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Thread: McElrea discoveries and questions re: DF49

  1. #1
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    McElrea discoveries and questions re: DF49

    Good things come to those who wait, according to Guinness. Well, we (in the McElrea Project) have waited a very long time, and this past month has been a good one indeed.

    Our paper trail goes back to 1750 in Northern Ireland. That date ended up becoming an impenetrable wall for us…we couldn’t get around it, or over it, or under it. We could find similar sounding names in Ireland and Scotland, but there was no way to prove any connections with them. Genetically, things were just as hard-going. We’re DF49*, and the closest matches we had (which weren’t very close at all) inevitably turned out to be from another subclade. At 37 markers and above, our only matches were McElreas.This was a bit bemusing. I had expected to find at least some matches, even from other surnames, that would at least suggest common kinship groups from before the solidifying of surnames, but we had nothing.

    Then some time back, one of our Project Administrators made contact with a Mylrea who was interested in genetic testing. This brings us to a few weeks ago, we received our first match at 37 markers.

    The Mylreas are a family from the Isle of Man. The earliest account of the surname is from 1510 (as McGilrea). It later became McYlrea, and then in the 19th century, the c was dropped—which was becoming the custom in Man, and they became Mylrea. It seems that patience has been rewarded, and we’ve finally managed to uncover a bit more of the deeper family history. Being an obsessive type, I want to go back even further, of course. I’m still waiting for the results of the Big-Y test in hopes that it will suggest some of those older kinships that could reveal more about our family and (I hope) DF49.

    The Isle of Man was settled by a number of different groups, including the Irish (either the Cruithin or the Ulaid, depending on who you read), the Britons/Welsh, the early Northumbrians (Bernicia and Deira) under King Edwin, as well as the Norwegians and Danes, the Scots, and the English.

    I would dearly like to know which population movement would have brought our line to Man.

    I would also like to have a better understanding of the origins of DF49*. I suspect the answer to this might be connected to the question above. When people talk about M222, they often think Ireland. As far as I can see, though, most of the DF49* people are not, in fact, Irish.

    Any thoughts?

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    Well Manx (which technically became extinct -- though it's been revived) is a Goidelic language related to Modern Irish and Scottish Gaidhlig. All three share common ancestor in form of Old Irish (600-1000AD) and Middle Irish (1000-1200AD -- as a written standard anyways). There's some debate about when "Old Irish" arrived in Man, some have suggested that if anything it's ascendancy in Man is due to arrival of the Vikings (gaelicised vikings for example -- like nearby Galloway in Scotland). My own opinion is that most DF49 that we've seen so far is "Insular Celtic", particulary DF23 (and all way down to M222). Using terms of "nationality" such as Irish doesn't really help in sense with such old SNP's as they predate our modern concepts of seperateness. If anything if DF49 is say 2,500-3,500 years old then it dates to a period when the difference between the Insular Celtic languages (namely Goidelic and Brythonic) was quite small and not huge leap to switch between the two.

    Needless to say your surname is Goidelic at a minimum.

    As a parallel DF41 likewise appears spread across the "Insular Celtic" world.

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    DF49 x M222 is a bit of a mystery in my view

    I'd say it's quite a bit too old to be Insular Celtic and even if you just concentrate on DF23 that's already got quite a hi representation on the continent.

    If you look at the distribution of DF49 x M222 it's surprisingly low in the south and west of Ireland, if it'd been in the Isles since dot I'd have expected it to have been more evenly spread and a tad more common !!

    Also there is the general lack of clustering in DF49 x M222, even if you look at the groups emerging via Big Y there is little (if nothing) to tie them together. Using the branch I'm on as an example there are now four people tested to the level of ZP54 - 57 (two of which are on the ZP41 to 44 level).Taking the modal value for the later level (just to keep things simple) the minimum GD at 67 loci is 24. In fact the only thing that ties us all together is 15-15-16-17 and I'm not going to start suggesting folk test the ZP54 - 57 SNPs (when they become available) based on that !!

