Question of the Week: Do you have Irish Roots?

+87 votes

Éirinn go Brách!

It's March! Celebrate your Irish heritage and tells us about your ancestors!

You might also stop by and visit the Irish Roots project to see how you can help.

in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (383k points)
I'm not sure but my powers ancestors from Vermont might have been but I can't get that far back without some help
I am nearly 1/2 Irish & have been unable to get past my great grandmother.  My grandmother's family was from Miltown Malbay & my grandmother grew up in the Ennistimon Workhouse because she was illegitimate.  Six years & no further.  Too many adoptions & in my family to figure anything out.
1/8 Irish via Skehan & Hooley from Cappawhite who immigrated to California during the gold rush.  Intermingled with Cornish miners (1/4) & English farmers (1/8) in the first half of 1900’s.  Volga Germans (1/2) were added to the family tree in the 1960’s to the family tree.

I like to join the Irish Google Group I put in request from google groups. I like to join the Irish project. this family suppose to be from Ireland. I believe his father was from Ireland. Only reason I believe his father is from Ireland is because his one set of grandparents are German Origins. The Family is found in Lewisburg Pennsylvania. Is there anyway to find out this mans Father from Irish immigrant records or families in area ?


I'm also trying to find out if my Powers ancestors in Vermont originally came from Ireland. How can I find out?
The least amount of info I have in my tree is my great grandfather Mathew O'Connor. He died Aug 14 1896 in Fremont Nebraska he was 61. I don't have a date of birth or where he was born, I believe he immigrated from Ireland. His parents names were Patrick O'Connor and Agnes Fardle. That's all the info I have on them. Mathew's  wife was Ellen Martley, her ancestors came from Ireland to Nebraska via Quebec.

Carolyn - Family Search GSRG-XDJ says he was born in Ireland about 1837.It also shows Patrick & Agnes as born/died in Ireland. Hope that helps!

I know, I added that to Family Search. Thanks.
I have Irish roots but unfortunately that’s where there’s a big wall as well.

I also have what they call scotch Irish as well that I have to look further into.
My 5th great-grandfather was Richard Ellis. He was born in Dublin in 1704, his father was a native of Wales. His arrival date varies upon the source (1717, 1733, 1745) to Massachusetts. He married after he arrived in America. He might be my only Irish ancestor.

I always wondered whether I carried a recessive gene for red hair. I seem to recall one of the testing companies indicated that I do. Perhaps it was from the Irish.

108 Answers

+28 votes
I do a lot of research to find documents that connect people in Ireland. Can I join the Irish roots project please? Thanks!
by Sheila x G2G6 Mach 3 (32.4k points)
Hi Sheila and welcome again to the Irish Roots Project !!
@Sheila X I would so love your help solving the mystery of ancestors in Ireland (some are dead end once I get back there, and others are a dead end in Pennsylvania (listed as being from Ireland). Many are Scots origins but finding that many are Irish as well.
Calista Massey,

I have the same problem with my ancestors in Ireland who emigrated to America in 1811. The are Hunters from Ulster (County Tyrone). I could also use Sheila's help with my family!!
+25 votes
Yes. Based on my DNA? 99% Irish with a smidge of Norwegian. With Living DNA I was able to discover that my genes go back to the original Basque Settlers of Ireland around 6 to 7K years ago. Who knew?!

by Mags Gaulden G2G6 Pilot (532k points)
Hi Mags.   I would be delighted to let you have a lovely Irish Roots Project badge if you like !!
Le do thoil. Mags
Welcome !!
Where did you have your DNA done that separated Irish? Mine has English isolated (37.3%), Greek (2%), and Balkan (25%). However, it shows the rest as a combination of Irish, Scottish, and Welsh. I know I have some Irish from both sides. Dad's grandmother was a Kelly who came through Ellis Island at the age of 9. My mother's middle name was Mullins, her grandmother's maiden name. My maiden name, Clanton, traces back to a John Clanton who came to this country in 1610 on the ship Abraham, one place says from Ireland and one says England.
All my DNA testes show my Genes as Irish. Living DNA was more specific.
Living DNA specifies regions within England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Because they have a lot of data for England, they are able to specify place names with greater accuracy than in Ireland. As they collect more samples within Ireland, they say that their records will improve more. Hope that helps!
I also want to add that it gets complicated also because if you are female, the mtdna is all you inherit, so it can make a weird mix show up for you. Also, the distribution of DNA that you are given from your parents will also be "strange" as well and uneven. So even if you are something like 90% Irish and 10% Chinese, you  might end up with more Chinese than you think you should have. Then you multiply that odd occurrence over several generations, and the percentages just end up leaving you scratching your head, especially when you have a list of VERY Irish surnames and place names for your ancestors, and then have weird DNA results just because that's the way it works.
+20 votes

