DNA of the Three Collas

By
Colla Descendants: Peter Biggins, with Josiah McGuire, Terry McGuire, Patrick McMahon, and Tom Roderick (1930-2013)
About PetersPioneers

DNA helix Y-chromosome DNA shared by 212 men with 33 names 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. The 212 are 62% of a total database of 341 men with 67+ STR markers as of December 2013.

All 16 who have BIG Y test results share 20 unique SNPs downstream of R-DF21 and S971.

Key STR markers: 511=9, 425=0, 505=9, 441=12.

Historical pedigrees now known as a result of DNA testing not to be related to the Three Collas: Niall of the Nine Hostages (R-M222), Manus McGuire (R-L69), Hy Maine Kelly (R-Z2961), Lord of the Isles McDonald (R-L176).

Also contributing to this study: Craig Beeman, Alan Calkins, Jim Carroll, Michael Henry Carroll, Craig Conly, Stan Courtney, Joseph Donohoe, Jenny Dundas, Bob Ferguson, Cathy Collins Gardner, Joseph Hart, Ron Hendrickson, Charles Higgins, Gerald Johnson, Jim Jordan, Aidan Kelly, Richard Kern, Brad Larkin, Russell Lawler, Shane Malone, Pat McAuley, Mick McDaniel, Larry McDermott, Frank Everett McDonald, Jr., Vaden McDonald, Brad McGuire, Michael Kevin McGuire, Rose McGuire, James McMahon, Matthew McMahon, William Alvin McMahon, John McQuillan, Pat Meguire, Frode Myrheim, James Mark Paden, Bart O'Toole, Donna Reiling, David Reynolds, Kirsten Saxe, Donald Schlegel, Katharine Simms, Tom Smith, Aage Harry Sørensen, Mike Walsh, Richard White, and Alex Williamson.

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Introduction

Data

Discussion

Summary

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, Duffy, Hart, Higgins, Hughes, Kelly, MacDougall, McAuley, McClain, McDonald, McGinnis, McGuire, McKenna, McMahon, Neal, Newell, Paden, Pate, Roberts, Roderick, etc. Most Irish names are found in multiple septs, so not all people with these names are descendants of the Three Collas. And, some names of people with Clan Colla DNA are not included in the Clan Colla histories due to adoption and other reasons.

We have two people with Colla DNA who can trace their ancestry back to the Three Collas: a McDonald and a McMahon.

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. The DNA of the descendants of the Collas, however, does not match the DNA of the descendants of Niall. See History Lessons.

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 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.

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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, lords of Fermamnagh, 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

Name Set 2 contain 212 out of 341 men in the Clan Colla database as of December 2013. 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. See Colla Surnames, Colla Subgroups, and Historical Surnames.

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Background

An Unusual Test Result. In July 2008, 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.

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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 Report 5, Subgroup O1, posted at Results of Projects of the O'Donoghue Society. 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.

The Clan Donald DNA Project was started in 2003 and is now one of the largest surname DNA projects. As of September 2012, the project had 27 Clan Colla (with 67 markers) spread among four subgroups:

  • 16 in Magenta-Black,
  • 5 in Pale Violet,
  • 2 in Yellow Green-Black
  • 4 in Yellow Unclassified.
Only the Magenta-Black subgroup, however, was identified as Clan Colla: "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)."

In 2004, Clan Donald erroneously identified a group as Clan Colla (see Clan Donald 2004 press release). This was at a time when the Family Tree DNA database was much smaller and there was no test for marker 425. 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." It is generally known as the Scottish Cluster. See: Analysis of L21 and DF21 DNA.

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Timeline

BC 2000: L21 SNP occurs north of the Alps in a Celt with an R1b haplotype

BC 1000: DF21 SNP occurs in Britain in a man with the L21 SNP

0-300: Marker 425 becomes null for a man with the L21 and DF21 SNPs

43-410 England and Wales controlled by the Roman Empire

300-400: Three brothers named Colla with the null 425 marker become known for their prowess in warfare in Northern Ireland

500-600: A descendant of one of the brothers, Colla Uais, migrates to the Scottish Highlands

950: Surnames adopted by Colla descendants in Ireland and Scotland

1390: Clan Colla described in Book of Ballymote

1607-1609: Flight of the Earls, Plantation of Ulster

1632-1636: Clan Colla described in Annals of the Four Masters
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.

-
Michael O'Clery (1580-1643) at al., Annals of the Four Masters, 1632 to 1636, translated from Irish in 1845 by Owen Connellan, page 3.
1634: Clan Colla described in Keating's The History of Ireland Here is the seancha's statement of this matter:
The three sons of Eochaidh, great their fame,
The three Collas we have heard of;
Colla Meann, Colla fo Chri,
And Colla Uais the high king.

The names of the three I know,
And they slew the high king
On yon wide bright plain,
Aodh Muireadhach and Cairioll.

Cairioll, Colla Uais the king,
Muireadhach, Colla fo Chri,
Aodh, Colla Meann, great his fame;
These three were mighty beyond all strength.

- Geoffrey Keating (1569-1644), The History of Ireland, 1634, translated from Irish in 1902 by David Comyn and Patrick S. Dinneen, Vol. II, page 359
1652: Cromwellian Settlement

1892: Clan Colla described in O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees

2009: Colla DNA project started at FTDNA

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Origin of the Three Collas

There are several theories as to the origin Carrell Colla Uais, Muredach Colla da Crioch, and Aedh Colla Menn.

  1. Cousins of Niall. The traditional explanation is that the Three Collas are descended from the kings of Ireland and are cousins, twice removed of Niall of the Nine Hostages. The Three Collas were the sons of Eochaid Dublein, who was the younger son of Cairbre Lificar, the 117th King of Ireland. The older son, Fiacha Sraibtine, was the 120th King of Ireland. The Three Collas waged war against their uncle Fiacha Sraibhtine and slew him in the battle of Dubhcomar, AD 322. Colla Uais then ascended the throne as the 121st King of Ireland. In AD 326, he was deposed by Muredach Tirech, son of Fiacha Sraibtine. Muredach Tirech then banished to Scotland the Three Collas and their principal chiefs, to the number of three hundred; but through the influence of the King of Alba, and the mediation of the Druids, they were afterwards pardoned by the Irish King, who cordially invited them to return to Ireland, and received them into great favor.      ...more
  2. Romanized Trinovantes. In 1998, Donald M. Schlegel, suggested in his article "The Origin of the Three Collas and the Fall of Emain" in the Clogher Record that the Three Collas were Romanized Britons from the Trinovantes, a celtic tribe from Colchester, the oldest recorded Roman town in England. They received military training from the Romans and eventually went to Ireland as mercenaries in the service of the King of Ireland. The Three Collas were not descended from the kings of Ireland and were not related to Niall of the Nine Hostages. This is consistent with recent DNA findings.      ...more
  3. Tribal Drift. In 2010, Patrick McMahon, a geneticist and a contributor to this study, cited a westward and north westward movement of bronze-age Celts through Europe, including the L21 line which started north of the Alps about 4,000 years ago. He estimates that L21 Celts 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. There arose in one L21 tribe, Clan Colla, the relatively rare and stable null mutation at marker 425 shortly before the Roman invasion of Britain. In addition to names representing Wales, there is an equally strong contingent of Scottish names. This, in conjunction with the occurrence of the null mutation at the beginning of the first milennium, is strongly suggestive that the Colla tribe was well established and had branched in northwest Britain before coming to Ireland. The three Colla brothers arrived in Ireland about A.D. 300, allegedly as mercenaries to the High King. Based on his analysis of the DNA data, Patrick sees no confirmation that specific surnames descended from specific brothers. See his McMahon DNA.      ...more
Tara
Stone of Destiny, where Kings of Ireland were crowned in a fort on the Hill of Tara, County Meath.