    Overall my impression is DF49 x M222 came to the Isles relatively late but if that is so, why ? and from where ?

    I keep coming back to the Scandinavian area but there is the detail mentioned above of DF23's distribution so I think generally it's safer to say the jury's still out but it's going to be fun trying to figure all this out : )

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    Hi Dubhthach,

    McElrea is clearly a Gaelic name, you are right, and seems to be an Anglicization of Mac Gille Riabhach. I’ve been reading a fair bit on the Manx language recently, and it seems to be particularly influenced by the Ulster and Scottish dialects. As you note, some of this is bound to be due to the influence of the Gall-Ghàidheil of Galloway and the Hebrides. Man was a part of this larger sea kingdom, and many of the “Vikings” had adopted the Gaelic language and a hybrid Gaelic/Norse culture that would last for some centuries, even beyond the eventual collapse of Norse power in Britain.

    This is all very interesting, but it’s also a bit disconcerting. I’ve chased the surname for decades, always assuming it was of either Scottish or Irish. On the Isle of Man, though, as with the West of Scotland, Gaelic names don’t necessarily mean Gaelic origins. I’ve always known this in principle, but this is the first time I’ve felt the full weight of the matter. Again, the Isle of Man was held by the Ulaidh, the Northumbrians, the Welsh, the Dal Riata, the Vikings, the Scots and later the English. There are a lot of possible origin points for us there.

    This is where the beginnings of DF49 come into play for me. I understand that it is an old haplotype—in fact, I would probably have gone for an even earlier date than you did (but I could be wrong). I would also agree that M222, and possibly DF23, represent insular Celtic stock. I’m beginning to wonder about DF49xDF23, though. The question for me is, when, and even more importantly, where did DF23 split off from DF49? Did it split off in the Isles, or somewhere else in Europe, in which case DF49* may represent a separate influx—it might have come in separately and later. I don’t have an answer, but I look forward to the time when the picture clarifies for us.

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    Hi Jdean,

    I get where you’re coming from, I think. Given the lack of cohesiveness (clusters) and dispersion for DF49* in the Isles, it could look like it came in more recently. If that’s the case then perhaps DF23 (or part of it, at least, migrated to Britain in the Bronze Age and fathered M222 somewhere along the on the westerly side of Great Britain, or in Ireland itself.

    DF49xDF23, then, would have come in separately at a later date. As you ask, when and how?

    As for the “when” question, how far back can we go before we expect to see a larger foot print with more clearly defined clusters? If we have a window of 2000 years, that can include Gallic or Belgae incursions into the Isles. If we have a 1500 year window, we might look to the Anglo-Saxon migrations. If we have less than that, the Vikings (or perhaps Normans) begin to look like better candidates.
    As you say, fun is coming (I hope).

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Mc View Post
    Hi Dubhthach,

    McElrea is clearly a Gaelic name, you are right, and seems to be an Anglicization of Mac Gille Riabhach. I’ve been reading a fair bit on the Manx language recently, and it seems to be particularly influenced by the Ulster and Scottish dialects. As you note, some of this is bound to be due to the influence of the Gall-Ghàidheil of Galloway and the Hebrides. Man was a part of this larger sea kingdom, and many of the “Vikings” had adopted the Gaelic language and a hybrid Gaelic/Norse culture that would last for some centuries, even beyond the eventual collapse of Norse power in Britain.

    This is all very interesting, but it’s also a bit disconcerting. I’ve chased the surname for decades, always assuming it was of either Scottish or Irish. On the Isle of Man, though, as with the West of Scotland, Gaelic names don’t necessarily mean Gaelic origins. I’ve always known this in principle, but this is the first time I’ve felt the full weight of the matter. Again, the Isle of Man was held by the Ulaidh, the Northumbrians, the Welsh, the Dal Riata, the Vikings, the Scots and later the English. There are a lot of possible origin points for us there.

