Z3000 DNA of the Three CollasBy Four Colla Descendants: Peter Biggins, with Josiah McGuire, Patrick McMahon, and Tom Roderick (1930-2013)
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Two Matching Sets of 20 Names
|Surnames in the Ancient Genealogy of the Three Collas||Surnames of R-Z3008 Testers - Surname Mutation - FTDNA Kit Numbers (as of October 2020)|
|McDonald, 43 Generations: Colla to McDonald||22 McDonald - BY3158 - 934379, 38885, 133546, 367328, 617821, 890080, 144688, 146160, 278275, 438540, 450623, 450856, 612492, 13758, 28300, 112197, 124947, 196960, 294097, 836790, 395753, 521910|
14 McDonald - BY3249 - 412502, 917180, 917290, 442638, 129206, 230163, 90727, 319883, 156049, 187107, 423680, DIOSM, DWXBQ, 325197
|MacDonnell of Clankelly, O'Hart 536||17 McDonald - BY39831 - 334694, 16694, 40141, 68473, 140815, 169145, 205044, 93F4C, 270994, 528900, 618122, 923463, OMPW5, 420917, 541431, 719704, B3331|
|McMahon, 51 Generations: Colla to McMahon||43 McMahon - Z16280 - 797200, B2743, 578104, 896752, 177680, 327949, B96581, 145687, N174002, 391373, N83765, 14876, 183423, 272307, 291136, 461464, 52246, 463817, 456102, 629733, 391033, 411747, 426339, 29288, 34826, 69356, 156881, 197862, 210649, 229945, 281505, 295755, 315990, 353939, 355806, 365338, 451391, 506637, 561475, 683997, 79554, B402649, N65214|
|MacKenna, chiefs of Truagh in Monaghan, O'Hart 543||23 McKenna - A14075 - 440779, 332756, 254557, 6419, 21156, 64767, 64768, 64771, 65962, 67837, 100576, 150811, 156103, 171658, 194128, 261105, 274040, 900384, 430800, B23604, 261105, B330469, 68390|
|Connolly, O'Hart Vol. II 577||17 Connolly - BY2869 - 791222, 906137, 841026, 328903, 263699, 84262, 342831, H2133, 156389, 78625,338710, B19040, N88161, 864296, 169972, NYB0X, 311107|
|O Duffy, O'Hart 670||17 Duffy - FGC41930 - 100022, 241903, B560342, 856428, 857571, MI47859, 509129, B148242, 381560, 415715, 420795, 572002, 801661, 28253, 98477, 231542, N81681|
|Maguire, O'Hart 576||12 McGuire - A945 - 32277, 222108, 20871, 21218, 23171, 33735, 111694, 113714, 146421, 183025, 381343, N7273|
|MacHugh, O'Hart 542||8 Hughes - BY93161 - 7996, B397573, 200241, 274095, 322443, 409612, 505894, 696167|
|MacQuillian, O'Hart Vol. II 578||8 McQuillan - BY3166 - 448648, 170471, N23748, 392973, 82960, 323456, 395707, 145804|
|Monaghan, O'Hart 639||8 Monaghan - A14086 - 303542, 465596, 110455, 295403, 237073, 485973, B89280, 922775|
|Boylan, O'Hart Vol. II 577||7 Boylan - BY24138 - 428117, 65227, 86258, 274975, 456444, 118214, N50500|
|O'Hart, O'Hart 664||5 Hart - BY3179 - 48620, 182999, IN60255, IN59707, 166797|
|O'Kelly of Ulster, O'Hart 671||5 Kelly - FT238740 - 73887, 107942, 237995, 283030, xxxxx|
|Higgins, O'Hart 669||4 Higgins - A14086 - 64895, 70725, 187205, 215402|
|McArdle, O'Hart 669||4 McArdle - Y134213 - 144005, 790697, 99317, 902318|
|MacDougall, O'Hart 539||4 MacDougall - BY84346 - 21971, 144808, 867968, 551166|
|O'Carroll, O'Hart 672||3 Carroll - BY149477 - 377949, N71810, 31491|
|Cooley, O'Hart 453||3 Cooley - BY38665 - 136625, 140728, 358156|
|Larkin, O'Hart 513 and 514||3 Larkin - BY103517 - L-0088, L-0121, L-0128|
|Nealan, Neillan, O'Hart 604||3 Neal - A14075 - 7206, 7207, 181440|
|Davin, Devine, O'Hart 403||2 Devine - BY39829 - 51491, 117316|
Many testers with Clan Colla DNA do not have historical surnames. The major names are: McGinnis, McGroder, Østerud, King, Martin, Biggins, McAuley, O'Hara, White, Collins, Glennon, Murphy, Clarke, McGinn, Murray, Waters. Clan Colla DNA has not yet been found for many Clan Colla names. See Historical Surnames.
Many testers do not have Z3008 Y-DNA. They are descended from cousins of the Three Collas, as shown in the first six columns of the following Abridged Clan Colla Big Y SNP Tree. Some of them have historical Clan Colla surnames, as indicated in bold on the following Tree.
|R-Z3000 (97 AD)|
|Z16270 (233 AD)||Z3006 (248 AD)|
|Z3008 (407 AD)||BY3160
|S953 (478 AD)||F4142
|Z16274 (575 AD)||FGC41930
Unabridged Tree: The complete tree is at: Clan Colla Big Y SNP Tree
SNPs: SNPs are single nucleotide polymorphisms, or mutations, found on the Y chromosome and shared by a group of testers. Major SNPs are shown in the top part of the table. The very roughly-estimated year in which a SNP was born is shown in parentheses. Click on a SNP to see detail on Alex Williamson's Big Tree.
Collas: The Three Collas lived in Ulster in the fourth century. Descendants of the actual Colla brothers (Uais and Crioch, no Menn) are most likely those with the SNP Z3008 (407 AD). Others are cousins in parallel lines of descent from the Z3000 founder. See Origin of the Three Collas and Colla Surnames.
Last row: Sequence on the Family Tree DNA public results page for the Clan Colla project.
Surnames: Surnames with three or more testers are listed under the SNPs. Surnames in bold are said in ancient pedigrees to be descended from the Three Collas. Many surnames in the ancient pedigrees are not here because they have not been tested, died out, or were included in a pedigree in error. Also, surnames have multiple origins, even within a clan. The two most populous names are McDonald and McMahon.|
*McDonald includes four McDonalds who trace their ancestry back to Lt. Brian McDonald (MacDonnell), McDonnell of Antrim, Somerled, and Colla Uais in 43 Generations: Colla to McDonald.
**McMahon includes two McMahons who trace their ancestry back to Colla da Crioch in 51 Generations: Colla to McMahon.
Quotation from an ancient bard in The History of Ireland by Geoffrey Keating (1569-1644). Translated into English from the original Irish by John O'Mahony, 1857.
Y-chromosome DNA shared by men with surnames that match names in ancient pedigrees of men descended from three Colla brothers who lived in the 4th-century in a part of Ireland called Airghialla or Oriel. Colla Josiah McGuire discovered Clan Colla DNA in 2007.
The R-Z3000 SNP identifies Clan Colla DNA. It was named by non-Colla Mike Walsh in 2013. It is downstream of R-L21, DF21, and S971.
Four key STR markers can predict R-Z3000 Clan Colla DNA: 511=9, 425=0, 505=9, 441=12.
A Clan Colla SNP tree has been created based on FTDNA Big Y testing and analysis by non-Colla Alex Williamson.
Colla geneticist Patrick McMahon traced his ancestry back to Colla da Crioch in 49 Generations: Colla to McMcMahon.
Non-Colla genealogist Vaden McDonald has traced the the ancestry of Colla Frank Everett McDonald back to Somerled and Colla Uais in 43 Generations: Colla to McDonald.
Colla geneticist Tom Roderick (1930-2013) helped us get our story across at the 2011 FTDNA Conference in Houston.
Historian Donald Schlegel has provided valuable information on the history of the Three Collas.
DNA has confirmed ancient Irish history, but it has also shown that the history is wrong in some areas. For example, the Three Collas were said to be related to Niall of the Nine Hostages (R-M222. The DNA of the descendants of the Collas, however, does not match the DNA of the descendants of Niall. Other historical pedigrees now known not to have the Y-DNA of the Three Collas are Manus McGuire (R-FGC9795), Hy Maine Kelly (R-FGC6545), Lord of the Isles McDonald (R-L176). See History Lessons.
The Three Collas lived in Ireland in the 4th century A.D. Their descendants have been kings, lords, chiefs, and saints. Their history survived through oral tradition and eventually written histories. Recent Y-chromosome DNA tests show a remarkable coincidence between two sets of surnames:
Thomas Roderick, 1930-2013, one of the original contributors to this webpage and one of the original members of the international Human Genome Organization in 1988, summarized his views on our project in 2011:
The Clan Colla Null 425 Project stems from the discovery that in haplogroup R1b1a2a1a1b4 (L21) there is a single subset carrying a null at DYS 425 and probably unique or nearly unique values at 2 or 3 other loci. What is important is that this haplotype clearly is associated with only one grouping of Irish clans and surnames, each of which by historical records emanates from The Three Collas, a successful aggressive clan flourishing 300-400 AD. We are looking for evidence that this null is associated with other families with different ancestry and as yet have not definitively found it. This gives us an estimate of the time of the mutation to the null a little before 300 AD.
From the other markers, we find (using 67 Y markers) the genetic distances among the Colla Group and Colla Modal DNA range between 1 and 11, and have an average of 6. Of the 232 people, 218 or 94% of the group have a genetic distance of 3 to 9.
These data are consistent with our estimate of the timing of the null mutation.
One great advantage of this grouping is that it is well defined molecularly, therefore confined, small enough and yet old enough to make genealogical sense coordinating molecular and historical evidence. By more detailed analysis we can get better understanding of specific genealogical relationships among clusters of the several clans and many surnames.
A database has been compiled of over 700 men. These men are predicted to have Clan Colla DNA based key STR markers: 511=9, 425=0, 505=9, 441=12. All who have BIG Y test results share unique Y-chromosome mutations--the Z3000 SNP and many other unique SNPs downstream of R-L21, DF21, and S971.
An Unusual Test Result. In 2008, Daniela Moneta started a Biggins DNA project. She found me through this website and asked me to join the project. With some skepticism, I had my Y-chromosone DNA tested for 67 genealogical markers. Results showed that I was of Atlantic European ancestry and matched up well with people named Biggins or Beggan. That was interesting but expected. Results also showed a good match with people named Maguire, Carroll, McDonald, McKenna, and McMahon. Furthermore, we all had an unusual null value for DNA marker 425. I described the results on my Web page: Biggins/Beggan Irish Roots.
My Web page related a conversation I had with Gerard Beggan, whom I had met in September 2007 at his home in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan. Gerard told me that in 1969 Rev. Peadar Livingstone (1932-1987) told him that Beggan was a branch of the Maguire family. I had found Gerard's name on the Web site of Al Beagan. Father Livingstone was a renowned scholar in both the Irish language and local history. He wrote comprehensive histories of two counties in Ireland, The Fermanagh Story in 1969, and The Monaghan Story in 1980.
Prehistoric burial-cairn within circular enclosure at Cornashee, Co. Fermanagh, reputedly Sciath Gabhra, inauguration-place of the Maguires, six-tenths of mile northeast of Lisnaskea, seat of the Senior branch of the McGuires.
Josiah's email went on: "I have been watching and studying the 425 nulls between the Carrolls, McMahons, McKennas, and McGuires since I had my markers upgraded to 67 markers in 2006. I suspected that we probably shared a common ancestor, but very few researchers took my comments very seriously. These surnames and several others who I also have matches with are said to descend from "Colla da Chrioch" as stated in the Irish Pedigrees by O'Hart." In 2007 Josiah computed modal values for the DNA of the Three Collas and put it on Ysearch with the user ID of DURRQ.
In June 2009, Josiah started the Clan Colla Null 425 Project at FTDNA to attract Clan Colla descendants, encourage upgrades to the 67-marker test, and promote Clan Colla research. I agreed to be a co-administrator and was the first one to join the new Clan Colla project.
Participation in the Biggins DNA project has turned out to be worth far more than I had anticipated. It confirms that the names Biggins, Beaghen, Beggan, and Little are based on the Irish word for small, beag, as mentioned in Irish surname books by Patrick Woulfe (1923) and Edward MacLysaght (1969). And it confirms what Professor Peadar Livingstone had told Gerard Beggan in the 1970s--that Beggans are related to Maguires. But most importantly, the DNA project established a connection with ancient Irish history. We Beggans were no longer just a humble people with a name based on the Irish word for little. With big names like Carroll, McMahon, McKenna, and Maguire, we were descended from the Three Collas who lived in the 4th century and established the ancient kingdom of Oriel in Monaghan and Fermanagh.
Corroborating Evidence. While Josiah was researching Clan Colla DNA, others were independently coming to the same conclusions.
In February 2008, Kevin Carroll, administator of the Carroll DNA Project, posted this news: "We think that a group of our participants may have hit the Jackpot! They may be related to the O'Carroll Princes of Oriel (Monaghan and Louth). This Kingdom located in the North of Ireland was founded by the three Collas Brothers around the year 327 AD. Wow! Will keep you posted on this as we get more news."
In December 2008, the McQuillan Clan Association announced "DNA Project Sheds New Light on McQuillan Connections." Specifically, they said that "our first "cluster" shows recent shared ancestry for Monaghan & Fermanagh McQuillans. The close match between these three McQuillans reveals the first localized McQuillan haplotype cluster to emerge in our study. This cluster also shows a relationship with some Cullens, and perhaps with the McMahons of Monaghan."
In August 2009, Joseph A. Donohoe V (1941-2011) reported on the DNA of descendants of the Three Collas in his Breifne Clans DNA Reports BCP Report 5, Part 7 and BCP Report 5, Part 8. He independently identified the Clan Colla group that was identified by the Clan Colla project started by Josiah McGuire in June 2009. He called it Airghialla 1 because he was not sure it was Clan Colla. He said he was "not fully persuaded yet of the validity or applicability of the Colla tradition, particularly in view of the great number of traditionally Colla surnames not represented here." As part of his study, Joseph established a modal DNA for Airghialla 1 at Ysearch under the user ID of WHYAA. It is the same as the DURRQ modal used here, which was established by Josiah McGuire in December 2007. To test the validity of Airghialla 1, Joseph came up with a second group called Airghialla 2. As part of his study, Joseph established a modal DNA for Airghialla 2 at Ysearch under the user ID of 9U5BW. In comparing Airghialla 1 and 2 on page 184 of the report, Joseph says that Airghialla 1 "appears to have been prominent in the South Tyrone – North Monaghan area from the sixth century, if not earlier," while Airghialla 2 "rose to historical prominence later . . . in the ninth century." He concludes that Airghialla 1 "would appear to be the best candidate" to represent the DNA of the Three Collas. Joseph himself is not Airghialla 1 or 2. He is a descendant of Niall of the Nine Hostages, also called R-M222 or Northwest Irish.
New SNPs. In 2008, the R-L21 SNP was discovered and all Collas who tested for it had it. As time went on, more SNPs would be discovered.
In 2011, the DF21 SNP was discovered downstream of L21, and all Collas who tested for it had it.
