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Satirist, illustrator, activist dies

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Irish republican activist and artist Brian Mór Ó Baoighill (above) on February 19th. Like Pádraic Pearse, the New Jersey resident had a great love of Irish culture, and, also like An Phearsaigh, saw in the Irish Republic, proclaimed in arms on Easter Monday 1916, the surest guarantor not only of the survival of that ancient culture, but of its revival. A Harlem native, “Bernie," age 70 at his passing, was active in Irish Northern Aid from its inception in 1969, and joined the staff of its newspaper, The Irish People, which became a showcase for many of his trenchant editorial cartoons.  [For more on Brian Mór, see ]  -- Liam Murphy, Heritage Editor

Free access to notices seeking lost immigrants

The New England Historic Genealogical Society's online site "American Ancestors" has many free resources. One of the most interesting and moving is the "Search for missing friends: Irish Immigrant advertisements 1831-1920," a compilation of ads placed by friends and family of Irish immigrants, often separated from their loved ones or just trying to find them after arrival, sometimes many years after. Most of the notices were placed in the Boston Pilot, and list dates, ships, addresses, places of employment, occupations, married and maiden names, relations and sometimes very sad circumstances. You must register for a free account to view the ads but this is another fine resource when trying to find our infamously missing Irish ancestors. The Pilot printed about 45,000 “Missing Friends” advertisements -- Alannah Ryane, Genealogy Producer

Quinnipiac's famine museum moving

Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University is moving its small, but world-class, An Gorta Mor museum from the university’s library to off-campus, to provide greater visibility and access to the public.
The museum has been in the Arnold Bernhard Library for about a decade. It will be moving in the fall to a refurbished location on Whitney Avenue, less than a mile from the campus.
Quinnipiac has many ties to the Irish experience, including a study-abroad program with University College Cork and President John L. Lahey’s being named Irish American of the Year by Irish America Magazine in 2011.
The university announced Monday, by the way, that it is seeking an executive director for the museum, to be rebranded, “Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum.” For more information, click HERE.