Cousins of Niall. In 1892, genealogist John O'Hart (1824-1902) published a two-volume book entitled Irish Pedigrees; or, the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation. Copies of these volumes at the University of Michigan were digitized by Google in June 2008: Volume I and Volume II. On page 575 of Volume II, O'Hart says the Three Collas invaded Ulster, conquered the country, and there formed for themselves and their posterity, the Kingdom of Orgiall (latinized Orgallia), sometimes called Oriel, and Uriel.

The Three Collas were the sons of Eochaid Dublein, who was the younger son of Cairbre Lificar, the 117th King of Ireland. The older son, Fiacha Sraibtine, was the 120th King of Ireland. The Three Collas waged war against their uncle Fiacha Sraibhtine and slew him in the battle of Dubhcomar, AD 322. Colla Uais then ascended the throne as the 121st King of Ireland. In AD 326, he was deposed by Muredach Tirech, son of Fiacha Sraibtine. Muredach Tirech then banished to Scotland the Three Collas and their principal chiefs, to the number of three hundred; but through the influence of the King of Alba, and the mediation of the Druids, they were afterwards pardoned by the Irish King, who cordially invited them to return to Ireland, and received them into great favor.

The Three Collas are a separate line from Niall of the Nine Hostages. Both are descended from Conn of the Hundred Battles and the Milesian Kings.

Conn of the Hundred Battles, 110th King of Ireland, 123-157.
Art, 112th King of Ireland, 166-196
Cormac, 115th King of Ireland, 227-267
Ruled from Tara for forty years. Converted to Christianity
Cairbre Lificar, 117th King of Ireland, 268-284
Fiacha Sraibtini, 120th King of Ireland, 286-322
Defeated by his nephews, the Three Collas, in the Battle of Dubchomar, and Colla Uais took the throne
Eochaid Dublein
Married Oilech, daughter of Ugari, King of Alba (Scotland)
Father of the Three Collas
Muredach Tirech, 122nd King of Ireland, 327-356
Defeated his cousins the Three Collas, regained his father's throne, and exiled the Three Collas to Scotland, where their maternal grandfather was King. After several years, brought the Three Collas back to conquer Ulster
Three Collas
  1. Carrell Colla Uais, 121st King of Ireland, 323-326
  2. Muredach Colla da Crioch
  3. Aedh Colla Menn

Defeated their uncle, Fiacha Sraibtini, in the Battle of Dubchomar. Colla Uais took the throne. Defeated by their cousin Muredach Tirech, who regained his father's throne, and exiled the Three Collas to Scotland, where their maternal grandfather was King. After several years, Muredach Tirech brought the Three Collas back to conquer Ulster, starting the ancient kingdom of Oriel in what is now counties Monaghan and Fermanagh. A descendant, Maine Mor, later established the Kingdom of Hy-Maine on the Shannon River between counties Roscommon and Galway.
Eochaid Mugmedon, 124th King of Ireland, 358-365
Niall of the Nine Hostages, 126th King of Ireland, 379-405
Raided Britain and brought Saint Patrick, 16, back as a slave. Great great grandfather of Saint Columba

An Irish priest, Geoffrey Keating (1569-1644), had this to say in Book I, Section XLVII (pages 358 and 359) of The History of Ireland, published in 1629-31 and translated into English by David Comyn and Patrick S. Dinneen:

It is at Cairbre Lithfeachair that the Oirghialla—that is, the family of the Collas—separate in their pedigree from the clanna Neill and the Connachtaigh. And Fiachaidh Sraibhthine son of Cairbre Lithfeachair was grandfather of Eochaidh Muighmheadhon son of Muireadhach Tireach, son of Fiachaidh Sraibhthine; and it is from this Muireadhach that the clanna Neill and the men of Connaught are descended. Eochaidh Doimhlean son of Cairbre Lithfeachair was brother to Fiachaidh Sraibhthine; and this Eochaidh had three sons, to wit, the three Collas, and from these are descended the Ui Mac Uais, the Ui Criomhthainn, and the Modhornaigh. The real names of the three Collas referred to were Cairioll, Muireadhach, and Aodh.

In 1946, Thomas O'Rahilly took the position in his book Early Irish History and Mythology that the Three Collas did not exist. They were simply Eoghan, Conall, and Enda, the three sons of Niall of the Nine Hostages who conquered northwest Ireland.

For more information on the traditional origins of the Three Collas, see the Edward Cartin website and the Alec Conn website.

Trinity College Dublin discussed M222 DNA in an article in February 2006, saying: "Genealogical association together with the predominance and pattern of variation of the IMH strongly suggest a rise in frequency due to the strong social selection associated with the hegemony of the Ui Neill dynasty and their descendants. Figures such as Niall of the Nine Hostages reside at the cusp of mythology and history, but our results do seem to confirm the existence a single early-medieval progenitor to the most powerful and enduring Irish dynasty." M222 DNA is much different from Clan Colla DNA. See: History Lessons.

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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.

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 other 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 (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 (exerpt), 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 (exerpt), page 426, as a descendant of Maguire.
  • Smith, which is mentioned by Peadar Livingston in The Fermanagh Story (exerpt), 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."

Table of Contents     

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: 49 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 (exerpt) 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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FTDNA Clan Colla DNA Project

If you are a male with the name of a Colla descendant, you may benefit from participating in the Clan Colla 425 null project at Family Tree DNA.

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 Peter Biggins, Patrick McMahon, and Thomas Roderick. The project is designed to attract Clan Colla descendants, encourage upgrades to the 67-marker test, and promote Clan Colla research.

You can participate in our Colla project as well as a project specifically set up for your surname. There is no additional cost for being part of two projects.

By testing the Y-chromosome DNA, males can determine the origin of their paternal line. Note that the Y-chromosome DNA strictly checks the paternal line, with no influence of any females along that line. Females do not receive the Y-chromosome, and therefore females cannot be tested for the paternal line. If you are a female and would like to know about your paternal line, you would have to find a brother or a male relative from that line willing to be tested.

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.

You sign up online for FTDNA and they deduct the cost from your credit card. They send you in the mail a kit containing two scrapers that you use to swab the inside of your cheeks in four-hour intervals. You return the scrapers in receptacles and mailer provided in the kit. You get final results on line two months later.

If you decide to have your DNA tested, you should choose the 67 or 111 markers. The lesser tests of 12, 25, or 37 markers do not include key markers that verify a match with Colla descendants:

  • Markers 511 and 425 are in the 67-marker test
  • Additional markers 505 and 441 are in the 111-marker test.
The 67-marker test is usually enough to verify Clan Colla DNA. The 111-marker test is best.

Most names have multiple origins. For example, there are Monaghan McMahons (Colla descendants) and Clare McMahons (not Colla descendants). For this reason, your results may show that your DNA does not match the Colla DNA, which will lead you in a different ancestry direction.

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

Predicting Clan Colla DNA. If you have a Colla name but have not tested 67 or 111 markers, you can use the values of markers in the table to the right to predict your chances of matching the DNA of Colla descendants. If you have done the 12-marker test, you have a better chance of matching Clan Colla if you have a value of 15 or more for Marker 385b and 13 or more for 439. If you have neither marker, you stand practically no chance of being a Clan Coll descendant. If you have both, you have a better chance of being descended from the Three Collas than if you have only one.