I have very little Irish in my family. My ethnicity says around 2%. Paternally I'm solid German and maternally I'm solid English and Scottish.  However, I do have one 7th great grandmother who I'm very proud to say is from County Kerry, Ireland, Honora O'Flynn. I always go out of my way to mention her during St. Patrick's Day. :)  

by James Stratman G2G6 Mach 8 (83.7k points)
edited by James Stratman
One of my lines is Brannigan. Another is Wherry (also spelled MacQuerrie) I am not sure what parish or location.
That's what can make Irish ancestry so difficult. Because they had the huge records fire years ago, they have gone back to church records within areas, and so you have to know pretty much where they lived and their religious affiliation. I bet MacQuerrie probably is specific to certain areas. So I would check and see if certain areas light up on a map of Ireland in a search. Brannigan sounds more common to me, so I would think that it would light up on more of the map. But I could be absolutely wrong. But if you can find out where they are likely from it will help you a lot in your research. They are adding records like fiends these days.
+14 votes

Well, one rarely becomes a Murphy any other way! 

On my Murphy side, everyone seems to have come from what is now the Republic, settled in Ontario and started farming and popping out babies like it was going out of style. All of them - at least those for which I have evidence of when they came to Canada - seemed to come over before the Great Famine. Surprising, since it seemed to be a bit counter to the prevailing narrative that I'd been told. 

On mom's side they were Ulster Scots from the Northern side of the Isle who settled down in the Maritimes - PEI in particular.

I'm curious to see what 23andMe's new regions say as regards the exact proportions of Irish and Scottish DNA that I have. 

by anonymous G2G6 Pilot (128k points)
Check LivingDNA. It might be more useful for pinning down ares.
+16 votes

For a long time I tended to think of my whole family tree as Irish. When asked, this is what I would always reply.  Until one day an Irish friend looked at me quizzically. "You certainly don't look Irish".  That's because I only knew the part of the family my mother told me about, and it was all Irish, or so she thought. The truth is a different story. On top of that every time I find an Irish-born ancestor it's a brick wall!  

by C Ryder G2G6 Mach 8 (81.4k points)
The brick walls are a morale-buster, I agree. You would not be the first person turned off tracing Irish ancestors because of the near-total lack of resources covering famine era emigrants. But I persisted and at least I found their ancestral locations in Ireland, and an entry for each either in Parish Registers, or the Tithe Applotment of the 1820s. Very fortunate, because they departed before the major sources were started - the Griffith Primary Valuation of the 1850s and Civil Registration commencing 1864.

Ironically they included a convict and a magistrate. Equally ironic, the convict is the one better covered in the records. She was found guilty of breaking a curfew in Ballincollig in 1848, at the height of Famine-era political unrest. She was an orphan with no siblings living, which shows the impact of the Famine. But it was only the potato crops of the poor that were affected. The croplands of the rich continued to produce enough food to feed three times Ireland’s population. As people starved, red-coat soldiers guarded the food being exported from the starving nation. Lady Wilde (mother of Oscar Wilde) wrote,

“That’s a fine array of soldiers, What do they round your door?”

“They guard the master’s granaries from the thin hands of the poor”.

My grandmother got gt grandmother, Honora McCarthy if Inchigeelagh in the western glens of Co Cork, was starving and broke that curfew to escape by the only means she had - conviction and transportation.’The authorities obliged - not with the 7 year sentence she expected,’but with life. Transportation to Van Diemans Land for the term of her natural life. There is a largely untold story hidden in that paucity of Irish records.
Thank you Rory for a vivid description of the famine era.  Yes lack of records makes research tough. But even when parish records exist, and when you have an inkling as to the County of birth, and possible birth dates, how do you sort out all the folks with the same name born in the same place around the same time?
Be interesting to read her bio - there's a very good research paper giving all her details
+12 votes
Half my family is Irish! My dad is Full-Blooded Irish. Both of his parents are from COUNTY CORK. His father is from Monananig townland, near Watergrasshilll, and my second cousins stilll live in the house where he was born. My father's mother is from Ballyoughtra on Lough Hyne in southwest Cork south of Skibbereen. My family survived the Great Famine, stayed in Ireland until after the 1901 Census and my grandparents immigrated to the US, both ending up in Buffalo, Erie County, NY, where they first met. I knew them growing up, and remember my Grandfather tellling me the names of his parents. They family never lost contact with Irieland.  My dad and his siblings used to write to their aunts and uncles in Ireland and my uncles and one aunt actually went over to visit the family in 1980 and 1990. They have seen the old tombstones, met the cousins, etc. I keep in touch with my second cousins in Ireland and some that went to England on facebook. I celebrate St. Patrick's Day in a big way every year, decorating my house with shamrocks and leprechauns, and wearing my green clothes to our favorite Irish restaurant for a good Irish music and some fun Irish dancing! I have been teaching Irish Genealogical Research since 1982.

