Project Team: Sean O’Neill, Fred Mulholland, Dwayne O’Neill & Ed O’Neill. Sean is a member of Clans of Ireland and the Association of O’Neill Clans.
Day Jobs: All four of us are professional engineers in various technical disciplines. Three of us are retired. Sean has been involved with a number of high technology companies since their start up.
Our outside activities include travelling and some of us play tennis, golf and sail.
As the administrators of the O’Neill DNA project, there are always questions to be answered from O’Neill’s all over the world. The four of us co-ordinate our activities concerning how best to encourage people to take tests that will yield significant information that matches known genealogy. We interpret their results, group the kits and provide an overview.
How did you get into genealogy?
Sean became involved in genealogy through his father, Desmond O’Neill, who had an avid interest in the genealogy of the Tyrone O’Neill’s and compiled the genealogy of all the main branches of the O’Neill’s into the book ‘The Ancient and Royal Family of O’Neill’. This involved traveling Ireland, visiting churches, graveyards, and meeting people all over Ireland.
Fred initially did not know anyone beyond his grandparents, however, after his father died he found a little scrap of paper with the names of his grandparents and great‑grandparents. When genealogy data first went online about 1998, he made contact with a cousin who had done extensive research on the Mulholland family. He was then hooked and has been expanding the family tree ever since.
Dwayne first became interested in genealogy with his mother by exploring their common Hodgins (Co. Tipperary) family connections. The family stories that his mother shared was the spark to pursue family information through traditional research.
Ed has been involved in genealogy for over twenty-five years, for the purpose of learning more about his grandparents (and their immigrant parents) who were such special people in his early life. His interest morphed into passion, and then into near-addiction.
What about your involvement with genetic genealogy?
Ed O’Neill was the original group administrator and started in 2005. Sean and Fred started to get involved with DNA testing a couple of years later. Dwayne joined the effort a couple of years ago.
Ed co-authored a paper titled “Insights Into the O’Neills of Ireland from DNA Testing” in 2006 where, for the first time, two separate and different groupings of Tyrone O’Neills were described through DNA test results. From this work the “O’Neill Variety” group was identified with the Tyrone, Fews, McShane and Clanaboy septs.
All of us have done traditional genealogical research on our family trees and had come to a dead end in tracing our ancestors to the late 1700’s.
A few years ago, Ed O’Neill decided to step back as the lead administrator for the O’Neill Project and Sean volunteered to become the administrator with Ed, Fred and Dwayne being co-administrators.
So what will you be talking about?
The presentation will connect the traditional genealogy of the O’Neill septs to their genetic signatures using Y STR and haplogroup markers. The focus will be on the Tyrone, McShane, Fews and Clanaboy septs and the unique DNA characteristics of this “O’Neill Variety”. In addition, the Ui Neill as descendants of Nial of the Nine Hostages and his son Eóghain (Cenél Eóghain) will be detailed. Other septs will be highlighted including the O’Neills of Leinster, Eoghanachta and Thomond and how they differentiate. Widespread testing using Big Y has greatly contributed to our current understanding.
What DNA tests will be discussed?
Y-DNA including STRs, SNPs & Big Y.
To what surnames is this topic relevant?
The O’Neills (and its various derivations) and related surnames including McShane, Johnson, Paine, etc.
Where can people get more information about your topic?
The FTDNA O’Neill Project at https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/oneill/about
The Association of O’Neill Clans at https://www.oneillclans.com/
The Clans of Ireland at http://www.clansofireland.ie/baile/
The Big Tree for the O’Neill Variety at