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How hot is genealogy DNA testing these days?  The largest DNA testing laboratory, Family Tree DNA, posted that, as of Wednesday, they had a total of 361,933 records.  According to biotechnologist Tyrone Bowes, "It is the size of this database that facilitates the pinpointing of one’s ancestor, as many of the surnames associated with Ireland are well represented."
In 2003, when commercial DNA testing first became available, Bowes, a Dubliner, jumped at the chance to have his family tested.  He discovered that his ancestors were "Native Irish," along with the name of their clan and where they lived for hundreds of years.  This discovery, combined with his passion for history, geography and biotechnology, led him naturally to become a genetic genealogist, helping people to find their "genetic homeland" via their DNA test results.  
Through my own training in aboriginal spiritual practices and quantum physics, I have become convinced that we carry the "experiences" of our ancestors in our DNA and that we are always working through these inherited patterns.  While researching our last Q&A, with Irish psychotherapist Martine Brennan, I ran across Bowes’ new website, I have been watching his venture with increasing interest, so I contacted him to give us a preview of what services he will be offering. -- Alannah Ryane, Genealogy Producer  I understand that once someone has their "37 marker Y Chromosome" DNA test results, your website can provide information that helps people to make sense of their results, and, in the process, pinpoint where their medieval ancestors’ lived.You also provide a medieval map of the old Irish Clans and their territories. Could you please describe these services for us?
Tyrone Bowes (left with sons Alexander, Fraser, and Callum): Yes, everything on the website was produced to assist anyone with Irish ancestry in interpreting their DNA test results and in the process help pinpoint where their Irish ancestors lived. To achieve this, I have constructed two databases. The largest, containing nearly 5,000 individual images, is an Irish surname distribution database. The surnames are taken from MacLysaght’s “Surnames of Ireland” and the data used to construct each image is taken from the 1911 census of Ireland.
Each image shows the distribution of a Surname throughout the 32 Counties of Ireland, and hence where it originates. They also detail the ethnicity, that is whether the Surname is of Irish, Norman, Viking, Scottish, English, Welsh, Gallowglass (mercenary Scottish), or later Planter origin. In the case of Irish surnames, information is also supplied on the number of distinct clans that used a particular surname. For example, there is only one clan that used the surname Sullivan and that surname is found concentrated in the Southwest [of Ireland], where it originates, while there are four distinct clans that used the Donohoe surname, found concentrated in four separate locations in Ireland.
Since castles are an a actual physical reminder of a clan or of a family’s long historical presence in an area, I constructed the second database, called ‘Clans and their Castles,’ which consists of 401 images and shows the location of 1,375 castles associated with 401 of the most prominent clans and families.
I also supply three maps that are available to purchase called the “Surnames of Ireland,” “Clan Territories of Ireland,” and the “Castles of Ireland.” Each surname on the Surnames Map has been placed in the area where it concentrated in 1911. Since Ireland remained essentially an agrarian society, surnames could still be found in the areas where they originated. The idea is to stick pins on the surnames that occur as a genetic match, see a pattern emerge (with the pins clustering in a particular area) and literally reveal your genetic homeland, the area where your ancestors lived for centuries.
The Clan Territories Map details the areas of influence of over 400 of the most prominent Irish clans and Norman families at the time of King Henry VIII and prior to the later Elizabethan conquest and the destruction of the clan system in Ireland. The territories were literally reconstructed from the location of the 1,375 castles, which I could pinpoint using Google Earth and which I could connect historically to a particular clan or family.
It proved impossible to detail both the territories and all the castle information on one map, and I had, therefore, to construct a separate ‘Castles of Ireland Map’ which details each castle’s local name, the clan or family that either built it or was associated with it, and the precise geographical coordinates which one can put into Google Earth and zoom in and explore the remains of the castles where your ancestors lived.
There are also some open-access case studies that demonstrate how I made sense of some people’s results, and a sort of You Tube tutorial. I have also written some descriptive text on the colonization of Ireland and the science of surnames. On your website, you describe "Native Irish Gaels" as Ireland's inhabitants prior to the Vikings in 795 AD. After 800 AD, they were the first European country to adopt surnames describing one's affiliations, whereas the English surnames denoted one's profession.  You also stated that some people could actually trace their DNA back to the ancestor who was first granted that name!  Have you run across anyone who has discovered this?
Bowes: Remarkably, science has demonstrated that after nearly 1,200 years there is a 50% chance that as a male you retain the same (or similar sounding) surname to the one that your direct male ancestor first picked! In fact, for once Ireland has been leading the research in this scientific field. Irish researchers showed for example that 50 percent of people with the surname Sullivan were descended from a single individual, the first to call himself Sullivan, the Sullivan ‘Adam,’ so to speak, and that the other 50 percent had an association with the surname that has arisen as a result of what’s called a non-paternal event, usually an adoption or through infidelity. So 50 percent of the people for whom I complete case studies are, indeed, related to their surname’s founding ancestor.
Only through DNA testing will you reveal which 50 percent of the population you belong to! But matters can be complicated by the fact that many clans used the same surname. For example, there are many different O’Connor clans and Donohoe clans found in different locations. But, again, the DNA test results can determine which one you descend from, as the surnames of the people you match are a snapshot of your ancestor’s neighbors.
For example, I did a case study on an individual called Donohoe: His matches were to surnames found only in the Southwest, where there was a cluster of Donohoes in 1911 in an area associated with a medieval Donohoe clan territory (centered upon the town of Killarney). His ancestor was the founder of this Donohoe clan ­¾he could not have been a descendent of any of the other of the Donohoe clans found in Cavan, Wexford and Galway, as his surname matches cluster in that single location in County Kerry! I have actually used his results on a YouTube video to demonstrate the process.
Read the remainder of the Q&A with Irish Origenes’ Tyrone Bowes in’s Family History Blog on Friday. Subscribe to notifications about updates to the blog at
Contact us, via, to suggest individuals to interview.


