se who weren't born until the 4th c. in a parallel clade. You can of course claim descent from the common proto-Colla ancestor in Z3000. This is not a status downgrade as you put it but simply a more scientific way of defining the Z3000 sub-populations.

I didn't rule out other origins - there are three alternatives cited in my para 7. What is presented is my analysis outcome on current knowledge. Again, if you have a better idea, I would like to hear it.

Part of the problem here is what is meant by Colla descent. If, as I said above, you go back to the common proto-Colla ancestor in Z3000, then there isn't a problem - everyone in Z3000 can be referred to as Colla. On the other hand, for the purposes of this analysis, I choose to reverse engineer the situation from where the bulk of Colla descendants are found today and try establish actual descent from one or other of the Colla brothers.

The original finding by Josiah that the bulk of names found associated today with the greater Oriel area had very similar STR profiles, particularly the null at DYS 425 and the most usual value of 9 for DYS 511. These became our key markers in identifying what we were calling Collas. Further, the literature at the time claimed (and still does) that Oriel McMahons, some Carrolls and some Hughes were descended from Colla da Crioch whereas Colla Uais was responsible for McGuires of Fermanagh, Biggins, Connollys and after banishment to Alba, for Western Isles McDonalds. At the time I referred to Z16270 as a NW British clade (British cousins) because of the high number of non-Irish names.

With the advent of SNPs, The Colla Phylogenetic Tree became clearer. The actual times when these SNPs occurred is not important but the order in which they did is. I used Yfull estimates for tMRCA and these were their values (ybp from 1950), DF21=4200, Z3000=1950, Z3006=1800, Z3004=1600, Z16274=1600, S953=1150.

Population drift of DF21 was in a NW direction from Continental Europe but not all DF21 would necessarily have joined the migration. All movements of people leave genetic footprints behind and this in my view would be an explanation as to how Z16270 (which branched from Z3000 c.150 AD) remained continentally based ultimately giving rise to a plethora of Anglo-Saxon, English, Welsh, Scottish type names which finished up in Britain much later. I don't believe Z16270 ever got near to Ireland with the exception of its sub-clade, Z18003 (Carroll).

I stand by my assertion that having reviewed all the available information and using my definition of descent from an actual Colla brother (above), that genetic Colla descendants are only in Z3004 and its sub-clades. The other clades (of Z3000) contain members of the same population descended from earlier ancestors of the Colla brothers.

June 2 Comments by Ron Hendrickson on The Origin and Establishment of the Collas

Thank you for the opportunity to respond more fully to the May 2018 review portion regarding who may be considered a Colla descendant.

I collected tMRCA age data for the pertinent SNPs using Alex Williamson’s The Big Tree SNP Age Analysis , with results shown in the grid displayed at bottom. Seminal SNP Z3000 is shown in red. Major clade Z16270 and its children (representing Colla family Carroll et al.) are shown in green. Major clade Z3006 and its children (representing Colla family McMahon et al.) are shown in purple. Sub-clade Z29586 and its children (representing Colla family Owen et al.) are shown in blue.

The Big Tree SNP Age Analysis calculates with 95% certainty (95% Confidence Interval) that a SNP occurred within a particular date range. The second column represents the date range for each noted SNP. The third column is the statistical center (median) of the date range along with the likelihood that the SNP occurred at exactly the mid-point.

This age analysis was used to create a visual representation (see attached CollaSNP95%.pdf) of the date range for Z3000 (red), as well as the date range for its descendant clades Z16270 (green), Z3006 (purple), and Z29586 (blue) from 500 BC to the present. The yellow bar is roughly the lifetime of the Colla brothers. The grey columns focus on Early, Median (middle), and Late in the SNP date ranges.

Some observations:

  1. Early: If all SNPs occurred early in their date range, Z3000 was created during the 4th century BC and the splits establishing the Carroll et al. sept and the ancestor to McMahon sept had already occurred well before the Colla brothers appeared on the scene.

  2. Median: SNPs arising during the median period more closely resemble the sequence proposed in Patrick’s May 2918 review. SNP 3000 occurred during the 1st century AD and the major sub-clades of Z16270 and Z3006 had already been established before the Colla’s arrival. One or two of the brothers (Colla Uais & Colla fo Crich?) could have been the source for 8501873 (Carroll et al.) and/or Z3004 (ancestor to McMahon). Both families have deep roots in Ulster.

    The Ui Cerbaill (Carroll) rose to prominence in eastern Airgialla as chief of Fir Fermaige in 1043 AD. By 1100 AD the family expanded its control to south Monaghan and Louth and parts of Armagh, Meath and Down. Donnchad Ua Cerbaill was installed as king of Airgailla in 1125 AD and is remembered for expanding the diocese of Clogher and moving its cathedral chapter to Louth, as well as establishing monasteries at Louth (1142), Mellifont (1142), Knock (1148) and Termonfeckin (1148). The kingship passed to his son and grandson until Muircheartach Ua Cerbaill was blinded and hanged by English in 1193 AD. [1] Although inherently unreliable as historical records, several medieval manuscripts include pedigrees recording Donnchad Ua Cerbaill's ancestor as Colla to Crich. [2]

    The Mac Mathghamhna family (McMahon) were based in the north of Monaghan and ruled the kingdom of Oriel (Irish = Airgialla) from the 13th to the 16th centuries. [3]

    Regardless of the above, it is a mistake to use modern surnames alone to delineate historical geographical location simply because a name sounds Irish or English or European. My own name Hendrickson is a classic Swedish patronymic (i.e. Hendrick’s son), adopted in my family branch in the late 1600s in colonial America. Yet my biology clearly locates me in 4th century Ulster.

  3. Late: If all SNPs occurred late in their date range, Z3000 may have arisen as recently as 425 AD, intersecting with the Colla brothers lifetime in Ireland. The implication, of course, is that one of the brothers (perhaps Muredach Colla fo Crich) was the source of seminal Colla SNP Z3000, and further that all modern testers with that attribute are descended from him and may rightfully claim Clan Colla membership.
It is clear to me that multiple possibilities exist for Colla descent. I do not advocate one theory over another, but I do believe that the official Colla Project stance must include all possible alternatives.

Thank you.


[1] B. Smith, ‘The Ua Cerbaill Kingdom of Airgailla’, in “Colonisation and Conquest in Medieval Ireland: The English in Louth, 1170 - 1330” (Cambridge 1999), 10-27.
[2] K. Simms, ‘The MacMahon pedigree: a medieval forgery’, in D. Edwards (ed.), "Regions and Rulers in Ireland, 1100 - 1650” (Dublin 2004), 27-36.
[3] Because of the relatively late appearance of SNP 15578406-T-C, etc., which are derived from Z16273 (sub-clade to Z16278), the Carroll 2 group may represent the Clann Chearbhaill family which was allied with the Mac Mathghamhna family in the 14th century.

Exhibits

Alex Williamson’s The Big Tree SNP Age Analysis
SNP95% CONFIDENCE INTERVALMEDIAN - LIKELIHOOD
Z3000348 BC - 425 AD97 AD - 35%
Z16270139 BC - 553 AD233 AD - 40%
850187310 BC - 840 AD392 AD - 28%
Z18003744 AD - 1529 AD1189 AD - 25%
19219990-A-T1120 AD - 1770 AD1500 AD - 27%
Z3006124 BC - 548 AD248 AD - 40%
Z300497 AD - 669 AD407 AD - 50%
Z16274242 AD - 892 AD575 AD - 37%
Z16278377 AD - 990 AD696 AD - 37%
Z29586390 AD - 1331 AD915 AD - 20%
BY3248832 AD - 1597 AD1269 AD - 25%
A140331256 AD - 1791 AD1574 AD - 35%
BY386701935 AD - 1965 AD1950 AD -

June 4 Comments by Delaney Henretty on The Origin and Establishment of the Collas

I wholeheartedly agree with Ron, as we have had side conversations on this topic. The age estimation for the relative SNPs does not support the conclusion that Z3004 is the only true Colla line. It seems more probable that if the Roman trained mercenary group or even tribal drift hypothesis are true, that a broad group of people that were related came to what is now Oriel at or near the same time period. (leaving ancestors or family in the area of origin, or path of migration) The 425 Null marker with attendant SNPs should still be the criterion for which we associate members of our group. It defies all scientific reason that a group of men with 4 STR markers shared by less than 2% of the DF21 haplogroup and hailing from the same area are not genetically, and politically related. That relationship does not predate the migration to Oriel. There are Carrol’s, as Ron points out, and myself that have historic Colla names, and whose ancestors hail from Oriel and we are Z16270. Just because a particular line, Z3004, became more prevalent than another, Z16270, it does not follow logically that the more ‘successful’ line is the true line, especially as surnames were not adopted until the last 1000 years or so. It is not good science to ignore inconvenient data and base conclusions on data that is more conjecture than concrete.

June 7 Comment by Peter Biggins on Delaney Henretty's Comments

Here is a study I did a couple years ago that dates the Colla SNPs: Deep Ancestry of Peter Biggins.

June 8 Comments by Delaney Henretty on The Origin and Establishment of the Collas

Please allow me to share the following observations:

  1. Everyone associated with this group shares a relatively ‘close’ paternal relationship given the number of shared SNP, and unique STR values.
  2. We attempt to use scientific and historic inquiry to ascertain the nature of our history and interrelationship to resolve the uncertainty in our shared history
  3. Patrick McMahon, who we owe our thanks for his scientific inquiry, is of Z3004 descent. Peter Biggins, who we owe our gratitude for the work he has done on Peters Pioneers, without which we would probably not even be discussing this topic is also Z3004.
  4. The hypothesis that Z3004 is the true Collas line is a hypothesis supported by data, but not conclusively proven by the data we have.
  5. The assertion that Z16270 remained continentally based until later invasions such as that of the Anglo-Saxons is not supported by the evidence. My particular family was prominent or ‘kings’ in Hy Meith Macha in the period between 900-1300 AD in Arghialla, predating the Norman Invasion of Ireland. The Hanrattys were supplanted by the McMahons and were relegated to holders or conservators of church property in and around Monaghan and Armagh. My oldest paternal ancestor came to the United States in the early 1800s when the King seized his lands. He spoke little English. There are a number of Carroll’s whose ancestry goes deep into ancient Arghialla who are also Z16270. McVarry is also a common surname in Oriel. Rogan is also a sept of Oriel. Our paternal lines are not continentally based Anglo-Saxons who arrived in Ireland at a later date.
  6. I am urging you to reevaluate the conclusion that “Colla should only be used for the nested clades under Z3004.” At the very least, there are descendants of Z16270, whether or not they are direct descendants of the Colla brothers, whose ancestors probably fought in the battles to secure the Kingdom of Arghialla and whose ancestors were prominent in that kingdom. The qualified 425 null value used to be the defining criterion for our ‘family.’ Now we have a greater number of choices to use for our defining criterion. It does not necessarily follow that we should narrow that criterion to exclude other possibilities until those possibilities are conclusively disproven.
  7. As Ron has demonstrated the SNP confidence intervals make it distinctively possible if not probable that Z3004 occurred after 400 AD, and that any or all of the Collas could have been Z16270, Z3008, Z3006, or Z3004. Because one branch of the ‘Colla’ family was more successful because they had a larger number of surviving offspring does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that they were direct descendants of the Collas. This is particularly true as surnames as we recognize them now were not adopted until 100s of years after the advent of the Collas in Ireland.
Interesting, Peter. I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment, “Note: Descendants of Colla Cousins may be descendants of the Three Collas if the actual timeframe is earlier than assumed. Some of the names are indicated as descendants of the Three Collas in the ancient Pedigrees.”

June 19 Comments by Patrick McMahon on Ron Hendrickson and Delaney Henretty's Comments

Our recent exchanges of emails seems to have created a level of misunderstanding between us. In the hope of easing some of these, I have taken time out to analyse your particular situations within the Clan Colla 425 Null Project and tell your story as it is based on your results. I hope this will help appease your sense of grievance as expressed by you in earlier emails.

Analysis of the DNA profiles of Ron Hendrickson and Delaney Henretty

The Basics. You both have the key STR markers identifying you as belonging to Clan Colla 425 null (as constituted by Josiah). It then gets a bit more difficult.

  1. Ron has a Swedish surname but is showing STR matching to some Carrolls at GDs of 5/6 @ 67 markers. His GD to the Colla modal is 7, 5 to Casey and 4/5/6 to several Carrolls when tested against all (133) in the Z16270 clade. The latter is indicative of where a Swedish family might have acquired its Colla type DNA. [1] He is in the Z18003 clade.
  2. Delaney, with a good Oriel surname, has no STR matches in the whole FTDNA database (they regard GDs >9 @ 67 markers as unreliable and are not counted). Furthermore, his GD to the Colla modal (@ 67) is 15 which is off-scale. Also, when compared to all in the Z16270 clade, his best GDs are 11-13 against the A14071 clade members (Pedens, Peoples, Halligans) suggesting a Scottish association. There are no other Henrettys or Hanrattys to compare against which is unfortunate. In the early days of the Project, Delaney was scored as a Singleton either because it was thought he was the only survivor of his lineage or no other member of the lineage had tested (with FTDNA). He is in the BY3165 clade and at some stage his ancestor made his way to Oriel.

Migration. This seemed to cause much confusion. Obviously, it can only be inferred how our deep ancestors might have migrated from the extensive archeology and genetics pertaining to NW Europe. However, the emerging genetic patterns do allow for some fairly simple deductions to be made in the case of Clan Colla 425 members. SNP results have allowed us to identify clades and group together those sharing the same terminal SNP even though they may show no (conventional) relationships or shared surnames (i.e. deep ancestry). Clades can be further populated with testers who have significant relationships to the SNP tester. The following deductions can be made (estimated clade median ages (by the McDonald method) in Italics):

  1. Clades didn’t necessarily migrate as convenient groups but more likely divergent branches might go one place, other branches elsewhere and yet others would stay put.
  2. One step down from Z3000 (97AD) are Z16270 (233AD), Z3006 (248AD) and Z29586 (915AD). Z16270 divides into 2 sub-clades, 8501873-GGTTT-G (392AD) and BY3165 (332AD), the former giving Z18003 (1189AD) >A14034 (1500AD) and the latter, seven sub-clades. 8501873-GGTTT-G could easily have moved to Oriel where c. 800 years later it gave rise to Z18003 (Ron).
  3. BY3165 (332AD) at some stage gave rise to Delaney and Highlands (unrelated to each other, GD = 17 @ 67). This together with the GD of 15 to the Colla modal is indicative of a very early lineage for Delaney.
  4. Z3000 gave rise to a Kelly and Carfantan. Carfantan is a Breton whose family has lived in Brittany since the 1500s supporting the idea that Z3000 (or part of it) was continentally based. Descendants of Z16270 (233AD) itself had surnames whose origins could have been continental but were Southern British. BY3165 gave rise to seven sub-clades up to the medieval period whose surnames were more associated with Britain than Ulster with one exception, BY512/3 (O’Guin).
  5. From my sample of Collas examined (550), 404 (73%) are in Z3006 (248AD) and 387 (70%) in Z3004 (407AD). These meet the criteria of the Clan Colla 425 Null Project in that today’s descendants were or are living in or around Monaghan and have by and large surnames associated with this area (Oriel) in the limited records. It would therefore seem logical (to me at least) that should you believe the Colla brothers were in Oriel in the latter half of the 4th c. then they were in the Z3004 clade.

Descent. The other contentious issue was the lines of descent. Where there are parallel lines of descent, as is the case between Z16270 and Z3006, and then if you are in Z16270 clade you cannot claim descent from the Z3006/Z3004 clade where the evidence indicates the Colla brothers would have been. It is technically correct to state both clades have common ancestry in Z3000 and be referred to as Clan Colla 425 null people. On the present evidence it is a non-sequitur for members of Z16270 to claim direct descent from the Colla brothers.


[1] In the 17th century (after yet another defeat at the hands of the English) there were some 12,000 unemployed Irish swordsmen, wandering around Ireland, looking for plunder.  Eventually a deal was arranged. These 12,000 swordsmen were "sold" to the Swedish king - and shipped as mercenaries to Sweden. (Perhaps …one of these intrepid Irish warriors (possibly a Carroll) was responsible for donating his DNA to the Hendricksons!)

May 19 Comments by Rory Cain on The Origin and Establishment of the Collas

For myself, I prefer the historical name Airghialla (“Eastern subjects”, from the Connachta dynasty’s Western perspective) rather than the later invented name Clan Colla.

As stated in the article both the principle Connachta Haplogroup of M222 and the O’Neill if Tyrone DF27 fail to match the Airghialla DF21. Nor does the alleged descent of the DF49 Ui Maine fit in.

I think the article is correct in dismissing the Ui Niall & Ui Maine descent. But it appears to be based on outdated thinking in trying to make DF21 to be Continental in origin. it looks to me (and Prof. Joe Flood of RMIT University) that DF21 is Isles in origin, with branches that reverted to the Continent, either as metallurgists & traders, or later as slaves to Viking raiders. But in anyone can pinpoint a Continental origin I am happy to learn of that.

May 19 Comments by Patrick McMahon on Rory Cain's Comments

The aim of the exercise was threefold,

  1. To disassociate the Colla population from Ui Neill descent (which we both agree on)
  2. To introduce the more precise way of referring to a genetically distinct population by its lead SNP (in this case, Z3000)
  3. To attribute Colla inheritance to one of the two major branches of Z3000, i.e. Z3004 and determine their origin and arrival in Ulster.
To use the term Airgialla for the Z3000 population (clade) is imprecise as Airgialla was a confederation of mid-Ulster tribes, nine in all I believe, who were probably unrelated genetically. Later, Airgialla referred to their territory which became Anglicised to Oriel.

You obviously don't believe the Collas were real people who arrived in Oriel in the 4th c. Yet there is a substantial amount of information suggesting that they did and were probably responsible for the major sub-clades (of Z3004), Z16274 (which ultimately gave rise to McMahons, Carroll, Calan, Hughes, McQuillan) & S953 (McDonalds, McGuires, Biggins, Connally).

Population drift of DF21 was in a NW direction from Continental Europe but not all DF21 would necessarily have joined the migration. All movements of people leave genetic footprints behind and this in my view would be an explanation as to how Z16270 (which branched from Z3000 c.150 AD) remained continentally based ultimately giving rise to a plethora of Anglo-Saxon, English, Welsh, Scottish type names which finished up in Britain much later. I don't believe Z16270 ever got near to Ireland with the exception of its sub-clade, Z18003 (Carroll).

Table of Contents     

Romanized Trinovantes

Donald Schlegel has proposed an alternate explanation of the origin of the Three Collas. He starts by saying that the Collas are perhaps the only instance in prehistoric or early historic Ireland of three brothers having each a personal name, a name in common, and an epithet. The implication is that such a naming convention must have been imported, and the obvious source is the Roman Empire. He suggests they were not descended from Irish Kings but instead were Romanized Britons, originating in the Celtic tribe named Trinovantes from nearby Colchester in southeastern England, where the Romans estabilshed their first colony. They received military training from the Romans and eventually went to Ireland as mercenaries in the service of the King of Ireland. Don presented this theory in the 1998 Clogher Record. It is one of the many articles he has had published in the Clogher Record, a local history journal published annually since 1953 by the Clogher Historical Society at St. Macartan's College in the townland of Mullaghmurphy on the outskirts of the town of Monaghan, County Monaghan.

