Saturday, 26 June 2021

O'Malley Groups 1, 4, 5 & Ungrouped - update 2021

This is the last of the series of articles describing our Project Update 2021. Previous updates dealt with Group 2 (Limerick), the Group 3 subgroups (M222+), and the largest genetic group within the project - Group 3a. This article discusses the current status of Groups 1, 4, 5, and those in the Ungrouped section.

Group 1

There has been no change since the update given at the 2019 Clan Rally. This is a group of known 3rd cousins with the surname O'Maley. They share a common ancestor in 1845, and their O'Maley line goes back to Galway in 1795. One member has done Big Y testing and this reveals that he belongs to Haplogroup 1 and that his terminal SNP is currently I-BY37245.

Haplogroup I occurs in only about 6% of Irish people and the specific subgroup that Group 1 belongs to is characterised by the upstream SNP marker L161. This can be seen in the SNP Sequence for Group 1:

  • I-M423 > S2770 > CTS5375 > L161 > FGC7113 > S2639 > L1498 > FGC7094 > Y13518 > A1150 > Y24829 > BY37245 (a 22-SNP block)
TMRCA estimates (Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor) have been revised since the previous update and are now much older than previously:
  • there are still only 2 men on the BY37245 branch (O'Maley & O'Bryan) and they share a common ancestor about 1000 years ago (based on an average of 12 Private Variants between them).
  • Their nearest genetic neighbours sit on the Y24829 branch and the common ancestor of all the men on this branch lived about 4300 years ago (based on 53 SNPs back to the common ancestor, so 53 x 80 = 4240 years before present)
The deeper origins of this group remain unclear. It may be that there was a Surname or DNA Switch somewhere along their direct male line, but there are no major clues among their matches as to what the surname was prior to any switch. They don't have many STR matches, and those they do have bear the surnames O'Brien, Gleason, Volbecht & Cashen. 

Group 1 sits on a very isolated and rare branch of the Tree of Mankind and it may be years before they find any closer matches.

Group 1 - STR data, family chart, and Genetic Distance

Group 4

Similarly, there has been very little change with Group 4. This still consists of 3 people who appear to be closely related to each other (possibly 2nd to 4th cousins). Their surnames are recorded as Mealey, Meally & Maley, and one records origins in Kilkenny.

STR data for the 3 members of Group 4

Two have done the Big Y test and their terminal SNP is BY70535 which has the following SNP Sequence:

  • R-L21 > S552 > DF13 > Z39589 > CTS1751 > Z17966 > Z17969 > Z17967 > BY596 > BY595 > BY601 > BY70535

The TMRCA for the two men tested is about 1800, and their nearest genetic neighbour lived about 1400 years ago (based on SNP Counting).

Group 4 on FTDNA's version of the Tree of Mankind

Their closest STR matches include people called Ricketts and Mercer, so if there was a Surname or DNA Switch, one of these could have been the previous surname. 

Their deeper origins remain obscure but looking at the surnames on adjacent branches (on the Big Tree) suggests that it could be either Scottish or Irish.

Group 4 on The Big Tree
(click to enlarge)

Group 5

This group still consists of only 2 people so there is no major change since the 2019 update. Both participants carry the O'Malley surname but 70-80% of their STR matches are men called Joyce. It is therefore highly likely that there has been a Surname or DNA Switch and that the surname on their Direct Male Line changed from Joyce to O'Malley at some point in the past. When this happened is still an open question but as more people test and join the project, this question may be resolved. 

My colleague Lisa Little has a similar situation in her family tree and has written an article here about how she approached trying to solve when the switch occurred.

STR data for Group 5

These participants have been placed in the 4th group in the Joyce DNA Project, which the Admin has labelled as being of Norman origin. Several members have done the Big Y test and the terminal SNP appears to be YP6008. This has the following SNP Sequence:
  • R-M198 > M417 > PF6162 > Z283 > Z282 > Z280 > S24902 > FT3245 > YP561 > YP564 > YP566 > YP4668 > YP4664 > YP4660 > YP6007 > YP6008
Using SNP Counting, the common ancestor for the men sitting on the YP6008 branch lived about (8 x 80 =) 640 years ago, or about 1300 AD. This would certainly be consistent with a presumed Norman origin for this group, given that the Normans first arrived in Ireland in 1169.

Members of the 4th group in the Joyce DNA Project sit on branch YP6008

The Ungrouped section

There are 13 project members in the Ungrouped section, all with one variant of the O'Malley surname or another. None of these men have close matches within the project ... yet. But over time, as more people enter the FTDNA database, matches will be found and these men will form new genetic groups within the project.

Three of these project members have only tested up to 12 STR markers and this is insufficient to allow them to be grouped (37 markers is the recommended starting point for all new members). They are probably transfers from National Genographic and ideally they should upgrade their test to at least the 37 marker level.

All but two of the members belong to Haplogroup R (shared by >80% of Irish men). The others belong to Haplogroup I.

Two of the members have done Big Y testing and this reveals that both of them are probably Dalcassian and have Limerick origins. Their SNP Sequences are as follows:

  • R-L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > DC9 > DC1165 > DC135
  • R-L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > ZZ31_1 > FGC5628 > FGC5623 > FGC5659 > DC209 > DC21

The common ancestor for these men is a man who carried the SNP marker Z17669 which is about 1700 years old (by SNP Counting). It is also the common ancestor for the 4 subgroups in Group 2. Therefore I have moved both of these men out of the Ungrouped section and placed them in their own individual subgroup within Group 2, even though currently each man is the only member of their particular subgroup. The new subgroups have been christened Group 2e and Group 2f. Hopefully over time more people will turn up as matches to these people and these subgroups will swell in number. 

The Group 2e individual sits on the DC135 branch, which is dominated by men called Crowe. Other recurring surnames include McIntyre and O'Dea. Their common ancestor lived about 1600 years ago (by SNP Counting). This participant's O'Malley line goes back to Ballynadruckilly, Lattin, Co. Tipperary.

Group 2e (DC135)

The Group 2f individual sits on the DC21 branch, which he shares with a man called Riel. Their common ancestor lived about 500 years ago. This member's closest STR matches are men called O'Brien, Bryant or Kennedy.

This completes the project review for 2021.

Maurice Gleeson
June 2021

Group 3a - descendants of the O'Malley Clan of Murrisk & Burrishoole

In the previous article, we explored six of the seven subgroups which are M222+. Now let's turn our attention to Group 3a, the largest of the Group 3 subgroups in the O'Malley DNA Project, and the leading contender for the descendants of the O'Malley's of Murrisk & Burrishoole

Old map showing the clan territories of the Mayo O'Malley's (North is to the right)

This subgroup consists of 31 members (only 19 are displayed on the public Results Page - to change this, see Footnote 1). Surname variants include O'Malley, O'Mally, Malley, Maley, Melia and Malia. Where mentioned, ancestral origins are most commonly Mayo.

