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





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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 ...