Roman Naming of the Three Collas
Praenomen
(personal)
Nomen
(family)
Cognomen
(descriptive or epithet)
CarrellCollaUais "the noble"
MuredachCollada Crioch "of the two lands" or
focrach "mercenary"
AedhCollaMenn "the famous"

See The Clogher Record, "The Origin of the Three Collas and the Fall of Emain," by Donald M. Schlegel, Volume XVI, No. 2, 1998, pp. 159-181. Also see The Clogher Record, "Reweaving the Tapestry of Ancient Ulster," by Donald M. Schlegel, Volume XVII, No. 3, 2002, pp. 689-749.

The first part of this alternative explanation is consistent with DNA results. Descendants of the Three Collas have a unique DNA which is significantly different from the DNA of descendants of Niall of the Nine Hostages. So, it seems pretty clear that the Three Collas were not cousins of Muredach Tirech, 122nd King of Ireland and grandfather of Niall of the Nine Hostages. See Modal DNA of Clan Colla Versus Niall of the Nine Hostages.

The second part of this alternative explanation has not been verified yet by DNA. We have not found a family that matches Clan Colla DNA and traces itself back to the area around Colchester. Nothing is known of the Trinovantes as a tribe with certainty after the rebellion of Boudicca about 60 A.D., so it is not possible to trace any family back to them using DNA analysis.

There are, however, two families that match Clan Colla DNA and trace themselves back to towns that had Roman settlements in Wales near the border with England. These towns are near the Roman legionary fortresses of Caerleon and Chester, the two fortresses by which the Romans controlled Wales.

  • The Roderick family matches Clan Colla and traces itself back to southern Wales near Caerleon, where a legionary fortress existed until about 280 A.D.
  • The Calkins family matches Clan Colla and traces itself back to Chester, England, on the northern border with Wales, where a legionary fortress existed until around 400 A.D.
These and other families with DNA similar to the descendants of the Three Collas could be descendants of kinsmen of the Three Collas who remained near the military posts when the Collas or their immediate ancestors moved on, from Caerleon to Chester and then to Ireland. (Family names mean nothing in this context, because they were not adopted until after 1000 A.D.)

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Tribal Drift

The archeological and geneology evidence indicates a westward and north westward movement of bronze-age Celts through Europe. Among these would be the L21 line which started north of the Alps about 4,000 years ago. Judging by todays distributions of L21+, the heaviest concentrations are found in Ireland and the Celtic fringes of Britain. It is estimated they could have started to populate Ireland about 3,000 years ago. By the time the Romans came to Britain, these Celtic people would have subsumed earlier cultures and diverged from one another over the 30 or so generations. They probably developed into tribal groups as they did in Ireland which the Romans knew as the Trinovantes, Cornovii etc. Genetically, they would have similarities and differences as exhibited between Irish tribes. There arose in one such L21 tribe, the relatively rare and stable null mutation at DYS 425, which our working hypothesis claims is the key identifier of Colla DNA. A trawl through the L21 Project showed that only about 5% had this Colla DNA.

The DNA evidence would appear to indicate that the ancestors of the Colla brothers were part of a gradual westward migration through Britain to Ireland in either pre-Roman or Roman times. The current study would position the null mutation as having occurred shortly before the Roman invasion of Britain.

In addition to the above-mentioned Roderick and Calkins representatives of the Colla DNA in Wales there is an equally strong contingent of various family names in Scotland. This, in conjunction with the occurrence of the null mutation at the beginning of the first millennium, may suggest that the Colla tribe was well established and had branched in NW Britain before coming to Ireland. On the other hand, the Scottish families could descend from members of the family who migrated to western Scotland in the ninth century with the ancestors of the MacDonalds.

It has been strongly suggested that the three Colla brothers arrived in Ireland about A.D. 300, allegedly as mercenaries to the High King. As such it has to be assumed they were trained soldiers of some sort and would have been accompanied by a band of warriors (otherwise they would never have established themselves in a hostile environment). A further assumption might be that the band of warriors was composed of a mixture of their 425 null-bearing kinsmen, kinsmen without the null, and co-opted non-kinsmen.

Whatever the starting ratios were and how these fluctuated over time, we know that among todays descendants, only about 25-30% have the 425 null. It is not possible to track back from today’s ratios to establish the starting ones as too many survival factors would have been involved1. If as alluded to in this study, there was an additional earlier 425 null mutation, their descendants formed a much lower proportion of the Colla population. In addition, during the course of their warlike activities they would have enslaved/subsumed their defeated enemies who could have been part of an earlier indigenous population thus accounting for the few from haplogroups E & I with a Colla name.

Following their successful campaigns in Ulster, the Colla tribe would have continued to diverge both genetically (markers other than 425) and geographically but those with the null would continue to retain it. At a much later date (c. A.D. 950), surnames were gradually adopted by the various Colla branches and depending on where they were living and to which Colla chieftan they owed fielty, they would have claimed that name irrespective of their DNA. Thus, those living in different parts of Oriel became Carrolls, McKennas, McMahons, McGuires, etc. It is difficult to understand how these tribal branches (now clans) had more or less similar proportions of null to non-null.

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John O'Hart
John O'Hart, 1824-1902.

Colla Surnames

Ireland was one of the first European countries to adopt hereditary surnames. At the end of his chapter on the Middle Ages in his 1969 book The Fermanagh Story, Rev. Peadar Livingstone (1932-1987) says on pages 23 and 24 that "Irish people in this era seem to have been obsessed with names. Long pedigrees are drawn up, giving the origins of most common families. As might be expected, most of the Fermanagh families trace themselves back to an Oriel origin. This, for the most part, is genuine enough. However, since an Oriel line ruled the country, it must have been popular to have Oriel origins. Some of the earlier Leinster Fir Manach must have been tempted to invent an Oriel connection where it did not exist." With that caveat in mind, we will take a look at the surnames of Clan Colla. See also Multiple-Sept Surnames.

John O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees. "From the Three Collas descended many noble families in Ulster, Connaught, Meath, and Scotland, The families descended from them were known as the Clan Colla." This is the way John O'Hart introduces the pedigrees of Three Collas in his book, Irish Pedigrees; or, the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation, published in 1892 (fifth edition), Volumes I and II. John O'Hart was born in 1824 in Crossmolina, County Mayo. His parents were Shane (John) and Nora Kilroy O'Hart of Crossmolina. His grandparents were Shane and Mary Martin O'Hart of Doonbreeda, County Mayo.

In 1845, John O'Hart married Elizabeth Burnett in Crossmolina. They moved to Dublin, where John worked for the National Education Department. In 1859, he began working on Irish Pedigrees. The first edition was published in 1876. The fifth and final edition wa published in 1892. He died in 1902 in Clontarf, near Dublin, at the age of 78.

Professional genealogist John Grenham commented on John O'Hart in a blog dated July 11, 2016, saying that "John O’Hart is "probably the single best-known writer on Irish genealogy." He had "an extraordinary appetite for work and appears to have read and absorbed every single Irish pedigree published before the 1870s." But, Grenham goes on to note that O'Hart includes "the legendary Milesian origins of the Gaels" and "extends them back to Adam, via Magog, Japhet and Moses."

Included in John O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees is his own pedigree, which goes back to the Three Collas: O'Hart Princes of Tara and Chiefs in Sligo. Included are Shane, the last prince of Tara in County Meath, who was deprived of his patrimony by King Henry II of England at the time of the Norman invasion in 1172 and resettled in County Sligo. Sixteen generations later, at the time of the Cromwellian confiscations, another Shane migrated from Sligo to a farm in Doonbreeda, County Mayo. This Shane is the great grandfather of John O'Hart.

Google Books has made the 1892 edition available online:

O'Hart provides two lists of surnames of Colla descendants:

Below is a consolidation of the two lists, in alphabetic order without regard to O' and Mac, with links to pages in the book.

Colla Surnames from O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees

The list of Colla desendants is not meant to be exhaustive. Some Colla surnames are not on O'Hart's two lists, but are referred to as Colla descendants elsewhere in his book. Page numbers are in parentheses.

The general surname indexes for the 1892 edition are:

  • Volume I, pages 861 to 896 and
  • Volume II, pages 852 to 945.

The University of Pittsburgh Library System has made the 1892 edition available online as a PDF file or Ebook:

Library Ireland has made a transcript of Volume I available online.

Other on-line sources on Irish surnames are:

Surnames from Hy-Maine have been removed from O'Hart's list of Colla surnames because DNA has shown them to have a different DNA. Hy Maine has the FGC6545 SNP. See Hy Maine Modal.

  • O Kelly, princes and lords of Hy-Maine, a territory in Galway and Roscommon. See O'Hart, page 684.
  • Madden, lords of Siol Anmcha or Silancha, which ancient territory comprised the present barony of Longford, in the county Galway, and the parish of Lusmagh on the other (Leinster) side of the river Shannon, near Banagher, in the King's County. See O'Hart, pages 568 and 572.
  • Traynor. See O'Hart, page 572-573.
  • Naghtan or Norton, chiefs in Hy-Maine See O'Hart, page 603
  • Hoolahan, chiefs of Siol Anmchada in Hy-Maine. Also Oulahan, a branch of Hoolahan, and variants Holland and Holligan. See O'Hart, page 487
  • Leahy, chiefs in Hy-Maine. See O'Hart, Volume II, page 577

Several Colla names not listed by O'Hart have been accepted on the authority of Peadar Livingstone or Edward MacLysaght:

  • McAuley, a variant of McCawley, which is listed by Peadar Livingston in The Fermanagh Story (excerpt), page 436, as a descendant of Maguire.
  • Biggins/Beggan/Beaghen/Little/Bigham, which was said by Peadar Livingstone to be descended from Maguire.
  • Collins, a variant of Callan, which MacLysaght shows as an Oriel sept from Armagh/Monaghan.
  • O'Donoghue, a variant of Donaghy, which is listed by Peadar Livingston in The Fermanagh Story (excerpt), page 426, as a descendant of Maguire.
  • Smith, which is mentioned by Peadar Livingston in The Fermanagh Story (excerpt), page 444, as a variant of Gavin and Goan, descendants of the O'Gabhann sept, herenachs of Drummally in Fermanagh. Gavan is on the O'Hart list.

John O'Hart (1824-1902) said he himself was a descendant of the Three Collas. He is generation No. 125 on page 679. As indicated in his footnote on page 678, one of John's relatives was John Hart (1713-1779) who signed the Declaration of Independence for New Jersey on July 4, 1776. There are several Harts who have Clan Colla DNA: kit Nos. 48620, 166797, and 182999. At least one of these Harts, 166797, goes back to James Hart, born in 1835 in County Cavan, Ireland. However, there are several Harts who claim descendance from Hart the Signer who do not have Colla DNA: kit Nos. 48743, 173068, and 196006. At least one of these Harts goes back to Joseph Hart, born in 1688 in Newtown, New York. Information on John Hart the Signer can be found at: Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, by members Grace Keiper Staller and Thornton C. Lockwood; Independence Hall Association, by Thomas E. Kindig; Glen Valis, a descendant of John Hart.

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Annals of the Four Masters. The Annals of the Four Masters were composed from 1632 to 1636 in the Franciscan Monastery of Donegal chiefly by Michael O'Clery (1580-1643). In 1845, Irish historiographer Owen Connellan translated the book from Irish to English. In May 2007, Google digitized a copy of the translation from the Library at Oxford University: Annals of the Four Masters. A long footnote that starts on page 2 describes the ancient kingdom of Oriel and includes the descendants of the Three Collas. "The posterity of the three Collas, called clan Colla, founded many powerful clans and noble families in Ulster and other parts of Ireland.

  • From Colla Uais were descended the MacDonnells, earls of Antrim in Ireland, and lords of the Isles in Scotland; also the MacRorys, a great clan in the Hebrides, and also many families of that name in Ulster, anglicised to Rogers.
  • From Colla da Chrich, were descended the MacMahons, princes of Monaghan, lords of Ferney, and barons of Dartree, at Conagh, where they had their chief seat. The MacMahons were sometimes styled princes of Orgiall. An interesting account of the Mac Mahons, of Monaghan, is given by sir John Davis, who wrote in the reign of James the First. It may be observed that several of the MacMahons in former times changed the name to Mathews. The other chief clans of Monaghan were the MacKennas, chiefs of Truagh; the MacCabes; the MacNeneys, anglicised to Bird; the MacArdells; MacCassidys; O'Duffys, and O'Corrys; the O'Cosgras, MacCuskers or MacOscars, changed to Cosgraves, who possessed, according to O'Dugan, a territory called Fearra Rois, which comprised the district about Carrickmacross in Monaghan, with the parish of Clonkeen, adjoining, in the county of Louth; the Boylans of Dartree; the MacGilMichaels, changed to Mitchell; the MacDonnells; the O'Connellys, and others.
  • From Colla-da-Chrich were also descended the MacGuires, lords of Fermanagh, and barons of Enniskillen; the O'Flanagans of Fermanagh; the O'Hanlons, chiefs of Hy-Meith-Tire, now the barony of Orior in Armagh, who held the office of hereditary regal standard-bearers of Ulster; the MacCathans or MacCanns of Clan Breasail, in Armagh; the O'Kellys, princes of Hy Maine, in the counties of Galway and Roscommon; and the O'Madagans or O'Maddens, chiefs of Siol Anmchadha or Silanchia, now the barony of Longford, in the county of Galway."

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Don Schlegel's Colla Family Trees. Jim McMahon's Web site, Clan McMahon of the Kingdom of Oriel, has several family trees for the Three Collas. The family trees were created by Donald M. Schlegel.

  1. na tri Colla shows the three brothers and the tribes and family names descended from them.
    • Colla Uais: MacDugal, MacRory, MacDonald of Scotland, O'Flynn, O'Donnellean
    • Colla da Crioch: Maguire, MacMahon, MacCafferty, MacDonnell of Clan Kelly, MacManus, O'Connolly, O'Hanratty, O'Cooney, O'Neillan, O'Hanlon, Kearney
    • Colla Menn: O'Heenan, MacAllan, O'Lannan
  2. Ui Chrimthainn, a particular tribe descended from Chrimthann Liath, the great great grandson of Muredach Colla da Crioch, the first King of Airghialla. You can see on this chart that Eochaid, son of Crimthainn Liath was King of Airghialla and a contemporary of Saint Patrick.
    • Daimin: O'Hart, MacDonnell of Clan Kelly, O'Kelly, O'Keran
    • Cormac: Maguire, McManus, McCaffery
    • Nadsluag: O'Carroll of Oriel, McMahon
  3. Clan Nadsluaig from whom descended the MacMahons and the O’Carrolls. This chart shows Clan Nadsluaig descending from Fergus, son of Nadsluag, grandson of Eochaid. As you follow this chart, you can see that the Lords of Fernmaig were of this line, including Mathgamna, from whom came the name MacMahon. From the line of Mathgamna come both the families of O’Carroll, known as the Kings of Oriel at the height of its power just prior to the coming of the Normans, and the MacMahons, the latter descending from Niall, brother of Murrough O’Carroll the last O’Carroll King of Oriel. (According to "The MacMahon Pedigree: A Medieval Forgery," by Katharine Simms, in Regions and Rulers in Ireland, c.1100-1650, David Edwards, Editor, 2004, the McMahons did not descend from O'Carrolls but co-existed with them in the same time frame. See also: 51 Generations: Colla to McMahon.)

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Maguires. The Maguires of County Fermanagh, descendants of Colla da Crioch, spawned many other Colla surnames in the period 1250 to 1350 AD.

  • Edward MacLysaght (1887-1986) in his Irish Families, Their Names, Arms and Origins mentions nine surnames descended from the Maguires: MacAwley, McCaffrey, O'Corrigan, Corry, Devine/Davin, Fitzpatrick, O'Hanraghty/Enright, MacAlilly/Lilly, and McManus.
  • Rev. Peadar Livingstone (1932-1987) in his 1969 book The Fermanagh Story (excerpt) includes 15 surnames descended from Maguire: MacAuley, Breen/McBrien, McCaffery, Corry, McCusker, Donaghy/Donahoe, McElroy/Gilroy, Fitzpatrick, Gilleece/McAleese, McGrath, McHugh/McGee, Lilly, McLaughlin (possibly), McMahon, McManus, Martin (possibly), Murphy. Father Livingstone told Gerard Beggan in Clones in 1969 that the Beggan surname also is descended from Maguires. Gerard lives in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan.
  • Maguire Princely Pedigree, by Jim Maguire, presents a chart of descendants of the Maguires, including 12 surnames descended from Maguire: MacAuley, Breen/McBrien, McCaffery, Corry, Gilleece/McAleese, McGrath, McHugh/McGee, McLaughlin, Lilly, McMahon, McManus, Murphy.
See also Two Maguire Septs.

Fermanagh Map
1969 map of surnames in County Fermanagh from Chapter 31, "Fermanagh Families," in The Fermanagh Story by Rev. Peadar Livingstone, Cumann Seanchais Chlochair, 1969.
Monaghan Map
1979 map of surnames in County Monaghan from page 51 of The Monaghan Story by Rev. Peadar Livingstone, Clogher Historical Society, 1979.

RootsWeb. Another excellent source for information on the Three Collas is the RootsWeb article on the Kingdom of Airghialla by Dennis Walsh.

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Clan Colla Saints

In his Irish Pedigrees; or, the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation, published in 1892 (fifth edition), Volume II, page 581, John O'Hart says The Four Masters record 39 saints as descended from the Three Collas: 19 from Colla-da-Chrioch, 16 from Colla Uais, and 4 from Colla Meann.

The following were the 19 saints descended from Colla-da-Chrioch.

  1. St. Begg (1st August)
  2. St. Brughach (1st Nov.)
  3. St. Curcach, virgin
  4. St. Daimhin (or Damin), abbot of Devenish Abbey (see page 189), on Devenish Island, Lough Erne.
  5. St. Defraoch, virgin.
  6. St. Donart.
  7. St. Duroch, virgin.
  8. St. Enna of Aaron (21st Mar.)
  9. St. Baodan (5th Feb.)
  10. St. Fergus (29th March)
  11. St. Fiachra (2nd May)
  12. St. Flann Feabhla (20th April)
  13. St. Lochin, virgin
  14. St. Loman of Loughgill (4th Feb.)
  15. St. Maeldoid (13th May)
  16. St. Mochaomog.
  17. St. Muredach (15th May)
  18. St. Neassa, virgin
  19. St. Tegan (9th Sept.)

Saint Berchan. Saint Berchan lived in the 5th century and is listed on page 17 of the The Martyrology of Donegal: A Calendar of the Saints of Ireland, translated by John O'Donovan in 1864. He lived on Inish-Rochla, an island in Lough Erne near Enniskillen in County Fermanagh, Ireland. He was five generations down from Colla da Crioch, one of the Three Collas. His feast day is November 24.

Saint Cinnia. Saint Cinnia lived in the 5th century. She was a princess of Ulster, Ireland. Saint Cinnia was converted to Christianity by Saint Patrick. When she entered a convent, Saint Patrick gave her the veil. She was descended from Colla da Crioch, one of the Three Collas. Her feast day is February 1.