Group 3a as it appears on the public Results Page
(click to enlarge)

Placing Group 3a on the Tree of Mankind

The Block Tree diagram below illustrates where the group sits on the Tree of Mankind. The SNP marker that appears to characterise this group is BY35730 - men called O'Malley (or variants) cluster together on this branch and are not seen on adjacent branches. Thus this forms a distinct branch on the Tree of Mankind. There are a few non-O'Malley names also on the branch (i.e. Donaho, Burke) and these are probably the result of Surname or DNA Switches that happened at some stage in the last 1000 years on the Direct Male Lines of the participants concerned.

Group 3a falls under the over-arching branch BY35730 (a 4-SNP block)
(click to enlarge)

Using SNP Counting (of the SNPs in the left-hand column), crude estimates for the TMRCA (Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor) of all men who sit on this branch is (approximately) ... 12 SNPs x 80 years per SNP = 960 years before present, subtracted from 1950 = 990 AD ... so about 1000 years ago.

This imprecise estimate occurs around the time of the introduction of surnames in Ireland and is consistent with the idea that Group 3a are descendants of a single progenitor who introduced the O'Malley surname around this time, which in turn flourished to the extent that there are surviving descendant lines living today.

Estimated dates of emergence of O and Mac surnames - combined dataset

The Importance of Big Y data

The Block Tree is based on SNP data generated by the Big Y test. As mentioned in a recent post, 42 project members have already done the Big Y test and this is making a big difference to the project, which is beset by "chance matches" due to Convergence (a known problem in the M222 portion of the Tree of Mankind), which in turn makes it very difficult to group participants accurately (especially in the Group 3 subgroups). The specific benefits of Big Y testing include:
  1. accurate grouping of project members
  2. precise placement of participants on the Tree of Mankind
  3. delineating the branching structure within groups (and thus providing a better indication of how close or distant the connection is between different group members)
  4. TMRCA estimates for different branches within the group
In Group 3a, SNP data has identified 4 distinct branches ... so far. More will follow as more group members undertake the Big Y test. Some of these branches may turn out to be well-known branches of the wider O'Malley clan (e.g. the Kilmilkin O'Malley's). As new Big Y results come in, they may create entirely new branches below BY35730, or alternatively may split existing branches into two or more additional sub-branches. 

The TMRCA estimates (based on SNP Counting) for each of the existing sub-branches are as follows:
  • BY35730 ... 12 SNPs back to TMRCA = [1950 - (12 x 80)] = 990 AD ... about 1000 AD
  • BY35759 ... 7 SNPs back to TMRCA = [1950 - (7 x 80)] = 1390 AD ... about 1400 AD
  • FT86146 ... 6 SNPs back to TMRCA = [1950 - (6 x 80)] = 1450 AD ... about 1450 AD
  • FT145889 ... 2 SNPs back to TMRCA = [1950 - (2 x 80)] = 1790 AD ... about 1800 AD

This demonstrates that most of the members of the group are very distantly related. This is not surprising given that the surname has been around for about 1000 years and many different descendant lines have emerged over this time, many surviving to the present day. 

It is also worth remembering that Irish records tend to dry up as you go back past 1800 and this is where many people have their Irish Brick Walls. So it may not be possible to connect the members of Group 3a other than through DNA. This is the main reason why we started the Extensive Lineage Project which aims to recruit O'Malley's with extensive direct male line pedigrees that go back into the 1600s and earlier. A close SNP match to any of these particular participants may allow people to piggyback onto these extensive lineages and move their own O'Malley research back several generations.

It will be interesting to see how the branching structure of the group evolves as more people join the project and do Big Y testing.

Adding non-Big Y test-takers to the Tree

Another important point to make is that only 12 of the 31 members of Group 3a appear in the Block Tree (i.e. only the ones who have done the Big Y test). Nevertheless, it is possible to confidently add some of the non-Big Y tested group members to the overall "genetic tree" for the Group 3a O'Malley's:
  • several group members have not done the Big Y but have cousins within the group who have done it. These known cousins are highlighted in yellow in the diagram below.
  • in addition, several group members share a similar USP (Unique STR Pattern) i.e. the same values on specific STR markers. This suggests that if they did Big Y testing, they would discover that they share a specific SNP marker unique to their particular branch.
As a result, it has been possible to identify 2 additional potential branches within the group (the red & orange branches below) and to add 27 of the 31 members to one of these branches (with a reasonable level of confidence). Further Big Y testing will reveal 1) whether or not these additional branches have been accurately identified; and 2) where they sit on the "genetic family tree" in relation to the other sub-branches within Group 3a. 

All Group 3a members - all but 4 could be allocated to one of 6 branches
Note: Privacy settings need to be adjusted for those redacted (see Footnote 1).
Common ancestors highlighted in yellow.
Red & Orange branches based on USP (Unique STR Patterns) - see below
(click to enlarge)
There is also a chance that these additional branches (red & orange) may in fact be new subgroups that are more than 1000 years old. As discussed previously, because the primary goal of the project is to study the origins and evolution of the O'Malley surname, and because surnames arose in Ireland roughly 1000 years ago, this timepoint serves as an arbitrary cut-off for the separation of people into distinct genetic groups. If it turns out that the red and orange branches are more than 1000 years old, it is therefore likely that they don't share the same origin for their O'Malley surname as the rest of Group 3a. In these circumstances, they will be separated out from Group 3a and form their own specific subgroups (e.g. Groups 3g & 3h). More Big Y tests are needed to address this question ... and the results of someone in the red branch should be available in the next 4-8 weeks.

The Unique STR Pattern (USP) for the red & orange groups (values in bold):
Red branch = 10, 9, 15, 16, 12, 36, 36 in rows 2-4 (strong signal: 7-marker USP)
Orange Branch has 3 potential sub-branches:
a) 6-marker USP in rows 5-6 (strong signal) ... 13, 29, 18, 38, 39, 11
b) 8-marker USP in rows 7-8 (strong signal) ... 13, 29, 18, 14, 29, 17, 18, 38, 39
c) 2-marker USP in rows 9-10 (very weak signal) ... 13, 18

Why is Group 3a the most likely contender?

There is no single piece of evidence that suggests that Group 3a members are descendants of the original O'Malley's of Murrisk & Burrishoole. On the contrary, it is the totality of various strands of evidence that point to the conclusion that this particular genetic group of all the groups within the O'Malley DNA Project is the most likely candidate.

