McCool Name Study - County Donegal Lines

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Surnames/tags: McCool McCoole
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McCool Name Study -> McCool Name Study - Ulster - > County Donegal McCool Lines

This is one of several research areas of the McCool Name Study. We estimate that about 40% of the McCools in the world have McCool-line ancestors from County Donegal. Few public online records exist prior to the mid 1800s, so we know less about them than other McCool groups. We hope, though, that some families may have private records that will help us learn more about their McCool ancestors.

It's likely that multiple, unrelated McCool lines have lived in County Donegal. We have one Big Y-700 test that is believed to have a County Donegal connection; it doesn't yet match to any other McCools tested. We have one known Y-67 test from this area that doesn't yet match any other McCools tested. It's distantly related (probably pre-surname timeframe) to a FitzPatrick line.

We don't yet know if either of these tests are related to the large Michael McCool (abt.1780-1844) line that includes many emigrants to Canada. We need more Y-DNA tests.


Historic Religious Affiliations

While not determinative, most historically Catholic McCool families come from County Donegal. If you know nothing about your McCool ancestors other than their religion, this is a good indicator that they are (or are not) from County Donegal.

Griffith's Valuations

Griffith's valuations are one of the most important surviving sets of Irish records from the mid-1800s. The records provide very basic information about every tenant head of household in Ireland, down to the parish level. Unfortunately, they don't provide additional personal information beyond name and parish. It's impossible to know if multiple records with the same name in the same parish are holdings by one individual, or father and son, or cousins carrying the same name.

Caveats aside, there were 5 McCoole surname records from the valuations in County Donegal - and 85 surname McCool records. View/query them at The attached image shows the parishes (and counts) where the 5 McCoole households (green) and the 85 McCool households (blue) were located.

Emigration Patterns

You're almost certainly a County Donegal McCool descendant if your ancestors lived in:

  • Ottawa Canada, or across the river in (the now Ottawa suburbs in) Quebec
  • Far northern Ontario

You may be a County Donegal McCool descendant if your ancestors lived in:

  • Philadelphia area (although there are Toberhead McCool descendants there as well)
  • western Canada
  • New York
  • Pittsburgh area (other McCool lines possible)

County Donegal McCools also emigrated to Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of the US and Canada (especially the northeast US). One of our project goals is to try to identify connections between these lines.

Ireland Census records

Most early Ireland census records were destroyed, while most 1901 and 1911 Census records are available and searchable online.

  • 1821 to 1841 Census - no surviving records from County Donegal. Significant surviving 1831 records from neighboring County Derry (Londonderry).
  • 1851 Census - no surviving McCool or McCoole records from County Donegal
  • 1861 to 1891 Census - no surviving records from County Donegal
  • 1901 Census - all/most records available at
    • County Donegal McCool - 320 results
    • County Donegal McCoole - 41 results
  • 1911 Census - all/most records available at
    • County Donegal McCool - 285 results
    • County Donegal McCoole - 1 result (appears to be an incorrect number)

For some reason, Ancestry reports different counts taken from the same original source. I don't know which figures are correct.

  • 1901 Census
    • County Donegal McCool - 239 results[1]
    • County Donegal McCoole - 31 results[2]
  • 1911 Census
    • County Donegal McCool - 343 results[3]
    • County Donegal McCoole - 24 results[4]

DNA Testing

Due to the minimal historical records available from County Donegal, DNA testing is more important than ever to determine how McCool families might be linked. In an ideal world where cost isn't a factor, we'd love to have:

  • an AncestryDNA test from every oldest living McCool family member
  • one or more Big Y-700 test from a male McCool-surname descendant (or paternal line) of the oldest living male McCool captured by the 1901 Census in each family.

If you or someone in your McCool family has tested on AncestryDNA, be sure the test results are linked to an Ancestry tree - and that the tree links the tester to a deceased McCool ancestor (so we can determine how the tester connects to a McCool family).

County Donegal McCool WikiTree Profiles

We don't have many WikiTree profiles yet that refer to County Donegal McCool lines. When one is added or identified, please provide a link to the earliest member(s) of the line. Feel free to mention birth/death places.

By definition, no one on this list has a McCool father listed in WikiTree:

County Donegal McCools to Find, Link, or Research


  1. Web: Ireland, Census, 1901 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data: Census of Ireland 1901/1911. The National Archives of Ireland. accessed 31 May 2013. -
  3. Web: Ireland, Census, 1901 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data: Census of Ireland 1901/1911. The National Archives of Ireland. accessed 31 May 2013. -

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