If you have done the 25-marker test, you have a better chance of matching Clan Colla if you have a value of 15 or more for Marker 385b, 13 or more for 439, and 28 or less for 449. If you have none of the three markers, you stand practically no chance of being a Clan Coll descendant. If you have two or three, you have a better chance of being descended from the Three Collas than if you have only one.

If you have done the 37-marker test, you have a better chance of matching Clan Colla if you have a value of 15 or more for Marker 385b, 13 or more for 439, 28 or less for 449, and 18 or more for 570. If you have none of the four markers, you stand practically no chance of being a Clan Coll descendant. If you have three or four, you have a better chance of being descended from the Three Collas than if you have only one or two.

If you have a Colla surname, you can join the Colla project before receiving test results for all 67 markers. You will be placed in a special category for people with less than 67 markers.

Table of Contents     

FTDNA Project Results. Following is a chart showing values of the Y-DNA of markers 1 to 111 for the current participants in the Clan Colla 425 null project, by surname category. The category descriptions include:

  • Surname
  • Page in O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees that describes the surname pedigree
  • Unique markers for category members
  • The range of genetic distances from the 67-marker Clan Colla modal DNA

Table of Contents     

FTDNA Project SNPs. Following is a chart showing the positive and negative Y-DNA SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) test results for the current participants in the Clan Colla 425 null project. All who have tested 67 markers are predicted by FTDNA to have the M269 SNP. The terminal SNP for Clan Colla is DF21. The Clan Colla SNPs downstream of M269 are L23, L11, P312, L21, DF21. Clan Colla shares the DF21 SNP with a number of other people, some of whom have further downstream SNPs. See L21 and DF21 SNPs.

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Clan Colla DNA Database

In March 2009, Josiah McGuire sent me an email saying our DNA matched up pretty closely, and he saw on my Biggins/Beggan Irish Roots Web page that Peadar Livinstone told Gerard Beggan that Beggan was descended from McGuire. Josiah had read that McGuires and other surnames are descended from Clan Colla. He also noticed that we had an unusual null value for marker 425. This was exciting news. In May 2009, I started this Web page. And I started building a database of people with Clan Colla surnames who had a null value for marker 425. By June 2009, we had a Clan Colla database 61 people gleaned from various projects at Family Tree DNA that included Colla surnames. It was fairly easy to construct this database. We had the names from Irish histories. We went to FTDNA surname projects for those surnames and pulled off the data for people who had tested 67 markers and had the null value for marker 425.

In late June 2009, Josiah started the Clan Colla project at Family Tree DNA, and we went about recruiting members. The database helped us find people to recruit to the Clan Colla project. The matches of the people in the Clan Colla project helped us to expand the database. By November 2011, the database had 259 people, and the FTDNA project had 170. By December 2012, the database had over 300 people, and the FTDNA project had over 200.

Not all of the people with Colla surnames had the null value for marker 425, but the ones that did all seemed to match up fairly closely to our modal DNA. The ones that did not have the null value did not match up closely.

DateMen with 67-Marker Clan Colla Y-DNA
DatabaseFTDNA Project
June 2009610
June 2011232148
November 2011259170
December 2012304218
April 2013319234
May 2013323238
August 2013331245
December 2013341251
June 2014380288

Our database with its established modal allowed us to include the people, regardless of surname. This has resulted in a list of people with Colla DNA--some with Colla surnames and some without. There were plausible reasons for the existence of this latter group: adoption, name change, genealogical omissions, and distant cousins.

A reference group was put together of people who do not have the Colla DNA. This group helps to understand how close the people are who have the Colla DNA. It also helps make predictions about closeness to Colla DNA based on markers other than the null 425.

The ancient genealogies and DNA test results seem to be confirming each other. A pattern or "signature" DNA has emerged for Colla descendants identified long ago by John O'Hart and his predecessors. And the ancient genealogies have given us a clue as to which people have Colla DNA.

Table of Contents     

DNA Testing. By testing the Y-chromosome DNA, males can determine the origin of their paternal line. Note that the Y DNA strictly checks the paternal line, with no influence of any females along that line. Females do not receive the Y-chromosome, and therefore females cannot be tested for the paternal line. If you are a female and would like to know about your paternal line, you would need to have a male relative from that line to be tested.

The test results evaluated here all came from Family Tree DNA. Only 67 or 111 markers tested are included here because those tests include the 48th marker, 425, which is crucial to the analysis. The cost of this test varies from time to time, but the average is approximately $250. More advanced "deep-clade testing" provides more specific information about origin but is not essential to this study.

Table of Contents     

Colla Modal DNA and Key Markers. 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 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 markers expanded from 425=0 to 511=9 among the first 67 markers. The expansion to 111 markers brought two more key 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 DNA

4 key markers are shaded tan. Red indicates more rapidly mutating markers.
Markers 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

Markers 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

Markers 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

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

Markers 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 Key Markers

A June 2013 study compared 4 key markers for two groups who had tested 111 markers 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 markers. The "other DF21" had 1 at best. Below is the percentage distribution of values.

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

Marker 511
ValueClan Colla Other DF21
9962
10487
11011
100100

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

Marker 425
ValueClan Colla Other DF21
01002
12098
100100

Marker 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.

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

Marker 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.

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

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Genetic Distance. The next step was to compute the genetic distance from Colla Modal DNA for each person in the study. Genetic distance occurs because of mutations from one generation to another. If two people are identical in all markers except they are off in one marker by 1 point, the genetic distance would be 1. If they were off at 2 different markers 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 marker and 1 point in a second marker, then the genetic distance would be 3. Genetic distance for certain markers or marker groups is limited to 1. This method of computing genetic distance is called the hybrid mutation model. If a marker has a null value for one person and a positive value for another, the marker 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-marker Colla Modal DNA 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 DNA. 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 DNA among participants. For example, it shows that 232 people have 2,161 genetic distances of 7 among themselves.

FTDNA shows each participant his 67-marker 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 and the 67-marker 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
Markers 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%

Table of Contents     

Surname: Colla Subgroup
Colla Subgroups. As of June 2014, Y-chromosome DNA data had been collected on 380 men with Clan Colla DNA. See Source Data. This included 288 in the FTDNA Clan Colla project, supplemented by another 92 gleaned from FTDNA surname projects. To better understand the DNA data that has been accumulated, the Colla group has been broken down into 47 surname subgroups and two Diverse groups. The surname subgroups are based on:

  • Surname
  • Family genealogy
  • Genetic distance among group members
  • Uniqueness of certain markers
The two Diverse subgroups consist of singletons. The Diverse 1 subgroupm is nearer the Clan Colla modal DNA and the Diverse 2 subgroup is farther. Some singletons have been included other surname subgroups and some in the two Diverse subgroups. The index to the right shows what surnames have been assigned to what subgroup in the subgroup table below.

Genetic distance occurs because of mutations from one generation to another. If two people are identical in all markers except they are off in one marker by 1 point, the genetic distance would be 1. If they were off at 2 different markers 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 marker and 1 point in a second marker, then the genetic distance would be 3. Genetic distance for certain markers or marker groups is limited to 1. This method of computing genetic distance is called the hybrid mutation model. If a marker has a null value for one person and a positive value for another, the marker is ignored. Actual calculations were made using the FTDNA 111 Mode BETA version of the McGee Utility. Input to the utility consists of the DNA of the participants from the Source Data.

The Colla subgroup table below shows the genetic distances from the Clan Colla modal DNA. It shows the genetic distance among the group members. It also has a link to the page in O'Hart's 1892 Irish Pedigrees that ties the group surname to Clan Colla. And it indicates, where applicable, any unique markers for the group.