Saint Tigernach. Saint Tigernach was said to have been the godchild of Saint Brigid, and educated in Scotland. He may have been a monk at Clones as well as a bishop of Clogher in County Monaghan, but accounts are not too clear. He also is called Tierney and Tierry. Saint Tigernach died in 549. He was descended from Colla da Crioch, one of the Three Collas. His feast day is April 4.

Saint Cairnech. Saint Cairnech was born after the middle of the 5th century. His brothers were St. Berchan and St. Ronan. His monastery was probably at Cruachan Ligean on Loughh Foyle, near Lifford. He died about 530. He was descended from Colla da Crioch, one of the Three Collas. His feast day is March 28.

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Four Colla Descendants

This study of the Y-chromosome DNA of the Three Collas is the product of four Clan Colla descendants.

Josiah McGuireJosiah McGuire. Josiah McGuire had his DNA tested at FTDNA in 2004. By early 2005 he recognized that he matched several other people with Colla surnames and began studying those matches. After upgrading to 67 markers in 2006, Josiah learned that he had a null value for marker 425, as did the other Colla surnames. In 2007 Josiah computed modal values for the DNA of the Three Collas and put it on Ysearch with the user ID of DURRQ. In June 2009, he started the Clan Colla Null 425 Project at FTDNA to attract Clan Colla descendants, encourage upgrades to the 67-marker test, and promote Clan Colla research. He is also an administrator of the Mag-Uidhir Clan Project. Josiah's DNA is kit #23171. His genetic distance from the 67-marker Colla Modal DNA is 9. He traces his Colla ancestry back to the eponymous Josiah McGuire, who was born in 1794 in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He has a McGuire family heritage website called A McGuire Family in America. Josiah lives in Indiana, USA. His email address is: j_j_mcguire@msn.com
Peter BigginsPeter Biggins. Peter had his DNA tested at FTDNA in 2008. When he realized with Josiah's help in May 2009 that he was descended from the Three Collas, he added this page on the DNA of the Three Collas to his genealogy website called PetersPioneers. In addition to the Clan Colla Null 425 Project, Peter is an administrator of the Breassal Breac Project, Biggins Project, the Carroll Project, the Ely Carroll Project, the Drueke Project, the Null 425 Project, the Roderick Project, the Middlessex Genealogical Society Project, and the DF21 Project. His DNA is kit #127469. His genetic distance from the 67-marker Colla Modal DNA is 6. Peter has traced his Colla ancestry back to Patrick Biggins (Beggan), who was born in 1807 in Ireland, possibly Drumgill, County Cavan (see Patrick Beggan of Drumgill). Peter lives in Connecticut, USA, where he is President of the Middlesex Genealogical Society. His email address is: pabiggin@optonline.net
Patrick McMahonPatrick McMahon. Patrick Ciaran McMahon had his DNA test at FTDNA in 2009. He is administrator of the McMahon Project at FTDNA as well as the Clan Colla Null 425 Project. In addition to being a fellow Colla descendant, Patrick spent his career working as a geneticist/operational analyst for the British Ministry of Defence. Patrick's DNA is kit #145687. His genetic distance from the 67-marker Colla Modal DNA is 4. Patrick has an advanced degree in genetics from Trinity College Dublin. He and his brother Eugene have traced their family back to Faolan MacMathghamhna (Felim/Phelan MacMahon), who lived in County Monaghan in the early 12th century (see 51 Generations: Colla to McMahon). Patrick also has done an in-depth analysis of McMahon DNA, Oriel and Thomand McMahon DNA, and Colla and Its Wider Diaspora. Patrick grew up in Hampstead Park, Glasnevin, Dublin, and now lives in Gorey, Ireland. His email address is: patmcmhn@gmail.com

Tom RoderickThomas Roderick, 1930-2013. Thomas Roderick, one of the original producers of this webpage, died September 4, 2013. His obituary appeared in the Bangor Daily News. The following message was sent to participants in the Clan Colla DNA project at Family Tree DNA.

Tom Roderick, a fellow Colla descendant and one of our four Clan Colla project administrators, died September 4 at his home in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Tom had his DNA tested at FTDNA in 2003. He was administrator of the Roderick-Rhydderch Family Project at FTDNA in addition to the Clan Colla Null 425 Project.
Tom was a research geneticist and one of the original members of the international Human Genome Organization in 1988. He was on the Emeritus Staff at The Jackson Laboratory. He had a PhD in genetics from the University of California, Berkeley.
Tom was a member of the National Genealogical Society and had traced his Colla family back to Rhydderch Evan who was born circa 1700 in Llantrisant, Glamorgan, Wales.
Two years ago, Tom summarized his views on our project:
"The Clan Colla Null 425 Project stems from the discovery that in haplogroup R1b1a2a1a1b4 there is a single subset carrying a null at DYS 425 and probably unique or nearly unique values at 2 or 3 other loci. What is important is that this haplotype clearly is associated with only one grouping of Irish clans and surnames, each of which by historical records emanates from The Three Collas, a successful aggressive clan flourishing 300-400 AD. We are looking for evidence that this null is associated with other families with different ancestry and as yet have not definitively found it. This gives us an estimate of the time of the mutation to the null a little before 300 AD.
"From the other markers, we find (using 67 Y markers) the genetic distances among the Colla Group and Colla Modal DNA range between 1 and 11, and have an average of 6. Of the 232 people, 218 or 94% of the group have a genetic distance of 3 to 9.
"These data are consistent with our estimate of the timing of the null mutation.
"One great advantage of this grouping is that it is well defined molecularly, therefore confined, small enough and yet old enough to make genealogical sense coordinating molecular and historical evidence. By more detailed analysis we can get better understanding of specific genealogical relationships among clusters of the several clans and many surnames."
Tom is in our prayers and our hearts go out to his wife Hilda and their family. He will be sorely missed by his fellow administrators.
- Peter Biggins, Josiah McGuire, Patrick McMahon

Some responses from project members:

  • Very sorry to hear the news of Tom's death. He made an incredible contributions to the Clan Colla group. He will be greatly missed. - Sally & Geoff Walker
  • Thank you so much for telling me this message. God Bless all, Donna Reiling (Gerald Alldredge Johnson)
  • Thank you for letting me know about Tom's passing. For me, Tom helped opened a very unexpected door to a family and ancestral history I did not know existed. My prayers go out for his family. - Rich Kern
  • So Sorry to learn of this. I will reach out to Hilda. Tom and I had very similar genetic code... So he said. I met him only once and by chance at my parents home when he and Hilda dropped by during a cross county trek. He convinced me to participate in the study and I'm glad I did. - Best regards, Richard Roderick
  • Sincerest sympathies and thanks to the family for all of Tom's work. May his soul rest at God's right hand. Ar dheis De'go raigh a n-anamach-Gaelic - Doreen McKenna Powers and family
  • I'm very sorry to hear about Tom. Thanks for letting us know. - Cathy (Gerald Collins, 74679)
  • Thank you for the update. Will hold positive thoughts for his family as they embrace his spirit and his loss. - Mary Ann Conley Wandell
  • I was saddened to learn of the death Thomas Roderick. His death is a loss to genetic genealogy. - Terry McGuire

Tom's DNA is still in our project. His kit is #8551. His genetic distance from the 67-marker Colla Modal DNA is 8. His SNPs can be seen on our BIG Y Tree.

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FTDNA Clan Colla DNA Project

DateMen with Clan Colla Y-DNA
DatabaseFTDNA ProjectBIG Y Tree
June 2009610
January 201014552
June 2011232148
November 2011259170
December 2012304218
April 2013319234
May 2013323238
August 2013331245
December 20133412510
June 201438028814
January 201540131036
August 201544735660
March 201648640379
August 2016532451102
August 2017594507126
August 2018643567146

The Clan Colla 425 null project at Family Tree DNA is for men who have tested their Y-DNA at FTDNA and have, or are predicted to have, a particular kind of DNA called Z3000. Many men with this type of DNA have surnames associated with descendants of three Colla brothers who lived in fourth century Ireland.

Family Tree DNA has the largest DNA database in the field. For a look inside the FTDNA lab, see "A Visit to Family Tree DNA's State-of-the-Art Lab," written by Cece Moore in February 2013 based on a tour in November 2012.

Josiah McGuire started the Clan Colla 425 Null Project in June 2009 and serves as administrator of the project along with Patrick McMahon and Peter Biggins. The project is designed to attract Clan Colla descendants, encourage Y-chromosome DNA testing, and promote Clan Colla research.

The Clan Colla project is a haplogroup project. The haplogroup is named R-Z3000, which is a SNP common to those who have Clan Colla DNA. You can participate in multiple projects at FTDNA. You are encouraged to participate in your surname project and projects for haplogroups upstream of Z3000: R-L21 and R-DF21. There is no cost for being part of projects.

By testing the Y-chromosome DNA, males can determine the origin of their paternal line. Y-DNA goes back male to male to male, like surnames. If you are a female and would like to know about your paternal line, you would have to find a male relative from that line willing to be tested, such as your father, a brother, or a cousin.

FTDNA Kit
The two swabs and scraper tubes in the FTDNA Kit. For more on how it's done, see "DNA Collection Method" by Dave Dorsey.
Y-DNA
Y-chromosome DNA goes back male to male like traditional surnames.

The Testing Process. Here are the steps in the testing process for a new tester:

  • Sign up online for FTDNA at a surname or geographical project. See Surname & Geographical Projects
  • Specify what test you want.
  • FTDNA deducts the cost from your credit card.
  • They send you a kit containing two scrapers,
  • You use the scrapers to swab the inside of your cheeks, four hours apart.
  • You return the scrapers in receptacles and mailer provided in the kit.
  • FTDNA sets up a homepage for you on their website that you access with your kit number and a password.
  • You get final results on line two months later on your homepage and on the project's public results page.
  • Your homepage gives you a list of other testers who match your DNA.
  • Ask the administrator of the surname project about haplogroup (SNP) projects you should join.
  • Ask the administrator of the haplogroup (SNP) project you join about further testing.
  • If you think you have Clan Colla DNA, join the Clan Colla 425 null project.

Requirements for Clan Colla DNA. You are considered to have Clan Colla DNA if you have the Z3000 SNP. You are predicted to have Clan Colla DNA if you have an STR genetic distance of 11 or less from our 67-STR Clan Colla modal and you have key STRs 511=9 and 425=0.

You can join the Colla project without this evidence. We will review your DNA testing. You will be told whether you have a chance of having Clan Colla DNA. If you have no chance, you will be removed from the project. If you meet our requirements, you will be placed in a subgroup. If you have less than 67 markers but have a chance of meeting our requirements with further testing, you will be placed in a special category for people with less than 67 markers.

Clan Colla Testing Alternatives. There are several alternative approaches to testing for Clan Colla DNA. We encourage you to contact a Clan Colla project administrator before deciding on a testing strategy. Having a Clan Colla surname is a weak indicator because most Colla names have alternate origins. For example, there are Monaghan McMahons (Colla descendants) and Clare McMahons (not Colla descendants). And many Colla names were probably never recorded in histories.

  1. Big Y-500: We recommend this test above all others. The cost is $499 on sale. Most testers have 67 or 111 STRs before they join our project. There are three parts to the Big Y-500 test:
    • Big Y SNPs. Testing for SNPs on a large portion of your Y chromosome through BIG Y-500. This is the ultimate in Y-DNA testing at FTDNA. Clan Colla DNA includes the Z3000 SNP and many downstream SNPs that are unique to Clan Colla. It also includes upstream SNPs, such as L21 and DF21.
    • Automatic upgrade to 111 STRs for those who have not done 111 STRs. These STRs help us predict Clan Colla DNA and subgroups for those who have not done Big Y.
    • Additional 389 STRs, to bring the total STRs to 500. These STRs can predict some Clan Colla SNPs, but they are not much use because Big Y itself yields the the actual SNPs. The number of STRs tested beyond 111 is 450 STRs rather than 389, but but a number of them do not work. Testers are guaranteed to get at least 389 STRs. In July 2018, an analysis was done on 135 Clan Colla Big Y testers. The number of STRs beyond 111 ranged from 398 to 449.
      • Of the 450 new STRs, 80% of have a value that is the same for everyone.
      • Of the 111 old STRs, 14% have a value that is the same for everyone.
  2. 67 STRs: Testing 67 STRs, which includes key Clan Colla STRs: 511=9 and 425=0. The 67-STR test is enough to verify Clan Colla DNA if the genetic distance from the 67-STR Clan Colla modal DNA is 11 or less. This test for Big Y testers helps us place other testers in SNP subgroups.
  3. 111 STRs: Testing 111 STR markers, which includes key Clan Colla STRs: 511=9, 425=0, 505=9, and 441=12. The 111-marker test is enough to verify Clan Colla DNA. This test for Big Y testers helps us place other testers in SNP subgroups.
  4. Individual SNPs: Testing for the Z3000 SNP or a few other ancient individual SNPs downstream of Z3000. A few men have done this after testing 67 STR markers. This is much less expensive than Big Y testing. It verifies Clan Colla DNA, but provides no downstream SNPs for placing oneself on the BIG Y SNP tree.
  5. Z3000 SNP Pack: Testing for the SNPs in the Z3000 SNP pack. A few men have done this after testing 67 STRs. This is less expensive than Big Y testing. The SNP pack verifies Clan Colla DNA and often provides downstream SNP matches, but does not test for recently-discovered downstream SNPs nor SNPs that will be discovered in the future.
  6. Upstream SNP Packs: Testing for SNPs in the M343, P312, L21, and DF21 SNP Packs. A few men have done these SNP packs when they had no idea that they had Clan Colla DNA. These SNP packs include the Z3000 SNP, but no downstream SNPs.
  7. 37 STRs: Testing less than 67 STRs is a weak indicator but can be a good indicator if you have certain marker values. If you have tested less than 67 STRs, you can use the values of STRs in the table below to predict your chances of matching the DNA of Colla descendants. Matches with Clan Colla project members is also a good indicator.

  STRs 1-12 STRs 13-25 STRs 26-37
Key STRs 385b 439 449 570
Target Value 15+ 13+ 28- 18+
Frequency 99% 74% 81% 90%

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FTDNA Test Results. FTDNA provides two kinds of test results: individual and public.

Table of Contents     

Clan Colla DNA STRs

There are two kinds of markers for Y-chromosome DNA: STRs and SNPs.

  • A SNP is a single nucleotide polymorphism, a mutation in the DNA that happens when a single nucleotide (A, T, G, or C) in the genome sequence is altered. A person has many SNPs that together create a unique DNA pattern for that individual. Collas have the Z3000 SNP and many downstream SNPs that show where they fall on the Z3000 Colla SNP tree.
  • An STR is a Short Tandem Repeat, or count of repeats at a physical location on the chromosome. These repeats can be used to predict STRs. They can be used to create a modal DNA for a group of men that match each other. And they can be used to measure genetic distance between two testers and between a tester and the modal DNA.
STR testing is done by everyone who tests with FTDNA. SNP testing is newer and is done by a much smaller group. This section is about STR testing results. The next is about SNP testing results.

Colla Modal and Key STRs. The study of Clan Colla DNA began with a preliminary modal DNA for relatively small number of people who had Colla names and the null value for marker 425. This modal DNA evolved into a modal DNA that was essentially the same as one established by Josiah McGuire in June 2009, based on data from the Colla DNA Project, under the user ID of DURRQ at Ysearch. This DURRQ Colla Modal DNA is now the one used in this study. Since June 2009 the database of people with Colla DNA has expanded and the modal has been recomputed. Each time, the modal has remained the same.

There are several over-represented families included in the database now. To assure that these were not skewing the data, the five largest surname groups were removed, and the modal was recomputed without them. The resulting modal, however, remained the same.

In June 2013, the modal was computed for STR markers 68 to 111 based on the FTDNA project members who had tested 111 markers. These values do not appear in DURRQ because Ysearch only accommodates 67 markers. The number who had tested 111 markers was, coincidentally, 111 people. The total number in the project, including those who had tested only 67 markers, was 241. Among the 111 who hade tested 111 markers, The modal values for markers 1 to 67 were the same as DURRQ.

The key STR markers expanded from 425=0 to 511=9 among the first 67 markers. The expansion to 111 markers brought two more key STR markers: 505=9 and 441=12. According to geneticist Patrick McMahon, "the probability of getting this combination of four markers by chance, rather than by inheritance, is as near to zero as makes no difference. The few exceptions can be easily accommodated and will probably still have three out of the four keys and similar very low probability of having arisen by chance."

Clan Colla Modal STRs

4 key markers are shaded tan. Red indicates more rapidly mutating markers.
STRs 1-12 393 390 19 391 385 426 388 439 389-1 392 389-2
Value 13 24 14 11 11-15 12 12 13 13 13 29

STRs 13-25 458 459 455 454 447 437 448 449 464
Value 17 9-10 11 11 25 15 19 28 15-15-17-17

STRs 26-37 460 GATA H4 YCA II 456 607 576 570 CDY 442 438
Value 11 11 19-23 16 15 18 19 36-37 12 12

STRs 38-47 531 578 395S1 590 537 641 472 406S1 511
Value 11 9 15-16 8 10 10 8 10 9

STRs 48-60 425 413 557 594 436 490 534 450 444 481 520 446
Value 0 22-23 16 10 12 12 16 8 12 22 20 13

STRs 61-67 617 568 487 572 640 492 565
Value 12 11 13 11 11 12 12

STRs 68-75 710 485 632 495 540 714 716 717
Value 36 15 9 16 12 26 26 19

STRs 76-85 505 556 549 589 522 494 533 636 575 638
Value 9 11 14 12 11 9 12 12 10 11

STRs 86-93 462 452 445 GATA-A10 463 441 GGAAT-1B07 525
Value 11 30 12 13 24 12 10 11

STRs 94-102 712 593 650 532 715 504 513 561 552
Value 22 15 20 13 24 17 12 17 24

STRs 103-111 726 635 587 643 497 510 434 461 435
Value 12 23 18 10 14 17 9 12 11

4 Key STRs

A June 2013 study compared 4 key STRs for two groups who had tested 111 STRs at FTDNA: 111 people in the Clan Colla project and 104 people in the DF21 project (excluding Clan Colla). All in the Colla group had at least 3 key STRs. The "other DF21" had 1 at best. Below is the percentage distribution of values.

STRs 511=9. 96% of Colla are 9 (107 out of 111). Only 2% of the other DF21 are 9.

STR 511
ValueClan Colla Other DF21
9962
10487
11011
100100

STR 425=0. 100% of Colla have the null value. Only 2% of the other DF21 have the null value.

STR 425
ValueClan Colla Other DF21
01002
12098
100100

STR 505=9. 99% of Colla are 9 (110 out of 111). The other 1 had a rare value of 10. None of the other DF21 is 9 or 10.

STR 505
ValueClan Colla Other DF21
9990
1010
1101
12084
13014
1401
100100

STR 441=12. 98% of Colla are 12 (109 out of 111). The other 2 are 11 and 13. 95% of the other DF21 are 13.

