The ultimate purpose of this page is to discuss theories and conclusions based on our DNA results.
Feel free to discuss this project on the Larkin Family Forum
Larkin DNA Project 2016 Update
by Bradley T. Larkin, April 8, 2016
We have consolidated the results from eleven Big-Y tests, plus additional select SNPs, plus those who upgraded their STR markers. Overall, we have a lot more definition of the subgroups which in some cases has rearranged a few branches. But the coverage we have on Ireland is getting pretty strong with 38 ancestral parishes identified there plus 3 in England.
All this information is summarized in a 60+ page presentation which you can read at:
The presentation is a bit dense as I'm trying to update those who have been following the Project for many years as well as provide an introduction for those who may be new to the subject of Genetic Genealogy, but I hope you'll find something interesting in it.
Some highlights for 2016:
i) SNPs below M343 identified in participants rising from 11 in 2014 to 26 in 2016.
ii) Kilkenny City Larkin hurling family likely came from Muinter Lorcán in Ui Maine in the Shannon River Valley (Larkin Type 01 - M222)
iii) Rural County Kilkenny group related to South Tipperary group (Larkin Type 14)
iv) Southwestern Irish group shows relation between Counties Limerick and Kerry (Larkin Type 09).
v) First Ancient DNA on Irish samples support hypothesis of Bronze Age invasion of Ireland by L-21 males. This same marker is carried by 83% of Larkin DNA Project Participants
vi) Also identified a DNA signature for a Larkin family from County Kent, England.
vii) Identification of the migrations of slave-holding Larkin families in the antebellum southern United States back to just a few origins. These geographies probably hold more information for traditional research for African Americans with the Larkin surname.
To see how your paternal Larkin lineage may compare, the best way to start is to have a male family join the Larkin DNA Project with Y-37 STR test at the link below.
Project News Update Available in Video or PDF Format
by Bradley T. Larkin, February 6, 2014
In February 2014 an updated presentation was prepared along with a YouTube video summarizing all the research by the Larkin DNA Project. Developments in the past year have included increased the SNP testing with some members in the National Geographic Geno 2 project. Although some SNPs are being uncovered below R1b-M222, no Larkins have tested positive for any identified thus far. Research and additional SNP testing are ongoing with the FamilyTree DNA Big-Y product. From a genealogy perspective, several DNA lineages have been linked to colonial American foundations in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and North Carolina. Persons with Irish ancestry have been able to connect to their ancestral homeland thanks to the samples gathered by the Ancestral Parish Sampling effort.
In Pursuit of the Three Collas
by Bradley T. Larkin, Dec 24, 2011
In December 2011 an American participant was classified as Larkin Type 15 and was noted as having similarities to the DNA pattern associated with descendants of the Three Collas of Ireland. To confirm the relationship, one of the samples was re-submitted for a DYS-425 test. That test came back with a Null (0) result which is the defining characteristic of the Clan Colla DNA signature. See the web site at http://www.peterspioneers.com/colla.htm for more information on the Clan Colla DNA signature and historical background.
While two of the three samples in Type 15 so far come from individuals whose paper trail stops in early 19th century America, it is hypothesized that some of the Larkin natives of counties Monaghan, Armagh, and Down are likely to have the Clan Colla signature as well. Thus Y-DNA tests of such individuals could not only link the Americans to those Irish geographies but also to the wider Clan Colla tree. Therefore we are earger to find Larkin men living in northern Ireland who are willing to take a DNA test and explore their potential descent from Three Collas.
Ancestral Parish Sampling
by Bradley T. Larkin, July 7, 2009
In many cases, Project participants take a DNA test and want to know "WHERE do I come from?" The trouble is that without enough samples from Ireland and England to match against, we can only determine geographic origins on the scale of 1000-10,000 years. In order to make connections to more specific history and geography, we need more samples from Ireland and England. Ideally, we need DNA samples from Larkin men whose ancestral geography has been stable.
In order to identify the best candidates for geography-based testing, I have recently conducted a parish-level study of North Tipperary Larkins found in:
a) The Tithe Applotment books of the 1840s (before the famine)
b) Griffith's Valuation of the 1850s
c) The 1901 Census
d) The modern telephone directory
By focusing on Larkins living today in Parishes which have a continuity of the Larkin surname across these historical surveys, I hope to get the best insights possible from our testing dollars. In North Tipperary, I have been getting a very good response by contacting the individuals identified from my parish-level study, explaining the project, and offering to send them a kit if they're willing to give a sample.
If you would like to see this parish-level study of Larkin DNA expanded - especially to a geography of your choosing - please sponsor a specific geography via a contribution to the project general fund at
I've just returned from Ireland with 14 samples of native Irish Larkin men. It's a great start but there are many more to test and existing funds are exhausted. If you're able to, please make a contribution to the fund.
Formal analysis of the 2009 has just been presented in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy. http://www.jogg.info/62/files/Larkin.pdf
An estimate was made that 1 in 5 Larkin are descended from the Galway clan and are likely descendants of Maine Mor and Niall of the Nine Hostages.
The paper also covers the linkages to Muinter Lorcan and recent discoveries on the ancient Lorcan homeland.
As that paper is technically intense, I've prepared a presentation that is much simpler.
Niall and the Larkin Clans
by Bradley T. Larkin, April 2006, Updated Dec 2008
The Niall Study
You may have heard of the DNA in 2005 study by a group of population geneticists at Trinity College of Dublin, Ireland. While analyzing male DNA throughout Ireland, the scientists found that 21% of the male population of northwest Ireland has a distinct genetic signature. Most of the people in this cluster had surnames associated with the 5th century Irish warrior-king Niall of the Nine Hostages. Niall liked raiding and brought a young Roman citizen of England named Patrick back to Ireland as a captive. Niall fathered many children and his descendants were the chieftains of the O'Neil clan (meaning descendents of Niall). Patrick eventually escaped, became a Bishop, and returned to Ireland to convert the O'Neills and everyone else to Christianity. You know him as Saint Patrick.