Colla SubgroupNGenetic Distance
from Colla Modal
Mean (Low-High)
Genetic Distance
from Each Other
Mean (Low-High)
Genetic Distance MatrixAncient PedigreeFTDNA ProjectComments
Adams36.3 (4-8)10.0 (5-13) Adans GD matrix Adams
McAdams
Almond24.5 (4-5)1.0 (1-1) Almond GD matrix Allman
Biggins85.4 (4-7)5.3 (2-7) Biggins GD matrix Biggins
Bingham
See Biggins 127469 in Clan Colla BIG Y tree
Group has a unique 413b=24
Includes Beaghen, Beggan, Bingham, and Little. Surname comes from beag, Irish for small, hence the variant Little. See Biggins/Beggan Irish Roots
Boylan35.0 (3-8)5.3 (1-8) Boylan GD matrix O'Hart 365 Clan Colla 425 null
Ireland
Variant of Boland
Calkins264.6 (3-8)3.2 (0-7) Calkins GD matrix O'Hart 608 (Colcan), 671 (Colgan of Ulster) Calkins Group has a unique 389i=14
Possibly a variant of Colcan or Colgan
Ancestor Hugh Calkin from the Chester area of Cheshire, England went to America with The Blynman Party, a group of Welshmen, in 1640 (New England Historical Genealogical Register, January 1899, 234-241). Some Calkins researchers believe their ancestors were Irish in origin and emigrated to England at some point in time
Carroll 1185.8 (4-7)3.0 (0-6) Carroll 1 GD matrix O'Hart 379 Carroll See Carroll N41845 in Clan Colla BIG Y tree
O'Carrolls were kings of Airghialla down to the 12th century
Carroll 234.0 (3-6)6.7 (5-9) Carroll 2 GD matrix O'Hart 379 Carroll O'Carrolls were kings of Airghialla down to the 12th century
Clarke45 (4-7)5.7 (0-9) Clarke GD matrix Clark
Clery
Ulster
Variant of Clery
Connolly106.5 (5-9)6.7 (1-11) Connolly GD matrix O'Hart Vol. II, 577 Conley
Clan Colla 425 null
Connollys were chiefs of Fermanagh
Devine24 (2-6)6 (6-6) Devine GD matrix O'Hart 403 Devine
Clan Colla 425 null
Variant of Davin
Duffy55.4 (3-9)5.2 (2-7) Duffy GD matrix Duffy
Godwin58.8 (8-10)1.6 (0-3) Godwin GD matrix Goodwin Variant of McGuigan, Geoghegan, Pigeon. Pigeon is described by MacLysaght and Woulfe as a corruption of Mac Guigan
Hart35.7 (5-7)4.0 (2-6) Hart GD matrix O'Hart 664 Hart See Hart 166797 in Clan Colla BIG Y tree
Higgins47.0 (5-9)5.8 (1-10) Higgins GD matrix O'Hart 669 Higgins See Higgins 96415 in Clan Colla BIG Y tree
Hughes115.5 (4-7)5.4 (0-9) Hughes GD matrix O'Hart 542 Hughes
McHugh
McGee
Group has unusual 464c=15
Includes McGee, variant of McHugh
Includes Campbell. See O'Hart 509
Several Hughes are descended from Andrew Hughes born 1755 in Lancaster, Pennsyvania
Judd34.7 (4-5)2.0 (1-3) Judd GD matrix Bumgarner
Clan Colla 425 null
Group has unique 487=12
Kelly56.6 (4-8)10.2 (7-13) Kelly GD matrix O'Hart 671 Kelly Kelly of Ulster, from Clankelly in County Fermangh. DNA indicates that Kelly of Hy Maine is not descended from Clan Colla as indicated at O'Hart 684
Larkin20.5 (8-11)5.0 (5-5) Larkin GD matrix O'Hart 514 Larkin Group has a unique 511=10
MacDougall58.4 (8-10)5.8 (2-9) MacDougall GD matrix O'Hart 539 MacDougall See White N69302 in Clan Colla BIG Y tree
Group has a unique 390=23 and 511=10
MacDougall 21971 has an ancestor, Iain MacDhubhghaill, who is from Lorne in Scotland according to an 1890 history of Christmas Island, Nova Scotia
Includes 3 White. Lorne is on Oban Bay in Scotland. The Gaelic word for white is ban.
McAulay44.8 (4-6)4.8 (4-7) McAulay GD matrix O'Hart 565 McAulay
McBee
Clan Colla 425 null
Includes Beeman, a variant of McBee, which is a variant of MacVeagh/MacEvoy, which is a variant of MacUais
McClain43.3 (2-4)2.2 (1-4) McClain 1 GD matrix O'Hart 669 MacLean
McDonald 1127.5 (6-9)4.2 (0-8) McDonald 1 GD matrix O'Hart 527 McDonald
Ulster
See Edwards 68859 in Clan Colla BIG Y tree
Group has unique 437 & 446=14
McDonald 133546 has traced his ancestry back 43 generations to Lieutenant Brian McDonald, Charles Thurlough Mor McDonald, Alasdair Og MacDonnell, Somerled, Goffrad, and Carrell Colla Uais
McDonald 294.9 (3-10)5.6 (1-11) McDonald 2 GD matrix O'Hart 527, 536 McDonald
Ulster
McDonald 3153.5 (1-6)4.0 (0-9) McDonald 3 GD matrix O'Hart 527, 536 McDonald
Ulster
Includes Alexander, a variant of McDonald
Includes Rattray, from Glamis, Scotland
McDonald 435.0 (3-8)4.7 (2-7) McDonald 4 GD matrix O'Hart 527, 536 McDonald
Ulster
McGinnis46.5 (5-9)8.0 (1-13) McGinnis GD matrix McGinnis
Null 425 DNA project
Includes McAtee, a variant of McEntee found in Oriel
McGuire 1127.7 (6-9)2.4 (0-5) McGuire 1 GD matrix O'Hart 576 Maguire
Mag Uidhir Clan
See McGuire 222108 in Clan Colla BIG Y tree
Group has unique 438=10
McGuire 268 (7-10)2.5 (1-5) McGuire 2 GD matrix O'Hart 576 Maguire
Mag Uidhir Clan
Group has unique 393=14, 413b=22
McGuire 355.8 (4-7)7.8 (2-13) McGuire 3 GD matrix O'Hart 576 Maguire 1790 USA
Mag Uidhir Clan
Includes Martin whose ancestor is from Dunleer, where the 6th century Monastery of Lann Leire is said to be connected with descendants of Colla da Crioch in Christian Inscriptions in the Irish Language, Volume 2, by George Petrie, 1868, page 68
Martin is possibly a descendant of McGuires, according to Peadar Livingston in Fermanagh Story
McKenna195.9 (3-10)5.5 (0-12) McKenna GD matrix O'Hart 543 McKenna McKennas were lords of Truagh, County Monaghan
McMahon 1304.2 (2-6)4.2 (0-8) McMahon 1 GD matrix O'Hart 549 McMahon See McMahon B2743 in Clan Colla BIG Y tree
Group has unusual 464c=15
McMahons were lords and princes of Monaghan
Includes Matthews, a variant of McMahon
Includes McArdle, a branch of McMahon
McMahon 145687 has traced his ancestry back 49 Generations to Faolan MacMathghamhna (Felim/Phelan MacMahon) who lived in the early 12th century, to Cairbre an Dam Airge who died in 513, to Muredach Colla da Chrioch
McMahon 247.3 (6-8)12.0 (4-15) McMahon 2 GD matrix O'Hart 549 McMahon McMahons were lords and princes of Monaghan
McQuillan104.3 (3-6)5.8 (0-10) McQillan GD matrix O'Hart Vol. II 578 McQuillan
Collins
See McQuillan 82960 in Clan Colla BIG Y tree
Monaghan36.7 (5-8)3.7 (3-4) Monaghan GD matrix O'Hart 639 Monaghan
Morris78.1 (6-9)2.5 (0-4) Morris GD matrix Morris Group has unique 385a=10
Murphy35.0 (4-6)6.0 (5-7) Murphy GD matrix Murphy
Neal55.6 (4-8)2.0 (1-3) Neal GD matrix O'Hart 604 Neal-O'Neal
Newell38.7 (7-10)4.0 (2-5) Newall GD matrix Newell Group has unique 388=9
May be anglicized from Neal
Østerud47.8 (7-8)0.5 (0-1) Østerud GD matrix Norway See Østerud 328342 in Clan Colla BIG Y tree
Paden113.9 (3-5)2.4 (0-5) Paden GD matrix Paden See Paden 36836 in Clan Colla BIG Y tree
Paden is a patronymic name from the Gaelic "Paidin", the diminutive of Padraig (Patrick). Padens have their origins in the western isles of Scotland and descend from Colla Uais. Pedens are recognized as a sept of Clan MacDonald of the Isles
Pate46.0 (5-7)1.0 (0-2) Pate GD matrix Pate Group has unique GATA H4=10
Plunkett25.0 (5-5)0.0 (0-0) Plunkett GD matrix Plunkett
Roberts35.7 (5-7)2.7 (2-4) Roberts GD matrix O'Hart 565, 566 Roberts Includes Marshall
Group has unique 385b=17, 446=12
Roderick148.3 (7-11)2.1 (0-6) Roderick GD matrix O'Hart 371, 383 Roderick Group has unique 485=14
Family from 1675 in Llantrisant, Glamorgan, southern Wales. The earlier Welsh name was Rhydderch
Shannon27.5 (7-8)1.0 (1-1) Shannon GD matrix O'Hart 640 Shannon
Smith 167.8 (7-10)1.9 (0-4) Smith 1 GD matrix O'Hart 467 Northeastern Smith Group has unique 385a=10 and 490=13-14
Smith is a variant of Gavin/Gavan
Smith 258.0 (7-9)5.0 (1-9) Smith 2 GD matrix O'Hart 467 Northeastern Smith Group has a unique 570=15-16
Smith is a variant of Gavin/Gavan
Diverse 1245.9 (4-8)9.8 (2-14) Diverse 1 GD matrix Various See Callen 264834, Kern 37416, and Lawler 180119 in Clan Colla BIG Y tree
Includes Curby, a variant of Carbery. See O'Hart 671
Includes Dunphy, a variant of Donaghy, which is listed by Peadar Livingston in The Fermanagh Story, page 426, as a descendant of Maguire
Includes Elliott. See O'Hart Vol. II 578
Includes Heaney, a descendant of Mulrooney, 104th King of Oriel, who was descended from Colla da Crioch. See O'Hart 818 and 672
Includes Kern, a variant of Kearns and Cairns. See O'Hart 374
Includes Lawlor. See O'Hart 514
Includes Lynch. See O'Hart 669
Includes McArthur. See O'Hart 477
Includes Rice, a variant of O'Mulcreevy, an Oriel sept
Diverse 2239.0 (7-15)14.6 (6-24) Diverse 2 GD matrix Various Includes Feehan. See O'Hart 671
Includes Henretty. See O'Hart 670
Includes O'Donoghue, a variant of Donaghy, which is listed by Peadar Livingston in The Fermanagh Story, page 426, as a descendant of Maguire.
Includes Rogers, a variant of MacRory. See O'Hart 669
Total3806.0 (1-15)10.1 (0-24) All Colla GD matrix Source Data