STR 441
ValueClan Colla Other DF21
1110
12980
13195
1404
1501
100100

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STR Genetic Distance. The next step was to compute the genetic distance from Colla Modal STRs for each person in the study. Genetic distance occurs because of mutations from one generation to another. If two people are identical in all STRs except they are off in one STR by 1 point, the genetic distance would be 1. If they were off at 2 different STRs 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 STR and 1 point in a second STR, then the genetic distance would be 3. Genetic distance for certain STRs or STR groups is limited to 1. This method of computing genetic distance is called the hybrid mutation model. If an STR has a null value for one person and a positive value for another, the STR is ignored.

Actual calculations were made using the FTDNA 111 Mode BETA version of the McGee Utility.

As of June 2011, there were 232 people included in the Colla Group. They have been included because their DNA has been found to match fairly closely with Colla Modal DNA. Of these 232, 148 were included in the Clan Colla 425 null project at Family Tree DNA. The rest have been by searching surname studies at FTDNA and through the use of Ysearch.

The genetic distance between the Colla Group and the 67-STR Colla Modal ranges between 1 and 11, and averages 6. Of the 232 people, 219 or 94% of the group have a genetic distance of 3 to 9.

Genetic Distance from Modal
Distribution of people by genetic distance from Colla Modal STRs. For example, it shows that 40 people have a genetic distance of 4 from the Colla Modal.

There are 26,796 possible comparisons among the 232 people: n*(n-1)/2, where n is the number of people. The genetic distances for these pairs range between 0 and 21. The average is 9.9. The total of such genetic distances up to 7 is 4,937, or 18% of the total possible matches. So, the matches that Colla people see are probably all fellow Collas, but only 18% of the total. If FTDNA were to raise the limit to 10, people would see 57% of the total possible matches, but they might also see some non-Colla matches.

Genetic Distance Between Pairs
Distribution of genetic distances in STRs among participants. For example, it shows that 232 people have 2,161 genetic distances of 7 among themselves.

FTDNA shows each participant his 67-STR matches up to a genetic distance of 7 on his homepage. And it allows participants to restrict the showing of their matches to the people in their surname project. The theoretical 67-marker match experience (within a genetic distance of 7) varies considerably by individual, from 1 to 145. The average is 43. The person with 145 theoretical matches has only 94 showing on his homepage at FTDNA because some participants restrict display of their matches to the people in their surname project. Another person has a theoretical 33 but actually sees only 25 because of the restrictors. Yet another person has a theoretical 55 but actually sees only 45 because of the restrictors.

Genetic Distance and Matches
Scattergram of genetic distance from Colla modal and number of matches up to -7 for 232 people. For example, there is one person who has a genetic distance of 4 from the Colla modal and has 27 matches with genetic distance of 7 or less. Another with a GD of 4 has 105 matches.

As indicated above, the genetic distance between the Colla Group testers and the 67-STR Colla Modal DNA ranges between 1 and 11. The table below shows the percentage ditribution of genetic distances at 67 markers and for lesser markers.

Percentage Distribution of 232 Colla Participants by Genetic Distance
Genetic
Distance
STRs Tested
1-12 1-25 1-37 1-67
0 24% 6% 0% -
1 33% 18% 3% 0%
2 32% 32% 8% 1%
3 9% 24% 18% 9%
4 1% 13% 19% 17%
5 1% 6% 22% 17%
6 - 1% 11% 18%
7 - 1% 10% 15%
8 - - 5% 11%
9 - - 2% 8%
10 - - - 3%
11 - - - 1%
Total 100% 100% 100% 100%

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Historical Surnames

Most of the participants, 80%, have surnames that the ancient genealogies say are descended from the Three Collas. The surnames are related to both Colla Uais and Colla da Crioch. There are none related to Colla Menn, but relatively few surnames are attributed to him.

Many people do not know where their patronymic ancestor came from, which is not uncommon. Only a small number of those tested live in Ireland or Scotland. Most live in America. Many of those have resorted to DNA testing for the very reason that they do not know where there ancestors came from when the emigrated to America.

The Colla Group includes some people with non-Irish sounding names. It includes some people who are related to each other. It includes surnames where there is only one representative.

As of December 2013, there were 341 people included in the Colla database. They have been included because their DNA has been found to match fairly closely with Colla Modal DNA. Within the Colla group, 208 have been assigned to Muredach Colla da Crioch and 82 have been assigned to Carrell Colla Uais, and 1 has been assigned to Aedh Colla Menn. Assignment to a brother is based on the tester's surname appearing in O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees. O'Hart indicates which brother the ancient histories say the name is descended from. In the case of McDonald, however, the name is descended from both Crioch and Uais.

Those assigned to a brother have 35 different Colla surnames. Only 30 percent of O'Hart's list of Colla Surnames are included in the study. There are a number of good reasons.

  • Many Colla names are uncommon.
  • Only a small number of people have had their DNA tested thus far.
  • Many who have had their DNA tested have tested only 12, 25, or 37 markers rather than the 67 required for this study.
  • Some people have been tested by an organization other than Family Tree DNA.
  • Some people may have lost their name because an ancestor changed his name or was adopted. These people would show up in the Unassigned Group.
  • O'Hart probably included some surnames of people who were not really Colla descendants.
There are 50 people in the Colla Group (15% of the total) that do not have actual Colla descendant surnames and cannot be assigned to one one of the Colla brothers. There are several possible reasons why they are not listed by O'Hart and other sources.
  • There was a name change by an ancestor.
  • They or an ancestor were adopted. Seven are known to be adopted or have an adopted ancestor.
  • The historical lists of Colla descendants were incomplete.
  • The name is on an historical list of Colla descendants but we have not found it yet.
  • Their ancestors were descended from cousins of the Three Collas; and their surnames, therefore, evolved differently.
  • In early Irish history there was the concept of “fostering,” where two powerful tribal leaders would place their infant son with the other family to seal a defensive alliance. It is likely that some of these sons took on the tribal name of the family with whom they were placed.
The genetic distance for the Unassigned people in the Colla Group is essentially the same as those who have Colla surnames.

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Null Value for Marker 425

DNA Sketch
First sketch of the deoxyribonucleic acid double-helix pattern in 1953 by Francis Crick.
All Colla participants by study design have taken the 67-marker test conducted by FTDNA. The 48th marker in the 67-marker test is marker 425. A null value for marker 425 separates the Colla Group from most others in the DF21 reference group. (The 47th, 76th, and 91st markers also separate Clan Colla: 511=9, 505=9, 441=12.)

A special test, called the DYF371X test, is offered for those who have the null value for marker 425, and a Null 425 DNA project was set up in 2008. As of January 1, 2014, the DYF371X test had been done for 51 members of the Clan Colla project: 49 have subvalues of 10c-12c-13c-14c and two (closely related) have a variant of 10c-12c-14c-14c. Of the 51, 31 had joined the Null 425 project.

As indicated by the Null 425 DNA project and the DF21 project, there are several people with DF21 DNA who have the null 425 but are not Clan Colla. They are missing the other three key markers: 511=9, 505=9, and 441=12. They have 67-marker genetic distances of 19-20 from the Clan Colla modal instead of 1 to 11, the range for Colla members. They do not have Colla names: Denman, Furgeson, McCloud. Like Clan Colla, they have DYF371X subvalues of 10c-12c-13c-14c. One, McCloud, has tested for Z3000 and is negative.

There have been people who match the Colla Group but do not have a null value for marker 425. According to FTDNA, the null 425 can be very difficult to identify. When one of these cases arises, FTDNA has retested, and the null value is finally identified.

The event which causes the null 425 result is a Recombinational Loss of Heterozygosity (recLOH). This type of mutation is more frequent than a SNP mutation, but less frequent than a STR mutation. It is very unlikely that a null value would ever be reversed.

Although the null 425 is fairly rare, there are groups other than Clan Colla that have the null 425. As of January 2014, there were 29 of these groups identified in the Null 425 DNA project. The major ones are shown in the table below.

HaplogroupNGenetic Distance
from 67-Marker Haplogroup Modal
Mean (Low-High)
DYF371XDYF371X VariantsFTDNA Project
E-M35 1,382 28.1 (7-51) 10c-10c-13c-13c 10c-10c-11c-13c
10c-10c-13c
10c-10c-13c-13c-13c
10c-10c-13c-14c
10c-11c-13c-14c
E-M35 project
R-L21, DF21, Clan Colla 341 6.1 (1-15) 10c-12c-13c-14c 10c-12c-14c-14c Clan Colla 425 null project
I-M223, M284 "Isles" 241 11.7 (1-36) 10c-10c-13c-13c 10c-12c-12c-12c R-M223 project
R-U106, L48, Z326 56 12.6 (5-19) 10c-10c-13c-14c 10c-10c-13c-13c
10c-10c-13c-15c
10c-10c-14c
8c-10c-13c-14c
R-U106 project

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Clan Colla BIG Y SNP Tree

The following pointers will help to navigate the Clan Colla Big Y SNP Tree shown in the window below.

  1. 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.
  2. Letters A-N at the beginning of a tree branch coincide with letters for subgroups on the FTDNA Public Test Results for the Clan Colla project. D is about half way down the window.
  3. 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.
  4. Testers. After each SNP are the names of Big Y testers whose DNA named the SNP.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Unique STRs. Shown after some SNPs are STRs (short tandem repeats) that are unique for that SNP.

Click here to open in a new window

Source: Alex Williamson's Big Tree.

Table of Contents     

About the Tree. The tree shows Y-chromosome SNPs of Clan Colla Big Y-500 testers. BIG Y is a Y-chromosome testing program offered by Family Tree DNA since 2014. It identifies a man's SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) and compares those SNPs with other men it has tested. The Clan Colla Big Y SNP Tree includes the SNPs of all Clan Colla members who have been tested under the Family Tree DNA Big Y program, which tests a large part of the Y-chromosome. The tree is based on Alex Williamson's Big Tree. Clan Colla can be found on the Z3000 portion of his Big Tree. Testers have downloaded their raw results from their FTDNA homepage. The raw results are then uploaded to the Y-DNA Data Warehouse (prior to October 2017, Big Y file in the L21 Yahoo Group). Testers agree to making their results public on the Big Tree. Alex compares a tester's SNPs with other testers and puts him on his Big Tree based on shared SNPs. We owe Alex Williamson a debt of gratitude for producing his Big Tree and including us in it. Alex has the DNA of a group called the Little Scottish Cluster.

Mike Walsh maintans a tree for Z3000 as part of his R1b Haplotree.

FTDNA maintans a tree for Z3000 as part of its Haplotree & SNPs, which is accessible by each tester from his homepage at FTDNA.

FTDNA maintans a Public Y-DNA Haplotree.

For a summary of BIG Y, see the FTDNA Big Y Q&A.

SNPs are either named or unnamed.

  • Unnamed SNPs have a 7 or 8 digit number based on their position on the Build 37 human reference genome. The letters indicate the nature of the mutation, e.g. from C to T.
  • Named SNPs have been given a short name to make them easieer to remember. If you wave over them with your cursor, you will see the longer SNP designation. SNP names start with letters.
    • "A" SNPs were named by Thomas Krahn. See the YSEQ SNP Index.
    • "BY" SNPs were found with Big Y at Family Tree DNA. See the BY SNP Index.
    • "F" SNPs were named by Li Jin at Fudan University in China.
    • "FGC" SNPs were named by Full Genomes Corporation of Virginia and Maryland.
    • "L" SNPs were named by Thomas Krahn in honor of the late Leo Little.
    • "M" SNPs were named by Peter Underhill, Ph.D., of Stanford University.
    • "PF" SNPs were named by Paolo Francalacci at the Università di Sassari in Italy.
    • "S" SNPs were named by James F. Wilson, D.Phil. at Edinburgh University.
    • "Y" SNPs were named by the YFull Team using data from the 1000 Genomes Project.
    • "Z" SNPs were assigned by the Community. Z2993 to Z3021 were assigned by David Reynolds on December 24, 2012. They were found in the Harvard Personal Genome project (PGP 85), and another public Irish genome. It was not known at the time that the man was Clan Colla, only that he was DF21. Continuing in that tradition, Alex Wlliamson has added Z names for many of the recently found shared SNPs on the tree (Z16267 to Z16279 and Z18001 to Z1811).
A more complete list of letters for named SNPs can be found on the ISOGG tree.

Table of Contents     

Advantages of the Tree. There are several major advantages of BIG Y for Clan Colla.

  • It defines Clan Colla very simply in terms of SNPs. As indicated in the tree above, a significant number of Collas have received BIG Y results and all Collas who have tested have 20 unique SNPs that identify Clan Colla DNA.
  • It confirms the prior identification of Clan Colla DNA through the use of STR markers.
  • It identifies a number of Colla SNPs that are offered by Family Tree DNA.
  • It tells individuals more precisely how they fit in to Clan Colla relative to others who have tested. There are three major groups.
    • Z16270, a group that split early from the rest of Clan Colla, including Carroll 1, Hendricksson, Paden, Peoples, Larkin 1, O'Guin, Lawler, Roberts, Rhydderch, Calkins, Johnson, Robertson, Henretty, Highlands, McVarry.
    • Z3006>Z3004>Z16274, a group that includes a number of testers named McMahon, a major Clan Colla name for whom we have a McMahon pedigree back to Colla da Crioch.
    • Z3006>Z3004>S953, a group that includes a number of testers named McDonald, a major Clan Colla name for whom we have a McDonald pedigree back to Colla Uais.
  • It tells how Clan Colla relates to other groups who have the DF21 SNP. So far, we have learned that Clan Colla shares the S971 SNP with a group including the names Ferguson and Bruce. Clan Colla also shares three SNPs with another group that includes Harbour, Daly, and Rutelli. These "unColla" SNPs are downstream of DF21 but upstream of the 20 SNPs that define Clan Colla. So, they are almost as old as the DF21 SNP.

Before BIG Y, we identified Clan Colla DNA with four key STR marker values: 511=9, 425=0, 505=9, 441=12. The first two became known in 2006, when 67 STR markers became available. The second two became known in 2011 when 111 markers became available. We also have Clan Colla modal DNA, which Josiah McGuire started in 2007. And, since 2012, we know that all Collas have the DF21 SNP. We are thankful for all that. But we knew it would be better if we had a SNP downstream of DF21 that specifically identified Clan Colla DNA.

Past efforts to find a Clan Colla SNP had failed. Bart O'Toole (N57121) participated in Walk Through the Y (WTY) at FTDNA in 2009. Bart, as well as Carroll (N71810), Conly (263699), Henretty (285468), McGuire (319027), McMahon (N83765), and Smith (83132) participated in Geno 2.0 at National Geographic (tested by FTDNA) in 2012-13. But no SNPs were found downstream of DF21.

Table of Contents     

Ordering BIG Y. On your FTDNA personal page, if you have not ordered BIG Y, you should see BIG Y on the left side under the list of your projects. Click on "Learn More" to read more about BIG Y or order it. The Clan Colla project has a General Fund that contains money available to those who need it for BIG Y testing. The money has been contributed by project members.

FTDNA has reduced the price of BIG Y several times and has had sales two or three times a year.

  • The test was introduced on November 10, 2013. The regular price was $695, but it was on sale for $495 until November 30.
  • The test was again on sale from June 9-17, 2014. This time the sale price was $595, further reduced to $495 if one could obtain a discount coupon from someone who had already tested.
  • On July 28, 2014, the the regular price was permanently reduced from $695 to $595.
  • The test was on sale for $495 from August 28 to Sepember 3, 2014.
  • On November 25, 2014, the regular price was reduced to $575. It was put on sale for $525 from November 25 to December 31, 2014, and could be further reduced to $425 with a coupon of $100.
  • The test was on sale from April 25 to 30, 2015, reduced from $575 to $475 with a coupon worth $100. (note)
  • The test was on sale from October 7 to 11, 2015, reduced from $575 to $475 with a coupon worth $100.
  • The test was on sale for $525 from November 15 to December 31, 2015, and could be further reduced to $450 with a $75 coupon.
  • The test was on sale for $460 from April 21 to April 26, 2016. (note)
  • The test was on sale for $525 from November 13 to December 31, 2016, and could be further reduced to $450 with a $75 coupon.
  • The test was on sale for $425 from April 20 to April 27, 2017. (note)
  • The test was on sale for $395 from August 1 to August 31, 2017.
  • The test was on sale for $475 from November 13 to December 31, 2017, and could be further reduced to $425 with a $50 coupon. (There were also rare $75 and $100 coupons.) In addition, the sale included a free upgrade to 111 STR markers for those who did not already have the 111.
  • On April 20, 2018, Big Y was replaced by Big Y-500, a combination of Big Y and Y-111. It includes all SNP information currently included in Big Y, as well as the 111 STRs of the Y-111 and 389 STRs from Big Y data. The regular price of the new Big Y-500 was reduced from the $575 for Big Y. It varied based on the STRs already tested.
    • 111: $449
    • 67: $559
    • 37: $649
    • 25: $699
    • 12: $749
    • 0: $799
  • Big Y-500 was on sale for $349 to $649 from April 20 to 28, 2018. (note)
    • 111: $349
    • 67: $459
    • 37: $549
    • 25: $599
    • 12: $629
    • 0: $649
  • On June 4, 2018, the regular price of Big Y-500 was reduced $60 to $150 for those with less than 111 STRs
    • 111: $449
    • 67: $499
    • 37: $569
    • 25: $599
    • 12: $629
    • 0: $649
  • Big Y-500 was on sale for $349 to $499 from June 4 to 18, 2018.
    • 111: $349
    • 67: $419
    • 37: $469
    • 25: $499
    • 12: $499
    • 0: $499
  • Big Y-500 was on sale for $349 to $499 from August 1 to 27, 2018.
    • 111: $349
    • 67: $399
    • 37: $459
    • 25: $499
    • 12: $499
    • 0: $499
  • Big Y-500 was on a flash sale for $329 to $449 from August 28 to August 31, then extended to September 3, 2018.
    • 111: $329
    • 67: $379
    • 37: $429
    • 25: $449
    • 12: $449
    • 0: $449
  • Big Y-500 was on sale for $349 to $499 from November 13 to 22, 2018.
    • 111: $349
    • 67: $399
    • 37: $459
    • 25: $489
    • 12: $489
    • 0: $499
  • Big Y-500 is on sale for $349 to $499 from November 28 to December 31, 2018.
    • 111: $349
    • 67: $399
    • 37: $459
    • 25: $489
    • 12: $489
    • 0: $499
Note: April 25 is DNA Day, the day in 1953 when James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin, and colleagues published papers in the journal Nature on the structure of DNA. Furthermore, on that day in 2003, it was declared that the Human Genome Project was virtually complete.

Clan Colla General Fund. The Clan Colla General Fund was started the Clan Colla General Fund in June 2014 to help other members defray the cost of BIG Y. If you need an additional incentive beyond those provided by FTDNA sales and coupons and funds are available, Clan Colla project administrators can provide an additonal $50 from the General Fund. You contribute the cost of Big Y, less $50, to the General Fund. Then, the project administrator buys Big Y for you using the extra $50 from the General Fund. Check with Project Administrators in advance to be sure funds are available.

Any contributions to the fund to help other members are most welcome.

Table of Contents     

BIG Y Participants. BIG Y has been ordered by 154 Collas as of June 18, 2018. The first order was in November 2013. The first results were received in February 2014.