In November 2013, FTDNA introduced Big Y, which tested a large portion of the Y chromosome. Clan Colla project members began receiving test results in November.
In February 2014, ScotlandsDNA announced SNPs downstream of DF21 in 10 anonymous cases. Among the SNPs were: S971, S951 (Z3000), S956 (Z3004), S962 (Z3008), and S953. They did not identify this DNA as Clan Colla.
In April 2018, Big Y was replaced by Big Y-500, a combination of Big Y, Y-111, and 389 STRs from Big Y data.
In January 2019, FTDNA replaced Big Y-500 with Big Y-700, which provides more uniform coverage within a much broader and targeted region of the Y and an increased number of STR markers.
Rathlin Island, with Scotland to the north and Northern Ireland to the south.
The man was named Rathlin 1. His bones were carbon-dated back to 2025-1885 BC. He tested negative for nine SNPs downstream of DF21, but S971 and other SNPs were not investigated because they were not known to the researchers at that time. The negative downstream SNPs were FGC3213, P314.2, S3058, S280, S5488, Z16294, L1336, L130, and S7200. Shortly after the study was published, Aidan Kelly arranged to have Lara Cassidy and Daniel Bradley of Trinity College Dublin provide Alex Williamson with raw DNA data. Alex determined that Rathlin 1 was negative for S971 but positive for Z30233. In addition, he has SNPs downstream of Z30233 that no one else has. See Alex Williamson's Big Tree. See also L21 and DF21 SNPs for a look at how Rathlin 1 fits in with present-day testers.
Assuming five private "Big Y" SNPs for Rathlin 1 downstream of DF21 and Z30233, he would have six SNPs downstream of DF21. Assuming 120 years per SNP on average, the date of DF21 would be around 2700 BC (2000 + 120*6). As of December 2015, 70 Collas had an average of 39 Big Y SNPs downstream of DF21. Assuming 120 years per SNP on average, DF21 occurred around 4700 years ago (120*39), or around 2700 BC.
A 2006 report by Queens University Belfast stated that "The archaeological excavation was carried out to the rear of McCuaig’s Bar, Church Bay, Rathlin Island. Active erosion of a gravel slope had occurred following the disturbance of the ground in advance of the construction of a car park to the rear of the building. This erosion exposed the capstone of a Bronze Age cist burial and this was investigated by Declan Hurl of the Environment and Heritage Service: Built Heritage in February 2006. The initial excavation involved the lifting of the capstone, the recording of the contents and their removal. During the excavation, a pit containing human remains was observed in the section above the cist, and this provided a focus for a further investigation by the Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork." Later, the report says, "Rathlin Island lies 11 miles from the coast of the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. Indeed, documentary evidence suggests that the ownership of the island was a point of contention between Scotland and Ireland for many centuries, cumulating in the massacre of the island’s population by Campbell forces in 1642. The location of the island would indicate that it has been the focus for outside influence for millennia."
False Start. One of the largest and earliest FTDNA projects is Clan Donald. They had an interest in Clan Colla from the start because most McDonalds were thought to be part of Clan Colla. McDonald is one of the two biggest names in Clan Colla. The other is McMahon. But, as it turns out, Clan Colla does not have the largest group of McDonalds. That distinction goes to a separate Norse group.
In February 2004, the Clan Donald project issued a press release saying they had identified an R1b group as Clan Colla (see Clan Donald 2004 press release). This group is now generally known as the Scottish Cluster rather than Clan Colla and is identified as R-L21>L1335>L1065. Clan Donald now identifies this group as the R1b-L21 Red-Black subgroup and refers to it as "a very common L21+ group in Scotland."
In March 2004, the Clan Donald project announced that an R1a Norse DNA identified "descendants of Somerled, ancestor to many MacDonalds, MacDougalls, and MacAllisters, including our Clan Chiefs." The R1a DNA that includes these Clan Chiefs is now generally accepted and is known as L176>YP326>CLD56. The only question is whether they descend from Somerled. For more on this question, see Two Somerled Pedigrees.
Below is a timeline for Clan Colla DNA and ancient pedigrees. The timeline focuses on two the most well-known of our Colla subgroups: McDonald 1 and McMahon 1. For each we have a member who can trace his ancestry back to a Colla.
|Year||Frank McDonald kit #133546|
Descendant of Colla Uais
|Patrick McMahon kit #145687|
Descendant of Colla da Crioch
|BC 2600||L21 SNP occurs in a Celt in Western Europe|
|BC 2100||DF21 SNP occurs in a man with L21 DNA in Europe north of the Alps, or the Isles.|
|BC 2000 to 1900||A December 2015 study by scientists at Queens University Belfast and Trinity College Dublin tells of finding Rathlin Man 1 buried in a Bronze Age cist to the rear of what is now McCuaig's Bar in Church Bay on Rathlin Island. His bones were carbon-dated back to 2025-1885 BC. He had the DF21 SNP, the Z30233 SNP, and five more downstream of that. While he is not an ancestor of Clan Colla, his DNA helps date the DF21 SNP.|
|BC 1900 to AD 100||Z3000 and 19 other SNPs occur in a man with DF21 DNA, with no known branches|
|AD 250||Z3006 SNP occurs in a man with Z3000 DNA|
|AD 400||Z3008 SNP occurs in a man with Z3006 DNA|
|4th century||Three brothers named Colla with the Z3008 SNP, from Roman-controlled England and Wales, become known for their prowess in warfare in Ulster|
|6th century||S953 SNP occurs in a descendant of Colla Uais|
A descendant of Colla Uais migrates to the Scottish Highlands
|Z16274 SNP occurs in a descendant of Colla da Crioch|
|11th century||Surnames first adopted in Ulster|
|12th century||Somerled (1113 to 1164), a descendant of Colla Uais, becomes known as Lord of the Isles||Faolan MacMathghamhna (Felim/Phelan MacMahon), a descendant of Colla Da Crioch, early 12th century|
|13th century||A938 SNP occurs in a man with the S953 SNP|
|14th century||Alasdair Og, Lord of the Isles, deposed in 1308 by his "brother" Angus Og.|
Angus Og descendants had L176>YP326>CLD56 Norse DNA, very different from the DNA of Alasdair Og. See: Two Somerled Pedigrees
|Briain Mor (Big Brian), died in 1372; the first McMahon to officially claim the title of Ardri Oirghialla (High-King of Oriel)|
|1390||Clan Colla described in Book of Ballymote|
|15th century||Charles Thurlough Mor McDonald: born in Antrim; acquired lands being known as the Clan Donnell Country, including Tynekill Castle at the base of the boundary of the mountains of Leix and Wicklow; died 1435||A77 SNP occurs in a McMahon|
Ardghal McMahon died in 1427 in Monaghhan; he is probably the ancestor of all in the McMahon 1 subgroup
|1607 to 1609||Plantation of Ulster|
|1632 to 1636||Clan Colla described in Annals of the Four Masters, Michael O'Clery (1580-1643) at al., 1632 to 1636, translated from Irish in 1845 by Owen Connellan.|
The posterity of the three Collas, called Clan Colla, founded many powerful clans and noble families in Ulster and other parts of Ireland.
|From Colla Uais were descended the MacDonnells, earls of Antrim in Ireland, and lords of the Isles in Scotland . . . .||From Colla da Chrich, were descended the MacMahons . . . MacKennas . . . O'Duffys . . . Boylans . . . MacDonnells . . . O'Connellys . . . MacGuires.|
|1634||Clan Colla described in Keating's The History of Ireland, translated from Irish in 1902 by David Comyn and Patrick S. Dinneen|
|1641||Rory Og McMahon fought in the Irish Rebellion of 1641; died in 1650|
|1684||Lieutenant Brian McDonald, who served in an Irish Volunteer Regiment in the cause of King James II, emigrates to America and settles in Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware|
|1892||Clan Colla described by John O'Hart (1824–1902) in Irish Pedigrees|
|1905||Y chromosome discovered|
|1953||Watson and Crick published a paper on the double helix structure of DNA|
|1988||Thomas Roderick (1930-2013) becomes one of the founding members of the international Human Genome Organization. He had his DNA tested by FTDNA in 2005 (kit #8551) and later became an administrator of the Clan Colla project|
|1999||FTDNA founded by Bennett Greenspan|
|2003||Human Genome Project completed sequencing of the human genome|
|2003||Thomas McKenna, kit #6419, is the first person with Colla DNA to be tested by FTDNA: 25 STR markers|
|2006||67-marker STR test offered by FTDNA. Two STRs were eventually found to be unique for Clan Colla: 511=9 and 425=0|
|2008||R-L21 SNP discovered|
|2009||Josiah McGuire, kit #23171, starts the Clan Colla DNA project at Family Tree DNA|
|2011||R-DF21 SNP discovered|
|2011||111-marker STR test offered by FTDNA. Two STRs are unique for Clan Colla: 505=9 and 441=12|
|2011||Presentation on Clan Colla DNA included in the FTDNA Conference in Houston|
|2014||Clan Colla R-Z3000 SNP discovered as a result of Big Y testing at FTDNA|
On May 17, 2018, Patrick McMahon, Administrator of the Clan Colla 425 null Project, sent an email to all Project members reviewing the origin of and establishment of the Three Collas. Patrick, a geneticist, put the review together with his brother Eugene, who is a historian. Patrick and Eugene have traced their family back to Faolan MacMathghamhna (Felim/Phelan MacMahon), who lived in County Monaghan in the early 12th century (see 51 Generations: Colla to McMahon). The review was based on "the Colla genetic position and the few pre-history snippets of information that are available."
Several people commented on the review. Their comments follow the review.
Patrick McMahon Email of May 17, 2018
The contention that the Collas are “descended from the sons of Eochaid Doimlen, younger son of Cairbre Lifechair, High King of Ireland in the 3rd century A.D" has been the position taken by people involved in the genealogy of the Collas over the last few years. This interpretation is incorrect both on genetic and historical evidence and should be abandoned.
The Colla Genetic Profile
It was evident from early analysis that those later classified as Colla were uniquely R1b having a deletion at DYS 425. Deletions by their nature are non reversible and thus it was possible to identify (among all testers) those who belonged to the Colla group as the deletion is faithfully transmitted from generation to generation. More recently, the overarching SNP mutation, Z3000 (and descendants), have been identified as defining what was then called the Colla group even though its occurrence pre-dated the arrival on the scene of the (named) Colla brothers. It therefore follows that the Z3000 clade encompasses more than those descended from the Colla brothers.
As Z3000 pre-dates the earliest mention of the Colla brothers by about 300 years, it would seem logical (now that there is a clearer genetic picture) to refer to Z16270 and its sub-clades by their clade names. Colla should only be used for the nested clades under Z3008. (See The Colla Phylogenetic Tree.)
The Colla Historic Profile
One view is that the 4th c. Colla brothers were Roman trained mercenaries of the Trinovantes Tribe who came from Colchester. Schlegel is persuasive in arguing in favour of the Roman method of nomenclature and the possibility of Colchester origins. An alternative might be migration via the Dal Riada bridge as there are about 50% of Collas who have Scottish names (McDonald and the like). If migration from Britain (and everything points to this at present) was the Colla origin, then the notion that they are descended from Fiacha Srabhteine (ancestor of O'Neill) cannot hold. Genetically, they are totally different from Niall of the nine hostages alleged haplogroup (R-M222 which branched from DF13 and is therefore mutually exclusive from the Colla DF21 heritage). Putting Colla in among O'Neills is genetic nonsense.
The mounting genetic evidence supports the view that the progenitor (of the Collas) arose in NW Europe or Southern England. The question is how did they spread and become prolific in Scotland (Highlands/Western Isles) and Ireland (almost exclusively in greater Oriel)? It could be argued that they moved with the migratory flow northward and westward and the 17% or so detected today in England and Wales represent the genetic footprint of their passage. They obviously were very successful in establishing their presence in Oriel and Western Scotland, today's testers being equally represented in both areas. Did they (1) fork at say Chester as the genetics suggest establishing parallel cultures in both areas; (2) go to Oriel as Schlegel suggests and from there, in the form of Colla Uais, go to Dal Riada; (3) go to Scotland and from there invade Oriel by the shortest sea crossing.
They obviously did establish themselves (very successfully) in Oriel. Was this the result of an opportunistic raid by disgruntled and probably unpaid, ex Roman military (like the Vikings years later) or a well organized logistically supported invasive army (although undocumented), organized by the High King (Establishment). A most probable embarkation point would have been Chester (the largest military town in Britannia at that time with access to boats and the Irish Sea). They would have to have made landfall somewhere like Carlingford to get into the heart of Oriel all of which is creditable as Tacitus states ... "the approaches and harbours [of Ireland] are [better] known due to trade and merchants". There must have been navigational knowledge available to (Roman) sailors on how to get to the Eastern side of Ireland.
Schlegel in a further expansion of his work acknowledges that “the history of lreland before the sixth century, as passed down to us from the seventh and later centuries, is a construction by the scholars of that later era. Because of their efforts to synchronize the undated records of Irish pre-history with each other and with events in the classical world, these monastic scholars have sometimes been called the 'synchronists'. The tasks they carried out were to give Ireland a glorious past in which all of the people of the island were a single nation, and to place that nation within the biblical history of the world”. Further, he doesn't seem to have much time for the far-fetched story of the Colla brothers working for their alleged (O’Neill) uncle, then killing him, stealing his throne, being chased out of Ireland by the King's son and then (shortly afterwards) returning to work for said son. Schlegel seems to put this down to later scribes massaging history and indeed getting into all sorts of chronological difficulties through their efforts to coordinate the reigns of the kings of Ulster with those of the High Kings at Tara.
We should forget about attributing any real prominence to the title of "High King", as it held little political sway before the advent of Brian Boru in the early 11th c. Instead, what we are dealing with is the ongoing efforts of provincial kings to extend their territorial sway. And, of course, beneath them you had smaller kingdoms and, beneath them in turn, you had the lords of petty kingdoms (tuatha).
In the 4th-5th c. A.D. period that we are dealing with, there were three main kingdoms in Ulster alone, although the inhabitants were referred to collectively as the Ulaidh (people of Ulster). Among them, the principal native population was identified as Cruithni (pre-Gael people likened to the Scottish Picts). Moving against them, seemingly, were the Ui Neill dynasty that originated in North Connacht, but spread eastwards from there into Meath (where they occupied Tara) and northwards into Inishowen. This would have been the dynasty that engaged the services of the Collas under Muredach Tirech.
According to Schlegel, this militaristic effort was spread over three campaigns spanning 70-80 years, following which the Cruithni nobility were driven into Antrim (Dal Riada). Various branches of the Ui Neill dynasty then successfully established themselves in separate kingdoms such as Tir Conaill and Tir Eoghan.
The Collas also got their reward in terms of territory to the south of that, but always subject to the overlordship of their original employers (who were now called the southern Ui Neill), based in Tara. It wasn't until about 650 A.D. that the overlordship to which they were subject became that of the northern Ui Neill.
This adds credence to the notion that the Irish in Dalriada colonized western Scotland, rather than the other way around. Indeed, Mallory dates this to around 500 A.D.
Schlegel ties the Colla arrival in Ireland with the mass desertions that occurred in the Roman army in Britain in 367 A.D, as the Empire slowly imploded. Also, he maintains that the mercenary services of the Collas and their sons and grandsons (for the Tara dynasty) lasted for 70 or more years, from the very late 4th century until well into the 5th.