Table of Contents     

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.

DNA Sketch
First sketch of the deoxyribonucleic acid double-helix pattern in 1953 by Francis Crick.

Table of Contents     

Null Value for Marker 425. 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 in the DF21 reference group 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, and none has SNPs downstream of DF21.

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-11c-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

Table of Contents     

L21, DF21, and S971 SNPs

All Clan Colla participants who have tested for the L21 SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) have tested positive. L21 was discovered in October 2008. People with the L21 SNP are said to be members of the R1b1a2a1a1b4 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 estimated to be 4,000 years old. It is sometimes referred to as a "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     (Celtic)     (4000 ybp)
DF13 DF63
(Broom)

CTS6919
(Franklin,
McFarland)
DF49

DF23

Z2961
L144
L195
(Whelan, Phelan, Brazile)
L513 Z255
L159
(Irish Sea)
Z253 DF21 (See Below) DF41

L744

L745
(High Stewards)
L1335
(Scottish Cluster)
CTS4466
(South Irish)
(565=11)
Hy Maine
(413a=21,
557=17,
565=11)
M222
(Niall of the Nine Hostages)
L193
(Scottish Borders)
L69
(Airghialla 2)
L226
(Brian Boru)
L1066
(Continental Irish)
ybp is for years before the present, an estimate of when a SNP first occurred.      565=11 indicates that marker 565 has a unique value of 11.

Clan Colla participants also have tested positive for the DF21 SNP, which is downstream of L21. The first Clan Colla member tested positive for DF21 in August 2011. As of April 2012, 19 Clan Colla members have tested for DF21 all have tested positive. This further narrows the haplogroup for Clan Colla descendants. 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 is estimated to be 2,500 to 3,000 years old, compared with 4,000 for the L21 SNP. It 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 Clan Colla

DF21/S192     (3000 ybp)
P314 Z246
DF25
DF5
L130 S424
S190
(Little Scottish Cluster)
(464a=13
590=9)
S5488 S971 S5456
(Galway Bay)
464a=16
L658
(Cain)
CTS3655
L627
L1403
(The Seven Septs of Laois)
L1446
L1447

L1448
Z16281
Ely Carroll
(492=11)
S7200 L588
L1336
L1337
Ferguson, Bruce Z3000
(Clan Colla)
(511=9,
425=0,
505=9,
441=12)
(1600-1700 ybp)

See BIG Y Below
L720
(Clan Chattan?)
S6003
ybp is for years before the present, an estimate of when a SNP first occurred.      492=11 indicates that marker 492 has a unique value of 11.

Clan Colla participants are urged to join the L21 project and DF21 project at FTDNA. The DF21 project has been set up by David Reynolds for people who have tested positive for the DF21 SNP or are interested in ordering the test.

We recommend that you defer the purchase of Y-DNA SNPs until FTDNA offers new SNPs discovered through BIG Y testing.

Recently the Y-DNA haplotree on your FTDNA homepage was updated. The updated tree does not reflect the results of BIG Y testing. The SNPs downstream of DF21 are not found in Clan Colla DNA.

The L21 Yahoo Group has been set up to serve as a forum for those interested in DF21 and other SNPs downstream of L21. Mike Walsh has constructed an L21 Tree Chart. 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 Z3017. Z3000 and the ones downstream of it were discovered by Alex Williamson in his analysis of BIG Y testing results.

  • Z3000 is one of 20 SNPs discovered in BIG Y that are shared by all Collas who have tested.
    • Z16270 is shared by testers with ancestors named Carroll, Paden, Lawler
    • Z3004 is shared by testers with ancestors named Higgins, McMahon, Callen, Kern, McQuillan, McGuire, Biggins, Edwards, Hart, White, Østerud
      • Z16274 is shared by testers with ancestors named Higgins, McMahon, Callen, Kern, McQuillan
        • Z16278 is shared by testers with ancestors named Higgins, McMahon, Callen, Kern
          • Z16272 is shared by testers with ancestors named Higgins, McMahon, Callen
            • A77 is shared by testers with ancestors named Higgins, McMahon

More on these and other Clan Colla SNPs is shown below under BIG Y.