The Larkin Clans
None of the Larkin DNA tested so far matches the O'Neil genetic signature, however, we've had very few Larkins tested. While the O'Neil DNA has a strong cluster in northwest Ireland, most Larkins today are spread out around the world from origins in Ireland and England.
Within Ireland alone, genealogy authors attribute the name to at least four septs or family groups. The use of surnames is over 1000 years old in Ireland and Larkin derives from just such ancient usage. e.g. Annals of the Four Masters: 1003 Duffslaine O'Lorcain, Abbot of Emly; 1014 Murtough O'Lorcain, Erenagh of Lorrha. As we move forward in history, we find Larkin families throughout Ireland with clusters in the Shannon River Valley (anciently known as Hy Many), Kilkenny, and Armagh counties. e.g. Hearth Money Records: 1667 Loghlin Lorkane of Lorrha; Tithe Applotment Books: 1824 T. Larkin of Lorrha. A lack of written records makes it hard to determine how much migration took place within Ireland, but we know there was movement, not all of it voluntary. e.g. 1653 Dorothy Lorcáin of Co. Tipperary, transplanted to the Barony of Longford Co. Galway, 1653 [Patrick Larkin]
Update March 2007: A couple of strong clusters of DNA results of Irish Larkins are emerging in the results. Both of these clusters are thought to have the 'deep' Irish marker of SNP 222. One of the clusters is very close to the pattern associated with the Niall signature.
Surnames have been in use for commoners for about 800 years in England. The first written use of Larkin as a surname comes from Sussex and Kent counties in the late 1200s. e.g. Sussex Subsidy Rolls: 1296 Adam Lartkyn and Thomas Lorekyn [David Larkin]. Larkin families were also located in Suffolk, Cambridge and Bedford counties. The industrial revolution not only caused significant migration of Larkins within England, it also led many Irish Larkins to come to England for jobs. Some of those families never left, although their descendants today may have no idea of their family's origin.
Of the four Beatles, two (Paul McCartney and John Lennon) had Irish grandfathers.
Update Dec 2008: We now have a R1a haplogroup lineage with English origins!
British colonization of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa spread many of our forefathers around the globe during the past 400 years. Some groups of Larkin are fortunate enough to know where and when their ancestor left the old country. Some groups are not so fortunate or have only a vague notion that is not easily researched. A typical example found on genealogical message boards:
"My great grandfather, Steven Larkin and his brother came to America in early 1800's.They settled in Humphreys Co, TN. Michael left and went to Chattanooga, TN where he was a railroad worker. This is all I have on Michael. Would like to find out where in Ireland they came from."
In other cases, the emigration was so long ago that most descendants have lost the story of their ancestor. e.g. Edward Larkin, wheel maker of Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1638; Thomas Larkin died 1731 in Maryland. Often people today can only guess at their ancestry.
Test Don't Guess
With modern DNA testing, we can get scientific evidence of how the Larkin Clans are related to each other and all human-kind. Some of the findings will be consistent with existing genealogies, some will not.
Geneticist and author Bryan Sykes (best known for his book, "The Seven Daughters of Eve") did a DNA study on his own surname. Written genealogy sources indicated that the Sykes name started in unrelated groups across England and Scotland. But on testing the DNA, Bryan found 52% had very similar DNA and thus shared a close common ancestor.
Through the Larkin DNA Project every male Larkin today can use the Y-DNA 37-marker test to identify his own genetic signature. By combining the DNA results of a large sampling with our existing knowledge, we should be able to get a much clearer picture of the origins of the Larkin Clans and how their members dispersed through the world.
The 37 marker test is the most effective way to start your DNA profile and you get a significant discount by participating in the Larkin DNA Project. This test also focuses on the main Y-chromosome markers helpful in identifying common ancestors on the order of hundreds of years (i.e. the period when surnames were in use but census and other documentation are scarce.)
Don't wait for Niall of the Nine Hostages to come grab you for testing, take the initiative and join the Larkin DNA Project today!
Resources and References
Larkin DNA Project
The Niall Study
"A Y-Chromosome Signature of Hegemony in Gaelic Ireland" by Moore, McEvoy et al, Trinity College, 2005
Family Tree DNA article about the Trinity College study and how it relates to their tests.
"Surnames and the Y Chromosome" by Bryan Sykes and Catherine Irven, 2000
My description of a 52% match is based on those having 1-step difference or less from the modal haplotype.
Hearth Money Records
"Tipperary's Families being the Hearth Money Records for 1665-6-7" by Thomas Laffan, 1911
Available on microfilm from the LDS Family History Centers, Film # 477640-2
Tithe Applotment Books
"An Index of surnames of householders in Griffith's primary valuation and tithe applotment books" by the National Library of Ireland, 1970. Provides a surname index by barony and parish. The Index plus individual parish tithe books are available on microfilm from the LDS Family History Centers under call number 941.5 R22.
Beatles Irish Roots
Annals of the Four Masters
Larkin and Irish Surname Origins
This material features the writing of David A. Larkin, a noted genealogical writer of Australia.
Larkin Clan of Galway
Patrick Larkin is the Chieftain of the Irish Larkin Clan and led a great Clan Gathering in 2004.
Click here to place an order for a DNA test at Family Tree DNA