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Author Topic: Niall of the Nine Hostages  (Read 3689 times)
Marilyn Teaff Barton
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Posts: 2358

« on: April 20, 2006, 09:13:16 PM »

In January the results of a study conducted by Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, were announced. This study showed that large percentage of men in northwest Ireland, 21.5%, share they same Y DNA result. These results suggest that the 5th-century warlord known as "Niall of the Nine Hostages" may be the ancestor of one in 12 Irishmen. Niall established a dynasty of powerful chieftains that dominated the island for six centuries.

In the study, scientists found an area in northwest Ireland where 21.5% of the men have the same Y DNA result. The same area of Ireland has previously been the subject of other studies, which have shown a high % of men from Haplogroup R1b (98%) versus 90% in S.E. Ireland. According to McEvoy, one of the team at Trinity, this area was the main power base of the Ui Neills, which literally translated means "descendants of Niall".

McEvoy says the Y chromosome appeared to trace back to one person. Following the genealogists trail McEvoy comments: "There are certain surnames that seem to have come from Ui Neill. We studied if there was any association between those surnames and the genetic profile. It is his (Niall's) family."

Of note to Family Tree DNA customers, this signature is found in .6 of 1% of the entire family Tree DNA database. It is characterized by the following markers when our 12 marker test is applied:

13 25 14 11 11 13 12 12 12 13 14 29

At 25 markers:
13 25 14 11 11 13 12 12 12 13 14 29 17 9 10 11 11 25 15 18 30 15 16 16 17

The result for Ui Naill can be found at

McEvoy states: "As in other polygynous societies, the siring of offspring was related to power and prestige." The study mentions that just one of the O'Neill dynasty chieftains who died in 1423 had 18 sons with nearly a dozen women and claimed 59 grandsons.

Niall of the Nine Hostages received his name from the taking of hostages as a strategy for playing mental havoc upon his opponent chieftains. He is known in folklore as a raider of the British and French coasts. Supposedly slain in the English Channel or in Scotland, his descendants were the most powerful rulers of Ireland until the 11th century.

Modern surnames tracing their ancestry to Niall include (O')Neill, (O')Gallagher, (O')Boyle, (O')Doherty, O'Donnell, Connor, Cannon, Bradley, O'Reilly, Flynn, (Mc)Kee, Campbell, Devlin, Donnelly, Egan, Gormley, Hynes, McCaul, McGovern, McLoughlin, McManus, McMenamin, Molloy, O'Kane, O'Rourke and Quinn.

Journal reference: American Journal of Human Genetics(February issue)

Click here to see the article at Family Tree

« Last Edit: April 20, 2006, 09:15:37 PM by Marilyn » Logged
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Posts: 11

« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2006, 10:32:39 AM »

I am a public school teacher. When I got interested in DNA testing just last month, one of the first things I saw was that article about Niall of the Nine Hostages. My own surname is not particularly Irish (as far as I know), although I do have some Irish ancestry.

One of my students, however, has one of those surnames said to be descended from King Niall. When I told him about that article and gave him a copy, he became fired up with interest in DNA testing and with a new fervor for history. He went home and talked his parents into allowing him to have his Y-DNA tested through the Genographic Project.

It was gratifying to me as a teacher to see a 13-year-old 8th grader develop an interest in history because he was able to see a connection in it to his own life.
T. N. McGill
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2006, 01:47:03 PM »

Will someone please tell me how closely I might be part of the Ui Niall (37 markers), if at all?? I am very confused about this. I know some of the markers mutate very fast.  What about 24 at 390, instead of 23, and 15 at 394/19 instead of 14?

13 24 15 11 11 13 12 12 12 13 14 29
17? ?9 10 11 11 25 15 18 30 16 16 16 17
12 11 19 22 17 16 19 18 35 39 12 12
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