Points to consider include the following:
  1. With 31 members, Group 3a represents 39% (31/79) of the YDNA-tested project membership (this excludes the Other Surname group) and is thus the largest group within the project. The O'Malley's were an influential clan with a long-standing history. It would be expected that such a successful clan would leave quite a large genetic footprint behind them and have many descendants surviving to the present day. Smaller clans would be at risk of dying out. Thus the sheer dominance of Group 3a makes it a prime contender.
  2. The most frequently cited ancestral origins for Group 3a members is Mayo, the ancestral homeland of the O'Malley's.
  3. TMRCA estimates for Group 3a approximate 1000 AD which is close to when surnames arose in Ireland. This makes Group 3a the oldest genetic group within the project and suggests that members of this group have evaded the risk of a Surname or DNA Switch over the past 1000 years since the emergence of the surname.
  4. The SNP signature associated with Group 3a (M222) is consistent with the ancient genealogies for the O'Malley's of Murrisk & Burrishoole which document their descent from the forbears of Niall of the Nine Hostages (see previous post).
Therefore, as the dominant group within the project, with roots in Mayo, and with a DNA signature that is consistent with the ancient genealogies, Group 3a members are likely to be descendants of the O'Malley's of Murrisk & Burrishoole. As such, they would also be directly related to Grace O'Malley and it is hoped that in time we will be able to establish the specific SNP marker that her Direct Male Line is likely to have carried.

As more people join the FTDNA database and do Big Y testing, the genetic signatures associated with related clans (e.g. Brady, O'Connor, O'Flaherty, O'Reilly, O'Rourke, etc) will emerge and this may provide additional evidence that Group 3a represents the descendants of the O'Malley's of Murrisk & Burrishoole.

Maurice Gleeson
June 2021

Footnotes, Resources & Links

[1] Your Privacy settings may be preventing your anonymous results from appearing on the public Results Page. To change this, simply do the following:
  1. log on to your FTDNA account, 
  2. click on your name (top right), 
  3. then Account Settings, 
  4. then Project Preferences, 
  5. then scroll down to the Project Sharing section
  6. and beside Group Project Profile, move the slider to the ON position (this will show your kit number, surname & MDKA on the public Results Page, but not your full name).

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

The Mayo O'Malley's - distant cousins of Niall of the Nine Hostages

In the third of a series of articles (see the previous ones here and here), we discuss the largest group within the O'Malley DNA Project, namely Group 3. This has 41 members and is further subdivided into 6 subgroups labelled 3a through 3f. Currently 22 of these members (54%) have done Big Y testing, which is particularly necessary in this group because of Convergence, which results in chance matches, which in turn muddies interpretation of the results and can lead to inaccurate grouping of project members.

Some DNA History

All participants within these subgroups sit on a branch of the Tree of Mankind characterised by the SNP marker M222 (in fact it is one of 36 SNP markers associated with this specific branch). The branch arose about 4000 years ago and is famous for its association with the semi-mythical figure of Niall of the Nine Hostages, who sits on one of its descendant lines.

Like many family trees, Niall's story is a mixture of fact, fantasy, inaccuracy & legend
(image from Thrillist)

The history of the M222 branch is quite fascinating. Back in 2004, a genetic genealogist (David Wilson) noted that a specific STR signature (STRs are one type of DNA marker, SNPs are the other) was associated with men from Ireland and western Scotland. [1] The following year, this STR signature was the topic of a seminal article from Prof Dan Bradley's team at Trinity College, Dublin, who christened the STR signature with the name "Irish Modal Haplotype" (abbreviated to IMH) and linked it to Niall of the Nine Hostages, which immediately captured media attention and the public imagination. [2] 

Heat Map showing concentration of IMH signature in Ireland
- O'Malley clan territories encircled in red
(from Moore 2006 - see reference 1 in Footnotes)

David Wilson suggested that the IMH signature might be linked to the SNP marker M222 and in 2007 a paper was published confirming the association. [3] However, it was not until comprehensive SNP testing became commercially available (around 2013, with the introduction of tests like the Big Y) that a multitude of new sub-branches below M222 were discovered (the so-called SNP Tsunami). This process is ongoing and the number of branches below M222 is now 1093 (which currently represents 2.5% of all the branches on the Tree of Mankind). [4]

This wealth of information has allowed more accurate dating of the M222 branch (which actually consists of a block of 36 SNPs) and current estimates for the TMRCA (Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor) of all living M222+ men is 2100 years ago (95% Confidence Interval 1750 - 2400 years before present, which gives a date range of 380 BC to 270 AD). Given that Niall is supposed to have lived from about 370 AD to 450 AD, the M222 branch predates his existence by some 100 to 750 years. This simply means that the M222 SNP did not arise in Niall himself, but rather in one of his forbears. Niall is thus a descendant of M222 rather than its progenitor. And most men who carry the M222 SNP today are more likely to be distant cousins of Niall rather than his direct descendants.

Nevertheless, the forbears of Niall (whoever they were in fact) created a very successful dynasty, spreading their particular DNA signature far and wide, as a result of which some 21% of men in northwest Ireland carry that signature to this day. [1]

Origins of the M222 branch

Where the M222 branch arose is still open to question. There was certainly much commerce and traffic between western Scotland and the north of Ireland over the centuries, so (seeing as how it arose some 4000 years ago) it could have originated in either place.

However, the association between the Mayo O'Malley's and the M222 marker is not at all surprising, given that the Clan Territories of the Mayo O'Malley's were close to the area of high concentration of the M222 / IMH signature, and that the ancient genealogies record that the O'Malley's are descended from Brian, brother of Niall (and thus they would have shared the same direct male line ancestors).

O Hart's Irish Pedigrees details the genealogy of the Mayo O'Malley's from ancient times
to the founding of the O'Malley surname and up to the late medieval period

There are 7 subgroups of the Mayo O'Malley's (Groups 3a to 3f) and this raises a very interesting question: which one of these subgroups represents the descendants of the progenitor of the O'Malley surname? Let's take a closer look.

The Seven Genetic Groups of the Mayo O'Malley's

As mentioned previously, 22 of the 41 members of the Group 3 subgroups have done Big Y testing. This has proved essential because some people who appear to be closely related have turned out to share a common ancestor over 1000 years ago. These "misleading matches" arise due to a phenomenon known as Convergence and make it difficult to accurately group people on the basis of their STR marker results alone (i.e. Y-DNA-37, 67 or 111 marker tests). Big Y testing is necessary in most cases in order to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Portion of results table showing STR marker values for Group 3 subgroups
(from Results Page of the FTDNA website)

The terminal SNPs associated with the various subgroups are listed on the project's public Results Page (6th column from left). The green text indicates that the individual has done SNP testing. Note that not all people with green terminal SNPs have been Big Y tested - some only did SNP Packs and hence only have identified an "upstream" SNP (e.g. those above designated as M222 & DF85). They would probably move to a branch further "downstream" (i.e. towards the present day) if they did a Big Y test. 