As for "mighty battles", I think that we should presume that they were more on the modest scale, given how long that it took them to complete the conquest of Ulster. That being said, the first such recorded one was the battle of Carn Achad Leth Derg (Carn Roe in Currin Parish, Dartrey) was probably fought in 392 A.D. This ties in with the previously-mentioned notion that the Collas only arrived in Ireland sometime well after 367 A.D.
Then fast forward to the battle of Creeve Derg where the fortress of Eamhain Macha was finally captured from the Ulaidh c. 470 A.D. through the efforts of the Airgialla (confederation of Ulster clans including the Collas).
So the Collas didn't come by their kingdom of Oriel that easily, and it certainly took a few generations of Collas to complete it. 367 A.D. makes chronological sense of the written narrative. The name of the game is to marry up in the most sensible way the sparse (but possibly as good as it gets) genetic data and perceived prehistory and finally lay the ghost of the less than honest written accounts of our forebears.
Having analysed the current genetic, historical and published information, it can be stated with a fair degree of confidence, that the following is a close approximation of events that led to the evolution of the Colla sub-population within the DF21 clade:
Eugene McMahon (Hamilton, Ontario, 2018) ©
 Donald M. Schlegel, “The Origin of the Three Collas and the Fall of Emain”. The Clogher Record, Volume XVI, No. 2, 1998, pp. 159-181.
 Donald M. Schlegel, “Reweaving the Tapestry of Ancient Ulster”; Clogher Record, Volume XVII, No. 3, 2002, pp. 689-750.
 J. P. Mallory, The Origins of the Irish, 2013.
The foregoing review was distributed to members of the Clan Colla project by Family Tree DNA on May 17, 2018. Following is an exchange of emails among members.
May 24 Comments by Ron Hendrickson on The Origin and Establishment of the Collas
It was interesting to read Patrick and Eugene McMahon’s review of Colla status and their provocative opinions regarding genetic origin and status.
There are some who believe the Colla brothers story is an historical fiction based solely on medieval Irish legend. For those who accept their existence, there are several theories regarding the brother's origin, location, and time frame. The 2017 publication of “The Irish DNA Atlas”
Several reasonable origin theories exist and each has its proponents. The Clan Colla 425 null Project has traditionally included all “other possible origins” in its Background material. I respectfully submit that it would be a mistake for the Project to conclude that only one of the origin theories is correct, and exclude the others.
Colla Descendants: The ending statement that “These (Z16270 clade members) should not be referred to as Collas …” was a real shocker. I would have thought that a proposal to delete 25% of the membership would justify some warning, or at least a headline to let those affected (like me) know what was going on. Even so, DNA tests have upset me (and no doubt others) in the past and I was prepared to accept this status down-grade if the data (and the interpretation of that data) were conclusive. But the interpretation is not conclusive.
Dating SNP mutation is problematic. The difficulty with 120 (or 144, or 150, or 160) years per SNP is that this is just a working figure that may not be accurate for a limited pedigree. The mutation of one more SNP is still just a random and rare event that could occur at any time. In a 120-year period there might be no mutations, or half a dozen.
So the Colla SNP data could be interpreted by a measure to conclude that all Z3000 members are Colla descendants. At the other extreme, the data could be interpreted to drill down to the point where members below Z3008 (and lower) are excluded.
There are four branches to Z3000, but I respectfully disagree the there is a “fair degree of confidence” that only one branch produced Colla descendants. A fairer statement is Peter’s declaration that "Descendants of Colla cousins (Z16270, Z29586 and 7513772-A-G) may be descendants of the Three Collas if the actual timeframe is earlier than assumed.” (Z3000 Man, Note at bottom). Just like the different origins theories, the Project must continue to offer alternate opinions about Colla descent based on how the data is analyzed.
Although I take issue with some points in the recent review, my comments do not diminish my gratitude for the good work accomplished by the Colla administrators. I am grateful to Josiah for his foresight to found the Clan Colla 425 null Project, and my good luck to be recruited as a member in 2010. Peter’s web site "PetersPioneers” is my default resource for all things Clan Colla related. I have collected all of Patrick’s papers and continue to admire the depth of his analysis.
I hope that reasonable people may disagree yet still be united in their commitment to a common goal.
May 28 Comments by Patrick McMahon on Ron Hendrickson's Comments
Sorry to hear you found the outcome of our analysis provocative. It was not intended as such. As a scientist, I simply analysed the current genetic data for the most logical outcome and this time with the aid of my brother, marry it to the most creditable pre-history information. Work of this nature is very much a 'work-in-progress' whose analysis may change with the emergence of new data. Obviously, you are perfectly free to disagree with it but I would like to hear your reasoning for an alternative analysis.
The aim of the exercise was threefold,
Irrespective of the Colla name, where and when it arose, there is no change of status for Project members and no deletion of members - they are still Z3000, 425 null. Using the Colla name is anathema to some, beloved of others but is irrelevant to the genetic picture. In your case being in clade Z16270>Z18003 (c. 2 c.), I was simply pointing out that you couldn't be descended from the Colla brothers per se who weren't born until the 4th c. in a parallel clade. You can of course claim descent from the common proto-Colla ancestor in Z3000. This is not a status downgrade as you put it but simply a more scientific way of defining the Z3000 sub-populations.
I didn't rule out other origins - there are three alternatives cited in my para 7. What is presented is my analysis outcome on current knowledge. Again, if you have a better idea, I would like to hear it.
Part of the problem here is what is meant by Colla descent. If, as I said above, you go back to the common proto-Colla ancestor in Z3000, then there isn't a problem - everyone in Z3000 can be referred to as Colla. On the other hand, for the purposes of this analysis, I choose to reverse engineer the situation from where the bulk of Colla descendants are found today and try establish actual descent from one or other of the Colla brothers.
The original finding by Josiah that the bulk of names found associated today with the greater Oriel area had very similar STR profiles, particularly the null at DYS 425 and the most usual value of 9 for DYS 511. These became our key markers in identifying what we were calling Collas. Further, the literature at the time claimed (and still does) that Oriel McMahons, some Carrolls and some Hughes were descended from Colla da Crioch whereas Colla Uais was responsible for McGuires of Fermanagh, Biggins, Connollys and after banishment to Alba, for Western Isles McDonalds. At the time I referred to Z16270 as a NW British clade (British cousins) because of the high number of non-Irish names.
With the advent of SNPs, The Colla Phylogenetic Tree became clearer. The actual times when these SNPs occurred is not important but the order in which they did is. I used Yfull estimates for tMRCA and these were their values (ybp from 1950), DF21=4200, Z3000=1950, Z3006=1800, Z3008=1600, Z16274=1600, S953=1150.
Population drift of DF21 was in a NW direction from Continental Europe but not all DF21 would necessarily have joined the migration. All movements of people leave genetic footprints behind and this in my view would be an explanation as to how Z16270 (which branched from Z3000 c.150 AD) remained continentally based ultimately giving rise to a plethora of Anglo-Saxon, English, Welsh, Scottish type names which finished up in Britain much later. I don't believe Z16270 ever got near to Ireland with the exception of its sub-clade, Z18003 (Carroll).
I stand by my assertion that having reviewed all the available information and using my definition of descent from an actual Colla brother (above), that genetic Colla descendants are only in Z3008 and its sub-clades. The other clades (of Z3000) contain members of the same population descended from earlier ancestors of the Colla brothers.
June 2 Comments by Ron Hendrickson on The Origin and Establishment of the Collas
Thank you for the opportunity to respond more fully to the May 2018 review portion regarding who may be considered a Colla descendant.
I collected tMRCA age data for the pertinent SNPs using Alex Williamson’s The Big Tree SNP Age Analysis
The Big Tree SNP Age Analysis calculates with 95% certainty (95% Confidence Interval) that a SNP occurred within a particular date range. The second column represents the date range for each noted SNP. The third column is the statistical center (median) of the date range along with the likelihood that the SNP occurred at exactly the mid-point.
This age analysis was used to create a visual representation (see attached CollaSNP95%.pdf) of the date range for Z3000 (red), as well as the date range for its descendant clades Z16270 (green), Z3006 (purple), and Z29586 (blue) from 500 BC to the present. The yellow bar is roughly the lifetime of the Colla brothers. The grey columns focus on Early, Median (middle), and Late in the SNP date ranges.
 B. Smith, ‘The Ua Cerbaill Kingdom of Airgailla’, in “Colonisation and Conquest in Medieval Ireland: The English in Louth, 1170 - 1330” (Cambridge 1999), 10-27.
 K. Simms, ‘The MacMahon pedigree: a medieval forgery’, in D. Edwards (ed.), "Regions and Rulers in Ireland, 1100 - 1650” (Dublin 2004), 27-36.
 Because of the relatively late appearance of SNP 15578406-T-C, etc., which are derived from Z16273 (sub-clade to Z16278), the Carroll 2 group may represent the Clann Chearbhaill family which was allied with the Mac Mathghamhna family in the 14th century.
June 4 Comments by Delaney Henretty on The Origin and Establishment of the Collas
I wholeheartedly agree with Ron, as we have had side conversations on this topic. The age estimation for the relative SNPs does not support the conclusion that Z3008 is the only true Colla line. It seems more probable that if the Roman trained mercenary group or even tribal drift hypothesis are true, that a broad group of people that were related came to what is now Oriel at or near the same time period. (leaving ancestors or family in the area of origin, or path of migration) The 425 Null marker with attendant SNPs should still be the criterion for which we associate members of our group. It defies all scientific reason that a group of men with 4 STR markers shared by less than 2% of the DF21 haplogroup and hailing from the same area are not genetically, and politically related. That relationship does not predate the migration to Oriel. There are Carrol’s, as Ron points out, and myself that have historic Colla names, and whose ancestors hail from Oriel and we are Z16270. Just because a particular line, Z3008, became more prevalent than another, Z16270, it does not follow logically that the more ‘successful’ line is the true line, especially as surnames were not adopted until the last 1000 years or so. It is not good science to ignore inconvenient data and base conclusions on data that is more conjecture than concrete.
June 7 Comment by Peter Biggins on Delaney Henretty's Comments
Here is a study I did a couple years ago that dates the Colla SNPs: Deep Ancestry of Peter Biggins.
June 8 Comments by Delaney Henretty on The Origin and Establishment of the Collas
Please allow me to share the following observations:
June 19 Comments by Patrick McMahon on Ron Hendrickson and Delaney Henretty's Comments
Our recent exchanges of emails seems to have created a level of misunderstanding between us. In the hope of easing some of these, I have taken time out to analyse your particular situations within the Clan Colla 425 Null Project and tell your story as it is based on your results. I hope this will help appease your sense of grievance as expressed by you in earlier emails.
Analysis of the DNA profiles of Ron Hendrickson and Delaney Henretty
The Basics. You both have the key STR markers identifying you as belonging to Clan Colla 425 null (as constituted by Josiah). It then gets a bit more difficult.
Migration. This seemed to cause much confusion. Obviously, it can only be inferred how our deep ancestors might have migrated from the extensive archeology and genetics pertaining to NW Europe. However, the emerging genetic patterns do allow for some fairly simple deductions to be made in the case of Clan Colla 425 members. SNP results have allowed us to identify clades and group together those sharing the same terminal SNP even though they may show no (conventional) relationships or shared surnames (i.e. deep ancestry). Clades can be further populated with testers who have significant relationships to the SNP tester. The following deductions can be made (estimated clade median ages (by the McDonald method) in Italics):
Descent. The other contentious issue was the lines of descent. Where there are parallel lines of descent, as is the case between Z16270 and Z3006, and then if you are in Z16270 clade you cannot claim descent from the Z3006/Z3008 clade where the evidence indicates the Colla brothers would have been. It is technically correct to state both clades have common ancestry in Z3000 and be referred to as Clan Colla 425 null people. On the present evidence it is a non-sequitur for members of Z16270 to claim direct descent from the Colla brothers.
 In the 17th century (after yet another defeat at the hands of the English) there were some 12,000 unemployed Irish swordsmen, wandering around Ireland, looking for plunder. Eventually a deal was arranged. These 12,000 swordsmen were "sold" to the Swedish king - and shipped as mercenaries to Sweden. (Perhaps …one of these intrepid Irish warriors (possibly a Carroll) was responsible for donating his DNA to the Hendricksons!)
May 19 Comments by Rory Cain on The Origin and Establishment of the Collas
For myself, I prefer the historical name Airghialla (“Eastern subjects”, from the Connachta dynasty’s Western perspective) rather than the later invented name Clan Colla.
As stated in the article both the principle Connachta Haplogroup of M222 and the O’Neill if Tyrone DF27 fail to match the Airghialla DF21. Nor does the alleged descent of the DF49 Ui Maine fit in.
I think the article is correct in dismissing the Ui Niall & Ui Maine descent. But it appears to be based on outdated thinking in trying to make DF21 to be Continental in origin. it looks to me (and Prof. Joe Flood of RMIT University) that DF21 is Isles in origin, with branches that reverted to the Continent, either as metallurgists & traders, or later as slaves to Viking raiders. But in anyone can pinpoint a Continental origin I am happy to learn of that.
May 19 Comments by Patrick McMahon on Rory Cain's Comments
The aim of the exercise was threefold,
You obviously don't believe the Collas were real people who arrived in Oriel in the 4th c. Yet there is a substantial amount of information suggesting that they did and were probably responsible for the major sub-clades (of Z3008), Z16274 (which ultimately gave rise to McMahons, Carroll, Calan, Hughes, McQuillan) & S953 (McDonalds, McGuires, Biggins, Connally).
Population drift of DF21 was in a NW direction from Continental Europe but not all DF21 would necessarily have joined the migration. All movements of people leave genetic footprints behind and this in my view would be an explanation as to how Z16270 (which branched from Z3000 c.150 AD) remained continentally based ultimately giving rise to a plethora of Anglo-Saxon, English, Welsh, Scottish type names which finished up in Britain much later. I don't believe Z16270 ever got near to Ireland with the exception of its sub-clade, Z18003 (Carroll).
Donald Schlegel has proposed an alternate explanation of the origin of the Three Collas. He starts by saying that the Collas are perhaps the only instance in prehistoric or early historic Ireland of three brothers having each a personal name, a name in common, and an epithet. The implication is that such a naming convention must have been imported, and the obvious source is the Roman Empire. He suggests they were not descended from Irish Kings but instead were Romanized Britons, originating in the Celtic tribe named Trinovantes from nearby Colchester in southeastern England, where the Romans estabilshed their first colony. They received military training from the Romans and eventually went to Ireland as mercenaries in the service of the King of Ireland. Don presented this theory in the 1998 Clogher Record. It is one of the many articles he has had published in the Clogher Record, a local history journal published annually since 1953 by the Clogher Historical Society at St. Macartan's College in the townland of Mullaghmurphy on the outskirts of the town of Monaghan, County Monaghan.
Roman Naming of the Three Collas
See The Clogher Record, "The Origin of the Three Collas and the Fall of Emain," by Donald M. Schlegel, Volume XVI, No. 2, 1998, pp. 159-181. Also see The Clogher Record, "Reweaving the Tapestry of Ancient Ulster," by Donald M. Schlegel, Volume XVII, No. 3, 2002, pp. 689-749.
