Monday, 28 July 2008

Ulster Heritage DNA Project Update 28 July 2008

(above, Port Hall House as seen from the Foyle)

First to some housekeeping: I urge those participants that have not done so yet to upload all their DNA values to Ysearch and also to upload a Gedcom file (GEnealogical Data COMmunication) to your FT site. The 25 to 67 level markers usually have to be entered individually, so have a care there. There are many participants that have had matches, have contacted their kin and have recovered much of their lost family history. Many of us have actually been over to Ireland to visit our cousins. Your DNA result can be a wonderful asset and research tool, but you have to use it.

I spent several weeks in late June and into July in Tyrone and Donegal. I was over to speak at the 17th Ulster American Heritage Symposium. The symposium has met every two years since 1976 and alternates between co-sponsoring universities, museums and historical societies in Ulster and the United States. One theme that came across was the need to broaden our concepts of the Ulster Scots. The stated theme of the symposium was the Changing Perspectives 1607-2007. I thought this was very fitting as I myself decided several years ago that the Scots-Irish are in need of a re-examination. That basically some very shallow stereotypes planted in late Victorian times have obscured a more interesting real history just begging to be told. This is not a case of any revisionism, but rather the need to add more details and facts to the story.

This idea was reinforced by several of the papers presented at the Ulster American Heritage Symposium. A couple that stand out to me would be the excellent work of Professor Peter Toner of St Thomas University, New Brunswick. Dr Toner’s current work is following the large Presbyterian Irish speaking communities in New Brunswick circa 1850s into the 20th Century. Yes, there were several communities of Irish speaking Presbyterians from Ulster in New Brunswick. Archaeologist Audrey Horning talked on the settlement of Scottish Gaels in Antrim on the eve of the Plantation; these were Roman Catholic and Gaelic speaking families who settled with the permission of the McDonnells of the Glens and Route. There were Catholic Lowland Scots that settled in Tyrone and more Scottish Gaels into Donegal. All these themes are extremely important to those of us hunting ancestors. These groups to not fit in the Presbyterian Ulster Scot stereotype, yet they also participated in the 18th Century migration to the Colonial USA and then others went into Canada in the 1830s.

And speaking of Canada, the Ulster Canadian links are just as large and important as those to the USA. It is high time to include Canada in any discussion of Ulster migration and Diaspora. My McCains left Ulster in 1719 and we are numerous in the South, yet when the DNA results came in we had located a small army of McCain kinsmen in Canada that had immigrated in the 1830s. Our case is not unique either.

(Below Writer, historian, and poet, Ivan Knox of Corcam, Donegal)

While in Ireland I spent a week with Finn Valley historian and writer Ivan Knox. His knowledge of families from the Finn valley north to StJohnstown and the over to Strabane way is remarkable. Looking through his large records collection reminded me there are still many records that are not readily available. While there I located a crucial piece of data on a Hamilton family I am tracking from a will which appears in a book no longer in print, taken from family records.

In the DNA news, the UHP Results have been brought up to date; you can access them via our main website. If you see errors just send Jim or I a note. Also if you know you have high quality matches and want to have a family or clan listing, again just contact us.

I see that the Ó Catháin clan haplotype pulling in some interesting septs and confirming Irish language records. The Mag Uidhir (Maguire) clan also is having much success in locating their septs and members. Several new Scots-Irish family groups have been recognised. All in all things are progressing nicely.

Jim has placed several more Ebooks up for those who are researching in the County Derry area. These can be downloaded for a small fee. One of the new ones is ‘Scots-Irish Origins, 1600-1800 AD’; this volume includes Phillips’ Survey of 1622, the 1630 Muster Roll of Derry City and County, the Summonister Rolls and court records of Derry, 1615-70.

I am preparing a short book on the Hebridean and Argyll Gaelic families in Ulster circa 1390s through the 1590s. This topic I’ve long been interested in and the DNA results have shed light on these families; so many of them participated in the 18th and 19th Century migrations. That will be available this fall.

Many thanks to the Mag Uidhir clan for their money donation to the the UHDP. We have other people ask us if they can donate money, the answer being, Yes Please. Jim and I are a volunteer organisation and donations are very much needed and welcomed. There is a donation link on the main website.

We are also looking at a way to recommend qualify on the ground researchers in both Northern Ireland and the Republic, i.e. all nine Ulster Counties, as many people have asked us to do this. There are good qualified researchers that are reasonable with their rates.

I am sure there are things I forgot. As always updates can be viewed on the our home website at under the News and Updates. You can also catch up on the news from the Ulster Heritage Magazine at:

Any member of the UHDP is welcomed to submit a short article on your family, its links to Ulster, etc., your visit over, etc. We are particularly interested in families that have made the connection to their kin still in Ulster.

Mise le meas mór,

Barry R McCain

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