The SNP Sequences (i.e. list of ancestral SNPs) associated with each of these terminal SNPs are easily generated via the SNPs to Breadcrumbs tool and are as follows:

  • Group 3a ... M222 > S658 > DF104 > DF105 > BY35731 > BY35730
  • Group 3a ... M222 > S658 > DF104 > DF105 > BY35731 > BY35730 > BY35759
  • Group 3a ... M222 > S658 > DF104 > DF105 > BY35731 > BY35730 > BY35759 > FT86146
  • Group 3a ... M222 > S658 > DF104 > DF105 > BY35731 > BY35730 > BY35759 > FT86146 > FT145889
  • Group 3a1 ... M222 > BY35297
  • Group 3b ... M222 > S658 > DF104 > DF105 > DF85 > FGC71316 > BY35719 > BY170664
  • Group 3c ... M222 > S658 > DF104 > DF105 > DF85 > S673 > S668 > BY11548 > A10680
  • Group 3d ... M222 > S658 > DF104 > DF105 > ZS8379 > BY11707 > A11227 > A11427 > BY21143 > ZS10825
  • Group 3e ... M222 > S658 > DF104 > DF105 > A18726 > Y96240 > BY71053
  • Group 3f ... M222 > S658 > DF104 > DF105 > A10528 > A10526 > FT375497

Laying the sequences out in this fashion helps us see how the various groups are related. For example, the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) between Group 3a1 and all the other groups would have carried the M222 marker and thus lived about 2100 years ago. The MRCA shared by all the other groups would have carried the SNP marker DF105 and thus lived about 1850 years ago. And the MRCA for Group 3a carried the marker BY35730 and thus lived about 1100 years ago (based on SNP counting of the number of SNPs in the left-hand column of the Block Tree).

By adding estimated dates to each of these SNPs, we can create a "genetic family tree" for Group 3 (below) which gives a better idea of the distances between these various subgroups.

The "genetic family tree" for Group 3 O'Malley's
Note: TMRCA, Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor.
Dates for SNPs in black text are from YFULL - the rest (red text) 
are estimated from SNP counting (Block Tree).
Timeline not to scale.

Let's look at each group in turn and leave the largest group (3a) till the next article in this series.

Group 3a1

SNP Sequence ... R-M222 > BY35297

There is now only 1 O'Malley in this group. I moved 3 people (that were placed here provisionally) back into Group 3a because new data became available. None of them have been Big Y tested so only time will tell where they truly belong. We will discuss these further in the next article.

This individual's MDKA (Most Distant Known Ancestor) was from Teeranea, Tiernee, Co. Galway, Ireland. He has no close matches (either among his STR or Big Y matches) and sits on a very isolated branch of the Tree of Mankind. His common ancestor with his nearest Big Y match is some 1600 years ago. 

Group 3a1 ... R-M222 > BY35297

It may be that he belongs to a rare branch of the O'Malley's with few surviving descendants and he is the only one to have tested thus far. Alternatively, there may have been a Surname or DNA Switch in his direct male line and he carries Y-DNA associated with a previous surname. However there are no significant clues from his STR matches or Big Y matches in favour of one option or the other. 

It remains a waiting game to see if any closer matches will appear in the database over time.

Group 3b

SNP Sequence ... M222 > S658 > DF104 > DF105 > DF85 > FGC71316 > BY35719 > BY170664

There are still only 4 people in this group. An additional group member has done the Big Y test (since the previous Clan Rally update) and this has moved the people in this group one branch further downstream on the Tree of Mankind to branch BY170664.

Group 3b on the Block Tree ... distant Big Y matches suggest a possible Scots-Irish origin
(click to enlarge)

This group also sits on an isolated branch of the Tree of Mankind. They share a common ancestor with their closest Big Y matches some 1400 years ago. Among these, 4 record an Irish origin and 4 record a Scottish origin (see the flags in diagram above). The Big Tree's version of this branch illustrates some of the surnames on adjacent branches, many of them Scottish.

The Big Tree's version of the BY35719 branch reveals neighbouring surnames

In addition, one of the group members has an MDKA from Scotland. So this adds further weight to a possible Scottish origin and maybe an association with Scottish surnames such as Milloy, Melloy, Mellon & Mellen. Interestingly, three of the group members have assigned "Ireland" as their country of ancestral origin.

Within the group, the two individuals who test positive for BY170664 appear to share a common ancestor about 1500 AD (based on SNPs) and 1300 AD based on the TiP Report. [5] The key point to take from this is that this group's DNA signature appears to have been associated with their surname for at least 500 years, and thus this represents a well-established surname, albeit with several different modern variants - Maley, Mellen & O'Malley (although the latter member is not certain to belong here without confirmatory Big Y testing).

Because of the problem of misleading matches due to Convergence, the surnames among their STR matches offer no clue to the deeper origins of this group. However, there is a man named Melly among them who is not currently in the DNA Project so I have emailed him and invited him to join.

Further Big Y testing of the men in this group may offer some additional insights, but really what we need is more people to join the Y-DNA database and match the people in this group.

Group 3c

SNP Sequence ... M222 > S658 > DF104 > DF105 > DF85 > S673 > S668 > BY11548 > A10680

This group still only has 2 members (i.e. no change since June 2019). One is a Craig (who matches several other Craig's) and the other a Melloy. Both did the Big Y test some time ago and their terminal SNP remains as A10680, which suggests a common ancestor some 1500 years ago (according to the Block Tree). Similarly, their Genetic Distance (20/111) suggests a very distant connection and the midpoint of their TiP Report is >24 generations (i.e. >720 ybp) ... so it may be that they should not be grouped together at all.

The Big Tree version of this portion of the Tree of Mankind has changed little in the past 2 years

Previous analysis of these adjacent surnames suggested a heavier presence in the Down / Antrim area, which would be consistent with a Scots-Irish origin for this group. 

Group 3d 

SNP Sequence ... M222 > S658 > DF104 > DF105 > ZS8379 > BY11707 > A11227 > A11427 > BY21143 > ZS10825

It has previously been established that this particular group is associated with the Molloy's of Firceall in County Offaly. Not surprisingly, they can trace their genealogy back to Niall of the Nine Hostages. They are represented by Group 4 of the Molloy DNA Project

Our Group 3d is equivalent to Group 4 of the Molloy DNA Project

The Molloy's of Firceall, Offaly - their overarching SNP is A11426

Group 3e

SNP Sequence ... M222 > S658 > DF104 > DF105 > A18726 > Y96240 > BY71053

There is also no change in this group since the previous update (see 2019 Clan Rally video here). His terminal SNP (BY71053) is shared by a man called Gaitens and they share a common ancestor about 800 years ago. However, one of his closest STR matches is a man called Malloy with Irish origins (GD 5/111) and the midpoint TMRCA estimate from the TiP Report is 6 generations = 180 ybp = 1770 AD, so if there has been a Surname or DNA Switch somewhere along the line, it probably was not in the last 200 years. It would be interesting to see Big Y results for this match.