The first part of this alternative explanation is consistent with DNA results. Descendants of the Three Collas have a unique DNA which is significantly different from the DNA of descendants of Niall of the Nine Hostages. So, it seems pretty clear that the Three Collas were not cousins of Muredach Tirech, 122nd King of Ireland and grandfather of Niall of the Nine Hostages. See Modal DNA of Clan Colla Versus Niall of the Nine Hostages.
The second part of this alternative explanation has not been verified yet by DNA. We have not found a family that matches Clan Colla DNA and traces itself back to the area around Colchester. Nothing is known of the Trinovantes as a tribe with certainty after the rebellion of Boudicca about 60 A.D., so it is not possible to trace any family back to them using DNA analysis.
There are, however, two families that match Clan Colla DNA and trace themselves back to towns that had Roman settlements in Wales near the border with England. These towns are near the Roman legionary fortresses of Caerleon and Chester, the two fortresses by which the Romans controlled Wales.
The archeological and geneology evidence indicates a westward and north westward movement of bronze-age Celts through Europe. Among these would be the L21 line which started north of the Alps about 4,000 years ago. Judging by todays distributions of L21+, the heaviest concentrations are found in Ireland and the Celtic fringes of Britain. It is estimated they could have started to populate Ireland about 3,000 years ago. By the time the Romans came to Britain, these Celtic people would have subsumed earlier cultures and diverged from one another over the 30 or so generations. They probably developed into tribal groups as they did in Ireland which the Romans knew as the Trinovantes, Cornovii etc. Genetically, they would have similarities and differences as exhibited between Irish tribes. There arose in one such L21 tribe, the relatively rare and stable null mutation at DYS 425, which our working hypothesis claims is the key identifier of Colla DNA. A trawl through the L21 Project showed that only about 5% had this Colla DNA.
The DNA evidence would appear to indicate that the ancestors of the Colla brothers were part of a gradual westward migration through Britain to Ireland in either pre-Roman or Roman times. The current study would position the null mutation as having occurred shortly before the Roman invasion of Britain.
In addition to the above-mentioned Roderick and Calkins representatives of the Colla DNA in Wales there is an equally strong contingent of various family names in Scotland. This, in conjunction with the occurrence of the null mutation at the beginning of the first millennium, may suggest that the Colla tribe was well established and had branched in NW Britain before coming to Ireland. On the other hand, the Scottish families could descend from members of the family who migrated to western Scotland in the ninth century with the ancestors of the MacDonalds.
It has been strongly suggested that the three Colla brothers arrived in Ireland about A.D. 300, allegedly as mercenaries to the High King. As such it has to be assumed they were trained soldiers of some sort and would have been accompanied by a band of warriors (otherwise they would never have established themselves in a hostile environment). A further assumption might be that the band of warriors was composed of a mixture of their 425 null-bearing kinsmen, kinsmen without the null, and co-opted non-kinsmen.
Whatever the starting ratios were and how these fluctuated over time, we know that among todays descendants, only about 25-30% have the 425 null. It is not possible to track back from today’s ratios to establish the starting ones as too many survival factors would have been involved1. If as alluded to in this study, there was an additional earlier 425 null mutation, their descendants formed a much lower proportion of the Colla population. In addition, during the course of their warlike activities they would have enslaved/subsumed their defeated enemies who could have been part of an earlier indigenous population thus accounting for the few from haplogroups E & I with a Colla name.
Following their successful campaigns in Ulster, the Colla tribe would have continued to diverge both genetically (markers other than 425) and geographically but those with the null would continue to retain it. At a much later date (c. A.D. 950), surnames were gradually adopted by the various Colla branches and depending on where they were living and to which Colla chieftan they owed fielty, they would have claimed that name irrespective of their DNA. Thus, those living in different parts of Oriel became Carrolls, McKennas, McMahons, McGuires, etc. It is difficult to understand how these tribal branches (now clans) had more or less similar proportions of null to non-null.
Many of the Y-DNA testers who have Clan Colla DNA have surnames that the ancient genealogies say are descended from the Three Collas. As shown on the Abridged Clan Colla Big Y SNP Tree, the modern list of DNA-supported Colla names include Boylan, Carroll, Connolly, Cooley, Devine, Hart, Higgins, Hughes, Kelly, Larkin, MacDougall, McAuley, McClain, McDonald, McGuire, McKenna, McMahon, McQuillan, Monahan, Murphy, Neal. The surnames are related to both Colla Uais and Colla da Crioch. There are none related to Colla Menn, but relatively few surnames are attributed to him perhaps because he was killed in an early battle against the Ulaids.
Researchers like John O'Hart, The Four Masters, and Donald Schlegel include Colla Clan pedigrees gathered from historic sources. Their work has been to a large extent validated by DNA testing. Any errors (like which Colla sired which surname) do not reflect upon the historic sources, who did not have access to DNA analysis.
Many people do not know where their patronymic ancestor came from, which is not uncommon. Only a small number of those tested live in Ireland or Scotland. Most live in America. Many of those have resorted to DNA testing for the very reason that they do not know where there ancestors came from when the emigrated to America.
Many Colla name are not included among our testers. There are several possible reasons.
Ireland was one of the first European countries to adopt hereditary surnames. At the end of his chapter on the Middle Ages in his 1969 book The Fermanagh Story, Rev. Peadar Livingstone (1932-1987) says on pages 23 and 24 that "Irish people in this era seem to have been obsessed with names. Long pedigrees are drawn up, giving the origins of most common families. As might be expected, most of the Fermanagh families trace themselves back to an Oriel origin. This, for the most part, is genuine enough. However, since an Oriel line ruled the country, it must have been popular to have Oriel origins. Some of the earlier Leinster Fir Manach must have been tempted to invent an Oriel connection where it did not exist." With that caveat in mind, we will take a look at the surnames of Clan Colla. See also Multiple-Sept Surnames.
John O'Hart, 1824-1902.
John O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees. "From the Three Collas descended many noble families in Ulster, Connaught, Meath, and Scotland, The families descended from them were known as the Clan Colla." This is the way John O'Hart introduces the pedigrees of Three Collas in his book, Irish Pedigrees; or, the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation, published in 1892 (fifth edition), Volumes I and II. John O'Hart was born in 1824 in Crossmolina, County Mayo. His parents were Shane (John) and Nora Kilroy O'Hart of Crossmolina. His grandparents were Shane and Mary Martin O'Hart of Doonbreeda, County Mayo.
In 1845, John O'Hart married Elizabeth Burnett in Crossmolina. They moved to Dublin, where John worked for the National Education Department. In 1859, he began working on Irish Pedigrees. The first edition was published in 1876. The fifth and final edition wa published in 1892. He died in 1902 in Clontarf, near Dublin, at the age of 78.
Professional genealogist John Grenham commented on John O'Hart in a blog dated July 11, 2016, saying that "John O’Hart is "probably the single best-known writer on Irish genealogy." He had "an extraordinary appetite for work and appears to have read and absorbed every single Irish pedigree published before the 1870s." But, Grenham goes on to note that O'Hart includes "the legendary Milesian origins of the Gaels" and "extends them back to Adam, via Magog, Japhet and Moses."
Included in John O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees is his own pedigree, which goes back to the Three Collas: O'Hart Princes of Tara and Chiefs in Sligo. Included are Shane, the last prince of Tara in County Meath, who was deprived of his patrimony by King Henry II of England at the time of the Norman invasion in 1172 and resettled in County Sligo. Sixteen generations later, at the time of the Cromwellian confiscations, another Shane migrated from Sligo to a farm in Doonbreeda, County Mayo. This Shane is the great grandfather of John O'Hart.
Google Books has made the 1892 edition available online:
O'Hart provides two lists of surnames of Colla descendants:
|Colla Surnames from O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees|
The list of Colla descendants is not meant to be exhaustive. Some Colla surnames are not on O'Hart's two lists, but are referred to as Colla descendants elsewhere in his book. Page numbers are in parentheses.
The general surname indexes for the 1892 edition are:
The University of Pittsburgh Library System has made the 1892 edition available online as a PDF file or Ebook:
Library Ireland has made a transcript of Volume I available online.
Other on-line sources on Irish surnames are:
Several Colla names not listed by O'Hart have been accepted on the authority of Peadar Livingstone or Edward MacLysaght:
John O'Hart (1824-1902) said he himself was a descendant of the Three Collas. He is generation No. 125 on page 679. As indicated in his footnote on page 678, one of John's relatives was John Hart (1713-1779) who signed the Declaration of Independence for New Jersey on July 4, 1776. There are several Harts who have Clan Colla DNA: kit Nos. 48620, 166797, and 182999. At least one of these Harts, 166797, goes back to James Hart, born in 1835 in County Cavan, Ireland. However, they have no evidence of descending from John Hart the Signer. There are several Harts who claim descendance from Hart the Signer who do not have Colla DNA: kits 48743, 173068, and 196006. At least one of these Harts goes back to Joseph Hart, born in 1688 in Newtown, New York. The Y-DNA of John Hart the Signer can be found in: The Y-DNA Genetic Signature of an American Founding Father – John Hart the Signer, by Dr. Jeffrey Mark Paull and Susan K. Steeble.
Annals of the Four Masters. The Annals of the Four Masters were composed from 1632 to 1636 in the Franciscan Monastery of Donegal chiefly by Michael O'Clery (1580-1643). In 1845, Irish historiographer Owen Connellan translated the book from Irish to English. In May 2007, Google digitized a copy of the translation from the Library at Oxford University: Annals of the Four Masters. A long footnote that starts on page 2 describes the ancient kingdom of Oriel and includes the descendants of the Three Collas. "The posterity of the three Collas, called clan Colla, founded many powerful clans and noble families in Ulster and other parts of Ireland.
Maguires. The Maguires of County Fermanagh, descendants of Colla da Crioch, spawned many other Colla surnames in the period 1250 to 1350 AD.
In his Irish Pedigrees; or, the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation, published in 1892 (fifth edition), Volume II, page 581, John O'Hart says The Four Masters record 39 saints as descended from the Three Collas: 19 from Colla-da-Chrioch, 16 from Colla Uais, and 4 from Colla Meann.
The following were the 19 saints descended from Colla-da-Chrioch.
Saint Berchan. Saint Berchan lived in the 5th century and is listed on page 17 of the The Martyrology of Donegal: A Calendar of the Saints of Ireland, translated by John O'Donovan in 1864. He lived on Inish-Rochla, an island in Lough Erne near Enniskillen in County Fermanagh, Ireland. He was five generations down from Colla da Crioch, one of the Three Collas. His feast day is November 24.
Saint Cinnia. Saint Cinnia lived in the 5th century. She was a princess of Ulster, Ireland. Saint Cinnia was converted to Christianity by Saint Patrick. When she entered a convent, Saint Patrick gave her the veil. She was descended from Colla da Crioch, one of the Three Collas. Her feast day is February 1.
Saint Tigernach. Saint Tigernach was said to have been the godchild of Saint Brigid, and educated in Scotland. He may have been a monk at Clones as well as a bishop of Clogher in County Monaghan, but accounts are not too clear. He also is called Tierney and Tierry. Saint Tigernach died in 549. He was descended from Colla da Crioch, one of the Three Collas. His feast day is April 4.
Saint Cairnech. Saint Cairnech was born after the middle of the 5th century. His brothers were St. Berchan and St. Ronan. His monastery was probably at Cruachan Ligean on Loughh Foyle, near Lifford. He died about 530. He was descended from Colla da Crioch, one of the Three Collas. His feast day is March 28.
This study of the Y-chromosome DNA of the Three Collas is the product of four Clan Colla descendants.
|Josiah McGuire. Josiah McGuire had his DNA tested at FTDNA in 2004. By early 2005 he recognized that he matched several other people with Colla surnames and began studying those matches. After upgrading to 67 markers in 2006, Josiah learned that he had a null value for marker 425, as did the other Colla surnames. In 2007 Josiah computed modal values for the DNA of the Three Collas and put it on Ysearch with the user ID of DURRQ. In June 2009, he started the Clan Colla Null 425 Project at FTDNA to attract Clan Colla descendants, encourage upgrades to the 67-marker test, and promote Clan Colla research. He is also an administrator of the Mag-Uidhir Clan Project. Josiah's DNA is kit #23171. His genetic distance from the 67-marker Colla Modal DNA is 9. He traces his Colla ancestry back to the eponymous Josiah McGuire, who was born in 1794 in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He has a McGuire family heritage website called A McGuire Family in America. Josiah lives in Indiana, USA. His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Peter Biggins. Peter had his DNA tested at FTDNA in 2008. When he realized with Josiah's help in May 2009 that he was descended from the Three Collas, he added this page on the DNA of the Three Collas to his genealogy website called PetersPioneers. In addition to the Clan Colla Null 425 Project, Peter is an administrator of the Breassal Breac Project, Biggins Project, the Carroll Project, the Ely Carroll Project, the Drueke Project, the Null 425 Project, the Roderick Project, the Middlessex Genealogical Society Project, and the DF21 Project. His DNA is kit #127469. His genetic distance from the 67-marker Colla Modal DNA is 6. Peter has traced his Colla ancestry back to Patrick Biggins (Beggan), who was born in 1807 in Ireland, possibly Drumgill, County Cavan (see Patrick Beggan of Drumgill). Peter lives in Connecticut, USA, where he is President of the Middlesex Genealogical Society. His email address is: email@example.com|
|Patrick McMahon. Patrick Ciaran McMahon had his DNA test at FTDNA in 2009. He is administrator of the McMahon Project at FTDNA as well as the Clan Colla Null 425 Project. In addition to being a fellow Colla descendant, Patrick spent his career working as a geneticist/operational analyst for the British Ministry of Defence. Patrick's DNA is kit #145687. His genetic distance from the 67-marker Colla Modal DNA is 4. Patrick has an advanced degree in genetics from Trinity College Dublin. He and his brother Eugene have traced their family back to Faolan MacMathghamhna (Felim/Phelan MacMahon), who lived in County Monaghan in the early 12th century (see 51 Generations: Colla to McMahon). Patrick also has done an in-depth analysis of McMahon DNA, Oriel and Thomand McMahon DNA, and Colla and Its Wider Diaspora. Patrick grew up in Hampstead Park, Glasnevin, Dublin, and now lives in Gorey, Ireland. His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org|
Thomas Roderick, 1930-2013. Thomas Roderick, one of the original producers of this webpage, died September 4, 2013. His obituary appeared in the Bangor Daily News. The following message was sent to participants in the Clan Colla DNA project at Family Tree DNA.
Tom Roderick, a fellow Colla descendant and one of our four Clan Colla project administrators, died September 4 at his home in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Tom had his DNA tested at FTDNA in 2003. He was administrator of the Roderick-Rhydderch Family Project at FTDNA in addition to the Clan Colla Null 425 Project.
Tom was a research geneticist and one of the original members of the international Human Genome Organization in 1988. He was on the Emeritus Staff at The Jackson Laboratory. He had a PhD in genetics from the University of California, Berkeley.
Tom was a member of the National Genealogical Society and had traced his Colla family back to Rhydderch Evan who was born circa 1700 in Llantrisant, Glamorgan, Wales.