    This is where the beginnings of DF49 come into play for me. I understand that it is an old haplotype—in fact, I would probably have gone for an even earlier date than you did (but I could be wrong). I would also agree that M222, and possibly DF23, represent insular Celtic stock. I’m beginning to wonder about DF49xDF23, though. The question for me is, when, and even more importantly, where did DF23 split off from DF49? Did it split off in the Isles, or somewhere else in Europe, in which case DF49* may represent a separate influx—it might have come in separately and later. I don’t have an answer, but I look forward to the time when the picture clarifies for us.
    David,

    Well it's probable that the closet dialects to it are the now extinct "East Ulster" (Irish) and Galloway (Scottish) dialects. Of course in context of middle ages you are talking about a dialectical continuum between Kerry in South of Ireland and as far north as Caitness in Scotland. Neighbouring dialects would have been closest, obviously there was a standard enough written/learned dialect. (I compare the situation to taking a bunch of someone from Appalachia, someone from Glasgow and a Corkman and putting them in a room -- they'll eventually work out they are speaking the "same" language )

    Here's what Woulfe has in his 1923 book
    ---
    Mac GIOLLA RIABHAIGH—IV—M'Gillereogh, M'Calreogh, M'Calreaghe, M'Callerie, MacGillreavy, MacGilrea, MacElreavy, MacIlravy, MacElreath, MacElwreath, MacIlwraith, MacIlrea, MacAreavy, MacArevy, Gallery, Callery, Killery, Kilgray, Gray; 'son of Giolla riabhach' (the grey youth, from riabhach, grey, brindled); the name (1) of a family of the Ui Fiachrach, seated at Creaghaun, in the parish of Skreen, Co. Sligo; and (2) of a Clare family who were servants of trust to the Earls of Thomond, and held the castle of Craigbrien, in the parish of Clondagad. The family is still in Thomond, but the surname is now always anglicised Gallery. In the midlands, it was sometimes made Callery, and sometimes translated Gray. Kilgray is a half translation, Mac Giolla riabhaigh is also a Scottish surname. According to Dr. MacBain, it is anglicised MacIlwraith, &c.
    ---

    The Norse in Ireland became heavily gaelicised, so you see for example the "Kingdom of Dublin and Man" let alone for example the Outer Hebrides which today are the stronghold of Scottish Gaidhlig. (how they pronounce their vowels sounds scandinavian to my ear).

    From looking at the 1901 census for Tyrone there were 21 McElrea's in Tyrone, 11 of them were "Church of Ireland" (Anglican -- Episcopalian in US) and 10 were Presbyterian.

    http://www.census.nationalarchives.i...&search=Search

    I see you are doing "BigY", there are a number of DF49* who have done this from what I can see on Alex Williamson's tree:
    http://www.littlescottishcluster.com/RL21/NGS/Tree.html

    -Paul
    (DF41+)
    Last edited by Dubhthach; 07-07-2014 at 09:37 AM.

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    Hi Paul, and thanks. I believe you are right; the connection was to the extinct East Ulster and Galloway dialects. I appreciate the linguistic insights-- fascinating that you can detect a Scandinavian flavour in the Hebridean dialects even today!

    My father comes from Newtownstewart in Co. Tyrone. Some of the census records are those of our family-- or all of them in one sense. Every McElrea we've tested (including those whose relationships were unknown) has come up as a match. Our paper trail only goes back to 1750; my initial quest was to move beyond that. I'm familiar with Woulfe, and when I began to consider (largely due to the spelling of our name) that we may actually have been native Irish, rather than Planter stock, the Ui Fiachrach Mac Giolla Riabhaighs from Sligo seemed like they might be a likely option, not being too far away from Tyrone. The problem was, our genetic fingerprint doesn't seem to match the Ui Fiachrach ones-- nor any other Irish ones, really. I've continued to keep an eye on the Irish front, but I began looking at Scottish sources-- and there are plenty to choose from. Again, no matches (or else false matches at 25 markers).

