11 January 2010

DNA Testing Solves Mysteries and Brings Family Together, part 2b

Devine and O'Donoghue DNA Success

The following administrators offered these success stories for the Irish Roots magazine article. These examples show how relationships can be proved or disproved and how family oral history can be very helpful is providing clues. However, just as many times there is no oral history suggesting a surname change, but DNA testing can prove its existence.

Devine DNA Project

DNA testing has substantiated oral family history and given a clearer picture of the Devine families in Ireland. Project manager Donn Devine explains:

According to an oral tradition preserved by the Devine family of Kirkneedy, County Donegal, they descend from two brothers, Daniel and Hugh Devine, both born in the late 1700s. Recent Y-DNA tests from a descendant of Daniel, still living in that area, and from a descendant of Hugh who lives in the United States show only a one-step difference at 37 markers. Their distance from a common ancestor as known from the oral tradition — five generations — is confirmed by their close DNA match, which indicates a 90% probability that their common ancestor lived within the last five generations.

The results also show more distant relationships to Devine families in Counties Mayo and Galway, but the Kirkneedy Devines are unrelated to the nearby large cluster of Devine families centered around Strabane in County Tyrone, who have been shown by their DNA to be related to each other through a common ancestor of their own, since the time hereditary surnames have been in use.
---Donn Devine, 2009

O’Donoghue Success

Were we Irish? There were rumors of course. An infant adopted; family lore that may or may not be true; red hair and fair complexion. There can always be a grain of truth in any lore, but the question is how much? Were we really Irish?

Family lore held that our grandfather Harry Shepherd, born in 1884 in the state of West Virginia, USA, was actually born Harry Donahue. Following the death of his mother when he was but an infant, he was given to the Shepherd’s, neighbors of the Donahue’s, since the father could not care for all of the children. This story had been around long enough that I adopted it as true. About two years ago I began to read all things Donahue on line and discovered the O’Donoghue Society.

While visiting my family this past Christmas holiday, I mentioned the O’Donoghue Society and the YDNA Project to my sisters. They were thrilled at the opportunity to discover once and for all the truth. I was a little more hesitant for the simple fact that I liked being Irish. What if the test results were negative? Being Shepherd was fine but I would then forever loose my “Irishness” and become forever, well, English.

However I consented and we ordered our test kit and with great anticipation awaited its arrival. The kit arrived this past January, and I performed the necessary swabbing and with great trepidation posted the sample to Family Tree DNA. “Results forthcoming in March.” March? Great! Three months to continue wearing my Irish persona until the truth hit.

However, time does fly, and on March 16 of this year the results arrived. IRISH! Killarney! Sill, the biggest surprise was yet to arrive.

With the results came the news of a rarity. A complete 37 Marker DNA match with a living total stranger. I contacted the name supplied by Elizabeth O’Donoghue of The O’Donoghue Society, and we now have a new third cousin. He had previously done an extensive genealogical study on the family. On my fathers side our family history had gone no farther than his father, Harry. The new information supplied filled in the previously blank pages of our family history all the way back to 1750. Dion and I regularly correspond now, and he has provided pictures and history of ancestors many generations back.

Thanks to the YDNA project, and not only did we find new family, we discovered our true past.
---written by Elizabeth O’Donoghue for the Shepherd family, 2009

Lynne, Elaine, Greg, and their mother seated.
Courtesy of Greg Shepherd

A condensed version of these success stories appear in Irish Roots Magazine, 2009 Fourth Quarter, Issue 72, page 20.

Devine DNA Project:

O’Donoghue DNA Project:

Ireland Y-DNA Project:

FTDNA site for the Ireland Y-DNA Project:

You can find the Irish Roots magazine at some Barnes and Noble bookstores in the US, and this issue is on sale now.

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To see your DNA success story here, please e-mail me at: aulicino@hevanet.com
Photos are accepted with permission of the subjects involved.

July 2009