Two years ago, Tom summarized his views on our project:"The Clan Colla Null 425 Project stems from the discovery that in haplogroup R1b1a2a1a1b4 there is a single subset carrying a null at DYS 425 and probably unique or nearly unique values at 2 or 3 other loci. What is important is that this haplotype clearly is associated with only one grouping of Irish clans and surnames, each of which by historical records emanates from The Three Collas, a successful aggressive clan flourishing 300-400 AD. We are looking for evidence that this null is associated with other families with different ancestry and as yet have not definitively found it. This gives us an estimate of the time of the mutation to the null a little before 300 AD."From the other markers, we find (using 67 Y markers) the genetic distances among the Colla Group and Colla Modal DNA range between 1 and 11, and have an average of 6. Of the 232 people, 218 or 94% of the group have a genetic distance of 3 to 9."These data are consistent with our estimate of the timing of the null mutation."One great advantage of this grouping is that it is well defined molecularly, therefore confined, small enough and yet old enough to make genealogical sense coordinating molecular and historical evidence. By more detailed analysis we can get better understanding of specific genealogical relationships among clusters of the several clans and many surnames."
Tom is in our prayers and our hearts go out to his wife Hilda and their family. He will be sorely missed by his fellow administrators.
- Peter Biggins, Josiah McGuire, Patrick McMahon
Some responses from project members:
Tom's DNA is still in our project. His kit is #8551. His genetic distance from the 67-marker Colla Modal DNA is 8. His SNPs can be seen on our BIG Y Tree.
|Date||Men with Clan Colla Y-DNA|
|Database||FTDNA Project||BIG Y Tree|
The Clan Colla 425 null project at Family Tree DNA is for men who have tested their Y-DNA at FTDNA and have, or are predicted to have, a particular kind of DNA called Z3000. Many men with this type of DNA have surnames associated with descendants of three Colla brothers who lived in fourth century Ireland.
Family Tree DNA has the largest DNA database in the field. For a look inside the FTDNA lab, see "A Visit to Family Tree DNA's State-of-the-Art Lab," written by Cece Moore in February 2013 based on a tour in November 2012.
Josiah McGuire started the Clan Colla 425 Null Project in June 2009 and serves as administrator of the project along with Patrick McMahon and Peter Biggins. The project is designed to attract Clan Colla descendants, encourage Y-chromosome DNA testing, and promote Clan Colla research.
The Clan Colla project is a haplogroup project. The haplogroup is named R-Z3000, which is a SNP common to those who have Clan Colla DNA or are cousins thereof. You can participate in multiple projects at FTDNA. You are encouraged to participate in your surname project and projects for haplogroups upstream of Z3000: R-L21 and R-DF21. There is no cost for being part of projects.
By testing the Y-chromosome DNA, males can determine the origin of their paternal line. Y-DNA goes back male to male to male, like surnames. If you are a female and would like to know about your paternal line, you would have to find a male relative from that line willing to be tested, such as your father, a brother, or a cousin.
The Testing Process. Here are the steps in the testing process for a new tester:
Requirements for Clan Colla DNA. You are considered to have Clan Colla DNA if you have the Z3000 SNP. If you have not tested for the Z3000 SNP, you are predicted to have Clan Colla DNA if you have STRs 511=9 and 425=0.
You can join the Colla project without this evidence. We will review your DNA testing. You will be told whether you have a chance of having Clan Colla DNA. If you have no chance, you will be removed from the project. If you meet our requirements, you will be placed in a subgroup. If you have less than 67 markers but have a chance of meeting our requirements with further testing, you may be placed in a special category for people with less than 67 markers.
Clan Colla Testing Alternatives. There are several alternative approaches to testing for Clan Colla DNA. We encourage you to contact a Clan Colla project administrator before deciding on a testing strategy. Having a Clan Colla surname is an indicator, but most Colla names have alternate origins. For example, there are Monaghan McMahons (Colla descendants) and Clare McMahons (not Colla descendants). But you don't have to have a Colla name because many surnames were probably never recorded in the histories.
|STRs 1-12||STRs 13-25||STRs 26-37|
FTDNA Test Results. FTDNA provides two kinds of test results: individual and public.
There are two kinds of markers for Y-chromosome DNA: STRs and SNPs.
STR Genetic Distance. FTDNA provides two kinds of test results: individual and public. Individual test results are shown on a tester's homepage called myFTDNA. One of the most important sections is Y-DNA Matches, which shows the tester's closest matches at each STR testing level. Included is the genetic distance between the tester and his closest matches. Genetic distance occurs because of mutations from one generation to another. If two people are identical in all STRs except they are off in one STR by 1 point, the genetic distance would be 1. If they were off at 2 different STRs by 1 point in each marker, then the genetic distance of those two samples would be 2. If they are off by 2 points at one STR and 1 point in a second STR, then the genetic distance would be 3. Genetic distance for certain STRs or STR groups is limited to 1. This method of computing genetic distance is called the hybrid mutation model. If an STR has a null value for one person and a positive value for another, the STR is ignored.
In addition to GDs for close matches, the Y-DNA Matches section shows the SNPs of matching Big Y-500 testers. These SNPs can predict where a tester would fall on the SNP tree if he were to do BigY-500.
FTDNA says a frequently asked question is "If two men share a surname, how should the genetic distance be interpreted?"
They say, for example, two testers with a GD of 0 at 67 STR markers are "Very Tightly Related." Best guess is that they share a common ancestor in three generations or less. "Very few people achieve this close level of a match." Two testers with a GD of 7 at 67 STR markers are "Probably Related," but no attempt is made to guess the number of generations.
Two testers with a GD of 0 at 111 STR markers are "Very Tightly Related." Best guess is that they share a common ancestor in two generations or less. Two testers with a GD of 7 at 111 STR markers are "Probably Related." Best guess is that they share a common ancestor in 11 generations or less.
Colla Modal and Key STRs. The study of Clan Colla DNA began with a preliminary modal DNA for relatively small number of people who had Colla names and the null value for marker 425. This modal DNA evolved into a modal DNA that was essentially the same as one established by Josiah McGuire in June 2009, based on data from the Colla DNA Project, under the user ID of DURRQ at Ysearch. This DURRQ Colla Modal DNA is now the one used in this study. Since June 2009 the database of people with Colla DNA has expanded and the modal has been recomputed. Each time, the modal has remained the same.
There are several over-represented families included in the database now. To assure that these were not skewing the data, the five largest surname groups were removed, and the modal was recomputed without them. The resulting modal, however, remained the same.
In June 2013, the modal was computed for STR markers 68 to 111 based on the FTDNA project members who had tested 111 markers. These values do not appear in DURRQ because Ysearch only accommodates 67 markers. The number who had tested 111 markers was, coincidentally, 111 people. The total number in the project, including those who had tested only 67 markers, was 241. Among the 111 who hade tested 111 markers, The modal values for markers 1 to 67 were the same as DURRQ.
The key STR markers expanded from 425=0 to 511=9 among the first 67 markers. The expansion to 111 markers brought two more key STR markers: 505=9 and 441=12. According to geneticist Patrick McMahon, "the probability of getting this combination of four markers by chance, rather than by inheritance, is as near to zero as makes no difference. The few exceptions can be easily accommodated and will probably still have three out of the four keys and similar very low probability of having arisen by chance."
Clan Colla Modal STRs
4 key markers are shaded tan. Red indicates more rapidly mutating markers.
4 Key STRs
A June 2013 study compared 4 key STRs for two groups who had tested 111 STRs at FTDNA: 111 people in the Clan Colla project and 104 people in the DF21 project (excluding Clan Colla). All in the Colla group had at least 3 key STRs. The "other DF21" had 1 at best. Below is the percentage distribution of values.
STRs 511=9. 96% of Colla are 9 (107 out of 111). Only 2% of the other DF21 are 9.
STR 425=0. 100% of Colla have the null value. Only 2% of the other DF21 have the null value.
STR 505=9. 99% of Colla are 9 (110 out of 111). The other 1 had a rare value of 10. None of the other DF21 is 9 or 10.
STR 441=12. 98% of Colla are 12 (109 out of 111). The other 2 are 11 and 13. 95% of the other DF21 are 13.
Genetic Distance from Modal STRs. The next step was to compute the genetic distance from Colla Modal STRs for each person in the study. Genetic distance occurs because of mutations from one generation to another. If two people are identical in all STRs except they are off in one STR by 1 point, the genetic distance would be 1. If they were off at 2 different STRs by 1 point in each marker, then the genetic distance of those two samples would be 2. If they are off by 2 points at one STR and 1 point in a second STR, then the genetic distance would be 3. Genetic distance for certain STRs or STR groups is limited to 1. This method of computing genetic distance is called the hybrid mutation model. If an STR has a null value for one person and a positive value for another, the STR is ignored.
Actual calculations were made using the FTDNA 111 Mode BETA version of the McGee Utility.
As of June 2011, there were 232 people included in the Colla Group. They have been included because their DNA has been found to match fairly closely with Colla Modal DNA. Of these 232, 148 were included in the Clan Colla 425 null project at Family Tree DNA. The rest have been by searching surname studies at FTDNA and through the use of Ysearch.
The genetic distance between the Colla Group and the 67-STR Colla Modal ranges between 1 and 11, and averages 6. Of the 232 people, 219 or 94% of the group have a genetic distance of 3 to 9.
Distribution of people by genetic distance from Colla Modal STRs. For example, it shows that 40 people have a genetic distance of 4 from the Colla Modal.
There are 26,796 possible comparisons among the 232 people: n*(n-1)/2, where n is the number of people. The genetic distances for these pairs range between 0 and 21. The average is 9.9. The total of such genetic distances up to 7 is 4,937, or 18% of the total possible matches. So, the matches that Colla people see are probably all fellow Collas, but only 18% of the total. If FTDNA were to raise the limit to 10, people would see 57% of the total possible matches, but they might also see some non-Colla matches.
Distribution of genetic distances in STRs among participants. For example, it shows that 232 people have 2,161 genetic distances of 7 among themselves.
FTDNA shows each participant his 67-STR matches up to a genetic distance of 7 on his homepage. And it allows participants to restrict the showing of their matches to the people in their surname project. The theoretical 67-marker match experience (within a genetic distance of 7) varies considerably by individual, from 1 to 145. The average is 43. The person with 145 theoretical matches has only 94 showing on his homepage at FTDNA because some participants restrict display of their matches to the people in their surname project. Another person has a theoretical 33 but actually sees only 25 because of the restrictors. Yet another person has a theoretical 55 but actually sees only 45 because of the restrictors.
Scattergram of genetic distance from Colla modal and number of matches up to -7 for 232 people. For example, there is one person who has a genetic distance of 4 from the Colla modal and has 27 matches with genetic distance of 7 or less. Another with a GD of 4 has 105 matches.
As indicated above, the genetic distance between the Colla Group testers and the 67-STR Colla Modal DNA ranges between 1 and 11. The table below shows the percentage ditribution of genetic distances at 67 markers and for lesser markers.
|Percentage Distribution of 232 Colla Participants by Genetic Distance|
First sketch of the deoxyribonucleic acid double-helix pattern in 1953 by Francis Crick.
Until it was stopped in 2019, a special test, called the DYF371X test, was offered for those who have the null value for marker 425.
A Null 425 DNA project was set up in 2008. As of January 1, 2014, the DYF371X test had been done for 51 members of the Clan Colla project: 49 have subvalues of 10c-12c-13c-14c and two (closely related) have a variant of 10c-12c-14c-14c. Of the 51, 31 had joined the Null 425 project.
As indicated by the Null 425 DNA project and the DF21 project, there are several people with DF21 DNA who have the null 425 but are not Clan Colla. They are missing the other three key markers: 511=9, 505=9, and 441=12. They have 67-marker genetic distances of 19-20 from the Clan Colla modal instead of 1 to 11, the range for Colla members. They do not have Colla names: Denman, Furgeson, McCloud. Like Clan Colla, they have DYF371X subvalues of 10c-12c-13c-14c. One, McCloud, has tested for Z3000 and is negative.
There have been people who match the Colla Group but do not have a null value for marker 425. According to FTDNA, the null 425 can be very difficult to identify. When one of these cases arises, FTDNA has retested, and the null value is finally identified.
The event which causes the null 425 result is a Recombinational Loss of Heterozygosity (recLOH). This type of mutation is more frequent than a SNP mutation, but less frequent than a STR mutation. It is very unlikely that a null value would ever be reversed.
Although the null 425 is fairly rare, there are groups other than Clan Colla that have the null 425. As of January 2014, there were 29 of these groups identified in the Null 425 DNA project. The major ones are shown in the table below.
from 67-Marker Haplogroup Modal
|DYF371X||DYF371X Variants||FTDNA Project|
|R-L21, DF21, Z3000, Clan Colla||341||6.1 (1-15)||10c-12c-13c-14c||10c-12c-14c-14c||Clan Colla 425 null project|
|I-M223, M284 "Isles"||241||11.7 (1-36)||10c-10c-13c-13c||10c-12c-12c-12c||R-M223 project|
|R-U106, L48, Z326||56||12.6 (5-19)||10c-10c-13c-14c||10c-10c-13c-13c
The following pointers will help to navigate the Clan Colla Big Y SNP Tree shown in the window below.
About the Tree. The tree shows Y-chromosome SNPs of Clan Colla Big Y testers. Big Y is a Y-chromosome testing program offered by Family Tree DNA since 2014. It identifies a man's SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) and compares those SNPs with other men it has tested. The Clan Colla Big Y SNP Tree includes the SNPs of all Clan Colla members who have been tested under the Family Tree DNA Big Y program, which tests a large part of the Y-chromosome.
The tree is based on FTDNA's Big Y Block Tree, which is accessible by each Big Y tester from his homepage at FTDNA. The FTDNA Big Y Block Tree is modified to reflect the analysis on the Z3000 portion of Alex Williamson'sBig Tree. Alex has found or accepted SNPs that FTDNA does not:
For Alex Williamson's Big Tree, testers have downloaded their raw results from their FTDNA homepage. The raw results are then uploaded to James Kane's Y-DNA Data Warehouse (prior to October 2017, Big Y file in the L21 Yahoo Group). Testers agree to making their results public on the Big Tree. Alex compares a tester's SNPs with other testers and puts him on his Big Tree based on shared SNPs. We owe Alex Williamson a debt of gratitude for producing his Big Tree and including us in it. Alex has the DNA of a group called the Little Scottish Cluster.
FTDNA maintans a tree as part of its Haplotree & SNPs, which is accessible by each tester from his homepage at FTDNA. See: Z3000 portion of the FTDNA tree as of July 14, 2019.
Michael Sager of FTDNA maintans a Public Y-DNA Haplotree. Tester surnames are shown if two or more kits allow public project profile sharing and have the same surname spelling. Learn about the tree at: Public Y-DNA Haplotree
For a summary of Big Y, see the FTDNA Big Y Q&A.
SNPs are either named or unnamed.
Advantages of the Tree. There are several major advantages of Big Y for Clan Colla.
Before BIG Y, we identified Clan Colla DNA with four key STR marker values: 511=9, 425=0, 505=9, 441=12. The first two became known in 2006, when 67 STR markers became available. The second two became known in 2011 when 111 markers became available. We also have Clan Colla modal DNA, which Josiah McGuire started in 2007. And, since 2012, we know that all Collas have the DF21 SNP. We are thankful for all that. But we knew it would be better if we had a SNP downstream of DF21 that specifically identified Clan Colla DNA.
