O’Connell DNA Family Project: 2017 Year End Report

O’Connell DNA Family Project: 2017 Year End Report
From our friend Gerry O’Connell who is an admin for the O’Connell DNA Project. We will be posting these updates as often as Gerry updates us.


As we come to the end of the year, I am happy to report more progress in the research of the greater O’Connell family.  Traditionally regarded as a family from Co. Kerry, the O’Connell name can be found throughout the broader Celtic landscape as well as Norman origins.  However, the Co. Kerry or Southern Irish group is the most prolific.


Four areas of progress to report.  First, the expansion of the members in the project as well as new testing by current members (and their Y-DNA connections) have allowed us to group together project members in their broad family groups such as Ui Niall, Eoghanact, and Norman origins.  You should review the current Y-DNA results page to see which group I placed you.


The next area of progress is with SNP testing.  Two years ago a few of us took the Big Y test that resulted in the discovery of several SNP unique to the O’Connell family members.  In 2016, FTDNA produced individual tests for these new SNP.  Over the past year, members who have not taken the Big Y test have tested for these new individual SNP tests or SNP package tests.  The big discovery was that we can divide the Southern Irish O’Connell family into three different terminal SNP – B42, A7659 and A7654.  This is allowing us to define different branches of this group.


The most recent discovery comes from the examination of Family Finder results which provides us a wider network of connections to explore.  Y-DNA analysis is useful in analyzing the deep patrilineal origins.  The research not just within our project but many other projects is that Y-DNA is good for ancient through medieval periods but lacking in more contemporary connections.  Family Finder connections are more numerous and focuses on the last 8 generations.  This gives us a new avenue to find connections with information over the past 200 to 300 years.  Using the South Irish group, I have been able to develop a network 4,400 common connections among 29 project members.  I just started interpreting results.  You should hear more about this over the next couple of months.


The final area of progress is the historical record.  DNA analysis alone is not useful without understanding the historical context and family connections drawn from traditional genealogical sources.  I have identified some resources within Ireland that can supply us with historical records that we can align with our DNA results.  The progress on this front has been slow, and hopefully the next year will find more significant findings.  Due to professional commitments, my often threatened visit to Ireland to cultivate these resources has been postponed to next year.


The progress is not mine alone supported by the continued testing and matches by project members.  The three ways that you can expand the results are through extending Y-DNA to 67 markers, take SNP pack tests, and invest in Family Finder testing.  Ui Niall groups are getting large enough to start digging into their results.  If we had more Y-DNA results through 67 markers, we could start this process.  There will be several deals from FTDNA over the next month.


As always, I wish you a happy holiday season, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

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