Monday, 18 January 2010

The Bann Valley Henry Family

The Henry family of the Bann Valley was an early participant in the Ulster Heritage DNA Project. The family is very numerous and many branches of this family immigrated to North America in the 1700s. DNA results have located many branches of this family in the Diaspora, yet for the longest time their origins remained a mystery.

They knew they were from Ulster and many of them lived in the Bann Valley, but their origins, were unclear. Were they native Irish, did they come to Ulster during the Plantation, or perhaps they were Highland Scottish Gaels that had migrated from Argyll or the Hebrides, to Ulster? As the DNA data base grows facts have come to light that give researchers great insight into this Ulster family's origins.

DNA research not only provides useful genealogical data such as confirming paternal kinship, but the testing also provides hard facts about a family's origin. This often manifests in revealing paternally related kinship groups, often with another surname. In a great number of cases DNA matches will also develop a very definite geographic location which reveals that a family lived in a particular township or parish for a very long time. This is the case with the Henry family of the Bann Valley. In their case a series of DNA matches have now linked the Henry families to mid Argyll and a complex group of Highland Gaelic families.

Henry is an anglicised surname, in their case, from the Gaelic surname Mac Eanruig. Many of the Henry lines had an oral history of old links to Scotland, but over the years the details of these links have been forgotten as has happened in so many cases. Their results now confirm that they are related a group of Gaelic families in mid Argyll. Research is still ongoing with this family and now the focus is to try an ascertain which particular Mac Eanruig clan they are.

The non surname matches to the Henry family provide tantalizing clues. They share paternal kinship with the Mac Eáin family of Kilmichael Glen in Kilmichael Glassary, and to a Mac Donnchadh family, also from mid Argyll, and several other families which are also paternally related, but going back further in history, are Mac Artúir, Mac an Leatha, and Mac Ailpín families all from mid Argyll. As more and more families participate in DNA testing it is only a matter of time until more information about the Henry, or Mac Eanruig, family is collected. Given the nature of their DNA results, the related families and geographic location, it is very possible and even probably that they are part of a kinship group that has long been in mid Argyll one can only look forward to updates on this fascinating family.

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