Monday, 5 April 2010

Two Ulster Henry Families

What's in a name? ... or in this case a surname? Very often DNA results reveal long forgotten histories of Ulster families. Two fairly common surnames found up and down the Bann Valley are Henry and McHenry. On the face of it, these names appear very similar, but the Ulster Heritage DNA Project results show us there is much more to the story of these two interesting families. Both are old Gaelic families, but have very different origins.

The McHenry family of the Bushmills area and around Ballyrashane Parish, is a branch of the very old and very distinguished Ó Catháin clan and their DNA results confirm these. They all descend from from Énrí Ó Catháin, a prince of the Ó Catháin clan that lived circa mid 1400s (anno domini). In English they were called the McHenrys of Loughan, i.e. Clann Mhic Énrí. The family was found on the eastern banks of the Bann, but spread in time to the general district and were well known in the Bushmills area. Their name in Gaelic is Mac Énrí and this has been anglcised several ways, but McHenry the most common.

The second group of 'Henrys' in the Bann Valley also have participated in the Ulster Heritage DNA Project is substantial numbers. Their results revealed they were a DNA match to a Gaelic kinship group from mid Argyll. Many histories of Ulster tend to leave out the Highland Gael migrations into Ulster; there were several substantial migrations of Gaels from both the southern Hebrides and Argyll to Ulster and the Henrys are one of these families. In Gaelic their name is Mac Eanruig and they also use several anglicised forms, Henry and Henrie are two forms that have been confirmed by DNA testing.

If you are a Henry, Henrie, or McHenry, and have always wanted to know our family's history, take heart, modern research often can provide this information for you.

1 comment:

Derek Torrens said...

That was really interesting about the McHenry Family of Bushmills. I am not aware of anyone of that surname there now, but there are plenty of people with the surname "McKendry" which when you try spelling McHenry phonetically it does sound like McKendry.

Then there was the famous Jame McHenry, the Presbyterian from North Antrim who was the American Secretary of War in the War of 1812 and has a Fort McHeny in Baltimore, Maryland named in his honour, I had heard he was from Ballymoney but yet there is other references of him being from Ballymena.