Disagreement between FTDNA’s Block Tree & The Big Tree
re placement of Groups 3e & 3f on the Tree of Mankind

Coincidentally, this participant's group (Group 3e) is reported to be adjacent to the next group for discussion - Group 3f. However, there is disagreement between the Big Tree and FTDNA on the precise placement of these two branches on the larger tree.

Group 3f

SNP Sequence ... M222 > S658 > DF104 > DF105 > A10528 > A10526 > FT375497

This is a new group since the previous update. A new project member turned out to be a match to someone in the Ungrouped section and together they formed a new group - Group 3f. One of them has done the Big Y test and the terminal SNP is currently FT375497.

The two participants are close matches (GD 2/37) which suggests a close connection (midpoint TMRCA estimate from TiP Report is 8 generations = 240 ybp = 1710 AD or thereabouts). Also, there are other O'Malley's on their respective lists of matches but none of them are closely related:
  • one participant matches two O'Malley men: a) a member of Group 3a (probably a "chance match") and b) someone who is not in the project (he has been invited again). This latter match has a GD of 4/37 so he could also be a "chance match".
  • the other participant matches 6 O'Malley men, but all are in Group 3a (GD 3/37 to 4/37) and so these are (most likely) chance matches too (two definitely are as they have different terminal SNPs).

There is a lot of Convergence in this group and one of the participants has 131 matches at the 111-marker level of comparison (which is huge). 

So there is nothing to suggest that the association of the O'Malley name with this particular DNA signature is well established. On the contrary, it may point more toward some sort of Surname or DNA Switch at some time in the distant past (perhaps more than 200 years ago). However, there are so many different surnames among their matches that it is impossible to get a feel for what this previous surname might have been.

So for now it is a waiting game for more close matches to join the FTDNA database and turn up in this group's match lists.

In the next article, we will be taking a close look at the largest of the Mayo O'Malley groups - Group 3a.

Maurice Gleeson
June 2021


[1] Iain Kennedy wrote a nice history of the M222 marker and the associated STR signature here  ...

[2] A Y-chromosome signature of hegemony in gaelic Ireland. Moore LT, McEvoy B, Cape E, Simms K, Bradley DG., American Journal of Human Genetics, 78, p334 - 338 (2006). Available online here.

[3] Garvey, D., Sub-Populations Within the Major European and African Derived Haplogroups R1b3 and E3a Are Differentiated by Previously Phylogenetically Undefined Y-SNPs, Human Mutation: Mutation in Brief #940 (2007). Available online here.

[4] See the M222 branch on FTDNA's Public Y-Haplotree here.

[5] The two BY170664 participants share 7 & 5 Private Variants (i.e. unique SNPs, 6 on average) which allows a crude TMRCA estimate thus: 6 x 80 yps = 480 ybp, and 1950 - 480 = 1470 AD. They have a GD of 16/111 and the midpoint of the TiP Report is 21 generations which equates to about 21 x 30 = 630 ybp => 1950 - 630 = 1320 AD.

Recruitment Update 2021

The O'Malley DNA Project has been running since 2005 and recruitment has been steady over that time. There was a noticeable increase in the rate of recruitment following the Clan Rally in May 2017 and the annual number of recruits jumped from 18 in the previous year to 48. Annual recruitment these past 4 years has averaged at about 40 new recruits per year. In fact, project membership has doubled since the project update that I gave at the 2019 Clan Rally.

Recruitment since inception of the O'Malley DNA Project
(click to enlarge)

Everyone is welcome to join the DNA Project, irrespective of gender or the DNA test the person has taken. Currently there are 209 members in the project and of these: 

  • 103 have done a Y-DNA test - this tests the father father father line
  • 41 have done a mtDNA test (mitochondrial DNA) - this tests the mother mother mother line
  • 78 have done a Family Finder test (autosomal DNA) - this tests ALL ancestral lines
Further information on the breakdown of the various tests undertaken by project members is available on our Project Statistics page on the website. 

Of particular note, only 115 of the 209 project members  (55%) have filled in their Paternal Ancestor Information. This is essential information for analysing the results and is easily added by hovering over your name (top right), click on Account Settings > Genealogy > Earliest Known Ancestors and fill in the information in the first field (Name and Birth/Death Date) using the following format:
Michael O'Malley b c1820 Newport, Mayo (birth location is essential for ongoing analysis)

Of the men who have done the Y-DNA test, over 50% (53/103) have tested to the 111 STR marker level and 42 have done the Big Y test. Of these, 32 have been allocated to a specific O'Malley group and 10 belong to the Other Surname group. If we exclude the Other Surname group, this means 32 out of 79 Y-DNA tested O'Malley's (or their close Y-DNA matches) have done the Big Y test, and this works out as 40.5%, which is quite an impressive figure.

As mentioned on many occasions previously, Big Y testing is essential for those in the Group 3 subgroups (M222+) because of the presence of significant Convergence which has resulted in chance matches and a high risk of incorrect grouping.

Big Y testing among O'Malley men
(click to enlarge)

So the project is going from strength to strength and with the recent launch of the Extensive Lineage Project, it is hoped that targeted Big Y testing of specific individuals will help project members connect to ancestral lines that go back into the 1600s and earlier.

If you wish to contribute to this project, you can do so by making a donation (of any amount you wish) to the General Fund here. This fund will be used to sponsor Y-DNA tests for O'Malley men with extensive lineages. Several such people have been identified and targeted testing of some of them is already underway. The results of this testing will be posted in future articles on this blog and also in the Facebook group.

Maurice Gleeson
June 2021

Monday, 21 June 2021

The Limerick O'Malley's sprout a new branch (Groups 2a, 2b, 2c & now 2d)

Some new Big Y results have recently come back from the lab which have split the Group 2 O'Malley's into two distinct groups. Previously we had three groups of O'Malley's with a DNA signature that suggested that they were from Limerick - now we have four!

I have also taken the opportunity to group the Limerick O'Malley's into one larger group, with subgroups entitled 2a, 2b, 2c and 2d. This will facilitate comparison between these groups on the project's Results Page:

  • Group 2a was previously Group 2 (which is now reserved for likely L226+ participants who cannot be placed in any of the other subgroups)
  • Group 2b was previously Group 6
  • Group 2c was previously Group 7
  • Group 2d is an entirely new group, briefly known as Group 9

The SNP Sequences (i.e. list of ancestral SNP markers) for these 4 subgroups are as follows [1] ...

