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






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