  • 144 testers have had their raw data analyzed and put on the tree above.
  • Many well-known Colla surnames are represented among the testers, including McMahon, Hughes, Carroll, McQuillan, Kelly, McDonald, McGuire, McAuley, Boylan, Connolly, Hart, Monaghan, Higgins, McKenna, MacDougall, Duffy.
  • As of October 2017, the average number of Clan Colla Big Y SNPs under build hg19, excluding the 20 "equivalent" SNPs shared by all, is 16. The range is 6 to 25.
  • The average number of Clan Colla Big Y SNPs from Z3000 to today is 36. The range is 26 to 45. This includes 20 "equivalent" SNPs shared by all, including Z3000.
  • The average number of SNPs downstream of DF21, is 39. The range is 29 to 48.

Clan Colla Big Y SNPs
Distribution of the number of Clan Colla Big Y SNPs among 75 participants as of December 31, 2015. For example, it shows that 8 testers have 34 SNPs. The average number of SNPs is 36.

Z3000 SNP Pack. In October 2015, FTDNA introduced a Z3000 SNP pack based on Clan Colla Big Y testing results. The SNP pack is for those who have not done Big Y and have no intention of doing so. The cost is $119.

  • Those who have done Big Y gain nothing from the SNP pack.
  • Big Y provides more SNPs than the SNP pack and puts you on the Clan Colla Big Y tree. If you think you will be able to afford Big Y (discounted and with $100 from the gneral Fund), you should skip the SNP pack.
  • If you don't think you will be able to afford Big Y (on sale), you should consider the SNP pack. It will not put you on the Big Y tree but it will tell you whether you have SNPs that have been found through Big Y to be shared by two or more Collas. (Not everyone is guaranteed to have one of those SNPs.)
  • If you have been placed in a subgroup with someone on the Big Y tree, you might want to just buy that person's SNP, if available, instead of the SNP pack. Talk this over with a project administrator. Your placement in that group is just a prediction and may be wrong.
  • If you are in the subgroup with "not a good chance" or a "moderate chance" of having Clan Colla DNA, you may want to consider the Z3000 SNP pack instead of the M343 SNP pack. Check with a project administrator.
As of September 2018, the "R1b - Z3000 SNP Pack" includes the following SNPs on the haplotree: DF21, Z3000, BY3157, BY3158, BY3159, BY3160, BY3161, BY3162, BY3163, BY3164, BY3166, BY3167, BY3168, BY3170, BY3171, BY3172, BY3173, BY3174, BY3175, BY3176, BY3177, BY3178, BY3179, BY3180, BY3181, BY3182, BY3183, BY3184, BY3185, BY3186, BY3187, BY3188, A77, A937, A938, A939, A940, A941, A942, A943, A945, A946, A948, A949, A950, A951, A952, BY2869, BY2870, BY2871, BY2872, BY2873, BY514, BY515, FGC20721, M6554, S3859, S3865, S953, Y9053, Z37586, Z34751, Z31712, Z3020, Z3019, Z3017, Z3016, Z3015, Z3014, Z3012, Z3011, Z3010, Z3008, Z3007, Z3006, Z3005, Z3004, Z3003, Z3002, Z3001, Y9054, Y9055, Y9435, Y9436, Y9437, Z27678, Z29586, Z29588, Z29589, Z29590, Z16267, Z16268, Z16269, Z16270, Z16272, Z18007, Z18008, Z18009, Z18011, Z21270, Z16273, Z16274, Z16275, Z18006, Z18005, Z18004, Z18003, Z16280, Z16277, Z16278, BY3249. It includes the following SNPs that are NOT on the haplotree: PF4252, BY512, BY516, BY517, ZZ2_2, ZZ2_1, ZZ14_1, ZZ13_1, Z16276, Z16279.

Ordering Single SNPs. Individual SNP tests for a number of Clan Colla SNPs are offered by FTDNA for $39 per SNP. These SNPs were discovered through BIG Y are in bold on the BIG Y tree above. These SNPs confirm that one has Clan Colla DNA, but they do not tell you where you fall downstream of those SNPs on the BIG Y tree. The cost of one SNP is much less than BIG Y, but it may or may not be more economical.

  • If you buy the Z3000 test, you will not know where you fall downstream of that SNP.
  • If you have a good idea that you have a SNP downstream of Z3000 and test positive for that SNP, you will still not know what SNPs you have downstream of that. And, if you test negative, you will have learned only that you do not have that SNP.

Chromo2. The first Colla to receive his BIG Y results was Carroll N41845. Results were posted on February 27. In March 2014, Alex Williamson analyzed these results and found that 8 new SNPs were the same as new SNPs published by ScotlandsDNA in February 2014 for 7 anonymous people. ScotlandsDNA did not realize, however, as Alex did, that people with these SNPs are descended from Clan Colla.

The 8 SNPs found in common for Carroll N41845 and the 7 Chromo2 testers are: S951, S954, S957, S964, S966, S96,7 S968, S3862.

A Colla Chromo2 SNP tree was put together based on the work of Bruce Noe and Alex Williamson on their DF21 Chromo2 SNP tree.

Table of Contents     

L21 and DF21 SNPs

The Z3000 SNP for Clan Colla is descended from the L21 and DF21 SNPs. The two trees below summarize that relationship based on Alex Williamson's Big Tree. Click on a SNP in the trees 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. 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.

L21 was discovered in October 2008. People with the L21 SNP are said to be members of the R-L21 haplogroup. As groups of scientists discover SNPs, they are named for the research lab and the order in which they are found. The L in L21 indicates that it was found at the Family Tree DNA Genomic Research Center in Houston, Texas. The L stands for Leo Little who did much pioneering work in genetic genealogy and who died in 2008. (L21 is known as S145 in some testing organizations.)

The L21 SNP is sometimes referred to as a "Atlantic Celtic" SNP. In their 2011 book The Scots, A Genetic Journey, Alistair Moffat and James F. Wilson say L21 "could be said to be the most emphatic signal of the Celtic language speakers of the British Isles. It is found in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland and it is almost certainly characteristic of those farming communities who may have spoken early forms of Celtic languages in the centuries around 2,000 BC."

L21 SNP Tree, Including DF21

L21/S145     (Atlantic Celtic)     (2587 BC)
DF63

BY676
(Broom)

CTS6919
(Franklin,
McFarland)
DF13
FGC5494

A1148
Kenyon

A2121
Lunney, McGing
FGC11134

CTS4466
South Irish
DF21
See Below
L513 ZZ10 Z39589
L193
Scottish Borders
FGC9795
Airghialla 2
Z253 Z255
L159
Irish Sea
BY575
Whelan, Phelan, Brazile
DF41

L746
High Stewards
DF49, DF23, Z2961 L1335
Scottish Cluster

L1065
Z251
L226
Brian Boru
L1066
Continental Irish
FGC6545
Hy Maine Kelly
M222
Niall of the Nine Hostages

The DF21 SNP is downstream of L21. The first Clan Colla member tested positive for DF21 in August 2011. All Clan Colla descendants are expected to have the DF21 SNP. Other groups also have the DF21 SNP--perhaps 10 percent of all those with the L21 SNP. The DF21 SNP was discovered by an anonymous researcher using publicly available full-genome-sequence data, including the 1000 Genomes Project data. The DF in DF21 is taken from DNA-Forums.org, a now-defunct genetic genealogy community. (DF21 is known as S192 in some testing organizations.)

DF21 SNP Tree, Including Z3000 Clan Colla

DF21/S192 (2093 BC)
FGC3213 (2055 BC) S971 (1928 BC)
Z16267 (1865 BC)
Z30233 (2071 BC) S5488 (1498 BC)
Z16526
L362
McCarthy (542 AD)
S424
S190
Little Scottish Cluster (100 AD)
S5456
County Galway (550 BC)
FGC23381 Harbour, Rudelli, McDonald (1034 BC) S7858
Ferguson (576 AD)
Z3000
Clan Colla
(97 AD)
Z246
DF25
DF5 (1490 BC)
Rathlin Man 1
(2000 BC)
Z16294 (1259 BC) S7200 (1428 BC) L1336 (675 AD)
CTS3655 (1204 BC) L1403
Seven Septs of Laois (1028 BC)
FGC5780
Ó Catháin (1511 BC)
FGC15498 (940 BC) Z16291
Ely Carroll (788 BC)
L130
Duffy, Corcoran (578 AD)
L720
Clan Chattan? (136 AD)
S6003 (1314 BC)

Join Projects. Clan Colla participants are urged to join the L21 project and the DF21 project at FTDNA, as well as their surname project.

L21 Yahoo Group. The L21 Yahoo Group has been set up to serve as a forum for those interested in DF21 and other SNPs downstream of L21.

L21 SNP Tree. Mike Walsh has constructed an L21 SNP Tree. DF21 is in the upper left corner of the chart. Clan Colla is on the far right of the DF21 portion of the tree, starting with Z3000 and the major ones downstream of it. These SNPs were identified by Alex Williamson in his analysis of BIG Y testing results. Alex Williamson's analysis of L21 BIG Y testing results can be found on his DF21 Big Tree.

DF21 SNP Tree. Alex Williamson's analysis of DF21 BIG Y testing results can be found on his DF21 Big Tree.

DF21 Web Site. Charles Fueston, coordinator of the DF21 project at FTDNA, provides information about DF21 SNPs and resources on his DF21 Web Site.

Table of Contents     

Analysis of L21 and DF21 DNA

The following table compares various groups with DF21 DNA along with other groups with L21 DNA. Based on very rough estimates, these groups constitute 50% of L21.

Subgroup Name % of
L21
FTDNA Project SNP or Unique Marker Comments
DF21 Subgroups
Clan Colla5%Clan Colla project, DF21 projectSNP S971
SNP Z3000
47th marker 511=9
48th marker 425=0
76th marker 505=9
91st marker 441=12
See Clan Colla DNA Study above. This subgroup has a number of surnames historically associated with Clan Colla, including McDonald, McGuire, Carroll, McKenna, McMahon, Boylan, Duffy, Kelly, MacDougall. All who have been tested have the DF21 SNP, a subclade of L21 that includes other groups.
Ely Carroll1%Ely Carroll project, DF21 projectSNP S5488
SNP Z16281
66th marker 492=11
See Ely Carroll DNA. Modal based on people with surnames that Irish history says are descended from Ely O'Carrolls: Carroll, Bohan, Dooley, Meagher, Kelly, Murphy, Flanagan, O'Keefe, Redmond. One of the Carrolls is descended from the Carrolls of Carrollton. John O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees; or, the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation describes the relationship between the Ely Carrolls and the Carrolls of Carrollton on page 75. See also the Ely Carroll Yahoo Group maintained by Martha Bowes. All who have been tested have the DF21 SNP, a subclade of L21 that includes other groups.
CTS36551%DF21 projectSNP CTS3655
106th marker 643=9
Modal based on 25 people with the CTS3655 SNP from England and Scotland, including Reynolds, Grant, Moore, and Montgomery.
Seven Septs of Laois1%DF21 projectSNP L1403
106th marker 643=9
Modal based on 21 people with the L1403 SNP. Descended from the "Seven Septs of Laois," with Devoy, Lawlor, Moore, Kelly, Dolan and other surnames.
Z162561%Z16526 projectSNP Z16256Modal based on people with the Z16256 SNP. The SNP is a subclade of DF21, which is a subclade of L21. Includes McCarthy, one of the leading septs of Munster, displaced at the Invasion to Cork and Kerry. The Muskerry branch were seated at Blarney Castle.
Little Scottish Cluster5%Little Scottish Cluster project, R-DF21 projectSNP S190
22nd marker 464a=13
42nd marker 590=9
Three people have tested positive for SNPs S190 and S424. Testing of the SNP is not yet available at Family Tree DNA. The most common are Hall, Kilgore, McCorcle, Sloan, Boggs, and Williamson. This cluster's origin may well be in the vicinity of Stirlingshire, Scotland, about 900 to 1200 years ago. See the Little Scottish Cluster website.
L1336<1%DF21 projectSNP L1336Modal based on 12 people with the L1336 SNP from Ireland, including O'Rourke and Moore.
Clan Chattan?<1%DF21 projectSNP L720Modal based on 10 people with the L720 SNP from Scotland, including MacIntosh. These people may be descendants of Clan Chattan.
Other L21 Subgroups
South Irish4%CTS4466 project, Eo´ganacht Septs project, Corca Laidhe project, South Irish projectSNP CTS4466
67th marker 565=11
Also referred to as Irish Type II. Descendants of the Eoghanachta, an Irish dynasty centered around Cashel which dominated southern Ireland from the 7th to the 10th centuries, and the Corca Laidhe, rulers of Munster until the early 7th century. See Tim Desmond and Kathleen Sullivan Kerwin. Surnames include Sullivan, McCarthy, O'Keefe, Donahue, Driscoll, Donovan, Coffey.
L226 Brian Boru4%R-Z253 project
L226 project
SNP Z253
SNP L226
14th marker 459a=8
15th marker 459b=9
See L226 Brian Boru DNA. Also referred to as Irish Type III. The SNP L226 has been found under the R-L21 project for Irish Type III, descendants of Brian Boru. This haplogroup originated in the counties of Clare, Tipperary and Limerick around the time of Brian Boru, who was born in circa 940 and died in 1014. This type also is called Dalcassian. Surnames include O'Brien, Casey, Hogan, Kennedy, O'Neill, McGrath, Lynch, McMahon, O'Dea, and Hearne. See the Irish Type III Website maintained by Dennis Wright, who also administers the L226 Project for FTDNA. In 2009, Dennis Wright wrote "A Set of Distinctive Markers Defines a Y-STR Signature for Gaelic Dalcassian Families.
Continental Irish4%R-Z253 project
R-L1066 project
SNP Z253
SNP L1066
Also known as Irish Type IV. National origins vary. James O'Shea estimates roughly 35% Irish, 30% English and Scottish, 10% German, 25% Other.
Irish Sea4%R-Z255 projectSNP Z255
SNP L159
Also known as Beatty-Byrnes. This profile is called the Leinster Modal, because early research showed that many families in Leinster in Ireland are members of the group. The group also appears to be plentiful in other parts of Ireland and Scotland, and there seem to be a number of English matches to the modal as well.
Scottish Cluster15%L1335 projectSNP L1335Also referred to by some as Dalriada. This group is referred to as str47 'Pictish' by Alistair Moffat and James F. Wilson in their 2011 book The Scots, A Genetic Journey. In 2004, a Clan Donald press release said that they believed this group was Clan Colla. Clan Donald now calls this the R1b-L21 Red-Black subgroup and refers to it as "a very common L21+ group in Scotland." In addition to McDonald, the group includes Alexander, Campbell, Ferguson, McRae, Mitchell, Roberts, Rogers, Stewart, Templeton, Young. There is a genetic distance of 18 between the modals for this group and Clan Colla.
Hy Maine<1%DF49 projectSNP FGC6545
49th marker 413a=21
51st marker 557=17
67th marker 565=11
A Hy Maine Modal has been constructed based on FTDNA kits for 15 people with surnames that Irish history says are descended from Maine Mor who lived in Galway and Roscommon: Kelly, Madden, Traynor, Larkin. This subgroup had previously been thought of by some as related to Clan Colla. DNA testing has proven otherwise, as evidenced by the genetic distance of 18 between the modals for the two subgroups. In April 2013, one Kelly and one Traynor tested positive for SNP Z2961. This SNP, like M222, is downstream of DF23. In 1843, John O'Donovan discussed Hy Maine in The Tribes and Customs of Hy-Many, which included his translation of the Hy Maine portion of the Book of Lecan.
Niall20%M222 projectSNP DF23
SNP M222
Also referred to as Niall of the Nine Hostages and Northwest Irish. It had previously been identified in a Trinity College Study by a SNP called M222. This subgroup had previously been thought of by some as related to Clan Colla. DNA testing has proven otherwise, as evidenced by the genetic distance of 23 between the modals for the two subgroups. See Colla Versus Niall DNA. This was the original Irish type, so it should be called Irish Type I; but no one calls it that. For information on Niall of the Nine Hostages, see: The History of Ireland, by Geoffrey Keating (1569-1644), translated into English from the original Irish by John O'Mahony, 1857, pages 372 to 394. The Nine Hostages are explained on page 394. Surnames include Burns/Byrne, Cowan, Daugherty/Doherty, Ferguson, Ewing, McGonigal, Milligan, McLaughlin, O'Neill, and Wilson. David Wilson and John McLaughlin have a webpage at M222 Project. William E. Howard III and John McLaughlin have explored the DNA of Irish and Scottish surnames and possible ties to Niall in A Dated Phylogenetic Tree of M222 SNP Haplotypes.
Scottish Borders3%L513 projectSNP L513
SNP L193
Scottish and Irish located near the Irish Sea. Surnames include: Clendenen, Duff, Elliott, Kennedy, Little, McLain, Vance.
Airghialla 22%L513 project, Airghialla Mag Uidhir project, McManus projectSNP L513
FGC9795
The Airghialla 2 subgroup was identified by Joseph Donohoe. See Two McGuire Septs. This subgroup consists of McGuires from the same general area as the McGuires of Clan Colla, but with different DNA. There is no historical record of two separate groups of McGuires. While this group has many McGuires, it does not have the large variety of other historical Colla surnames that Clan Colla has. Surnames in this subgroup are McGuire, McManus, Byrne, Corrigan, Donohoe, McCauley, Garvey, Plunkett, McCown. A number of people have been found to have the FGC9795 SNP. FGC9795 is a sublclade of L513, which in turn is a subclade of L21.

The 67-marker modal DNAs of the subgroups listed above are shown in the following table.

The genetic distances among the 67-marker modal DNAs of the subgroups listed above range between 11 and 20 as shown in the following table. Calculations were made using the FTDNA 111 Mode BETA version of the McGee Utility. The method of computing genetic distance is the hybrid mutation model. If a marker has a null value for one person and a positive value for another, the marker is ignored. So, the genetic distances between the Clan Colla modal and other modals ignore marker 425 and are a little low. As an example, see Colla Versus Niall DNA.

Using data prepared by Alex Williamson based on data from Michael Walsh in August 2012, Patrick McMahon has added data on Clan Colla and created the following graph showing the descendancy of many of the SNPs outlined in the table above. It shows, for example, that Clan Colla first appeared about 2000 years ago and DF21 first appeared about 3000 years ago. The arrows indicate measures of uncertainty. The numbers under the SNP are sample sizes and the labels indicate associated haplogroups (where known). The horizontal space is for separation of lines and labels.

Haplogroup timeline from Eupedia

Table of Contents     

History Lessons

Verification of Ancient Irish History

DNA testing has verified some ancient Irish genealogies.

  • Clan Colla existed back in 4th century Ulster.
  • Cian, the progenitor of Ely Carroll, existed back in 3rd century Munster.
  • Brian Boru existed back in 10th century Ireland.
  • Hy Maine existed back in 4th century Connacht.
  • Niall of the Nine Hostages existed back in 4th century Ulster and Lowland Scotland.
  • McGuire/McManus existed back in 14th century Ulster.
  • The Lords of the Isles existed back in 12th century Scottish Highlands.