  • Group 2a ... R-L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > FGC79628 > DC63 > BY4101 > DC362 > DC735
  • Group 2b ... R-L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > FGC79628 > DC63 > BY4101 > DC362
  • Group 2c ... R-L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > ZZ31_1 > FGC5628 > BY4102 > DC40 > FT62906 > FT159770 > FT244455 > FT242218
  • Group 2d ... R-L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > ZZ31_1 > DC194

Note that all of these four groups start with the branch of the Tree of Mankind characterised by the SNP marker L226 (which is at least 1500 years old and may be up to 4000 years old). This Irish DNA marker is associated with the tribe of the Dál gCais with origins in the Limerick / Clare area (their descendants are known as Dalcassian). [2] It is also quite distinct from the DNA marker associated with the Mayo O'Malley's (namely M222 - more about this in a subsequent post). 

People in these four groups would be (very) distant cousins to legendary Irish hero Brian Boru, the first High King of Ireland, who defeated the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. For comparison, his estimated SNP Sequence [3] is as follows:

  • Brian Boru ... R-L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > ZZ31_1 > FGC5628 > FGC5623 > FGC5659 > ZZ34_1 > DC782 > Y5610

From the above, it can be seen that the group most closely related to Brian Boru is Group 2c - they share the common SNP marker FGC5628 (which is at least 1200 years old).

Some research into medieval records revealed that the O'Malley surname has been present in Limerick since the 1100s and I covered this in a previous blog post and the presentation below ...

Because the primary goal of the project is to study the origins and evolution of the O'Malley surname, and because surnames arose in Ireland roughly 1000 years ago, this timepoint serves as an arbitrary cut-off for the separation of people into distinct groups. Thus if two project members are believed to be related to each other within the last 1000 years, then they are grouped together in the same genetic group. And if their common ancestor is believed to be >1000 years ago, then they are placed into separate groups. The challenge is trying to decide whether the common ancestor between two people is less than or more than 1000 years ago. 

SNP tests (such as the Big Y) can be very helpful in this regard, but the methods used to calculate TMRCA estimates (i.e. Time to Most Recent Common Ancestor) will always be imprecise. Their accuracy may improve as the technology develops, but the estimates will always be imprecise and they will always have a large margin of error on either side of the midpoint estimate (say plus or minus 200-300 years). 

Estimating TMRCAs is like doing brain surgery with binoculars and boxing gloves. The tools we have at our disposal are simply not good enough for the job we want them to do ... and this is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future (although initiatives like our Extensive Lineage Project will help). Thus all TMRCA estimates will remain imprecise and must be taken with a large grain of salt. In most situations, the best they will ever do is give us a "ball park figure".

Group 2a & Group 2b

From the above SNP Sequences, it can clearly be seen that Groups 2a and 2b share an ancestor who would have carried the SNP marker DC362. A crude estimate of when this ancestor would have lived is about 700 AD +/- 300 years (there are about 16 SNPs "downstream" of DC362 according to FTDNA's Block Tree, so allowing 80 years per SNP gives us this crude estimate: 16 x 80 = 1280 years before present, and 1950 - 1280 = 670 AD, which rounds up to 700 AD). This means that the common ancestor between Groups 2a and 2b probably lived before the time of surnames, and therefore Groups 2a and 2b probably had different origins for their O'Malley surname. 

The alternative theory is that these groups had a similar origin and just happen to be very distantly-related to each other, but the current age estimates for their common ancestor (DC362) tend to go against this theory.

FTDNA's Block Tree showing the Big Y-tested member of Group 2b (indicated by "Your Branch" on the far right) sits on a separate branch below DC362 (encircled in red) beside people called Daily, Griffin, O'Loughlin, the Group 2a O'Malley's, Curry/Currie, and (out of frame) McInerney, Slattery & McNamara. 
(click to enlarge)

I contacted Mike Sager (Big Y guru at FTDNA) and he double-checked the results of the Big Y-tested member of Group 2b (PM-0138). [4]  Mike says there is no sign that this member has any of the SNP markers on Group 2a's DC735 branch, or any other branch below DC362 for that matter. Furthermore, this member (PM-0138) has 12 Private Variants (i.e. unique SNPs, not shared by anyone else in the database) and this further supports the contention that he currently sits on a rather isolated branch of the Tree of Mankind. Moreover, turning to the STR results for PM-0138, these indicate a large Genetic Distance (GD) between him and members of Group 2a (the GD ranges from 15/111 to 17/111, and 13/67 to 15/67). This further supports the contention that Group 2a and Group 2b are only very distantly related and that the two groups are genetically distinct. And because their common ancestor is likely to have lived prior to the time of surnames, the O'Malley surname that each group now carries arose from different sources. 

This new data raises several important questions:

  1. where did each group get the O'Malley name from?
  2. does one group still carry the Y-DNA of the surname founder?
  3. did one (or both) groups have a different surname before they became O'Malley's?

Hopefully the answers to these questions will become clear as more people do the Big Y test.

Similar questions can be asked about the other two groups with presumed Limerick / Clare origins - Group 2c and the newly formed Group 2d (see below).

The majority of the Group 2a O'Malley's come from the areas of Murroe and Cappamore. They have been carrying this particular DNA signature in association with their O'Malley surname for at least 300 years approximately (based on midpoint estimates from the TiP Report of the most distantly-related group members).

The origins of the Group 2b O'Malley's are unclear. One of the two members has roots in Connaught, the other in Limerick. Their common ancestor appears to have lived about 14 generations ago (based on the midpoint estimate from their TiP Report), which equates with about 420 years ago or roughly 1530 AD ... but we can add a crude range of +/- 200 years to all these estimates (i.e. 1330 to 1730 AD).

Group 2c & Group 2d

Recent Big Y results (June 2021) for TOM-2541 indicate that he is incorrectly placed within Group 2a. [4] Previously, his STR results had suggested that he might belong to an ancient branch of the Group 2a O'Malley's, and this would have been a very exciting find because it would have pushed back the age of the group by several hundred years. However, his Big Y results now confirm that he belongs to a genetically distinct group, and is actually more closely related to those in Group 2c. And thus a new group is born - Group 2d.

To recap, the SNP Sequences for these two groups are as follows:

  • Group 2c ... R-L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > ZZ31_1 > FGC5628 > BY4102 > DC40 > FT62906 > FT159770 > FT244455 > FT242218
  • Group 2d ... R-L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > ZZ31_1 > DC194

From this we can see that the common ancestor shared by these two groups would have carried the SNP marker ZZ31_1 and this is at least 1200 years old. This is just before the advent of surnames in Ireland (i.e. about 1000 years ago) and therefore TOM-2541 belongs to a genetic group of O’Malley’s that is genetically distinct from the other three groups. You can see this new group on the Results Page of the project and (for now) TOM-2541 is the sole member.