Table of Contents     

BIG Y

Clan Colla BIG Y SNP Tree

Click here to open in a new window

Source: Alex Williamson's Big Tree and his NGS SNP spreadsheet, as of August 6, 2014. See also FTDNA Q&A.

SNPs are listed in The order of their position on the Build 37 human reference genome. SNPS beginning with letters have been named. The A SNPs were recently named by Thomas Krahn to add names to some new shared SNPs. Z2993 to Z3021 where assigned by David Reynolds on Dec 24, 2012. They were found in 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 the tradition that SNPs found by the community have the prefix Z, Alex Wlliamson has added Z names for many of the recently found shared SNPs on the tree (Z16267-Z16279). The S SNPs were named by James F. Wilson, D.Phil. at Edinburgh University.

Those mutations written in italics with a question mark after them have not been tested by the individual, and so could potentially be positive. Generally, they were found to be positive in other parallel men.

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. Family Tree DNA has not yet offered individual tests for any of these SNPs.
  • It tells individuals more precisely how they fit in to Clan Colla relative to others who have tested.
    • Higgins and McMahon share SNPs that no one else has, but each has his own unique SNPs.
    • Carroll, Lawlor, and Paden are part of a group that split of from the rest of Clan Colla.
  • It tells how Clan Colla relates to other groups who have the DF21 SNP. So far, we have learned that Clan Colla shares an S971 SNP with a group including the names Ferguson and Bruce. This SNP is downstream of DF21 but upstream of all 20 SNPs that define Clan Colla. So, it is 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.

BIG Y has been ordered by 29 Collas, including the 16 whose results are shown in the tree above. Characteristics of the testers are as follows.

  • Genetic distances from the 67-marker modal DNA for Clan Colla range from 3 to 9.
  • With one exception, all have the four key Clan Colla marker values: 511=9, 425=0, 505=9, 441=12. The one exception is White, who is part of our MacDougall subgroup (2 MacDougall and 3 White). This group has three of the four key markers, but 511 is 10 instead of 9.
  • Testers first tested with FTDNA from 2005 to 2014.

On your FTDNA personal page, you should see a blue and white BIG Y square in the middle of the page, which you can click on to read more about BIG Y. Effective July 28, 2014, the the regular price of the BIG Y test was permanently reduced to $595 from $695. When it was introduced, the BIG Y test was on sale for $495 for the month of November 2013. The test was again on sale in June 2014 from the 9th to the 17th--this time for $595, further rediced to $495 if one could obtain a discount coupon from someone who had already tested.

Regular SNP tests are likely to be offered by FTDNA for any new SNPs so that all Collas can tell whether they have them for $39 per SNP.

The table below lists the BIG Y testers in Clan Colla. It shows:

  • order and delivery date
  • the tester's genetic distance from the 67-marker Clan Colla modal DNA
  • the number of matches that the tester has on his personal page at 67 markers
  • the tester's Colla subgroup
  • the 67-marker genetic distances among members of the tester's subgroup (click on matrix)
  • the Colla brother from whom the subgroup surname is descended and a link to the page in O'Hart's 1892 Irish Pedigrees that ties the subgroup surname to Clan Colla
  • links the the FTDNA surname projects for the subgroup
  • any unique markers for the subgroup (see Comments)

BIG Y Tester Name and Kit #Order and Delivery DateGenetic Distance from 67-Marker Colla Modal DNAFTDNA Matches at 67 MarkersColla SubgroupSubgroup Genetic DistancesClan Colla HistoryFTDNA Surname ProjectComments
Carroll N41845Nov. 9
Feb. 27
677Carroll 1Carroll 1 GD matrix Crioch
O'Hart 379
Carroll O'Carrolls were kings of Airghialla down to the 12th century.
Paden 36836Nov. 27
Apr. 9
499PadenPaden GD matrix Uais? Paden Paden is a patronymic name from the Gaelic "Paidin", the diminutive of Padraig (Patrick). Padens were thought to have their origins in the western isles of Scotland and descend from Colla Uais. The BIG Y tree, however, associates them with Carroll and Lawler, both said to be descended from Colla Crioch.
Lawler 180119Dec. 1
Apr. 30
620Diverse 1Diverse 1 GD matrix Crioch
O'Hart 514
Lawlor of Monaghan.
Johnson 259601May 31
Aug. 1
739Diverse 1Diverse 1 GD matrix
Higgins 96415Nov. 22
Mar. 18
562HigginsHiggins GD matrix Crioch
O'Hart 669
Higgins
McMahon B2743Dec. 1
Mar. 18
3126McMahon 1McMahon 1 GD matrix Crioch
O'Hart 549
McMahon Subgroup has unique 464c=15
McMahons were lords and princes of Monaghan. Includes Matthews, a variant of McMahon, and McArdle, a branch of McMahon. McMahon 145687 has traced his ancestry back 49 Generations to Faolan MacMathghamhna (Felim/Phelan MacMahon) who lived in the early 12th century, to Cairbre an Dam Airge who died in 513, to Muredach Colla da Chrioch.
Callen 264834Nov. 9
Apr. 4
735Diverse 1Diverse 1 GD matrix Crioch Courtney
Kern 37416Feb. 17
Apr. 17
465Diverse 1Diverse 1 GD matrix Crioch
O'Hart 374
Kern Variant of Kearns and Cairns
McQuillan 82960Nov. 29
Apr. 11
4123McQuillanMcQillan GD matrix Uais?
O'Hart Vol. II 578
McQuillan
Collins
MacQuillans were powerful chiefs in Antrim. They were said to be from Scotland and presumably descended from Colla Uais. The BIG Y tree, however, associates them with Higgins, McMahon, Callen, Kern, all said to be descended from Colla Crioch.
McGuire 222108Nov. 28
Apr. 9
716McGuire 1McGuire 1 GD matrix Crioch
O'Hart 576
Maguire
Mag Uidhir Clan
Subroup has unique 438=10
Maguires were princes of Fermanagh
Biggins 127469Nov. 23
Apr. 2
642BigginsBiggins GD matrix Crioch
Descended from Maguire
Biggins
Bingham
Subgroup has a unique 413b=24.
Descended from Maguires per historian Peadar Livingstone 1969 conversation with Gerard Beggan, kit 166169. Name comes from beag, Irish for small. See Biggins/Beggan Irish Roots
Edwards 68859Apr. 2
June 17
914McDonald 1McDonald 1 GD matrix Uais
O'Hart 527
McDonald Group has unique 437 & 446=14
McDonald 133546 has traced his ancestry back 43 generations to Lieutenant Brian McDonald, Charles Thurlough Mor McDonald, Alasdair Og MacDonnell, Somerled, Goffrad, and Carrell Colla Uais
Hart 166797Nov. 19
Apr. 2
547HartHart GD matrix Crioch
O'Hart 664
Hart O'Harts were princes of Tara, chiefs of Sligo
White N69302Nov. 30
May 20
85MacDougallMacDougall GD matrix Uais?
O'Hart 539
MacDougall Subgroup has a unique 390=23 and 511=10. MacDougall 21971 has an ancestor, Iain MacDhubhghaill, who is from Lorne in Scotland according to an 1890 history of Christmas Island, Nova Scotia. Includes 3 White. Lorne is on Oban Bay in Scotland. The Gaelic word for white is ban.
Østerud 328342Apr. 2
June 11
812ØsterudØsterud GD matrix Uais?
Norway Most distant known ancestor was born in Hurdal, Norway, in 1749.
Connally 263699June 10813ConnollyConnolly GD matrix Crioch
O'Hart
Vol. 2 577
Conly Connollys were chiefs in Fermanagh
Collins 209736June 115121McQuillanMcQillan GD matrix Uais?
O'Hart Vol. II 578
McQuillan
Collins
MacQuillans were powerful chiefs in Antrim. They were said to be from Scotland and presumably descended from Colla Uais. The BIG Y tree, however, associates them with Higgins, McMahon, Callen, Kern, all said to be descended from Colla Crioch.
Compton N57121June 11827Smith 2Smith 2 GD matrix Subgroup has unique 570=15/16
Hart 182999June 12713HartHart GD matrix Crioch
O'Hart 664
Hart O'Harts were princes of Tara, chiefs of Sligo
Østerud 220430June 12733ØsterudØsterud GD matrix Uais?
Norway Most distant known ancestor was born in Hurdal, Norway, in 1742.
McGuire 319027June 12737McGuire 3McGuire 3 GD matrix Crioch
O'Hart 576
Maguire
Mag Uidhir Clan
Maguires were princes of Fermanagh
Dundas E10544June 134144McGuire 3McGuire 3 GD matrix Crioch
O'Hart 576
Maguire
Mag Uidhir Clan
Maguires were princes of Fermanagh
McMahon 13852June 1384McMahon 2McMahon 2 GD matrix Crioch
O'Hart 549
McMahon McMahons were lords and princes of Monaghan
Carroll 31491June 15643Carroll 2Carroll 2 GD matrix Crioch
O'Hart 379
Carroll O'Carrolls were kings of Airghialla down to the 12th century.
McDaniel 278275June 15
Aug. 14
639McDonald 1McDonald 1 GD matrix Uais
O'Hart 527
McDonald Group has unique 437 & 446=14
McDonald 133546 has traced his ancestry back 43 generations to Lieutenant Brian McDonald, Charles Thurlough Mor McDonald, Alasdair Og MacDonnell, Somerled, Goffrad, and Carrell Colla Uais
McGuire 32277June 16811McGuire 1McGuire 1 GD matrix Crioch
O'Hart 576
Maguire
Mag Uidhir Clan
Subroup has unique 438=10
Maguires were princes of Fermanagh
Roderick 8551June 17822RoderickRoderick GD matrix Crioch
O'Hart 371, 383
Roderick Subroup has unique 485=14
Hendricksson 61096June 21736HendrickssonDiverse 1 GD matrix Hendricks Has 67-marker genetic distances of 4 to 8 from members of the Carroll 1 subcategory
Beeman 113649June 246120McAulayMcAulay GD matrix Uais
O'Hart 565
McAulay, McBee Beeman is a variant of McBee, which is a variant of MacVeagh/MacEvoy, which is a variant of MacUais