Correction of Ancient Irish History

DNA testing has also corrected some ancient genealogical connections that had historically been thought to exist.

  • McDonalds who were Lords of the Isles had previously been thought by some to be descended from Colla Uais, but a group descended from the Lords of the Isles, including chiefs and chieftans, has been found by Clan Donald DNA project to have Norse DNA. There is, nevertheless, a significant number of McDonalds with Clan Colla DNA, some of whom are descended from Colla da Crioch, but most of whom appear to be descended from Colla Uais. There are also a number of McDonalds descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages and a Scottish cluster thought by some to be from Dalriada or Pictish. A December 2010 study of 213 McDonalds with 67 markers showed the following distribution: 21 Clan Colla, 18 Niall of the Nine Hostages, 27 Scottish cluster, 61 Norse, and 86 ungrouped.
  • All McGuires had previously been thought by some to be descended from Clan Colla, but there is a significant group of McGuires and their McManus descendants that have different SNPs from Clan Colla and a genetic distance of 21 from Clan Colla.
  • Hy Maine and Clan Colla had previously been thought by some to be descended from a common ancestor, but they have different SNPs and there is a genetic distance of 17 between their modals. There are Kellys with Clan Colla DNA, but they are likely from another Kelly pedigree called Clankelly.
  • Northwest Irish (Niall) and Clan Colla had previously been thought by some to be descended from a common ancestor, but they have different SNP and there is a genetic distance of 20 between their modals. See Colla Versus Niall DNA.
  • South Irish, Brian Boru, and Ely Carroll had previously been thought by some as descended from a common ancestor, Olioll Olum. DNA testing has proven otherwise, as they have different SNPs and significant genetic distances between their modals:
    • 9 between South Irish and Brian Boru,
    • 13 between South Irish and Ely Carroll, and
    • 12 between Brian Boru and Ely Carroll.
The fact that some historic connections are contradicted by DNA should not be taken as a denunciation of all history.

Table of Contents     

Deep Ancestry

Patrick McMahon analyzed the geographic distribution of the members of the L21 project at FTDNA in January 2011 and made the following observation.

Assuming today's testers are a random sample, these results support the views put forward by many that the L21 SNP occurred somewhere north of the Alps (about 4,000 years ago) and the L21 population drifted Northwest over time concentrating in the western fringes of the British Isles mainly in Ireland. North of the Alps would most likely be Germany or France where the original (presumed) high numbers would over time be replaced by further waves of migrants or simply driven North by more advanced civilisations.
How they made their way to Ireland is open to conjecture. The shortest sea journey then (3,000 to 4,000 years ago) as now would be from France to Southern England. However, they could have made their way directly to Ireland from Brittany (or via Cornwall or Wales). The figures support the view that there was no significant migration towards the Eastern parts of Europe and only minor ones to Scandinavia and Spain with the main thrust through Northern France to Britain and Ireland. Archaeologists have termed these peoples (and the proto-Collas are part of this population) as 'Bronze-age' Britons.
L21 Map from Eupedia

For a good presentation of the origins, age, spread, and ethnic association of Europeans see Eupedia. Following is a haplogroup timeline taken from Eupedia. "ybp" is years before the present.

Haplogroup timeline from Eupedia

Table of Contents     

Two Sets of 33 Names

The identification of Clan Colla DNA rests upon the similarity between two sets of 33 names.

  1. A set of 33 names from ancient Clan Colla pedigrees listed in John O'Hart's 1892 Irish Pedigrees.
  2. A set of 33 names with DNA gathered since 2003 with the same unique markers: 511=9, 425=0, 505=9, 441=12.

Name Set 1Name Set 2
Boland of Ulster, anglicized Boylan, O'Hart 365Boylan 65227, Boylan 86258, Boyle N50500
Colcan, O'Hart 608 or Colgan of Ulster, 671 Calkin 55805, Calkin 56933, Calkin 64822, Calkin 66609, Calkin 69438, Calkin 70545, Calkin 71614, Calkin 92235, Calkin 93002, Calkin 102175, Calkin 143414, Calkin 150549, Calkin 150551, Calkin 150552, Calkins 62098, Calkins 90197, Calkins 104240, Calkins 129419, Calkins 150127, Calkins 173760, Calkins 176713, Calkins 182104, Calkins N16767, Calkins 62104
Carroll of Oriel (or Louth), O'Hart 379 Carroll 116894, Carroll 91949, Carroll 101232, Carroll 102450, Carroll 105523, Carroll 105592, Carroll 107119, Carroll 239253, Carroll N41845, Carroll 271890, Carroll 294866, Carroll 167430, Carroll 153929, Carroll 30624, Carroll 32061, Carroll 31491, Carroll 33486, Carroll N71810
Connolly, chiefs in Fermanagh, O'Hart Vol. II, 577 Conley 84262, Connally 263699, Connelly 78625, Connolly N88161, McConnell 169972
Davin, chiefs of Tirkennedy, anglicized Devine, O'Hart 403 Devine 51491, Devine 117316
O'Hart, princes of Tara, and chiefs in Sligo, O'Hart 664 Hart 48620, Hart 166797, Hart 182999
Higgins, O'Hart 669 Higgins 64895, Higgins 70725, Higgins 96415, Higgins 187205
MacHugh of Ulster, O'Hart 542 Hughes 7996, Hughes 27184, Hughes 194157, Hughes 200241, Hughes 252300, Hughes 263704, McGee 183215
Kelly of Ulster, O'Hart 671 Kelly 73887, Kelly 84941, Kelly 107942, Kelly 160515
MacDougall , O'Hart 539 MacDougall 21971, MacDougall 144808
MacUais, anglicized MacEvoy, MacVeigh, O'Hart 565 Beeman 113649, McAulay 112471, McAuley 47703, McCall 39559
MacClean, O'Hart 669 Main 189681, McClain 87597, McClaren 80733, McClain 39313
MacDonnell of Antrim, O'Hart 527
MacDonnell, lords of Clan Kelly, County Fermanagh, 536
McDanal 196960, McDaniel 112197, McDaniel 278275, McDaniel 146160, McDaniel 144688, McDonald 13758, McDonald 124947, McDonald 133546, McDonald 28300, McDonald 129206, McDonald 156049, McDonald 187107, McDaniel 230163, McDonald &DIOSM, McDonald &DWXBQ, McDaniel 16694, McDaniel 205044, McDaniel 40141, McDaniel 68473, McDaniel 169145, McDaniel &93F4C, McDaniel 140815, McDaniel 270994, McDonald B3331, McDonald &OMPW5, MacDonald 195306, McConnell &KWGMO, McDonnell 183533
Maguire, princes of Fermanagh, O'Hart 576 McGuire 222108, McGuire 20871, McGuire 21218, McGuire 23171, McGuire 32277, McGuire 33735, McGuire 111694, McGuire 113714, McGuire 146421, McGuire 183025, McGuire N7273, McGuire 86421, McGuire 86542, McGuire 108908, McGuire 158193, McGuire 170292, McGuire N35961, McGuire 44801, McGuire 209574
McKenna, lords of Truagh, County Monaghan, O'Hart 543 McKenna 6419, McKenna 21156, McKenna 64767, McKenna 64768, McKenna 64771, McKenna 65962, McKenna 67837, McKenna 100576, McKenna 150811, McKenna 171658, McKenna 194128, McKenna 236079, McKinney 68390
McMahon, lords of Farney, County Monaghan, O'Hart 549 MacMahon 14876, MacMahon 183423, Mahon 272307, Mathews 291136, Matthews 52246, McArdle 144005, McArdle 99317, McMahan 177680, McMahon 34826, McMahon 295755, McMahon 156881, McMahon 210649, McMahon 69356, McMahon 145687, McMahon 197862, McMahon 229945, McMahon 281505, McMahon B2743, McMahon N65214, McMahon N83765 Mahon RQ5R9, McMahon 13852, McMahon 39409, McMahon 249546
MacQuillian, powerful chiefs in Antrim, O'Hart Vol. II 578 Collins74679, Collins 170471, Collins 209736, Collins N29780, McQuillan 82960, McQuillen 145804
Monahan or Monaghan of Ulster, O'Hart 639 Monaghan 110455, Monahan 237073, Monaghan 303542
Nealan, O'Hart 604 Neal 7206, Neal 7207, Neal 181440
MacRobertaighe, anglicized Roberts and Robertson, O'Hart 565, 566 Roberts 23643, Roberts 145674, Robertson 133292
Ruaidhri, anglicized Roderick, O'Hart 383 Roderick 8551, Roderick 8553, Roderick 8651, Roderick 12484, Roderick 49959, Roderick 49960, Roderick 49961, Roderick 49962, Roderick 49963, Roderick 134799, Roderick 167671, Roderick 168082, Roderick 185740, Roderick 212105
Shannon, O'Hart 640 Shannon 27818, Shannon 27820
Gavan/Gavin, anglicized Smith, O'Hart 467 Smith 60356 Smith 66214, Smith 72558, Smith 74097, Smith 135051, Smith 119122, Smyth 122652, Smith 252846, Smith 109734
Carbery, O'Hart 671 Curby B9264
MacElligott, anglicized Elliott, O'Hart Vol. II 578 Elliott 104716
O'Heany, chiefs of Muintir Maolruanaidh, O'Hart 818, 672 Heaney N49738
Cairns, anglicized Kern, O'Hart 374 Kern 37416
Lawlor of Monaghan, O'Hart 514 Lawler 180119
Lynch, O'Hart 669 Lynch 135626
McArthur, O'Hart 477 McArthur 245572
Feehan, O'Hart 671, 513 Feehan 98203
O'Hanratty, ancient chiefs of Hy-Meith-Macha, O'Hart 670, 817 Henretty 285468
Rogers, O'Hart 669 Rogers N52848

Comments.

  • Name Set 2 contain 212 out of 341 men in the Clan Colla database as of December 2013.
  • BIG Y testing has shown that some men with the same name in Name Set 2 have different DNA pedigrees. Only one DNA pedigree could be associated with the ancient pedigree in Name Set 1.
  • Many people with Clan Colla DNA do not have historical surnames, e.g., Clarke, Duffy, Godwin, Judd, MacAdams, Morris, Paden, Pate, Plunkett.
  • Clan Colla DNA has not yet been found for several historical Clan Colla names, e.g., Fogarty, O'Conor of Ulster, McGrath, Malone, MacSheehy, MacTiernan.
  • For more information, see Colla Surnames and Historical Surnames.

Table of Contents     

Multiple-Sept Surnames

The descendants of the Three Collas share a common pattern of Y-chromosome DNA markers, and many have surnames mentioned in ancient genealogies as descending from the Three Collas. Not all people with Clan Colla surnames, however, have Clan Colla DNA. In the early days of Y-DNA testing, there was a tendency for people with Colla names to think that they were descended from Clan Colla just because they had a Colla name. For example, in 2004, a Clan Donald press release said that they believed a group of McDonalds (now called the Scottish Cluster) was Clan Colla. This turned out to be wrong. As more people with other Colla names tested their DNA, it became apparent that another somewhat smaller group of McDonalds was Clan Colla because their DNA matched up with people with other Colla surnames, such as, McMahon, McGuire, Carroll, etc. Of the 234 Collas in the Clan Colla project today, only 12, including one McDonald and two McMahon, had been tested at the time of the Clan Donald press release in 2004.

To verify that we have the right Clan Colla group, we have examined the variety of septs that exist within the surname projects that include the major Clan Colla surnames. On April 19, 2013, data was drawn from surname projects at Family Tree DNA that descendants of the Three Collas participate in. The people in those surname projects were categorized according to haplogroup based on their actual or projected haplotype. These categories indicate the variety of septs with the same or similar surname. The following table shows the distribution among various R haplogroup septs of people with the more common Colla surnames. The first four surnames are the most well-known Colla surnames: McDonald, McMahon, McGuire, and Carroll. Only four of the surnames have a majority in Clan Colla: McKenna, Calkins, Roderick, and Biggins. There are 158 Collas in the table, about half of the total Colla database of 319 as of April 19, 2013.

People with the More Common Colla Surnames Who Match the DNA of Various Septs

67 Markers, April 2013 - click on the surname to see the underlying data
SeptHaplogroup McDonald McMahon McGuire Carroll McKenna Kelly Hughes Duffy McAuley MacDougall Calkins Roderick Biggins
Clan CollaR1b-DF2125201916134643224148
Ely CarrollR1b-DF2100011010000000
Niall/Northwest IrishR1b-M22233221022362111001
Airghialla 2R1b-FGC979533300000010000
Hy MaineR1b-Z296100000120000000
L226 Brian BoruR1b-L2262231020000000
South IrishR1b-CTS44662102180020000
Scottish ClusterR1b-L133539000000100000
Irish SeaR1b-Z2555507011000000
Breassal BreacR1b-DF270006010000000
Other R1bR1b 13712123353292167220
Lord of the IslesR1a-L17684000000001000
Other R1aR1a 8002010000000
TotalR 33845557819106429331126169

Most people with Colla DNA are not the majority of those with their surname. In fact, the majority of people with Colla DNA are a minority of those with their surname. And, therefore, most people with Colla surnames do not have Colla DNA. The reason is that most Irish surnames appear in mutiple septs. For example, as shown above, there are McDonalds descended from Clan Colla, but there are also McDonalds descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages (Northwest Irish) and the Scottish cluster. There are many McDonalds in the R1b haplogroup for whom a sept has not been identified. There are 84 McDonalds in the R1a-L176 haplogroup descended from the Lord of the Isles. There are McGuires descended from Clan Colla, but there are also many Maguires descended from another unrelated sept in the Fermanagh area, called Airghialla 2.

There are several explanations for this phenomenon of multiple-sept surnames.

  • The same surname developed independently in different geographic areas.
  • At the time surnames came into being around a thousand years ago, many surnames were based on relatively common given names.
  • A male was adopted by a clan other than the one he was born in.
  • A male married a woman from another clan and took her surname, perhaps because it was a more respected name.
  • A male changed his surname when he was ennobled or otherwise came into possession of territory, perhaps adopting the name of a respected prior holder of that territory.
  • A male was a subordinate (vassal, servant, slave, etc) of a member of another clan and took his master's surname when he became free.
  • A male took the surname of another clan without any connection to the clan, simply because it was a respected name.
Most of the septs shown above are part of the R1b haplogroup called the L21 haplogroup (also called R1b1a2a1a1b4). For more information on these septs, see L21 and DF21 SNPs.

Table of Contents     

Two McGuire Septs

Donohue Study. In August 2009, Joseph A. Donohoe V (1941-2011) reported on the DNA of descendants of the Three Collas in his Breifne Clans DNA, Y-DNA reports BCP Report 5, Part 7 and BCP Report 5, Part 8. He independently identified the Clan Colla group that was identified by the Clan Colla project started by Josiah McGuire in June 2009. He called it Airghialla 1 because he was not sure it was Clan Colla. He said he was "not fully persuaded yet of the validity or applicability of the Colla tradition, particularly in view of the great number of traditionally Colla surnames not represented here." As part of his study, Joseph established a modal DNA for Airghialla 1 at Ysearch under the user ID of WHYAA. It is the same as the DURRQ modal used here.

To test the validity of Airghialla 1, Joseph came up with a second group called Airghialla 2. As part of his study, Joseph established a modal DNA for Airghialla 2 at Ysearch under the user ID of 9U5BW.

In comparing Airghialla 1 and 2 on page 184 of the report, Joseph says that Airghialla 1 "appears to have been prominent in the South Tyrone – North Monaghan area from the sixth century, if not earlier," while Airghialla 2 "rose to historical prominence later . . . in the ninth century." He concludes that Airghialla 1 "would appear to be the best candidate" to represent the DNA of the Three Collas.

Joseph himself is not Airghialla 1 or 2. He is a descendant of Niall of the Nine Hostages, also called R-M222 or Northwest Irish.

Both Airghialla 1 and 2 contain significant groups of McGuires. It is now gernerally accepted that Airghialla 1 is Clan Colla and Airghialla 2 is a separate group without a clan name. Airghialla 2 surnames include McGuire, McManus, Byrne, Corrigan, Donohoe, McCauley, Garvey, Plunkett, McCown. The DNA of Airghialla 1 and 2 is very different. Airghialla 1 has been found to have the DF21 SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism). Airghialla 2 has been found to have the FGC9795 SNP. FGC9795 is a sublclade of L513. Both DF21 and L513 are subclades of L21. There is a genetic distance of 21 between the 67-marker modals for Airghialla 1 and 2.

McGuire Projects. There are three McGuire projects at FTDNA. Patrick Meguire started the McGuire DNA project in June 2004. It focuses on McGuires whose ancestors lived in Colonial America. Josiah McGuire started the Mag-Uidhir Clan DNA project in April 2010. Brad McGuire started the Airghialla Mag Uidhir DNA project in October 2010.

Airghialla 2 Pedigree. There is a Charles Robert McGuire (kit #21228), whose ancestry has been traced back to the the McGuire "Junior Line" from Tempo, County Fermanagh. His DNA is clearly Airghialla 2 rather than 1. There are several sources that refer to this pedigree.

McManus. The ancient genealogies say that Donn Mor Maguire, who lived in the 12th century, was the common ancestor of the McGuire chiefs and the Maghnus (Manus) McGuire sept. As of June 2011, 11 of the McManus testers at FTDNA are Airghialla 2. This includes three who have tested 67 markers, four who have tested 37 markers, and four who have tested 25 markers. No McManus testers are Clan Colla (Airghialla 1).

Peadar Livingstone. How do we explain the two different Airghialla 1 and 2 McGuires? One of the two Airghialla McGuire groups must have received their name through adoption or some other way at some point in the history of the McGuires.

  • An Airghialla 2 McGuire may have adopted an Airghialla 1 McGuire sometime before or after Donn Mor.
  • An Airghialla 1 McGuire may have adopted an Airghialla 2 McGuire sometime before Donn Mor.
Regardless of who adopted whom, it is the Airghialla 1 McGuires that have the pattern of DNA found among a group of people with a variety of surnames attributed to Clan Colla in ancient genealogies. But where do the Airghialla 2 McGuires come from? The Fermanagh Story (excerpt) (1969) by Rev. Peadar Livingstone (1932-1987) may shed some light on this question.

Chapter 1 is about Early Fermanagh. It does not say that there were two Maguire clans, but it identifies two possible sources of the McGuires: the Fir Manach of Old Leinster and the Three Collas.

