Tuesday, 21 October 2008

John McCain's Irish Roots, reloaded...

above, John McCain with the last Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern
The Ulster Heritage Magazine, which is a news section for the Ulster Heritage DNA Project, has been getting a lot of email requests and phone calls for information on Senator John McCain’s ancestry. The level of interest has surprised me and our webmaster and my cousin, Jim McKane up in Ontario, Canada. We did release a short statement which appeared in the Ulster Heritage Magazine concerning the Senator’s paternal ancestry on 11 January 2008.
Jim and I have worked on the McCain family history for some 35 years very quietly; obviously the interest surrounding a presidential campaign has changed this. Getting emails and phone calls from Media powers that be suggests our quiet work has entered a new phase.
So, here is another presentation of the facts as we know them concerning Senator John McCain’s paternal ancestry and how we obtained this knowledge.
Senator John McCain is a descendant of a McCain family that immigrated to the American Colonies from Ireland circa 1719. The McCain family DNA Project started in September of 2003 and used Y chromosome DNA testing to confirm kinship and locate the branches of this family. In the course of the project the native Irish McCains were located. The McCains are native to Counties Donegal and Antrim originally, but are now dispersed and are also found in Counties Derry, Tyrone, and Dublin.
Senator John McCain did not participate in the DNA test, however around 35 of his cousins did, including several McCains from the Carroll County, Mississippi area. They are all a DNA match to each other and are all a match to the McCain families still in Ireland, as well as to those throughout the Diaspora. Senator McCain’s branch is called the Teoc McCains, after the little town in Carroll, County Mississippi where they lived during the period of their ascendancy.
There are several incorrect versions, or pseudo histories, about this McCain family floating around on the internet. The McCain families that had their kinship confirmed via DNA testing in Ireland, Canada, the UK, and the USA, have worked very closely with one another in the last few years to uncover their real history.

The basic and salient facts are the McCain family is from Ireland and their cousins in Ireland have been located.
There is DNA evidence and enough primary sources to suggest the McCains were part of the traditional Gaelic society prior to 1600.
left, a Gallóglach with their unique conical helmet, seen here carrying a sword with his attendant and dogs behind him

Most people are not familiar with Gaelic history, so I will offer this brief explanation. The McCain family DNA results revealed a paternal kinship with other Gaelic families active in Ireland and mid Argyll and that are associated with the Gallóglaigh Irish. The Gallóglaigh were a professional warrior caste active in Ireland anno domini 1200 to 1600.
The McCains are a classic Gaelic patronymic clan. The Patriarch of the clan was named Eáin. The surname in Irish is spelled Mac Eáin which means ‘son of Eáin.’ In the Gaelic dialect in use in Argyll, the southern Isles, and parts of Ulster, from the 15th Century onward, Eáin was a popular form of Eóin. Eáin is a loan word to Gaelic from the Latin Ioannes via the Aramaic and Hebrew y'hohanan, meaning 'Jehovah has favoured.'
An analysis of the DNA suggests this Patriarch lived circa 1350 to 1450 AD. The McCains were part of the older Gaelic order yet post mid 1600s many converted to the Presbyterian faith and took a leadership role in this community and yet other McCain families remained Catholic or Anglican.
above, Donovan McCain of Oxford, Mississippi in an informal session with Trad icon, Seamus O'Kane of Dungiven
If I can slip into the first person plural for a bit; we are very active, stay in touch with one another; we do travel to Ireland and hobnob with our Irish cousins, we love Guinness and are prone to enjoy ól, ceol, agus craic and the céilí is our chosen form of entertainment. The rumour now is for a McCain clan gathering in Ireland in 2009.
Barry R McCain © 2008

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