Sharon Troy Centanne

Irish Genealogical Research Instructor
by Anonymous Troy G2G6 Pilot (155k points)
How very interesting!
My grandfather, Thomas McGreevey came from Cork, Ireland to NY via ellis island. He left his mother, Mary in Ireland and brought over his 2 sisters, Gertrude and Margaret who ended up marrying 2 brothers. Since my grandfather has passed and my mother is an only child, I am trying to find out if I have any other relatives in Ireland.
+10 votes

My great grandfather Giles Orlando Burk contributes Irish ancestry, as his great grandfather John was born in Ireland. I have yet to create profiles for Giles ancestors.

The Grandma’s Cabin website has a very interesting story about John Burk:

It was because of "18 hundred and froze to death" that my Burk family left Vermont to settle in NY. John Burk had quite a history unto himself.  He was impressed by the British Navy in his native Ireland where he served "for awhile" before he jumped ship and ended up in America.  He married Rachel Haire of Worchester County, MA and then enlisted to fight against the British.  At the Battle of Bemis Heights near Freeman's Farm, he was captured by the British and taken to Quebec where he "suffered everything but death" before escaping with 14 others.  These soldiers then made their way back to their regiment. After the death of his first wife John returned to Ireland and brought back to America Irish potatoes that were known as the "Burk Potato" in Braintree, Orange County, VT.  A potato distillery was built and, after several years, dear old John Burk was in danger of becoming a town charge due to his hard drinking. He married a woman much younger than himself and fathered children while in his early 60s. 

by Kay Knight G2G6 Pilot (404k points)
My ggg grandmother was Honora McCarthy. Already orphaned, parents and siblings dead. She was “lucky”. Honora was convicted for breaking a curfew during the height of Famine-era unrest in 1848, sentenced to transportation to Van Diemen’s Land for the term of her natural life. The Colonial authorities were less vindictive and freed her when she married. Honora and her husband ran a timber-slab hotel at a remote railway siding on a line to the mines. They too produced alcohol from potatoes.
+10 votes
Three of my great-grandparents, and one great-great-grandparent were born in Ireland.
by Bob Keniston G2G6 Pilot (207k points)
+13 votes
And a Happy St Patrick's Day to everyone!

My great-grandfather was a "red-haired, fiddle-playing Irishman", according to one of his sons, who was interviewed before he died about his ancestry.

Constant Barchus, (1845-1921), was born in Ohio and came to Oregon in a wagon train in 1864. I lose the trail with his grandfather Thomas Barchus, but there were Barchus/Barcus men in the Revolutionary War.

Brick walls indeed.
by April Dauenhauer G2G6 Pilot (109k points)
+9 votes
Hi! I am excited about this question! My DNA shows 15% Ireland/Scotland/Wales - my two full biological sisters have 23%, and 33% of that same DNA region.
We have ancestors on both sides who came from Ireland or Scotland. Our paternal 3rd great grandfather, John Livingston CAMPBELL, was born in Lismore, Argyle, Scotland, in 1778. He came to America when he was about 13, with three brothers and two sisters who were all born in Ireland. He ultimately was a pioneer in Ohio.
Our 7th paternal grandfather, John HUSTON, was born in Ireland, about 1670.
Our MATERNAL 6th great grandfather, Murdock CHISHOLM, was born in Isle of Skye, Scotland, in about 1738. Murdock came to America, to North Carolina.
by Sheri Taylor G2G6 Mach 2 (24.6k points)
+9 votes
The Patriarch of the entry of my Stewart name was difficult to find, many thanks to Allen Stuart for your help!

Samuel Stewart was born in Northern Ireland. His family was only there for less than 100 years. Fairly recent emigres they were from Scotland in the scheme of repopulating Ireland with Scotsmen and England-ers.

As a young man, Samuel was drafted or volunteered for service in the British Army. He served two five year terms in Canada before returning to Ireland.

As the 19th century famine began, he decided to move to Canada. He moved his family to Ontario.

He died there.