  • Three Collas. "Who were these people of Oriel or Airghialla? This is one of the many questions . . . that we cannot answer yet. . . . Possibly they lived here as a subject race to the Ultaigh before the Ui Neill eventually 'liberated' them. They may have been the descendants of hostages (Airghialla) captured by the Ui Neill and used by them to 'plant' their new conquest. . . . Later genealogists make them descend from Cormac Mac Airt's grandsons, the Three Collas. . . . Many modern scholars deny that the Collas existed at all." - page 5
  • Leinster Fir Manach. "If the legend can be believed, they reached the Upper Lough Erne country long before [400 A.D.]. They hailed from Leinster. According to one story they killed Eanna, the king's son, and had to leave. They . . . . came north-west, entered the country from the east and settled along the north shore of the lake. It is most probable that Lisnaskea was the centre of their operations. . . . Soon we will see the Oriel families come and take control of it." - page 6

Chapters 3 and 4 cover the Middle Ages (500-1300) and the Maguire Years (1300-1589). Here Livingstone expresses uncertainty about the origin of the Maguires several times:

  • "Irish people in this era seem to have been obsessed with names. Long pedigrees are drawn up, giving the origins of most common families. As might be expected, most of the Fermanagh families trace themselves back to an Oriel origin. This, for the most part, is genuine enough. However, since an Oriel line ruled the country, it must have been popular to have Oriel origins. Some of the earlier Leinster Fir Manach must have been tempted to invent an Oriel connection where it did not exist." - pages 23-24
  • "we . . . are doubtful about Fermanagh's greatest family, the Maguires, who come into our picture towards the end of the thirteenth century. Genealogists give them Oriel ancestors. But were they really of Ulster stock?" - page 24
  • "where the Maguires come from or from what origins we do not know with certainty" - page 25
  • "Possibly they were of old Leinster Fermanagh stock, now again asserting themselves after the Oriel ascendancy." - note 65 (chapter 3)
  • "we do not know who the Maguires really were or where they came from. Faulty-looking genealogies give them an Oriel pedigree. Possibly they were descended from the old Leinster settlers" - page 26

What would Peadar Livingstone say if he knew what we know today about the DNA of the Three Collas and people named McGuire and McManus? I think he would say that the McGuires with Airghialla 1 DNA have Oriel roots and are descended from the Three Collas. And he would say that the people with Airghialla 2 DNA are descended from the McGuires perhaps back to Donn Mor McGuire but have other roots such as Leinster Fir Manach or possibly Ultaigh. Other than that, he would have to say "we do not know who the earlier McGuires really were or where they came from."

Patrick Stephen Dinneen. In 1917, Patrick Stephen Dinneen translated into English a story written in Irish not long before the year 1716, which he thinks came originally from a McGuire family history by O'Luinan, chief chronicler to Maguire, who died in 1478. The 1917 translation is called The Maguires of Fermanagh.

The story is about the three surviving sons of Donn Mór Maguire:

  1. O'Donnell, adopted by Donn Mór Maguire when he married the widow of O'Donnell of Tyrconnell, nee O'Neill; lived in Ballyshannon, County Donegal
  2. Maghnus, the first natural-born son of Donn Mór Maguire and the widow O'Donnell, nee O'Neill; inherited the realm of Donn Mór Maguire; lived on Belle Isle in Lough Erne, County Fermanagh
  3. Giolla 'Iosa, the second natural-born son of Donn Mór Maguire and a daughter of O'Reilly of Breifne; lived in East Breifne (County Cavan after 1579)

Three Surviving Sons of Donn Mór Maguire

FatherSonMother
Birth: O'Donnell
Adoptive: Donn Mór Maguire
O'DonnellA daughter of O'Neill
  • married to O'Donnell and widowed
  • married to Donn Mór Maguire after the death of O'Donnell
Donn Mór MaguireMaghnus
Giolla 'IosaA daughter of O'Reilly

The story is about Maghnus, who inherits the realm of his father but is disabled and loses the support of O'Flanagan and other chiefs. Maghnus asks his brother Giolla 'Iosa to help him regain the support of O'Flanagan and the other chiefs. Giolla 'Iosa seeks the aid of O'Donnell and the two of them together take O'Flanagan and the other chiefs to Maghnus and regain their support. Maghnus then passes on the Maguire realm to Giolla 'Iosa.

The story suggests that there might be two McGuire DNAs, but it does not explain Airghialla 1 and 2 DNA. Irish history and modern DNA indicate that O'Donnells are descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, not Airghialla 1 (Clan Colla). And, the story says that Donn Mór Maguire is descended from Clan Colla, but modern DNA says that McManuses are descended from Airghialla 2.

Table of Contents     

Two Somerled Pedigrees

Y-chromosome DNA has confirmed ancient history relating to Clan Colla and other groups. It also has revealed areas where the history is wrong. One of the areas where the history has been proven wrong has to do with McDonalds who were Lord of the Isles.

In March 2004, the Clan Donald DNA project announced that an R1a Norse DNA identified "descendants of Somerled, ancestor to many MacDonalds, MacDougalls, and MacAllisters, including our Clan Chiefs." The R1a DNA that includes these Clan Chiefs is now generally accepted and is known as L176>YP326>CLD56. The only question is whether they descend from Somerled.

The histories say that the Lord of the Isle McDonalds are descended from Clan Colla through Somerled, his great great grandson Angus Og, and John of Islay. Testing has shown that descendants of Lord of the Isles McDonalds have R1a Norse DNA rather than R1b Clan Colla DNA. And, testing has shown that McDonald descendants of Angus Og's "brother" Alasdair Og have R1b Clan Colla ancestry. R1a and R1b split off from each other 25,000 years ago. These two brothers, who lived in the 13th/14th century, obviously had different fathers. Which one descended from Somerled? In other words, was Somerled R1a or R1b?

Alasdair OgAngus Og
Y-DNA SNPsR1b: L21>DF21>Z3004>A938R1a: L176>YP276>YP280>CLD56
Testers in February 2018Clan Colla Project: 36Clan Donald Project: 208
Tester List BY3158 (STRs 19=15, 437=14, 534=17, 446=14)
Clan Donald Project R1b Pale Violet
Clan Colla Project McDonald 1 subgroup

BY3249 (STRs 19=15, 534=17)
Clan Donald Project R1b Magenta-Black
Clan Colla Project McDonald 2 subgroup
Clan Donald Project R1a -Black
PedigreesClan Colla: 43 Generations: Colla to McDonaldClan Donald: Descendants of Somerled

As of February 2018, there were 36 McDonalds with Clan Colla R1b-A938 DNA (L21, DF21, Z3000, A938 SNPs) and 208 McDonalds with Norse R1a-CLD56 DNA (L176, YP326, CLD56 SNPs). The Clan Colla McDonalds are in two R1b subgroups: Pale Violet and Magenta-Black. They can be distinguised by their null value for marker 425. The Norse McDonalds are in 13 R1a subgroups with color names that end in Black.

The Clan Donald DNA project is one of the oldest and largest surname projects at FTDNA. The project administrator is Mark MacDonald, National Historian for Clan Donald U.S.A. The project co-administrator and webmaster is J. Douglas McDonald an Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois.

The Clan Donald DNA results for its R1b Pale violet subgroup includes what the Clan Colla project calls its McDonald 1 subgroup. There is no mention of the pedigree back to Alasdait Og as of February 2018. At one time, Clan Donald said "this group appears to all be descendants of Lt. Brian McDonald, chief line of Leinster and Ulster in Ireland who emigrated to Brandywine Creek Delaware in the late 1600s." But there was no mention that the line goes back to Alasdair Og.

The Clan Donald DNA results for its R1b Magenta-Black subgroup includes what the Clan Colla project calls its McDonald 2 subgroup. Clan Donald states that "signatures parallel to this group can be found among the McMahons of Fermanagh (one of the territories of ancient Oriel founded by the Collas who allegedly conquered Ulster around 330 AD)." Clan Donald says that its Pale violet subgroup is a subset of its Magenta-Black subgroup.

Two opposing positions on the ancestry of Somerled have been taken by Donald Schlegel and Clan Donald:

  • Donald Schlegel takes the position that Somerled was Clan Colla, and a Norse descendant adopted the McDonald name sometime later.
  • Clan Donald takes the position that Somerled was Norse and that a Colla descendant adopted the McDonald name sometime later.

In his "The Origin of the Name Somhairle," Don Schlegel says that the Gaelic name Suairlech was used in Ireland and perhaps in Scotland before the Norse name Sumarlidi appeared; it was used primarily among the Dál Araidhe of what now is County Antrim. He says it is at least as likely, if not more likely, that the name Somerled came from the Gaelic name.

Clan Donald graciously admits that Donald Schlegel has done a "very persuasive analysis" of the Colla Irish lines in his book, The Ancestors of McDonalds of Somerset, and the portion of that book describing the Colla ancestry of Somerled is reproduced on the Clan Donald site.

A son or grandson of Somerled was Dugall, Lord of Lorne, from whom MacDougalls are said to descend. The MacDougall DNA project includes two Clan Colla descendants and one Norse descendant. One of the Clan Colla descendants, David MacDougall (FTDNA kit #21971), has an ancestor, Iain MacDhubhghaill, who is from Lorne according to an 1890 history of Christmas Island.

Norse Versus Colla Ancestry for Key Somerled Descendants

20. Somerled, Thane of Argyll, the patriarch of this family, early in the 12th century acquired the Western Islands, by his marriage with Effrica, daughter of Olavus, King of Man; and assumed the designation of King of the Isles, which his successors held, independent of the Scottish Kings, for three generations; died in 1164.

21. Reginald, born about 1148 in Morven, Argyll, Scotland; 2nd Lord of the Isles; married Fiona Moray from Galloway; known as a benefactor of the Abbey of Paisley; credited with founding Cisterian Monastery; died in 1207 in Kinyre, Argyll, Scotland
22. Dugall, Lord of Lorne, from whom MacDougalls are said to descend. 22. Donald, 3rd Lord of the Isles; married Princess Margaret Stuart, granddaughter of King Robert the Bruce; died in 1249
23. Angus Mór MacDonnell, first to use the surname of MacDomhnall; in 1256 King Henry III of England commanded his bailiffs and subjects in Ireland not to allow Angus Mor MacDonnell, or other Scottish males to be received in Ireland; married Campbell; died in 1301 23. Alasdair Mòr, considered to be the eponymous ancestor of Clan MacAlister.
24. Alasdair Og, Lord of the Isles from his father's death in 1301 to 1308, when he was deposed by his brother Angus Og

25.Somerled (Sorley) MacDonnell, died 1387

26.Marcus MacDonnell, commander of O'Connor's Galloglachs in 1388; died 1397

27.Charles Thurlough Mor McDonald, born in Antrim; acquired Tynekill Castle in Wicklow; died 1435

28.John Carrogh (Thirlough Oge) McDonald: his son; born in Leinster; died 1466 in Talbotstown, Wicklow
24. Angus Og, Lord of the Isles from 1308, when he deposed his brother, until his death in 1330

25. Randal (or Reginald)

26. Shane

27. John of Islay, Lord of the Isles.
28. Alasdair Carrach; 1380-1443. Ancestor of MacDonell of Keppoch. 28. Donald; 1359-1423. Ancestor of MacDonald of Sleat. 28. Ranald; died in 1386. Ancestor of the MacDonald of Clanranald and Glengarry. 28. Eoin Mór; died 1427. Descendants include Donald Schlegel's McDonalds of Somerset.

Colla DNA: R1b-Z3000/F4142

The Clan Colla project includes 3 MacDougall descendants who have tested 67 markers. Included is David MacDougall (FTDNA kit #21971), has an ancestor, Iain MacDhubhghaill, who is from Lorne according to an 1890 history of Christmas Island.

Norse DNA: R1a-L176/YP326

Clan Donald has a McDougal and a Dougall, but their testing has been limited. The MacDougall DNA project has a McDougal, FTDNA kit #172423, descended from William McDougal born in Scotland in 1781. He has the YP5543 SNP.

Colla DNA: R1b-A938

These McDonalds share the Z3004 SNP with subgroups with many well-known Colla surnames, including McMahon, Hughes, Carroll, McQuillan, McDonald, McGuire, Boylan, Connolly, Hart, McKenna, Monaghan, Shannon, Higgins, Duffy, and Kelly

Norse DNA: R1a-CLD56

Eight McDonalds with R1a-CLD56 DNA have traced their pedigrees back to John of Islay. Given the fact that the McDonald descendants of Alasdair Og have Z3000 DNA, along with many others with well-known Colla surnames, it would appear that a man with Norse ancestry was grafted at some point between Angus Og and John of Islay.

Unknown DNA

No DNA tester has traced his ancestry back to Eoin Mor.

Norse DNA: R1a-CLD56

The McAlister DNA project includes 5 Norse descendants who have tested 67 markers.

Don Schlegel reports that there are no documented McAlisters historically until long after the year 1400. All the McAlisters, both in Antrim and Kintyre, seem to descend from Alister Carrach, brother of Donnell Ballach of Duniveg and of Raghnall Bhan of Kintyre, sons of Eoin of Islay. Thus they would descend from Angus Óg.

Table of Contents     

43 Generations: Colla to McDonald

Our study of the DNA of the Three Collas, who lived in the 4th century, is based on present-day Y-chromosome DNA and surnames from ancient pedigrees. It is not based on genealogies which show a paper trail from the 4th century to today. Patrick McMahon, a co-author of this Web page, identified a McDonald 1 subgroup of 22 Colla descendants including four who can trace their ancestry back to Lt. Brian McDonald (MacDonnell), born in 1645 in Arklow, County Wicklow, and thence to McDonnell of Antrim, Somerled, and Colla Uais. The subgroup has values of 14 for STR markers 437 and 446. The modal values for Clan Colla are 15 and 13. All who have tested for the BY3158 SNP have tested positive. Four of the McDonalds can trace their ancestry back to Colla Uais, who lived in the 4th century. The first to do this was Frank Everett McDonald, Jr., a retired dairy farmer from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. He was born there in 1926, had his Y-DNA tested in 2008, and died in 2014. His FTDNA kit is #133546. The genealogy of Frank E. McDonald, Jr., was brought to our attention by Vaden McDonald, who is unrelated (Vaden has R1b-CTS4455 DNA). Since then, Elbert Leo "Mick" McDaniel III, a member of our McDonald 1 subgroup, has found three other McDonald testers who are fifth cousins of Frank, once or twice removed.

Ancestors of Four Testers in the McDonald 1 Subgroup (Two Have Done Big Y and Have the BY3158 SNP)

  1. Carrell Colla Uais, brother of Muredach Colla da Chrioch and Aedh Colla Menn; about the year 392, Muredach Tirech, king of the Connachtach, sent the Collas against his ancient enemies, the Ulaid; over an extended period of perhaps eighty years, the Collas and their descendants fought several battles against the Ulaid and took other lands from them, while remaining subject to the descendants of Muredach Tirech
  2. Erc: his son. Had two brothers: 1. Brian; 2. Fiachra Tort; called "ri sliab a tuaid," king of the northern mountain; had three sons: Carthend, Fiachra, and Amalgad
  3. Carthend: his son; Carthend was given land east of the present city of Derry on the east side of the Foyle, the valley of the River Faughan, then called Dulo Ocheni but later named Tir-Keeran (Carthend's land) after him, and still today bearing that name as a barony; subject to the Kings of Ailech, who were descendants of Eoghan and Conal Gulban, the sons of Niall of the Nine Hostages; had six sons by one or more wives and another six by bondswomen
  4. Muredach, his son
  5. Amalgad, his son
  6. Aed Guaire, his son
  7. Colman Muccaid, his son
  8. Fergus: his son; died in 668
  9. Conal, his son
  10. Niad, his son
  11. Fergus, his son
  12. Goffrad: his son; left by Kenneth MacAlpin in the west to try to hold the isles against the Northmen. He was styled toiseach, (prince) of Insi-Gall (all of the Hebrides); died in 853
  13. Maine: his son
  14. Niallgus: his son
  15. Suibhne: his son
  16. Meargagh (or Marcus): his son
  17. Solamh (or Solomon): his son
  18. Gille Adamnan: his son
  19. Gille Bride: his son; had a sister Behag who married Harald-Gille, King of Norway
  20. Somerled: his son; Thane of Argyll, the patriarch of this family, early in the 12th century acquired the Western Islands, by his marriage with Effrica, daughter of Olavus, King of Man; and assumed the designation of King of the Isles, which his successors held, independent of the Scottish Kings, for three generations; died in 1164.
  21. Reginald: his son; born about 1148 in Morven, Argyll, Scotland; 2nd Lord of the Isles; married Fiona Moray from in Galloway; known as a benefactor of the Abbey of Paisley; credited with founding Cisterian Monastery; died in 1207 in Kintyre, Argyll, Scotland
  22. Donald: his son; 3rd Lord of the Isles; married Princess Margaret Stuart, granddaughter of King Robert the Bruce; died in 1249
  23. Angus Mór MacDonnell: his son; first to use the surname of MacDomhnall; in 1256 King Henry III of England commanded his bailiffs and subjects in Ireland not to allow Angus Mor MacDonnell, or other Scottish males to be received in Ireland; married Campbell; died in 1301
  24. Alasdair Og MacDonnell: his son; ancestor of all the MacDomhnaill Gallóglach families; in 1286 he attended the meeting in favor of the elder Bruce and against the succession of the Maid of Norway at Turnberry; in 1291 offered the oath of allegiance to the English King who at that time was seeking to make Scotland an English province; in 1292 a safegard was given to him on behalf of the family for the purpose of commerce in Ireland; Edward I appointed him High Admiral of Western Seas and ballie of part of Kintire; married Margaret O'Cathan; died 1308
  25. Somerled (Sorley) MacDonnell: his son; died 1387
  26. Marcus MacDonnell: his son; assumed tile role of commander of O'Connor's Galloglachs when his brother, Donald Og MacDonnell was slain in 1388; died 1397
  27. Charles Thurlough Mor McDonald: his son; born in Antrim; acquired lands being known as the Clan Donnell Country, including Tynekill Castle at the base of the boundary of the mountains of Leix and Wicklow; died 1435
  28. John Carrogh (Thirlough Oge) McDonald: his son; born in Leinster; died 1466 in Talbotstown, Wicklow
  29. Charles (Thurlough) Og McDonald: his son, head of the house of Tennekill during the later half of the fifteenth century; fell upon the field of battle in 1503 when Clan Donald of Leinster was at war with the Burkes of Mayo
  30. John McDonald: his son; born in Leinster, Ireland; died 1514
  31. Charles Turlough McDonald: his son; born 1500 in Tennekill, Queens County; died 1522 in Leinster
  32. Calvagh MacTurlough McDonald: his son; died 1570
  33. Hugh Buidhe McDonald: his son; married Mary Moore; succeeded to the Tinnekill estate upon his father's death; died 1618
  34. Brian MacDonnell: his son; born in Tynekill Castle, Queens County, Leinster in 1577; died in the Castle about 1635; his brother Fergus MacDonnell assumed the position as head of the Tennekill family upon the death of their father; Fergus was loyal to the English and died in 1637
  35. Alexander MacDonnell: his son; born about 1613 in Leinster; married Helena Archbold; was Constable of Wicklow County; died in 1683 in Wicklow County; buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery in Wicklow
  36. Brian MacDonnell: his son; assumed the name MacDonald; married Mary, daughter of John Doyle, of Arklow, County Wicklow; engaged in the tanning trade; Lieutenant in Colonel Francis Toole's regiment in the cause of King James II of England; emigrated to America in 1684, with his wife and five children: 1. John, 2. William, 3. James, 4. Brian, 5. Mary; settled in Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle Co., Delaware, U.S.A.; had two more children: 6. Richard, 7 Anabel; bought 693 acres of land from William Penn in 1689 occupied now by some housing and Brandywine Springs Park bordered by Red Clay Creek and Hyde Run; died in 1707
  37. Bryan II McDonald: his fourth son born 1686; m. Catherine Robinson in 1715, and had five sons and four daughters. The sons were: 1. Richard, b. 1716; 2. James, b. 1718; 3. Edward, born 1720; 4. Joseph, b. 1722; 5. Bryan, b. 1732; the daughters were: 1. Rebecca, b. 1724; 2. Catherine, b. 1727; 3. Mary, b. 1730; 4. Priscilla, b. 1734. Moved, about 1745, to Augusta Co. (Botetourt Co. after 1770), Virginia; d. 1757
38. Joseph McDonald. Born 1722 in Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle Co., Delaware; married Elizabeth Ogle. American Revolutionary War Veteran. Left Boutecourt County and settled in Draper's Meadows on Toms's Creek, near Blacksburg, Montgomery County, Virginia. Died 1809 38. Bryan McDonald III. Born 1732 in Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle Co., Delaware. Married Susannah Ogle in 1752 in Wilmington, Delaware. Died 1777 in Buffalo Creek, Botetourt County, Virginia.