Past efforts to find a Clan Colla SNP had failed. Bart O'Toole (N57121) participated in Walk Through the Y (WTY) at FTDNA in 2009. Bart, as well as Carroll (N71810), Conly (263699), Henretty (285468), McGuire (319027), McMahon (N83765), and Smith (83132) participated in Geno 2.0 at National Geographic (tested by FTDNA) in 2012-13. But no SNPs were found downstream of DF21.
Ordering Big Y. On your FTDNA personal page, if you have not ordered Big Y, you should see Big Y on the left side under the list of your projects. Click on "Learn More" to read more about Big Y or order it. The Clan Colla project has a General Fund that contains money available to those who need it for Big Y testing. The money has been contributed by project members.
FTDNA has reduced the price of Big Y several times and has had sales two or three times a year.
Clan Colla General Fund. The Clan Colla General Fund was started in June 2014 to help members defray the cost of Big Y. If you need an additional incentive beyond those provided by FTDNA sales and coupons, Clan Colla project administrators can provide an additonal $50 from the General Fund as long as funds are available. You contribute the cost of Big Y, less $50, to the General Fund. Then, the project administrator buys Big Y for you using the extra $50 from the General Fund. Check with Project Administrators in advance to be sure funds are available.
Any contributions to the Clan Colla General Fund to help other members are most welcome.
Z3000 SNP Pack. In October 2015, FTDNA introduced a Z3000 SNP pack based on Clan Colla Big Y testing results. The SNP pack is for those who have not done Big Y and have no intention of doing so. The cost is $119.
Ordering Single SNPs. Individual SNP tests for a number of Clan Colla SNPs are offered by FTDNA for $39 per SNP. These SNPs were discovered through BIG Y are in bold on the BIG Y tree above. These SNPs confirm that one has Clan Colla DNA, but they do not tell you where you fall downstream of those SNPs on the BIG Y tree. The cost of one SNP is much less than BIG Y, but it may or may not be more economical.
ScotlandsDNA. The first Colla to receive his BIG Y results was Carroll N41845. Results were posted on February 27. In March 2014, Alex Williamson analyzed these results and found that 8 new SNPs were the same as new SNPs found by ScotlandsDNA using Chromo2, published in February 2014 for 7 anonymous people. ScotlandsDNA did not realize, however, as Alex did, that people with these SNPs are descended from Clan Colla.
The 8 SNPs found in common for Carroll N41845 and the 7 Chromo2 testers are: S951, S954, S957, S964, S966, S967 S968, S3862. These are all Z3000 equivalents.
The Z3000 SNP for Clan Colla is descended from three well-known SNPs: M269, L21, and DF21.
Map of Colla SNPs by SNP Tracker, as of June, 2020.
Any tester with Clan Colla DNA who has tested STRs but has not done SNP testing is predicted by FTDNA to have the M269 SNP. The M269 SNP is the most common European haplogroup, greatly increasing in frequency on an east to west gradient. Its prevalence in Poland is estimated at 22.7%, compared to Wales at 92.3%. See: Haplogroup R-M269. A real rough estimate of the year M269 was born is 4400 BC, based on the YFull R1b Tree as of October 2018. M269 is descended from M343, which is also refered to as the R1b haplogroup. There is an M343 Project at FTDNA.
M269 Eastern Europe (4400 BC)|
L23 Eastern Europe (4100 BC)
L51 Eastern Europe (3700 BC)
P310/P311/L52 Central Europe (3600 BC)
L151 Central Europe (2800 BC)
|S1200||U106 Germanic||P312 Western Europe (2676 BC)|
Z290 Western Europe (2632 BC)
Gallic & Iberian
|L48 (2700 BC)|
|L21/S145 Atlantic Celtic (2587 BC)|
|DF13/S521 (2145 BC)|
Whelan, Phelan, Brazile
|DF49, DF23, Z2961||L1335/S530
Hy Maine Kelly
Niall of the Nine Hostages
The DF21 SNP is downstream of L21. The first Clan Colla member tested positive for DF21 in August 2011. All Clan Colla descendants are expected to have the DF21 SNP. Other groups also have the DF21 SNP--perhaps 10 percent of all those with the L21 SNP. The DF21 SNP was discovered by an anonymous researcher using publicly available full-genome-sequence data, including the 1000 Genomes Project data. The DF in DF21 is taken from DNA-Forums.org, a now-defunct genetic genealogy community. (DF21 is known as S192 in some testing organizations.)
|DF21/S192 (2093 BC)|
|FGC3213 (2055 BC)||S971 (1928 BC)
Z16267 (1865 BC)
|Z30233 (2071 BC)||S5488 (1498 BC)|
McCarthy (542 AD)
Little Scottish Cluster (100 AD)
County Galway (550 BC)
Ferguson (576 AD)
DF5/S191 (1490 BC)
|Rathlin Man 1
|Z16294 (1259 BC)||S7200 (1428 BC)||L1336 (675 AD)|
|FGC23381 Harbour, Rudelli, McDonald (1034 BC)||Z3000/S951|
|CTS3655/S3787 (1204 BC)||L1403
Seven Septs of Laois (1028 BC)
Ó Catháin (1511 BC)
|FGC15498 (940 BC)||Z16291
Ely Carroll (788 BC)
Duffy, Corcoran (578 AD)
Clan Chattan? (136 AD)
|S6003 (1314 BC)|
L21 Yahoo Group. The L21 Yahoo Group has been set up to serve as a forum for those interested in DF21 and other SNPs downstream of L21.
DF21 Web Site. Charles Fueston, coordinator of the DF21 project at FTDNA, provides information about DF21 SNPs and resources on his DF21 Web Site.
The following table compares various groups with DF21 DNA along with other groups with L21 DNA. Based on very rough estimates, these groups constitute 50% of L21.
|Subgroup Name||% of
|FTDNA Project||SNP or Unique Marker||Comments|
|Clan Colla||5%||Clan Colla project, DF21 project||SNP S971|
47th marker 511=9
48th marker 425=0
76th marker 505=9
91st marker 441=12
|See Clan Colla DNA Study above. This subgroup has a number of surnames historically associated with Clan Colla, including McDonald, McGuire, Carroll, McKenna, McMahon, Boylan, Duffy, Kelly, MacDougall. All who have been tested have the DF21 SNP, a subclade of L21 that includes other groups.|
|Ely Carroll||1%||Ely Carroll project, DF21 project||SNP S5488|
66th marker 492=11
|See Ely Carroll DNA. Modal based on people with surnames that Irish history says are descended from Ely O'Carrolls: Carroll, Bohan, Dooley, Meagher, Kelly, Murphy, Flanagan, O'Keefe, Redmond. One of the Carrolls is descended from the Carrolls of Carrollton. John O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees; or, the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation describes the relationship between the Ely Carrolls and the Carrolls of Carrollton on page 75. See also the Ely Carroll Yahoo Group maintained by Martha Bowes. All who have been tested have the DF21 SNP, a subclade of L21 that includes other groups.|
|CTS3655||1%||DF21 project||SNP CTS3655|
106th marker 643=9
|Modal based on 25 people with the CTS3655 SNP from England and Scotland, including Reynolds, Grant, Moore, and Montgomery.|
|Seven Septs of Laois||1%||DF21 project||SNP L1403|
106th marker 643=9
|Modal based on 21 people with the L1403 SNP. Descended from the "Seven Septs of Laois," with Devoy, Lawlor, Moore, Kelly, Dolan and other surnames.|
|Z16256||1%||Z16526 project||SNP Z16256||Modal based on people with the Z16256 SNP. The SNP is a subclade of DF21, which is a subclade of L21. Includes McCarthy, one of the leading septs of Munster, displaced at the Invasion to Cork and Kerry. The Muskerry branch were seated at Blarney Castle.|
|Little Scottish Cluster||5%||Little Scottish Cluster project, R-DF21 project||SNP S190|
22nd marker 464a=13
42nd marker 590=9
|Three people have tested positive for SNPs S190 and S424. Testing of the SNP is not yet available at Family Tree DNA. The most common are Hall, Kilgore, McCorcle, Sloan, Boggs, and Williamson. This cluster's origin may well be in the vicinity of Stirlingshire, Scotland, about 900 to 1200 years ago. See the Little Scottish Cluster website.|
|L1336||<1%||DF21 project||SNP L1336||Modal based on 12 people with the L1336 SNP from Ireland, including O'Rourke and Moore.|
|Clan Chattan?||<1%||DF21 project||SNP L720||Modal based on 10 people with the L720 SNP from Scotland, including MacIntosh. These people may be descendants of Clan Chattan.|
|Other L21 Subgroups|
|South Irish||4%||CTS4466 project, Eo´ganacht Septs project, Corca Laidhe project, South Irish project||SNP CTS4466|
67th marker 565=11
|Also referred to as Irish Type II. Descendants of the Eoghanachta, an Irish dynasty centered around Cashel which dominated southern Ireland from the 7th to the 10th centuries, and the Corca Laidhe, rulers of Munster until the early 7th century. See Tim Desmond and Kathleen Sullivan Kerwin. Surnames include Sullivan, McCarthy, O'Keefe, Donahue, Driscoll, Donovan, Coffey.|
|L226 Brian Boru||4%||R-Z253 project|
14th marker 459a=8
15th marker 459b=9
|See L226 Brian Boru DNA. Also referred to as Irish Type III. The SNP L226 has been found under the R-L21 project for Irish Type III, descendants of Brian Boru. This haplogroup originated in the counties of Clare, Tipperary and Limerick around the time of Brian Boru, who was born in circa 940 and died in 1014. This type also is called Dalcassian. Surnames include O'Brien, Casey, Hogan, Kennedy, O'Neill, McGrath, Lynch, McMahon, O'Dea, and Hearne. See the Irish Type III Website maintained by Dennis Wright, who also administers the L226 Project for FTDNA. In 2009, Dennis Wright wrote "A Set of Distinctive Markers Defines a Y-STR Signature for Gaelic Dalcassian Families.|
|Continental Irish||4%||R-Z253 project|
|Also known as Irish Type IV. National origins vary. James O'Shea estimates roughly 35% Irish, 30% English and Scottish, 10% German, 25% Other.|
|Irish Sea||4%||R-Z255 project||SNP Z255|
|Also known as Beatty-Byrnes. This profile is called the Leinster Modal, because early research showed that many families in Leinster in Ireland are members of the group. The group also appears to be plentiful in other parts of Ireland and Scotland, and there seem to be a number of English matches to the modal as well.|
|Scottish Cluster||15%||L1335 project||SNP L1335||Also referred to by some as Dalriada. This group is referred to as str47 'Pictish' by Alistair Moffat and James F. Wilson in their 2011 book The Scots, A Genetic Journey. In 2004, a Clan Donald press release said that they believed this group was Clan Colla. Clan Donald now calls this the R1b-L21 Red-Black subgroup and refers to it as "a very common L21+ group in Scotland." In addition to McDonald, the group includes Alexander, Campbell, Ferguson, McRae, Mitchell, Roberts, Rogers, Stewart, Templeton, Young. There is a genetic distance of 18 between the modals for this group and Clan Colla.|
|Hy Maine||<1%||DF49 project||SNP FGC6545|
49th marker 413a=21
51st marker 557=17
67th marker 565=11
|A Hy Maine Modal has been constructed based on FTDNA kits for 15 people with surnames that Irish history says are descended from Maine Mor who lived in Galway and Roscommon: Kelly, Madden, Traynor, Larkin. This subgroup had previously been thought of by some as related to Clan Colla. DNA testing has proven otherwise, as evidenced by the genetic distance of 18 between the modals for the two subgroups. In April 2013, one Kelly and one Traynor tested positive for SNP Z2961. This SNP, like M222, is downstream of DF23. In 1843, John O'Donovan discussed Hy Maine in The Tribes and Customs of Hy-Many, which included his translation of the Hy Maine portion of the Book of Lecan.|
|Niall||20%||M222 project||SNP DF23|
|Also referred to as Niall of the Nine Hostages and Northwest Irish. It had previously been identified in a Trinity College Study by a SNP called M222. This subgroup had previously been thought of by some as related to Clan Colla. DNA testing has proven otherwise, as evidenced by the genetic distance of 23 between the modals for the two subgroups. See Colla Versus Niall DNA. This was the original Irish type, so it should be called Irish Type I; but no one calls it that. For information on Niall of the Nine Hostages, see: The History of Ireland, by Geoffrey Keating (1569-1644), translated into English from the original Irish by John O'Mahony, 1857, pages 372 to 394. The Nine Hostages are explained on page 394. Surnames include Burns/Byrne, Cowan, Daugherty/Doherty, Ferguson, Ewing, McGonigal, Milligan, McLaughlin, O'Neill, and Wilson. David Wilson and John McLaughlin have a webpage at M222 Project. William E. Howard III and John McLaughlin have explored the DNA of Irish and Scottish surnames and possible ties to Niall in A Dated Phylogenetic Tree of M222 SNP Haplotypes.|
|Scottish Borders||3%||L513 project||SNP L513|
|Scottish and Irish located near the Irish Sea. Surnames include: Clendenen, Duff, Elliott, Kennedy, Little, McLain, Vance.|
|Airghialla 2||2%||L513 project, Airghialla Mag Uidhir project, McManus project||SNP L513|
|The Airghialla 2 subgroup was identified by Joseph Donohoe. See Two McGuire Septs. This subgroup consists of McGuires from the same general area as the McGuires of Clan Colla, but with different DNA. There is no historical record of two separate groups of McGuires. While this group has many McGuires, it does not have the large variety of other historical Colla surnames that Clan Colla has. Surnames in this subgroup are McGuire, McManus, Byrne, Corrigan, Donohoe, McCauley, Garvey, Plunkett, McCown. A number of people have been found to have the FGC9795 SNP. FGC9795 is a sublclade of L513, which in turn is a subclade of L21.|
The 67-marker modal DNAs of the subgroups listed above are shown in the following table.
The genetic distances among the 67-marker modal DNAs of the subgroups listed above range between 11 and 20 as shown in the following table. Calculations were made using the McGee Utility. The method of computing genetic distance is the hybrid mutation model. If a marker has a null value for one person and a positive value for another, the marker is ignored. So, the genetic distances between the Clan Colla modal and other modals ignore marker 425 and are a little low. As an example, see Colla Versus Niall DNA.
Using data prepared by Alex Williamson based on data from Michael Walsh in August 2012, Patrick McMahon has added data on Clan Colla and created the following graph showing the descendancy of many of the SNPs outlined in the table above. It shows, for example, that Clan Colla first appeared about 2000 years ago and DF21 first appeared about 3000 years ago. The arrows indicate measures of uncertainty. The numbers under the SNP are sample sizes and the labels indicate associated haplogroups (where known). The horizontal space is for separation of lines and labels.
DNA testing has verified some ancient Irish genealogies.
DNA testing has also corrected some ancient genealogical connections that had historically been thought to exist.
Patrick McMahon analyzed the geographic distribution of the members of the L21 project at FTDNA in January 2011 and made the following observation.