The screenshot below from FTDNA’s Block Tree shows that there are several people sitting on branches adjacent to TOM-2541 and these people carry the surnames Rines, Barkholz, Tuohey, Batsakis & FitzPatrick. There are no other O’Malley’s on this DC194 branch.

The DC194 branch on FTDNA's Block Tree - this seems to be a rare branch of O'Malley's

TOM-2541 has 7 Private Variants (i.e. unique SNPs not shared with anyone else in the database … currently) and this suggests that the common ancestor he shares with his closest Big Y match lived about (7 x 80 =) 560 years before present, which equates with (1950-560 =) 1390 AD, which rounds up to 1400 AD. So he has no close matches on his Big Y test.

Turning to his STR results, he now has data for 111 markers (as opposed to the initial 37 markers he tested previously). At the 111-marker level of comparison, he has no DNA matches. This in itself suggests that he sits on a relatively isolated branch of the Tree of Mankind. At the 67-marker level, he has 150 matches, and none of them are Malley’s or O’Malley’s. His closest matches are men called Grealish & Tuohey. The most common surnames among his 150 matches are Brien/Bryant/O’Brien (17), Hogan (4), Kennedy (6), Lindsey (6), McGraw (5), McNamara (3), & Slattery (4). At the 37-marker level, he has 25 matches, and again none of them are Malley’s or O’Malley’s. His MDKA (Most Distant Known Ancestor) goes back to Ennis in Co. Clare.

Selection of STR Matches for TOM-2541 - the Terminal SNP (2nd column from right) indicates that most of these matches sit on adjacent branches to his DC194 branch

So it may very well be that he sits on a very rare branch of O'Malley's with very few surviving O'Malley men, of which he is the first one to be tested. Alternatively, there may have been a surname change somewhere along his direct male line, and prior to being O’Malley’s, his direct male line ancestors went by another name. This is not too surprising as such name changes were relatively common over the centuries and they arose for a variety of different reasons. However, there is no other name that stands out from the list of most common surnames among his matches and we can see from their “Terminal SNPs” that most of them are on adjacent branches to his DC194 branch.

So for now, TOM-2541 has no close O’Malley matches and the deeper origins of his O’Malley name remain uncertain. But hopefully in time more people will test and he will discover some closer matches that will help shed light on this current mystery.

In this sort of situation, it can be helpful to do the Y-DNA test on some other known O’Malley cousins (the more distant the better). This may help inform us where the surname switch is likely to have occurred. My colleague Lisa Little had a similar conundrum and wrote a blog post about how she approached solving it here.

Because he is the only person in Group 2d, it is not possible to tell how long his particular DNA signature has been associated with the O'Malley name. 

Group 2c consists of 3 O'Malley men, two of whom have done the Big Y. One has origins in Castleton Cross, the other two from "Ireland". Their common ancestor lived about 9 generations ago (based on a midpoint estimate from the TiP Report). This roughly equates with 270 years before present (taken to be 1950), which is roughly 1680 AD (+/-200 years). If we use SNP Counting, we get an older estimate ... at least 400-560 years old approximately (i.e. 5 Private Variants on average, but 7 SNPs in the left-hand column on the Block Tree, so 5 x 80 = 400 ybp, and 7 x 80 = 560 ybp).

So any DNA switch (if there was one) probably happened some time before 1650 AD. As more people join the database and fall on this branch (FT242218), we may get a better estimate of how old this group is i.e. how long they have been carrying the O'Malley surname. For now we can say that it is at least 350 years old and possibly over 600 years old, but this age estimate may be pushed back with additional data and it may even go all the way back to 1000 years ago, in which case this group may become prime contenders for the original Limerick O’Malley's.

Group 2c has carried the O'Malley surname for at least 350 years, possibly 600 or more


There are now 4 groups of O'Malley's from Limerick and any one of them could represent descendants of the original O'Malley's whose ancestral territory was centred around the present day townland of Ballyclough (in the Civil Parish of Knocknagaul and in the Barony of Pubblebrien - see previous blog post here). However, it is likely that only one group represents the descendants of the original Limerick O'Malley's and the others have had a Surname or DNA Switch somewhere along their direct male line (in the recent or distant past).

Given that the group with the most people is Group 2a (with 10 members), this is currently the leading contender for the descendants of the original Limerick O'Malley's, but it could simply be that more people in this group (than the others) have survived to the present day, or have been DNA-tested ... so this could be creating a false impression of dominance.

Whatever the truth is, additional recruits and further Big Y testing will help address this question in time. 

And no matter which group represents the original descendants, it is important to remember that "an O'Malley by any other name would smell as sweet".

Ancestral origins for the Limerick O'Malley's - Ballyclough was the ancient territory of the O'Malley's (as described in medieval texts), whereas Murroe & Cappamore are MDKA locations for Group 2a.
(click to enlarge)

Maurice Gleeson
June 2021

On subsequent review of the Ungrouped section, it was apparent that two additional O'Malley men (who had done Big Y testing) also sit on branches below L226. Therefore, two new subgroups have been formed within Group 2, namely Group 2e and Group 2f. Both subgroups only contain one single individual ... currently. These new subgroups are detailed in this subsequent blog post.


[1] SNP Sequences are easily generated by entering your terminal SNP into the SNP to Breadcrumbs tool on the Tracking Back website.

[2] For more info on the L226 marker and the fascinating story of the discovery of its origins, check out the following links ...

[3] courtesy of Dennis O'Brien, Admin of the O'Brien DNA Project

[4] PM-0138 and TOM-2541 refers to the initials of the test-taker and the last 4 digits of his kit number

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Five Resources for Researching your O'Malley Ancestry

 In this post, we describe several important resources that are available to help you interpret your DNA results and research your O’Malley ancestry, in particular a new family tree on Ancestry and the Extensive Lineage Project.

One of the main goals of the DNA project is to help you with your own O’Malley research. This could involve connecting you with cousins in Ireland (or anywhere in the world really), or pushing your ancestral line back an extra generation or two, or finding where your earliest O’Malley ancestor came from (maybe even the house in which they lived), or connecting you to the history of your surname origins and a specific O’Malley clan or family branch. Or a combination of all of the above.

We have an array of resources that are focussed specifically on this particular goal and below is a summary of some of the most important ones. We start with the most recent initiatives - hopefully these will help many of you make new connections to your O’Malley heritage.