39. George McDonald. Born 1767 in Buffalo Creek, Augusta Co. (Botetourt Co. after 1770), Virginia; married Ruth (Davis) Owen in 1803. Died 1815 in Botetourt County, Virginia

40. Edward McDonald. Born 1812 in Montgomery County, Virginia; married Catherine Sesler. Died 1882 in Montgomery County, Virginia. Edward and brother George lived on Father's farm at McDonald's Mill near Blacksburg, Montgomery County, Virginia. They were farmers, millers (established the first grist mill at McDonalds Mill) and ran a tan yard for hides and leather

41. George Thomas McDonald. Born 1839 in Craigs Creek, Montgomery, Virginia. Married Matilda Jane McCulloch in 1875.

42. Frank Everett McDonald. Born 1895. Married Carolyn Bush in 1920 in Vinton, Roanoke Co, Virginia. Died 1987.

43. Frank Everett McDonald, Jr. Born 1926. Married Betty Jean Verna in 1951. Died 2014. FTDNA kit #133546
39. Bryan McDonald of Montgomery, Virginia. Born 1757. Married Mary Bane. Died 1802 39. William McDonald of Montgomery, Virginia. Born 1765. Married Ursula Huff. Died 1828.

40. Dr. Jonathon McDonald of Virginia and Alabama, Born 1806. Married Mary Briggs Malone. Died 1866.

41. Thomas James McDonald of Alabama. Born 1836. Married Margaret Simpson. Died 1903.

42. Joseph Simpson McDonald of Alabama. Born 1883. Married Eva Looney. Died 1941.

43. Kyle Wesley McDonald of Alabama. Born 1908. Married Lucile Hacker. Died 1975.

44. William H. McDonald, FTDNA kit #617821. Big Y SNP BY3158
40. Bryan McDonald of Virginia. Born 1784, Married Rebecca Hoofman. Died 1863.

41. Howard H. McDonald of Virginia. Born 1826. Married Elvira Hambrick. Died 1865.

42. James Duget McDonald of Virginia. Born 1863. Married Nancy Myrtle Artrip. Died 1947.

43. James Howard McDonald of Virrginia. Born 1904. Died 1979.

44. Bobby L. McDonald. Born 1928. Died 1985.

45. James L. McDonald, FTDNA kit #367328. Big Y SNP BY3158

40. John Edward McDonald of Virgina. Born 1800. Married Elizabeth Henderson. Died 1861.

41. Bolivar "Bud" McDonald of West Virginia. Born 1842. Married Mary Magdalene Gartin. Died 1926.

42. Lewis Scott McDonald of West Virginia. Born 1870. Married Mary Elizabeth Neely. Died 1960.

43. Orville Clyde McDonald of West Virginia. Born 1911. Married Irene Hester Mooney. Died 1986.

44. Orville Edward McDonald, FTDNA kit #38885

Botetourt House Botetourt House
Generation 38. House and cornerstone: "Bryan McDonald 1766." 4084 Catawba Road, Troutville, Botetourt County, Virginia. Source: Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
Sources. Any genealogy that goes back 16 centuries is not going to be as solid as one that goes back two or three centuries. Nevertheless, we think the attempt is worthwhile. You can judge for yourself. Sources for the 43 generations are as follows.

Other Sources. See also

The following table contains information on the DNA of the McDonald 1 Subgroup. We are indebted to one of the members, Elbert Leo "Mick" McDaniel III, who has assisted fellow members in their genealogical research.

Clan Colla, McDonald 1 Subgroup, Markers 437=14 and 446=14 (Clan Donald, Pale Violet Subgroup)
NameClan Donald
Code
FTDNA #Genetic Distance
from Clan
Colla Modal
Oldest Ancestor, Birth YearBirth PlaceMarker 437Marker 446SNP
Clan Colla Modal-1513
William Russell Edwards0Q8YO68859 9John Melton Edwards, 1818 South Carolina1414BY3158
Michael Louis McDanielDRPCR1446887John McDaniel, 1795Harrison, (West) Virginia1414BY3158
Elbert Leo McDaniel IIIHTVWV1461607Philip McDaniel, 1795Virginia or Kentucky1414
Elbert Leo McDaniel, Jr.4OUY22782756Philip McDaniel, 1795Virginia or Kentucky1414BY3158
Bret Allyn McDanielCVFJ14385408Samuel A. McDaniel, 1807Taylor, West Virginia1414BY3158
David McDanielGVR9P4506237 1414
Gene Arthur McDanielT0UUN4508568Samuel A. McDaniel, 1807Taylor, West Virginia1414BY3158
Jefferson H. McDanielJ1L7A6124926Phillip McDaniel, 1795Virginia or Kentucky1414
Harold Eugene McDonaldAWQ41137588Robert McDonald, 1795(West) Virginia1414
John Wesley McDonaldQFJEF283009Robert McDonald, 1795(West) Virginia1414BY3158
Orville Edward McDonaldMSOTE 388858Lt. Brian McDonald (MacDonnell), 1645Arklow, County Wicklow1414
James Edward McDanielXEAUQ1121977 John McDanal (McDonald), 1758Virginia1414
Robert Doyle McDonald29BYY1249476Lewis Plato McDonald, 1824Tennessee1414
Frank Everett McDonald, Jr.NHHMM1335468Lt. Brian McDonald (MacDonnell), 1645Arklow, County Wicklow1414
Joel McDanalL8V7V 1969607John McDonald, 1758Virginia1414
James McDonaldMVO3D3673288Lt. Brian McDonald (MacDonnell), 1645Arklow, County Wicklow1414BY3158
Tony Owen McDonaldRGOGR2940978John Thomas McDonald, 1840Illinois1414
C. Brian McDonaldRIP4Y3957537 1414
Richard Carlton McDonaldSP5AD5219107John McDonald, 1795Virginia1414
William H. McDonaldZNJXX6178217 Lt. Brian McDonald (MacDonnell), 1645Arklow, County Wicklow1414BY3158
Seth McDonald 8367906 1414
Robert Allen McEnteeUDBNI2160288Hugh McEntee 1781Ireland1414BY3158
William McIntyre 3799837James McIntyre, 1826Ballymena, County Antrim1414

Subgroups Sharing Ancient McDonald 1 Ancestors. Ancient ancestors of Joseph McDonald, Orville Edward McDonald, William H. McDonald, and Frank Everett McDonald are probably shared by testers in certain Colla subgroups. We do not know what ancestors were born with what SNPs, but we can make a guess.

  • The McDonald 1 subgroup is one of the largest Colla subgroups. Members are predicted to have the BY3158/A937/9 SNP, which is very roughly estimated to have been born in 1252. Members are likely to share the ancestors in generation 1 to around generation 23 in the table above. Generation 23 is Angus Mór MacDonnell, who was first to use the surname of MacDomhnall. In 1256 King Henry III of England commanded his bailiffs and subjects in Ireland not to allow Angus Mor MacDonnell, or other Scottish males to be received in Ireland. He married a Campbell and died in 1301. Many in the McDonald 1 subgroup may share subsequent ancestors. Joseph McDonald, Orville Edward McDonald, William H. McDonald, and Frank Everett McDonald share Bryan II McDonald, who is generation 37. He is their fourth to sixth great granfather and was born in 1686.

  • Members of the McDonald 2 and King subgroups are predicted to have the A938 SNP, which is very roughly estimated to have been born in 718. All are likely to share the ancestors in generation 1 to around generation 10 in the table above. Generation 10 is Niad.

  • Members of the McGuire 1 subgroup are predicted to have the ZZ14 SNP, which is very roughly estimated to have been born in 544. All are likely to share the ancestors in generation 1 to around generation 6 in the table above. Generation 6 is Aed Guaire.

  • Members of the Biggins, McAuley and Boylan/Donohue subgroups are predicted to have the ZZ2 SNP, which is very roughly estimated to have been born in 503. All are likely to share the ancestors in generation 1 to around generation 5 in the table above. Generation 5 is Amalgad.

  • Members of the Østerud, Connally, Larkin 2 subgroups are predicted to have the S953 SNP, which is very roughly estimated to have been born in 478. All are likely to share the ancestors in generation 1 to around generation 4 in the table above. Generation 4 is Muredach.

Table of Contents

51 Generations: Colla to McMahon

Our study of the DNA of the Three Collas, who lived in the 4th century, is based on present-day Y-chromosome DNA and surnames from ancient pedigrees. It is not based on genealogies which show a paper trail from the 4th century to today. Two of the McMahons in this study, however, can trace their ancestry back to one of the Three Collas, Colla da Crioch, who lived in the 4th century. Both have the A77 SNP, and Patrick has done Big Y.

Patrick and Peter have a 67-marker genetic distance of 2. They are fourth cousins and have 51 generations back to Colla da Chrioch, as shown below.

Ancestors of Two Testers in the McMahon 1 Subgroup (Both Have Done Big Y and Have the A77 SNP)

Genealogy of Nadsluaig of the Ui Cremthainn [1]
  1. Colla Da Chrich
  2. Rochaidh
  3. Daig Dornn
  4. Fiac
  5. Cremthann
  6. Echu
  7. Cairbre: d. 514
  8. Nadsluaig [2]
  9. Fergus
  10. Cronan
  11. Maolduibh
  12. Maolfothartaigh: d. 697
  13. Aithechda
  14. Artru: d. 742
  15. Maolfothartaigh: d. 791
  16. Ruaidhri Leith: d. 832
  17. Foghartach: d. 850 [3]
  18. Maolpoil
  19. Cearbhail
  20. Laidgnen: d. 988
  21. Mathghamhain: d. 1022
  22. Domhnall
  23. Cu-Caisil: d. 1123
  24. Donnchadh: d. 1168
  25. Niall
  26. Mathghamhain
  27. Eochaidh: d. 1273
  28. Raolbh: d. 1314
  29. Aodh: d. 1344
  30. Brian Mor (Brian the Great): d. 1372 [4]
  31. Ardghall: d. 1427
  32. Ruairi Mor (Rory the Great): d. 1446, 11 brothers
  33. Eoghan: d. 1467, 15 brothers
  34. Sean Bui: d.1492
  35. Arghal
  36. Philip
  37. Eoghan
  38. Hugh
  39. Conn
  40. Sean Bui: Clones, b. 1588, Hearth Money Rolls 1665
  41. Philip & Hugh: Legnakelly, Clones, c. 1615, Hearth Money Rolls 1663
  42. Peter Mader: Liseggerton, Clones, c. 1640, Hearth Money Rolls 1665
  43. Roger: Clones, c. 1670, d. 1745
  44. Peter or Patrick: Donaghmoyne, Flax Census 1796
  45. Roger: Kilbeg, c. 1730, d. 1813, ? Flax Census 1796
  46. William: Moat, c. 1760, d. 1835, Tithe Record 1828
Notes
[1] In its heyday, the Ui Cremthainn territory comprised the Clogher Valley in Tyrone, all of Co. Fermanagh east of the Erne and south of Ervinestown, Dartrey (partly in Monaghan and partly in Fermanagh) and the territory of Clann Nadsluaigh or Fir Fernmhaighe.

The Clann Nadsluaig and the Fir Fernmhaighe were centred on Loch Uaithne, in North Monaghan, a few miles east of Clones. However, by 1050, the evidence indicates that they had also established themselves in South Monaghan.

[2] The Ui Cremthainn kings were taken from various branches, e.g Clann Ceallaigh, Sil Duibhthire and Clann Nadsluaig. As a semi-political entity, it began to slowly disintegrate after 800 A.D. and eventually seems to have been confined to Clann Ceallaigh.

[3] A parallel branch also descended from Fogarthach are now referenced as Fir fernmhaighe.

[4] A possible insertion point for the A77 SNP mutation is here or in previous generations. Brian Mor’s son Ardghall produced 12 sons and one of these, Rory Mor, had 16 sons. This would have generated a large number of parallel lineages all carrying the A77 SNP accounting for the large number of McMahon testers who have the A77 SNP.
47. James McMahon born c.1795, married Anne Cahill, died c.1870
48. William McMahon, born in 1819, married Jane Monaghan in 1851, lived in Maio/Trohanny, Co. Meath, died in 1900
49. Patrick McMahon, born in 1868, married M. Farrelly in 1901, died in 1952
50. Eugene McMahon, born in 1904, married F. Doyle, died in 1978
51. Patrick Ciaran McMahon, born in 1937, FTDNA kit 145687. SNP A77 and Big Y
47. Thomas McMahon, born 1802, married Mary Carolan in 1856
48. Peter McMahon, born in 1861, emigrated to Canada, married Mj Downey
49. John J. McMahon, born in 1898, died in 1972
50. Peter E. McMahon, born in 1926, died in 2007
51. Peter Joseph McMahon, born in 1947, FTDNA kit N174002. SNP A77

Sources. Any genealogy that goes back 16 centuries is not going to be as solid as one that goes back two or three centuries. Nevertheless, we think the attempt is worthwhile. You can judge for yourself. Sources are as follows.

  • Generations 1 to 46: Eugene McMahon and genealogical charts reproduced in The McMahons of Trohanny by Patrick and Eugene McMahon, Private Publication, February 2008, pages 155 & 157-158, augmented by recent confirmatory information from Katharine Simms (Senior Lecturer in Medieval History, Trinity College Dublin) in her article "The MacMahon Pedigree: a Medieval Forgery" in Regions and Rulers in Ireland, 1100-1650, edited by David Edwards, 2004, pages 27–36.
  • Generations 46 to 51: The McMahons of Trohanny by Patrick and Eugene McMahon, Private Publication, February 2008.
  • Generations 46 to 51: Descent from William of Moate by Patrick and Peter McMahon.

Subgroups Sharing Ancient McMahon Ancestors. Ancient ancestors of Patrick and Peter McMahon are probably shared by testers in certain Colla subgroups. We do not know what ancestors were born with what SNPs, but we can make a guess.

  • The McMahon 1 subgroup is the largest Colla subgroup. Members are predicted to have the A77/Z16280 SNP, which is very roughly estimated to have been born in 1402. Members are likely to share the ancestors in generation 1 to around generation 32 in the table above. Generation 32 is Ruairi Mor (Rory the Great), who died in 1446 and had 11 brothers. Many in the McMahon 1 subgroup may share subsequent ancestors. Patrick and Peter share Tithe William McMahon, who is generation 44. He is their great great great granfather and was born around 1765.

  • Members of the Hughes 1 and Curby/Olds subgroups are predicted to have the Z16272/5 SNP, which is very roughly estimated to have been born in 1229. Callen 264834 and Conachy 512230 also fall in this group. All are likely to share the ancestors in generation 1 to around generation 26 in the table above. Generation 26 is Mathghamhain.

  • Members of the Hughes 2 and Carroll 2 subgroups are predicted to have the Z16273/7 SNP, which is very roughly estimated to have been born in 1029. All are likely to share the ancestors in generation 1 to around generation 22 in the table above. Generation 22 is Domhnall.

  • Members of the Murphy and Clarke subgroups are predicted to have the Z16278 SNP, which is very roughly estimated to have been born in 696. All are likely to share the ancestors in generation 1 to around generation 11 in the table above. Generation 11 is Maolduibh.

  • Members of the McQuillan subgroup are predicted to have the Z16276/9 SNP, which is very roughly estimated to have been born in 582. All are likely to share the ancestors in generation 1 to around generation 9 in the table above. Generation 9 is Fergus.

  • Gartland 207940 has the Z16274 SNP, which is very roughly estimated to have been born in 575. He is likely to share the ancestors in generation 1 to around generation 9 in the table above. Generation 9 is Fergus.

More on McMahon DNA. In his McMahon DNA, Patrick McMahon analyzes the DNA of other McMahons who have tested their DNA. Patrick administers for the McMahon surname project for FTDNA.

Table of Contents     

The Colla Phylogenetic Tree

In the introduction to his paper on The Colla Phylogenetic Tree, Patrick McMahon explains that he has drawn together "the considerable amount of SNP and STR data that has accumulated over the last few years with respect to the Colla population. Most recently, testing for SNPs has been encouraged using the advanced Big-Y tests (by FTDNA), targeted ‘Pack’ tests and single SNP tests. This has enabled the construction of inheritance Trees such as the one by Alex Williamson and the FTDNA Haplotree.

"Separately and over a much longer period, STR data has been accumulating. These two (mutational) systems operate independently of each other to produce two separate data sets, the STR one defining members of the Colla population and membership of the Clan Colla 425 Null Project. As only about 27% of STR testers partook of SNP testing, the aim of this work was to populate/expand the resultant SNP Tree with STR data to determine the most likely clades for the majority of Project members.

"This is an attempt to draw together the various findings collected to date (July 2018) on descendants of Clan Colla. All ancient genealogical data has been ignored, other than when the Colla brothers were thought to have lived and arrived in Ulster. I have concentrated solely on the DNA profiles and tried to rationalise their inheritance patterns and relationships. Surnames while confirmatory in many instances were not the main influence in determining groupings."

The paper is at: The Colla Phylogenetic Tree Paper.

An Excel workbook is at: The Colla Phylogenetic Tree Workbook.

Table of Contents

FTDNA Conference Presentation, 2011

Peter Biggins
Peter Biggins speaking at the 2011 FTDNA Conference. Photo by Steve Danko.

Peter Biggins, in collaboration with Thomas Roderick, made a presentation on the Clan Colla Project on November 6, 2011, at Family Tree DNA's 7th Annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy in Houston, Texas. The presentation concluded with the following summary:

  • The growing Clan Colla data is showing that the cluster is representative of a unique stable population within the R-DF21+ population.
  • The DNA picture that has emerged is consistent with the perceived historical knowledge pertaining to Oriel in the early part of the first millennium.
  • The data also supports the view that Clan Colla originated in a Celtic tribe in NW Britain before migrating to Oriel.
  • Y-chromosome DNA has verified an ancient Irish pedigree for historians, and genetic genealogists.
The presentation was created by Peter and Tom along with fellow Clan Colla project administrators, Josiah McGuire and Patrick McMahon. Patrick and Josiah could not make it to the Conference. So, only Peter and Tom attended. Tom was responsible for getting us on the program. He had attended the conferences every year since 2006. Tom somehow got Peter to make the actual presentation.

The presentation was based on a database of 259 men with Clan Colla DNA as of November 2011. See Summary Report, November 2011.

See slides. See also Steve's Genealogy Blog.

Table of Contents