Assuming today's testers are a random sample, these results support the views put forward by many that the L21 SNP occurred somewhere north of the Alps (about 4,000 years ago) and the L21 population drifted Northwest over time concentrating in the western fringes of the British Isles mainly in Ireland. North of the Alps would most likely be Germany or France where the original (presumed) high numbers would over time be replaced by further waves of migrants or simply driven North by more advanced civilisations.
How they made their way to Ireland is open to conjecture. The shortest sea journey then (3,000 to 4,000 years ago) as now would be from France to Southern England. However, they could have made their way directly to Ireland from Brittany (or via Cornwall or Wales). The figures support the view that there was no significant migration towards the Eastern parts of Europe and only minor ones to Scandinavia and Spain with the main thrust through Northern France to Britain and Ireland. Archaeologists have termed these peoples (and the proto-Collas are part of this population) as 'Bronze-age' Britons.
For a good presentation of the origins, age, spread, and ethnic association of Europeans see Eupedia. Following is a haplogroup timeline taken from Eupedia. "ybp" is years before the present.
The descendants of the Three Collas share a common pattern of Y-chromosome DNA markers, and many have surnames mentioned in ancient genealogies as descending from the Three Collas. Not all people with Clan Colla surnames, however, have Clan Colla DNA. In the early days of Y-DNA testing, there was a tendency for people with Colla names to think that they were descended from Clan Colla just because they had a Colla name. For example, in 2004, a Clan Donald press release said that they believed a group of McDonalds (now called the Scottish Cluster) was Clan Colla. This turned out to be wrong. As more people with other Colla names tested their DNA, it became apparent that another somewhat smaller group of McDonalds was Clan Colla because their DNA matched up with people with other Colla surnames, such as, McMahon, McGuire, Carroll, etc. Of the 234 Collas in the Clan Colla project today, only 12, including one McDonald and two McMahon, had been tested at the time of the Clan Donald press release in 2004.
To verify that we have the right Clan Colla group, we have examined the variety of septs that exist within the surname projects that include the major Clan Colla surnames. On April 19, 2013, data was drawn from surname projects at Family Tree DNA that descendants of the Three Collas participate in. The people in those surname projects were categorized according to haplogroup based on their actual or projected haplotype. These categories indicate the variety of septs with the same or similar surname. The following table shows the distribution among various R haplogroup septs of people with the more common Colla surnames. The first four surnames are the most well-known Colla surnames: McDonald, McMahon, McGuire, and Carroll. Only four of the surnames have a majority in Clan Colla: McKenna, Calkins, Roderick, and Biggins. There are 158 Collas in the table, about half of the total Colla database of 319 as of April 19, 2013.
People with the More Common Colla Surnames Who Match the DNA of Various Septs67 Markers, April 2013 - click on the surname to see the underlying data
|L226 Brian Boru||R1b-L226||2||2||3||1||0||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Lord of the Isles||R1a-L176||84||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0|
Most people with Colla DNA are not the majority of those with their surname. In fact, the majority of people with Colla DNA are a minority of those with their surname. And, therefore, most people with Colla surnames do not have Colla DNA. The reason is that most Irish surnames appear in mutiple septs. For example, as shown above, there are McDonalds descended from Clan Colla, but there are also McDonalds descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages (Northwest Irish) and the Scottish cluster. There are many McDonalds in the R1b haplogroup for whom a sept has not been identified. There are 84 McDonalds in the R1a-L176 haplogroup descended from the Lord of the Isles. There are McGuires descended from Clan Colla, but there are also many Maguires descended from another unrelated sept in the Fermanagh area, called Airghialla 2.
There are several explanations for this phenomenon of multiple-sept surnames.
Donohue Study. In August 2009, Joseph A. Donohoe V (1941-2011) reported on the DNA of descendants of the Three Collas in his Breifne Clans DNA, Y-DNA reports BCP Report 5, Part 7 and BCP Report 5, Part 8. He independently identified the Clan Colla group that was identified by the Clan Colla project started by Josiah McGuire in June 2009. He called it Airghialla 1 because he was not sure it was Clan Colla. He said he was "not fully persuaded yet of the validity or applicability of the Colla tradition, particularly in view of the great number of traditionally Colla surnames not represented here." As part of his study, Joseph established a modal DNA for Airghialla 1 at Ysearch under the user ID of WHYAA. It is the same as the DURRQ modal used here.
To test the validity of Airghialla 1, Joseph came up with a second group called Airghialla 2. As part of his study, Joseph established a modal DNA for Airghialla 2 at Ysearch under the user ID of 9U5BW.
In comparing Airghialla 1 and 2 on page 184 of the report, Joseph says that Airghialla 1 "appears to have been prominent in the South Tyrone – North Monaghan area from the sixth century, if not earlier," while Airghialla 2 "rose to historical prominence later . . . in the ninth century." He concludes that Airghialla 1 "would appear to be the best candidate" to represent the DNA of the Three Collas.
Joseph himself is not Airghialla 1 or 2. He is a descendant of Niall of the Nine Hostages, also called R-M222 or Northwest Irish.
Both Airghialla 1 and 2 contain significant groups of McGuires. It is now gernerally accepted that Airghialla 1 is Clan Colla and Airghialla 2 is a separate group without a clan name. Airghialla 2 surnames include McGuire, McManus, Byrne, Corrigan, Donohoe, McCauley, Garvey, Plunkett, McCown. The DNA of Airghialla 1 and 2 is very different. Airghialla 1 has been found to have the DF21 SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism). Airghialla 2 has been found to have the FGC9795 SNP. FGC9795 is a sublclade of L513. Both DF21 and L513 are subclades of L21. There is a genetic distance of 21 between the 67-marker modals for Airghialla 1 and 2.
McGuire Projects. There are three McGuire projects at FTDNA. Patrick Meguire started the McGuire DNA project in June 2004. It focuses on McGuires whose ancestors lived in Colonial America. Josiah McGuire started the Mag-Uidhir Clan DNA project in April 2010. Brad McGuire started the Airghialla Mag Uidhir DNA project in October 2010.
Airghialla 2 Pedigree. There is a Charles Robert McGuire (kit #21228), whose ancestry has been traced back to the the McGuire "Junior Line" from Tempo, County Fermanagh. His DNA is clearly Airghialla 2 rather than 1. There are several sources that refer to this pedigree.
Peadar Livingstone. How do we explain the two different Airghialla 1 and 2 McGuires? One of the two Airghialla McGuire groups must have received their name through adoption or some other way at some point in the history of the McGuires.
Chapter 1 is about Early Fermanagh. It does not say that there were two Maguire clans, but it identifies two possible sources of the McGuires: the Fir Manach of Old Leinster and the Three Collas.
Chapters 3 and 4 cover the Middle Ages (500-1300) and the Maguire Years (1300-1589). Here Livingstone expresses uncertainty about the origin of the Maguires several times:
What would Peadar Livingstone say if he knew what we know today about the DNA of the Three Collas and people named McGuire and McManus? I think he would say that the McGuires with Airghialla 1 DNA have Oriel roots and are descended from the Three Collas. And he would say that the people with Airghialla 2 DNA are descended from the McGuires perhaps back to Donn Mor McGuire but have other roots such as Leinster Fir Manach or possibly Ultaigh. Other than that, he would have to say "we do not know who the earlier McGuires really were or where they came from."
Patrick Stephen Dinneen. In 1917, Patrick Stephen Dinneen translated into English a story written in Irish not long before the year 1716, which he thinks came originally from a McGuire family history by O'Luinan, chief chronicler to Maguire, who died in 1478. The 1917 translation is called The Maguires of Fermanagh.
The story is about the three surviving sons of Donn Mór Maguire:
Three Surviving Sons of Donn Mór Maguire
Adoptive: Donn Mór Maguire
|O'Donnell||A daughter of O'Neill|
|Donn Mór Maguire||Maghnus|
|Giolla 'Iosa||A daughter of O'Reilly|
The story is about Maghnus, who inherits the realm of his father but is disabled and loses the support of O'Flanagan and other chiefs. Maghnus asks his brother Giolla 'Iosa to help him regain the support of O'Flanagan and the other chiefs. Giolla 'Iosa seeks the aid of O'Donnell and the two of them together take O'Flanagan and the other chiefs to Maghnus and regain their support. Maghnus then passes on the Maguire realm to Giolla 'Iosa.
The story suggests that there might be two McGuire DNAs, but it does not explain Airghialla 1 and 2 DNA. Irish history and modern DNA indicate that O'Donnells are descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, not Airghialla 1 (Clan Colla). And, the story says that Donn Mór Maguire is descended from Clan Colla, but modern DNA says that McManuses are descended from Airghialla 2.
Y-chromosome DNA has confirmed ancient history relating to Clan Colla and other groups. It also has revealed areas where the history is wrong. One of the areas where the history has been proven wrong has to do with McDonalds who were Lord of the Isles.
In March 2004, the Clan Donald DNA project announced that an R1a Norse DNA identified "descendants of Somerled, ancestor to many MacDonalds, MacDougalls, and MacAllisters, including our Clan Chiefs." The R1a DNA that includes these Clan Chiefs is now generally accepted and is known as L176>YP326>CLD56. The only question is whether they descend from Somerled.
The histories say that the Lord of the Isle McDonalds are descended from Clan Colla through Somerled, his great great grandson Angus Og, and John of Islay. Testing has shown that descendants of Lord of the Isles McDonalds have R1a Norse DNA rather than R1b Clan Colla DNA. And, testing has shown that McDonald descendants of Angus Og's "brother" Alasdair Og have R1b Clan Colla ancestry. R1a and R1b split off from each other 25,000 years ago. These two brothers, who lived in the 13th/14th century, obviously had different fathers. Which one descended from Somerled? In other words, was Somerled R1a or R1b?
|Alasdair Og||Angus Og|
|Y-DNA SNPs||R1b: L21>DF21>Z3008>A938||R1a: L176>YP276>YP280>CLD56|
|Testers in February 2018||Clan Colla Project: 36||Clan Donald Project: 208|
BY3158 (STRs 19=15, 437=14, 534=17, 446=14)|
Clan Donald Project R1b Pale Violet
Clan Colla Project McDonald 1 subgroup
BY3249 (STRs 19=15, 534=17)
Clan Donald Project R1b Magenta-Black
Clan Colla Project McDonald 2 subgroup
|Clan Donald Project R1a -Black|
|Pedigrees||Clan Colla: 43 Generations: Colla to McDonald||Clan Donald: Descendants of Somerled|
As of February 2018, there were 36 McDonalds with Clan Colla R1b-A938 DNA (L21, DF21, Z3000, A938 SNPs) and 208 McDonalds with Norse R1a-CLD56 DNA (L176, YP326, CLD56 SNPs). The Clan Colla McDonalds are in two R1b subgroups: Pale Violet and Magenta-Black. They can be distinguised by their null value for marker 425. The Norse McDonalds are in 13 R1a subgroups with color names that end in Black.
The Clan Donald DNA project is one of the oldest and largest surname projects at FTDNA. The project administrator is Mark MacDonald, National Historian for Clan Donald U.S.A. The project co-administrator and webmaster is J. Douglas McDonald an Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois.
The Clan Donald DNA results for its R1b Pale violet subgroup includes what the Clan Colla project calls its McDonald 1 subgroup. There is no mention of the pedigree back to Alasdait Og as of February 2018. At one time, Clan Donald said "this group appears to all be descendants of Lt. Brian McDonald, chief line of Leinster and Ulster in Ireland who emigrated to Brandywine Creek Delaware in the late 1600s." But there was no mention that the line goes back to Alasdair Og.
The Clan Donald DNA results for its R1b Magenta-Black subgroup includes what the Clan Colla project calls its McDonald 2 subgroup. Clan Donald states that "signatures parallel to this group can be found among the McMahons of Fermanagh (one of the territories of ancient Oriel founded by the Collas who allegedly conquered Ulster around 330 AD)." Clan Donald says that its Pale violet subgroup is a subset of its Magenta-Black subgroup.
Two opposing positions on the ancestry of Somerled have been taken by Donald Schlegel and Clan Donald:
In his "The Origin of the Name Somhairle," Don Schlegel says that the Gaelic name Suairlech was used in Ireland and perhaps in Scotland before the Norse name Sumarlidi appeared; it was used primarily among the Dál Araidhe of what now is County Antrim. He says it is at least as likely, if not more likely, that the name Somerled came from the Gaelic name.
Clan Donald graciously admits that Donald Schlegel has done a "very persuasive analysis" of the Colla Irish lines in his book, The Ancestors of McDonalds of Somerset, and the portion of that book describing the Colla ancestry of Somerled is reproduced on the Clan Donald site.
A son or grandson of Somerled was Dugall, Lord of Lorne, from whom MacDougalls are said to descend. The MacDougall DNA project includes two Clan Colla descendants and one Norse descendant. One of the Clan Colla descendants, David MacDougall (FTDNA kit #21971), has an ancestor, Iain MacDhubhghaill, who is from Lorne according to an 1890 history of Christmas Island.
|20. Somerled, Thane of Argyll, the patriarch of this family, early in the 12th century acquired the Western Islands, by his marriage with Effrica, daughter of Olavus, King of Man; and assumed the designation of King of the Isles, which his successors held, independent of the Scottish Kings, for three generations; died in 1164.
21. Reginald, born about 1148 in Morven, Argyll, Scotland; 2nd Lord of the Isles; married Fiona Moray from Galloway; known as a benefactor of the Abbey of Paisley; credited with founding Cisterian Monastery; died in 1207 in Kinyre, Argyll, Scotland
|22. Dugall, Lord of Lorne, from whom MacDougalls are said to descend.||22. Donald, 3rd Lord of the Isles; married Princess Margaret Stuart, granddaughter of King Robert the Bruce; died in 1249|
|23. Angus Mór MacDonnell, first to use the surname of MacDomhnall; in 1256 King Henry III of England commanded his bailiffs and subjects in Ireland not to allow Angus Mor MacDonnell, or other Scottish males to be received in Ireland; married Campbell; died in 1301||23. Alasdair Mòr, considered to be the eponymous ancestor of Clan MacAlister.|
|24. Alasdair Og, Lord of the Isles from his father's death in 1301 to 1308, when he was deposed by his brother Angus Og
25.Somerled (Sorley) MacDonnell, died 1387
26.Marcus MacDonnell, commander of O'Connor's Galloglachs in 1388; died 1397
27.Charles Thurlough Mor McDonald, born in Antrim; acquired Tynekill Castle in Wicklow; died 1435
28.John Carrogh (Thirlough Oge) McDonald: his son; born in Leinster; died 1466 in Talbotstown, Wicklow
|24. Angus Og, Lord of the Isles from 1308, when he deposed his brother, until his death in 1330|
25. Randal (or Reginald)
27. John of Islay, Lord of the Isles.
|28. Alasdair Carrach; 1380-1443. Ancestor of MacDonell of Keppoch.||28. Donald; 1359-1423. Ancestor of MacDonald of Sleat.||28. Ranald; died in 1386. Ancestor of the MacDonald of Clanranald and Glengarry.||28. Eoin Mór; died 1427. Descendants include Donald Schlegel's McDonalds of Somerset.|
Colla DNA: R1b-Z3000>Z3006>Z3008>F4142The Clan Colla project includes 3 MacDougall descendants who have tested 67 markers. Included is David MacDougall (FTDNA kit #21971), has an ancestor, Iain MacDhubhghaill, who is from Lorne according to an 1890 history of Christmas Island.