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 BritainsDNA in February 2014 for 7 anonymous people. BritainsDNA 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. Their DF21 Chromo2 SNP tree

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.
P3141%DF21 project, R-L21* 11-13 Combo projectSNP P314Modal based on people with the P314 SNP. The SNP is a subclade of DF21, which is a subclade of L21. The P314.2 people who know where they are from originally are practically all from Ireland.
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 Z2961
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 projectSNP L513
SNP L69
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 L69 SNP. L69 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 Viking 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 The Peopling of Europe and Eupedia. Following is a haplogroup timeline taken from Eupedia. "ybp" is years before the present.

Haplogroup timeline from Eupedia

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 database. 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-L6933300000010000
Hy MaineR1b-Z296100000120000000
L226 Brian BoruR1b-L2262231020000000
South IrishR1b-CTS44662102180020000
Scottish ClusterR1b-L133539000000100000
Irish SeaR1b-Z2555507011000000
Dwyer/RyanR1b-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 Report 5, Subgroup O1, posted at Results of Projects of the O'Donoghue Society. 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 L69 SNP. L69 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 (exerpt) (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.

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Two Somerled Pedigrees

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

The histories say that the Lord of the Isle McDonalds are descended from Clan Colla through Somerled and his great great grandson Angus Og. Testing has shown, however, that descendants of Lord of the isles McDonalds instead have R1a DNA Viking heritage rather than R1b Clan Colla DNA. Strangely, testing also 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 brother, who lived in the 13th/14th century, obviously had different fathers. Which one descended from Somerled? In other words, was Somerled R1a or R1b?

As of April 2013, there were 25 McDonalds with Clan Colla R1b DNA (DF21 SNP) and 84 McDonalds with Viking R1a DNA (L176 SNP). They were not all descended, necessarily, from Alasdair Og and Angus Og. This data is from a total of 338 R1b and R1a McDonalds who had tested 67 markers in the Clan Donald project. The Clan Colla McDonalds are in four R1b subgroups: Pale Violet, Magenta-Black, Yellow Green-Black, and Yellow Unclassified. They can be distinguised by their null valuie for marker 425. The Viking McDonalds are in one R1a subgroup: Red. See Multiple-Sept Surnames.

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 professor J. Douglas McDonald of the University of Illinois.

There are two subgroups in the Clan Donald DNA project with different DNA who descend from different sons of Angus Mor MacDonald, a great grandson of Somerled.

  • The R1b Pale Violet subgroup, who have Clan Colla DNA. The subgroup includes Frank Everett McDonald (Clan Donald code &NHHMM). Frank's pedigree, 43 Generations: Colla to McDonald, goes back to Somerled through Alasdair Og, son of Angus Mor who was a great grandson of Somerled. Alasdair Og allied himself with Edward I, the king of England, against Robert the Bruce, the titular king of Scotland, in the War of Scottish Independence.
  • The R1a Red subgroup, who have Norse DNA. This subgroup includes several McDonald Chiefs and Chieftans (Clan Donald codes &CXYIE, &5XOBA, &EDC4L, and &BATPB). The Chiefs and Chieftans have pedigrees from Burke's Peerage that go back to Somerled through Angus Og, son of Angus Mor who was a great grandson of Somerled. Angus Og deposed his brother Alasdair Og in 1308. Angus Og had allied himself with Robert the Bruce, the titular king of Scotland, who was battling Edward I, the king of England, during the War of Scottish Independence.

The Clan Donald DNA results for its R1b Magenta subgroup state 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)." Furthermore, their R1b Pale violet subgroup results state that "this group is probably a subset of the Magenta group, but we are not including them together since these people have not tested for DYS425. 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."

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.

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 dscendants, 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, Argyle, 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, Argyle, 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 24. Angus Og, Lord of the Isles from 1308, when he deposed his brother, until his death in 1330
Colla DNA
The MacDougall DNA project includes 2 Clan Colla 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. The other MacDougall is FTDNA kit #144808. The two MacDougalls have genetic distances of 13 from the McDonald descendant of Alasdair Og.
Norse DNA
The MacDougall DNA project includes 1 Norse descendant who has tested 67 markers. He is FTDNA kit #172423, descended from William McDougal born in Scotland in 1781. He has 67-marker genetic distances of 8 to 12 from the 5 McDonald descendants of Angus Og.
Colla DNA
The Clan Colla and Clan Donald DNA projects include 24 McDonalds who have tested 67 markers. Included is 1 descendant of Alasdair Og based on 43 Generations: Colla to McDonald:(FTDNA kit #133546 and Clan Donald code &NHHMM).