    The Mylrea match is a tight one, though, hitting all our off-modals, so it seems the initial mystery was solved. It's possible that we will find a happy little DF49* cluster yet, either in Ireland or in Scotland-- maybe even with one of the related surnames, but I'm not holding my breath at this point. I suspect the most important future matches will be of families whose relationship to us goes back before surnames became set in stone. But that would be just as good, in some ways. In fact that would take us to the deeper levels that I've been reaching for. Hopefully the Big-Y will help on that front. Jdean and company have been doing stellar work on mapping out the new branches of DF49, which has to be challenging given the sparse numbers. My fear is that we might compose a mysterious little branch of our own, but I continue to hope that we'll fit somewhere in the grand scheme of things.

    We had one match that seemed suggestive, but we don't know for sure if they're DF49 (I believe there has been no success in contacting them) and moreover, they are Finnish... I don't really know what to do with that. Even if they were DF49, what has Finland to do with the Isle of Man?
    Last edited by David Mc; 07-07-2014 at 09:51 AM.

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    Moving back to DF49* origins in the Isles, and following Jdean's Scandinavian DF49* theme, I note that the two other families with a fairly strong association with Ireland are the McCrearys and the McCabes, both of whom are likely Gallóglaigh families (Norse-Gaelic mercenaries from Kintyre and the Western Isles of Scotland), and not native Irish.

    Just thinking out loud...

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    I should point out though that the Gall-Ghaeil (to use modern Irish spelling) aren't necessary just Gaelicised Norse, they were also "norse-ified" (if such a term exists) Gaels. (in turns of behaviour such as naval tactics/raiding etc.). The term in sense is quite unique as it's symbolises a hybridisation. Whereas for example during medieval period Cambro-Norman's who had become Gaelicised were still often termed "Gall" (sean-Ghall = old foreigners -- to separate them from the "New English" of Tudor period onwards).

    The Gallóglaigh (Gallowglasses -- "Gall" = foreigner, Óglach = "youth" literally "volunteer"/"soldier") in sense also have this strangeness in that they Gaels, but were outside of Ireland. In sense Scotland had been literarlly regarded as an extension of wider Gaeldom (for example stories of Fionn and Fianna travelling there etc.) from middle ages of course you see the arising of a centralising scottish state which might in sense tie in with "foreignness" -- of course you often then see "Albannach" (scotsman) added as a nickname, an intersting example been one of the Burkes (gaelicised Normans):

    Edmond Albanach de Burgh (due to the time he spent as a hostage in Scotland as youth), of course words can be funny in way the word "Gall" in Irish originally meant someone from "Gaul" (Gallia).

    Gael in sense is an actual pan-national term, after all a Kerryman speaking Irish a Manxman speaking Manx and someone from Outer Hebrides speaking Scottish Gaidhlig are all Gaels.

    I wouldn't get hung up over terms like "native Irish" etc. All us Gaels are blow-ins anyways, along with rest of our L21 brethren across Ireland and Britain

    -Paul
    (DF41+)

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    Hi Paul,

    I am certain that some of the Gallóglaigh families (and a great number of the the Gall-Ghàidheil as a whole) were of older Gaelic stock, but many of them were actually Gaelicised Norse. We agree that theirs was a hybrid culture. My points are these:

    1. So far, all of the DF49* who have unambiguously Gaelic names would seem to have origins outside of Ireland.
    2. All of us seem to come from those islands (Man, Kintyre, and the Hebrides) that were part of the Norse Suðreyjar, or "Southern Isles," whose population was an admixture of earlier Pictish, Gaelic, and later Norwegian and Danish populations. All spoke Gaelic, but not all had Gaelic "roots."
    3. This would seem to throw in bit of a genetic wildcard for us that needs to be considered, at least, as we think about when and how DF49* entered the British Isles.

    My use of the term "native Irish" is simply a means of distinguishing the older stock from the newer Plantation stock. One of the reasons I'm in this is because I want to know where my direct lines of descent were at different points in history. Where were they and to what cultures did they belong? If I look at the Heaneys on my mother's side, I have little problem answering that question. My paternal line is something else now.

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