Norse DNA: R1a-L176/YP326Clan Donald has a McDougal and a Dougall, but their testing has been limited. The MacDougall DNA project has a McDougal, FTDNA kit #172423, descended from William McDougal born in Scotland in 1781. He has the YP5543 SNP.
Colla DNA: R1b-Z3000>Z3006>Z3008>S953>ZZ2>ZZ14>A938These McDonalds share the Z3008 SNP with subgroups with many well-known Colla surnames, including McMahon, Hughes, Carroll, McQuillan, McDonald, McGuire, Boylan, Connolly, Hart, McKenna, Monaghan, Shannon, Higgins, Duffy, and Kelly
Norse DNA: R1a-CLD56Eight McDonalds with R1a-CLD56 DNA have traced their pedigrees back to John of Islay. Given the fact that the McDonald descendants of Alasdair Og have Z3000 DNA, along with many others with well-known Colla surnames, it would appear that a man with Norse ancestry was grafted at some point between Angus Og and John of Islay.
Unknown DNANo DNA tester has traced his ancestry back to Eoin Mor.
Norse DNA: R1a-CLD56The McAlister DNA project includes 5 Norse descendants who have tested 67 markers.
Don Schlegel reports that there are no documented McAlisters historically until long after the year 1400. All the McAlisters, both in Antrim and Kintyre, seem to descend from Alister Carrach, brother of Donnell Ballach of Duniveg and of Raghnall Bhan of Kintyre, sons of Eoin of Islay. Thus they would descend from Angus Óg.
Our study of the DNA of the Three Collas, who lived in the 4th century, is based on present-day Y-chromosome DNA and surnames from ancient pedigrees. It is not based on genealogies which show a paper trail from the 4th century to today. Patrick McMahon, a co-author of this Web page, identified a McDonald 1 subgroup of 22 Colla descendants including four who can trace their ancestry back to Lt. Brian McDonald (MacDonnell), born in 1645 in Arklow, County Wicklow, and thence to McDonnell of Antrim, Somerled, and Colla Uais. The subgroup has values of 14 for STR markers 437 and 446. The modal values for Clan Colla are 15 and 13. All who have tested for the BY3158 SNP have tested positive. Four of the McDonalds can trace their ancestry back to Colla Uais, who lived in the 4th century. The first to do this was Frank Everett McDonald, Jr., a retired dairy farmer from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. He was born there in 1926, had his Y-DNA tested in 2008, and died in 2014. His FTDNA kit is #133546. The genealogy of Frank Everett McDonald, Jr., was brought to our attention by Vaden McDonald, who is unrelated (Vaden has R1b-CTS4455 DNA). Since then, Elbert Leo "Mick" McDaniel III, a member of our McDonald 1 subgroup, has found three other McDonald testers who are fifth cousins of Frank, once or twice removed. Paul Duffy has provided valuable information on the McDonalds of Antrim and the McDonalds of Leinster. Donald Schlegel has been most helpful in connecting the Frank Everett McDonald's genealogy with Colla Uais.
37. John McDonald. Born 1679 in Wicklow. Moved in 1689 to New Castle, DE. Married Mary Robinson. Moved to Big Springs, Cumberland County, PA. Died 1762
38. John McDonald. Born 1719 in Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle, DE, Married Mary Thompson. Moved to Cumberland County PA, then to Old Augusta County VA, and finally to Fayette County, PA. Died 1786
39. Isaac McDonald, Born 1742 in Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle, DE, Married Mary Middlecoff. Settled in Fayette, PA. Died 1797
40. Abner McDonald. Born 1792 in Fayette, PA, Married Sarah Sutton. Died 1845
41. Abner McDonald. Born 1828 in Fayette, PA. Married Cecelia Smith. Died 1874
42. Eugene Spencer McDonald, Born 1855 in WI. Married Sabina R. Steuert, Died 1926
43. Guy Steuert McDonald. Born 1880 in WI. Married Mabel Grace Wright. Died 1961
44. Guy Kenneth MacDonald. Born 1909 in WI, Married Margaret Haner. Died 1992
45. Donald Wright MacDonald, FTDNA kit #890080. Big Y SNP BY3158
|37. Bryan II McDonald. Born 1686. Moved in 1689 to New Castle, DE. Married Catherine Robinson in 1715, and had five sons and four daughters. The sons were: 1. Richard, born 1716; 2. James, born 1718; 3. Edward, born 1720; 4. Joseph, born 1722; 5. Bryan, born 1732. The daughters were: 1. Rebecca, born 1724; 2. Catherine, born 1727; 3. Mary, born 1730; 4. Priscilla, born 1734. Moved, about 1745, to Augusta Co. (Botetourt Co. after 1770), Virginia. Died 1757|
|38. Joseph McDonald. Born 1722 in Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle Co., Delaware; married Elizabeth Ogle. American Revolutionary War Veteran. Left Boutecourt County and settled in Draper's Meadows on Toms's Creek, near Blacksburg, Montgomery County, Virginia. Died 1809||38. Bryan McDonald III. Born 1732 in Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle Co., Delaware. Married Susannah Ogle in 1752 in Wilmington, Delaware. Died 1777 in Buffalo Creek, Botetourt County, Virginia.
39. George McDonald. Born 1767 in Buffalo Creek, Augusta Co. (Botetourt Co. after 1770), Virginia; married Ruth (Davis) Owen in 1803. Died 1815 in Botetourt County, Virginia
40. Edward McDonald. Born 1812 in Montgomery County, Virginia; married Catherine Sesler. Died 1882 in Montgomery County, Virginia. Edward and brother George lived on Father's farm at McDonald's Mill near Blacksburg, Montgomery County, Virginia. They were farmers, millers (established the first grist mill at McDonalds Mill) and ran a tan yard for hides and leather
41. George Thomas McDonald. Born 1839 in Craigs Creek, Montgomery, Virginia. Married Matilda Jane McCulloch in 1875.
42. Frank Everett McDonald. Born 1895. Married Carolyn Bush in 1920 in Vinton, Roanoke Co, Virginia. Died 1987.
43. Frank Everett McDonald, Jr. Born 1926. Married Betty Jean Verna in 1951. Died 2014. FTDNA kit #133546
|39. Bryan McDonald of Montgomery, Virginia. Born 1757. Married Mary Bane. Died 1802||39. William McDonald of Montgomery, Virginia. Born 1765. Married Ursula Huff. Died 1828.|
40. Dr. Jonathon McDonald of Virginia and Alabama, Born 1806. Married Mary Briggs Malone. Died 1866.
41. Thomas James McDonald of Alabama. Born 1836. Married Margaret Simpson. Died 1903.
42. Joseph Simpson McDonald of Alabama. Born 1883. Married Eva Looney. Died 1941.
43. Kyle Wesley McDonald of Alabama. Born 1908. Married Lucile Hacker. Died 1975.
44. William H. McDonald, FTDNA kit #617821. Big Y SNP BY3158>A14093
|40. Bryan McDonald of Virginia. Born 1784, Married Rebecca Hoofman. Died 1863.
41. Howard H. McDonald of Virginia. Born 1826. Married Elvira Hambrick. Died 1865.
42. James Duget McDonald of Virginia. Born 1863. Married Nancy Myrtle Artrip. Died 1947.
43. James Howard McDonald of Virrginia. Born 1904. Died 1979.
44. Bobby L. McDonald. Born 1928. Died 1985.
45. James L. McDonald, FTDNA kit #367328. Big Y SNP BY3158>A14093
|40. John Edward McDonald of Virgina. Born 1800. Married Elizabeth Henderson. Died 1861.|
41. Bolivar "Bud" McDonald of West Virginia. Born 1842. Married Mary Magdalene Gartin. Died 1926.
42. Lewis Scott McDonald of West Virginia. Born 1870. Married Mary Elizabeth Neely. Died 1960.
43. Orville Clyde McDonald of West Virginia. Born 1911. Married Irene Hester Mooney. Died 1986.
44. Orville Edward McDonald, FTDNA kit #38885
|Generation 38. House and cornerstone: "Bryan McDonald 1766." 4084 Catawba Road, Troutville, Botetourt County, Virginia. Source: Virginia Department of Historic Resources.|
Other Sources. See also
McDonald 1 Subgroup. The following table contains information on the DNA of the McDonald 1 subgroup. We are indebted to one of the members, Elbert Leo "Mick" McDaniel III, who has assisted fellow members in their genealogical research. Mick has more detail in his Bryan McDonnell Descendants. All have or are are predicted have the SNP BY3158/A939. All have STRs 437=14 and 446=14, instead of the Colla modal of 437=15 and 446=13.
Clan Colla, McDonald 1 Subgroup (Clan Donald, Pale Violet Subgroup)
Inferences for Other S953 Subgroups. Ancient ancestors of the McDonald 1 subgroup are probably shared by testers in certain Colla subgroups. We do not know what ancestors were born with what SNPs, but we can make a guess.
|Pedigree and Known Year||SNP, Roughly Estimated Year, and Subgroups|
Z3008: 408. McDonald 1 subgroup and all other descendants of the Three Collas|
S953: 478. McDonald 1 subgroup and all descendants of Colla Uais
ZZ13: 503. Subgroups McDonald 1, McDonald 2, King, Martin, McGuire 1, Boylan/Donohoe, Larkin Type 15a, Biggins, McAuley
A938: 718. Subgroups McDonald 1, McDonald 2, King, Martin
BY3158/A939: 1252. Only McDonald 1 subgroup
A14093: 1314. Subset of McDonald 1 subgroup
Our study of the DNA of the Three Collas, who lived in the 4th century, is based on present-day Y-chromosome DNA and surnames from ancient pedigrees. The most populous surname among Clan Colla testers is McMahon. There are many different Y-DNA groups of testers with the name McMahon or variants thereof. McMahons with Clan Colla DNA are the largest group of McMahons. See: McMahon FTDNA Project and McMahon Project Review.
Two of the McMahons with Clan Colla DNA can trace their ancestry back to one of the Three Collas, Colla da Crioch, who lived in the 4th century. Both have done Big Y and have the SNPs A77>Z16280>BY115195. They have a Y-67 STR genetic distance of 2.
Genealogy of Nadsluaig of the Ui Cremthainn 
 In its heyday, the Ui Cremthainn territory comprised the Clogher Valley in Tyrone, all of Co. Fermanagh east of the Erne and south of Ervinestown, Dartrey (partly in Monaghan and partly in Fermanagh) and the territory of Clann Nadsluaigh or Fir Fernmhaighe.
The Clann Nadsluaig and the Fir Fernmhaighe were centred on Loch Uaithne, in North Monaghan, a few miles east of Clones. However, by 1050, the evidence indicates that they had also established themselves in South Monaghan.
 The Ui Cremthainn kings were taken from various branches, e.g Clann Ceallaigh, Sil Duibhthire and Clann Nadsluaig. As a semi-political entity, it began to slowly disintegrate after 800 A.D. and eventually seems to have been confined to Clann Ceallaigh.
 A parallel branch also descended from Fogarthach are now referenced as Fir fernmhaighe.
 A possible insertion point for the A77 SNP mutation is here or in previous generations. Brian Mor’s son Ardghall produced 12 sons and one of these, Rory Mor, had 16 sons. This would have generated a large number of parallel lineages all carrying the A77 SNP accounting for the large number of McMahon testers who have the A77 SNP.
47. James McMahon born c.1795, married Anne Cahill, died c.1870
48. William McMahon, born in 1819, married Jane Monaghan in 1851, lived in Maio/Trohanny, Co. Meath, died in 1900
49. Patrick McMahon, born in 1868, married M. Farrelly in 1901, died in 1952
50. Eugene McMahon, born in 1904, married F. Doyle, died in 1978
51. Patrick Ciaran McMahon, born in 1937, FTDNA kit 145687. Big Y SNPs A77>Z16280>BY115195
47. Thomas McMahon, born 1802, married Mary Carolan in 1856
48. Peter McMahon, born in 1861, emigrated to Canada, married Mj Downey
49. John J. McMahon, born in 1898, died in 1972
50. Peter E. McMahon, born in 1926, died in 2007
51. Peter Joseph McMahon, born in 1947, FTDNA kit N174002. Big Y SNPs A77>Z16280>BY115195
Sources. Any genealogy that goes back 16 centuries is not going to be as solid as one that goes back two or three centuries. Nevertheless, we think the attempt is worthwhile. You can judge for yourself. Sources are as follows.
Inferences for Other Z16274 Subgroups. Ancient ancestors of Patrick and Peter McMahon are probably shared by testers in certain Colla subgroups. We do not know what ancestors were born with what SNPs, but we can make a guess.
|Pedigree and Known Year||SNP, Roughly Estimated Year, and Subgroups|
Z3008: 407. McMahon 1 subgroup and all other descendants of the Three Collas|
Z16276: 582: Subgroups McMahon 1, Curby/Olds, Hughes 1, Hughes 2, Carroll 2, Flynn/Thomson, Murphy, Clarke, McQuillan
Z16278: 696. Subgroups McMahon 1, Curby/Olds, Hughes 1, Hughes 2, Carroll 2, Flynn/Thomson, Murphy, Clarke
Z16277: 1029, Subgroups McMahon 1, Curby/Olds, Hughes 1, Hughes 2, Carroll 2
Z16272/5: 1229. Subgroups McMahon 1, Curby/Olds, Hughes 1
A77/Z16280: 1402. Only McMahon 1 subgroup
More on McMahon DNA. In his McMahon DNA, Patrick McMahon analyzes the DNA of other McMahons who have tested their DNA. Patrick administers for the McMahon surname project for FTDNA.
In the introduction to his paper on The Colla Phylogenetic Tree, Patrick McMahon explains that he has drawn together "the considerable amount of SNP and STR data that has accumulated over the last few years with respect to the Colla population. Most recently, testing for SNPs has been encouraged using the advanced Big-Y tests (by FTDNA), targeted ‘Pack’ tests and single SNP tests. This has enabled the construction of inheritance Trees such as the one by Alex Williamson and the FTDNA Haplotree.
"Separately and over a much longer period, STR data has been accumulating. These two (mutational) systems operate independently of each other to produce two separate data sets, the STR one defining members of the Colla population and membership of the Clan Colla 425 Null Project. As only about 27% of STR testers partook of SNP testing, the aim of this work was to populate/expand the resultant SNP Tree with STR data to determine the most likely clades for the majority of Project members.
"This is an attempt to draw together the various findings collected to date (July 2018) on descendants of Clan Colla. All ancient genealogical data has been ignored, other than when the Colla brothers were thought to have lived and arrived in Ulster. I have concentrated solely on the DNA profiles and tried to rationalise their inheritance patterns and relationships. Surnames while confirmatory in many instances were not the main influence in determining groupings."
The paper is at: The Colla Phylogenetic Tree Paper.
An Excel workbook is at: The Colla Phylogenetic Tree Workbook.
Peter Biggins speaking at the 2011 FTDNA Conference. Photo by Steve Danko.
Peter Biggins, in collaboration with Thomas Roderick, made a presentation on the Clan Colla Project on November 6, 2011, at Family Tree DNA's 7th Annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy in Houston, Texas. The presentation concluded with the following summary:
The presentation was based on a database of 259 men with Clan Colla DNA as of November 2011. See Summary Report, November 2011.