Some Collas may descend from McDonnell of Clankelly in Ulster.
Norse DNA
The Clan Donald DNA project includes 61 McDonalds with Norse DNA who have tested 67 markers. Included are 5 descendants of Angus Og based on Burke's Peerage: &CXYIE, &BATPB, &5SFKF, &EDC4L, &5XOBA.
Norse DNA
The McAlister DNA project includes 5 Norse descendants who have tested 67 markers. These McAllisters have 67-marker genetic distances of 6 to 12 from the 5 McDonald descendants of Angus Og.

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. One of the McDonalds in this study, however, can trace his ancestry back to one of the Three Collas, Colla Uais, who lived in the 4th century. He is Frank Everett McDonald, Jr., a retired dairy farmer from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. He was born there in 1926. His FTDNA kit is #133546. His Clan Donald Code is &NHHMM. The genetic distance of 67 markers of his Y-chromosome DNA from the Colla Modal DNA is 8. He participates in the Clan Colla 425 Null DNA Project. The genealogy and DNA of Frank E. McDonald, Jr., were brought to our attention by Vaden McDonald, who is unrelated.

43 Generations:
Colla Uais to Frank Everett McDonald, Jr. (#133546)

The Generations. Frank has 43 generations back to Colla Uais, as shown on the right. Included among the 43 generations are the following:

  • 1. Carrell Colla Uais, brother of Muredach Colla da Chrioch and Aedh Colla Menn
  • 12. Goffrad: left by Kenneth MacAlpin in the west of Scotland to try to hold the isles against the Northmen. He was styled toiseach, (prince) of Insi-Gall (all of the Hebrides); died in 853
  • 20. Somerled (from Gaelic Sòmhairlidh): Thane of Argyll, the patriarch of the McDonalds, 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
  • 24. Alasdair Og MacDonnell: ancestor of all the MacDomhnaill Gallóglach families; died 1308
  • 27. Charles 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 1435
  • 36. Lieutenant Brian McDonald, who served in an Irish Volunteer Regiment in the cause of King James II. Emigrated to America in 1684
  • 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
  • 43. Frank Everett McDonald, Jr.; born in Virginia in 1926; married Betty Jean Verna in 1951; FTDNA kit #133546
Tynekill
Generation 27. Tighearna Coille (Forest Manor), County Laois. Also known as Tinnakill or Tynekill, this tower house, built c.1450 by John Carrogh (Thirlough Oge) McDonald, served as the “Caput” (Seat) of the MacDonnells of Leinster for more than two hundred years. See The MacDonnells of Leinster.
Botetourt House
Generation 38. Bryan McDonald House, Botetourt County, Virginia. Constructed in 1766, the house is associated with one of the early families to settle in Botetourt County. The McDonald House is the earliest known extant building in the 27-county western region of Virginia. A brick addition was added to the house around 1840. Today’s house sits on 5.9 acres, which is substantially less than its original acreage, however, the house still retains the feeling of its original setting within the landscape. Approved June 2011 for listing on the Virginia Landmarks Register. See 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

Patrick McMahon, a co-author of this Web page, has identified a Colla Subgroup of 11 Colla descendants who have similar DNA: Frank McDonald, three other McDonald, five McDaniel, an Edwards, and a McEntee. The subgroup has values of 14 for Markers 437 and 446. The modal values for Clan Colla are 15 and 13.

McDonalds and McDaniels with Values of 14 for Markers 437 and 446
NameClan Donald CodeFTDNA #Genetic Distance
from Clan
Colla Modal
Oldest Ancestor, Birth YearBirth PlaceMarker 437Marker 446
Clan Colla Modal-1513
William Russell Edwards 68859 9John Melton Edwards, 1818 South Carolina1414
Joel McDanalL8V7V 1969607John McDonald, 1758Virginia1414
James Edward McDanielXEAUQ1121977John McDonald, 1758Virginia1414
Elbert Leo McDaniel, Jr.4OUY22782756Philip McDaniel, 1795 1414
Elbert Leo McDaniel IIIHTVWV1461607Philip McDaniel, early 1800'sKentucky1414
Michael Louis McDanielDRPCR1446887John McDaniel, 1795Ohio1414
Harold Eugene McDonaldAWQ41137588Robert McDonald, 1795West Virginia1414
Robert Doyle McDonald29BYY1249476Lewis Plato McDonald, 1824Tennessee1414
Frank Everett McDonald, Jr.NHHMM1335468Colla Uais (pedigree above)1414
John Wesley McDonaldQFJEF283009Robert McDonald, 1789Ireland1414
Robert Allen McEntee 2160288Hugh McEntee 1781Ireland1414

The genetic distances among the 11 people range from 0 to 7 and average 3.8. The genetic distances from the Clan Colla modal DNA range fropm 6 to 9 and average 7.5.

Table of Contents

The McMahons of Trohanny

49 Generations:
Colla da Crioch to Patrick Ciaran McMahon (#145687)

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. One of the McMahons in this study, however, can trace his ancestry back to one of the Three Collas, Colla da Crioch, who lived in the 4th century. He is Patrick Ciaran McMahon, a co-author of this Web page and a co-author with Eugene McMahon of The McMahons of Trohanny, a Private Publication. His FTDNA kit is #145687. The genetic distance of 67 markers of his Y-chromosome DNA from the Colla Modal DNA is 4. He participates in the Clan Colla 425 Null DNA Project. Patrick has an advanced degree in genetics from Trinity College Dublin and lives in Gorey, Ireland.

Patrick has 49 generations back to Colla da Chrioch, as shown on the right. Included among the 49 generations are the following:

  • 1. Muredach Colla da Chrioch, brother of Carrell Colla Uais and Aedh Colla Menn
  • 5. Cairbre an Dam Airge, d. 513
  • 22. Faolan MacMathghamhna (Felim/Phelan MacMahon), early 12th century
  • 49. Patrick Ciaran McMahon; born in Ireland; FTDNA kit #145687
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 49 generations are as follows.
  • Generations 1 to 5: The Clougher Record, "Reweaving the Tapestry of Ancient Ulster," by Donald M. Schlegel, Volume XVII, No. 3, 2002, pages 689-749
  • Generations 5 to 22: Irish Pedigrees; or, the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation, Volume I, 1892, by John O'Hart: MacMahon (No. 1) for generations 5 to 22 (91 to 108 on pages 549-550)
  • Generations 22 to 42 are derived from 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 42 to 49: The McMahons of Trohanny by Patrick and Eugene McMahon, Private Publication, February 2008.

In his McMahon DNA, Patrick McMahon analyzes the DNA of other McMahons who have tested their DNA, indicating that his ancestry may be helpful to other McMahons in understanding their ancestry.

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FTDNA Presentation, Houston, 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 has 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     

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 generatiions 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 descendants of the Three Collas--Colla da Crioch to be specific.

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 Biggins Project, the Carroll Project, the Ely Carroll Project, the Drueke Project, the Null 425 Project, and the Roderick 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 a director 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 49 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: patgorey@yahoo.co.uk
Terry McGuireTerry McGuire. Dr. Terry R. McGuire had his DNA tested at FTDNA in 2011. He became an administrator of the Clan Colla Null 425 Project in September 2013. Terry's DNA is kit #209574. His genetic distance from the 67-marker Colla Modal DNA is 7. He traces his Colla ancestry back to James A. McGuire who was born in 1822 in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Terry is a Professor in the Department of Genetics at Rutgers University. He received his B.A. from the Ohio State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has published in many different areas including Mendelian and mathematical genetics, behavioral and neural genetics, and ecological genetics. See his Profile Page for research and publications. He has 35 years of experience with teaching genetics at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. He uses the Colla project in class to show how the Y chromosome can be used in genealogy. Terry lives in Clinton, New Jersey, USA. His email address is: mcguire@dls.rutgers.edu

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.

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