1) the O’Malley Clan Family Tree (on Ancestry)
Many people have published their O’Malley ancestral lines on our Post Your Pedigree page and this is a very useful resource that can be used by any member of the general public - simply by searching the page (Ctrl+F on PC, or Cmd+F on Mac) for your earliest known O’Malley ancestor, you may find distant cousins there who have already taken a DNA test ... or you may entice additional cousins to do the test.

To accompany this resource, we are building a family tree (with all the published pedigrees) on Ancestry, simply called O’Malley Clan Family Tree. This is a public tree but all living people will be private. This is an ongoing project and a big thank you to Brendan O'Malley and others for spearheading this task.

In addition to including the pedigrees of project members, we will include the O’Malley pedigrees noted in O’Hart's Irish Pedigrees as well as extensive pedigrees that are in the public domain. 

Some of the above pedigrees go back to the 1500s (and earlier) and it would be really important to try to characterise the Y-DNA signature of each of these family branches.

2) the Extensive Lineage Project
Linked to the new family tree on Ancestry is the Extensive Lineage Project. One way that DNA can help you push back your own O’Malley ancestral line is to connect you genetically with people who have extensive lineages that go back much further than the usual Irish family tree (which typically runs dry around the 1800-1830 timepoint). 

As mentioned above, some of these pedigrees (verified by documentary evidence) go back to the 1500s. We plan to target descendants of these extensive pedigrees, test their Y-DNA (Y-37 first, then Big Y) so that their precise Y-DNA signature can be characterised. Then, anyone who is a close enough match to these Y-DNA signatures can "piggyback" onto the extensive lineage and jump backwards in time to the earliest known ancestor on that extensive line. There may be several generations missing between you and the point where you connect to the extensive lineage, but at least the DNA will have confirmed that your particular branch definitely links up to it.

Thus, DNA could help you jump back several centuries in time on your O’Malley ancestral line.

To help this initiative, we are putting out a public appeal: are you a O’Malley with a detailed pedigree (documented and proven)? does it go back to at least the 1700s? If so, please get in touch with us so we can add it to the family tree on Ancestry.

If your O’Malley pedigree goes back into the 1600s (or earlier), we would like you to consider doing the Big Y test. Everyone who participates in the Big Y test will be making an invaluable contribution to tracing the genealogical history of the O’Malleys. This is the best way of characterising the Y-DNA signature of your particular line. And because these extensive pedigrees are potentially of great value to ordinary project members, the project is hoping to subsidise some of the Big Y tests. If we buy them during one of the frequent sales, we will take advantage of the Sale price (usually $100 cheaper) but also, we would hope to subsidise $150 towards the cost of each Big Y test. This could reduce the cost of the Big Y test to a $100 or less.

In order to do this we need financial support in the form of donations towards the General Fund (which currently stands at $50). So if this is something that you would like to see happen, please make a donation (of any amount) via the following link.

If we get enough of these extensive lineages tested, we should be able to determine when the various branches split apart, and which branches are more closely related to each other.

So please donate to the General Fund - it will help us help you.

3) Recommendations for Next Steps
Another new feature is a set of bespoke recommendations for Next Steps for each genetic group within the project. These are included under the new "Updates" tab on the project website (you need to log in to see it). The recommendations include what Haplogroup & Geographic Projects to join (group by group) in order to maximise the value from their Y-DNA test. There is also a link to the SNP Tracker tool (see below) for your particular group so that you can follow the journey your ancestors made over the millennia, out of Africa, into Europe, and into Ireland.

4) the Facebook group
The O’Malley Genealogy & DNA Forum was launched on Facebook in May 2019 and now boasts over 280 members worldwide. This is a great place to ask genealogical questions, share information and find O’Malley DNA matches. Many people have made connections with distant cousins in this way and have received information about their O'Malley ancestors that they might not otherwise have discovered.

5) Links to Tools to help you interrogate your DNA
The Links Page on our project website at FTDNA includes an array of useful tools and resources that can help you get the most out of your DNA results. Here are some of my favourites ...

Rob Spencer's excellent Scaled Innovation website has a suite of useful tools to help interpret your Y-DNA results. The SNP to Breadcrumbs tool allows you to enter your "terminal SNP" and generate a SNP Sequence (i.e. list of ancestral SNP markers) - this is very useful for seeing where you sit on the Tree of Mankind. 

You can also compare two SNPs and see what their common SNP ancestor is (Find Common Ancestor tool).

SNP Tracker allows you to see the migration pathway your Y-DNA has travelled since your male ancestors arose in Africa over 250,000 years ago, and the probable route they took during the exodus from Africa, across Europe and into Ireland. It is fun to watch the animated man on this journey and the events that happened along the way, including the Last Ice Age. 

Also, by clicking on the SNPs tab (see above), you can get a crude timeline for the emergence of each of the SNPs ancestral to your terminal SNP (the more recent estimates are even more crude because they are based on less data, so take these with a pinch of salt).

The Big Tree website (run by Alex Williamson) has beautiful graphics for the Tree of Mankind. Here you can see any branch of the Tree that falls under Haplogroup R (which includes most people of Irish descent). The simplest way to find your branch is to just do a google search for your terminal SNP and "ytree". The Big Tree allows you to see what surnames are on adjacent branches and this can give you clues to your deeper origins. For example, in the diagram below, you can see the position of the Limerick O'Malley's on the Tree and the fact that their nearest genetic neighbours include people called Curry, McNamara, McInerney & Slattery. This supports the Dalcassian origin of this genetic group.

Everyone who has done a Big Y test should upload their results to The Big Tree. You will find instructions here.

Click to enlarge

The Links Page also includes tools for helping you analyse your autosomal DNA results (from Ancestry, 23andMe, MyHeritage or FTDNA's Family Finder test). These include the following:

The Shared cM Tool (on Jonny Perl's DNA Painter website) - enter the amount of DNA you share (in CMs) and see the most likely relationship you share with your match. Are you more likely to be 2nd cousins or 3rd cousins once removed? The Shared cM Tool will help you decide.

The WATO Tool (also on the DNA Painter website) allows you to assess the probability of a series of hypothetical relationships by using the amount of DNA of people who have known relationships to each other. This is an invaluable tool for anyone with unknown parentage cases in their family tree.

The Autocluster tool from EJ Blom's Genetic Affairs website is a great way of organising your list of matches into discrete related groups. The theory is that each group is related to you via one of your specific ancestors. This really helps focus your research.

We hope you find these resources helpful. The new initiatives are particularly exciting and we will be posting regular updates in the Facebook group as well as here on the blog.

Happy Hunting!

Maurice Gleeson
Brendan O’Malley
June 2021

O'Malley Groups 1, 4, 5 & Ungrouped - update 2021

This is the last of the series of articles describing our Project Update 2021. Previous updates dealt with Group 2  (Limerick), the Group 3 ...