One of his sons, John J. Stewart b. 1831 d. 1909 moved to St. Charles County, MO to farm. His son Pierce L. Stewart is my Great grandfather. His son John James Stewart is my Grandfather. Thomas Joseph Stewart is my Father.
by Michael Stewart G2G2 (2.8k points)
+9 votes
To be sure, On the Maternal side names that are related - Daley, Hannon and Lynch. Paternal side includes Brassil (once Ui'Breasail) a line from the the second king.  Enright, Moriarty, Keesey, Murphy, Tynan, Toomey, McElhone, O'Donnell and O'Connell.
by Rionne Brooks G2G6 Mach 5 (58.7k points)
+9 votes
Yes! I know my Irish roots on my mom's Elliott side, but haven't been able to find them on my dad's Hughey side yet. Our DNA says we have Irish roots. Hoping I can find them this year!
by Debbie Parsons G2G6 Pilot (139k points)
+8 votes
Yes on my mother side her surname is Leonard and we figure that Thomas Leonard and his sibling and dad came from Ireland. We are at a brick wall there. I would like to join the Irish project and have a Irish Roots Project Badge.
by Anonymous Barnett G2G6 Pilot (465k points)
Hi Linda,  I went to add the project badge to your profile but the good news is that you already have it !!
+7 votes
Today my ancestry DNA profile indicates I have 6% of Ireland/Scotland/Wales. My mother is indicated to have 5% and my sister 3%.

When I click on the link, it does not provide the location in Ireland they are likely to hale from.

Most all of my surnames are Irish or English, so it is impossible to say exactly where I inherited the six percent.
by Margaret Meredith G2G6 Mach 2 (21.3k points)
+8 votes
My 4greats grandmother Anastatia/Anastasia Cody was from Ireland. Still need to do more solid research on her. No primary documentation has been found yet and I'm waiting on a copy of some documents from the Prince Edward Island Archives before I commit some linkages.

Then there are my McCallum's. Over time, the family has been schizophrenic about being Scottish or Irish (different things in different census records). My Y-DNA comes up with O'Neil. Another relative who's line links in before my grandparents also  links to O'Neil. This does fit with one branch of the family believing they are descended from an O'Neil princess (variant of the American Indian Princess story?). Another avenue for possibly fun research. I'm working on this line for a UEL certificate so will have to look back as far as I can once that is done.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (415k points)
+8 votes
9 out of my 16 great great grandparents were Irish born, and 1 was Australian-born of Irish parents.

My Irish ancestors were:
Paternal -
O'Brien/Breen, Finnegan, McAllister (County Armagh)
Carew, Hayes (County Tipperary)
Joyce, Goonane, Hogan (County Galway/County Clare border)
Mulhall, Coghlan (County Westmeath)
Fullerton (or Fullard/Folliard), Dunne (County Kildare)

Maternal -
Hehir, McMahon (County Clare)
Gilmore (County Down)
Colbert, Kenealy, Ahern (County Cork)
McCarthy, Duggan, Tangney, Cronin, Mannix, Bowler (County Kerry)
by A O'Brien G2G6 Mach 1 (13.7k points)
+7 votes
My great-grandmother was from County Cork.  She emigrated to the US at about age 20 in 1902 as she was orphaned.  Her parents are a brick wall for us.  My sister is trying to drag me to Ireland so we can see if we can find any answers (is she paying?)  My DNA only shows trace amounts of Irish, but my sister is 17%.  I take after the Scandinavians instead (Vikings?)

Mary Hogan (my great-grandmother, the immigrant) married a German bartender.  But I think they may have been introduced, rather than she being a bar-fly, because her cousin was married to a liquor distributor.  Well, who knows!  We recently discovered that Mary had siblings!
by Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz G2G6 Pilot (508k points)
+7 votes
Yes, I have Irish ancestors on my maternal side.  Duffy's and Leonards from Trim.  On my Husbands side we have Morris and O'Loughlin from County Mayo and County Clare.  We are still struggling with his side of the family.
by Anonymous Anonymous G2G3 (3.3k points)
+7 votes
With one grandparent being unknown, the remaining 3 grandparents and 6 great grandparents were all from either Scotland or the West Country (SW England).

There is one ancestor who may be a Scots-Irish. His name was John McCallum and he was my 3x great grandfather on my mothers side. He is the ONLY KNOWN irish person I have in my ancestry so far.

Does this count as having Irish roots? I tend to discount it.

And as I said, I DO HAVE 1/4 of my ancestry missing.
by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (890k points)
edited by Robynne Lozier
My Grandfather was a Dolan. No info because his Grandpa and Grandma Died at Sea returning from Ireland when his Dad was 4 or 5.  I show 6 % Ireland, Scotland-Adams Great Grandfather- Gordon Clan, and Wales

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