IRISH MUSICAL TRIBUTE, RAMONA, CALIFORNIA, Saturday. Ramona Concert Association will present the Highland Way Celtic Band at the performing arts center at Olive Peirce Middle School, 1521 Hanson Lane, at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. for seating. Tickets for non-season ticket holders will be sold at the door for $15 for adults and $5 for children and students. For more information, call 760-789-7474. 

ST. PAT’S FOR ALL PARADE, WOODSIDE, NEW YORK. Sunday. Stepping off at 2 p.m. 47th Street and Skillman Avenue, honoring Mary Brosnahan, executive director of the NYC Coalition for the Homeless and writer Peter Quinn. Questions? Send them via e-mail to 

LUGHNASA FESTIVAL AT CRAGGAUNOWEN, Quin, County Clare, April 8. See re-enactors dressed in costumes spanning from the Bronze Age, through Iron Age, Early Medieval to 16th Century. The festival will have a multitude of ongoing displays demonstrating various aspects of Ireland's history and heritage, from different time periods with showcase events such as a Brehon Law Trials and a hand-to-hand combat demonstration.

SEND YOUR FREE EVENTS LISTINGS for inclusion in’s weekly newsletter to, by Wednesday midnight, for the following week’s edition.

THIS WEEK'S IRISH HISTORY PUZZLER: Who was the officer who shot Thomas Conway in the mouth in a duel?

Be the first to submit the correct answer to and win a $10 gift card, suitable for purchasing items from Shops or any other of the hundreds of stores in the firm's network. Each person is restricted to only one guess per week and each winner is prohibited from playing for four weeks following their winning entry.

SEND YOUR FREE EVENTS LISTINGS for inclusion in’s weekly newsletter to, by Wednesday midnight, for the following week’s edition.

LAST WEEK'S QUESTION: What disease is rumored to have been the cause of Lord Randolph Churchill's death?

The correct answer was: Syphilis. This one was bit harder that usual and no one won the $10 gift card.

February 29 — Ladies, Ready To Take the 'Leap'
February 29 — Ladies, Ready To Take the 'Leap
With 2012 being a Leap Year, it is worth remembering the Irish origins of the quirky tradition associated with that rarest of dates, February 29, when a woman is permitted to ask a man for his hand in marriage. That's thanks to St. Bridget, who, according to legend, way back in 5th century Ireland convinced St. Patrick that it was unfair that women had to wait so long for men to propose. Maryann Tracy, Folklore Producer for reveals the origins of this tradition.
This Week in the History of the Irish
IN IRELAND: Thomas Conway, a soldier in the Irish Brigade of France and U.S. armies is born in Cloghane, Co. Kerry. Robert Emmet, one of the most famous and tragic revolutionary figures in Irish history, is born in St. Stephen's Green, Dublin. IN THE UNITED STATES: Irish-born Andrew Lewis is appointed a brigadier general in the Continental ArmyMore. Key dates
The WG Shops
Through the mid- to late-19th century, it was support from Irish-America, the Fenians, that helped to sustain the nationalist movement in Ireland, a movement that would one day succeed against all odds. Buy an item made using a beautiful graphic from an early 20th century postcard and show the world that the "Fenian Tradition" lives on in Irish America. Celebrate their service with unique merchandise from Shop.
In our Hell's Kitchen blog, author James Francis Smith discusses Cork-born Confederate general Patrick Ronayne Cleburne's January 1864 proposal to enlist slaves in the Confederate Army, a unique intertwining of the history of blacks and Irish in America. In our Family History Channel, psychotherapist Martine Brennan airs her program "Find Your Family, Find Your Self." On TheWildGeese.TV, we feature a video tour of Dublin's Little Museum, presenting the modern social and cultural history of this great Irish metropolis, while in our Family History YouTube Channel, we highlight a video from Irish Origenes, helping individuals track their specific Irish forebears using DNA. We are happy to announce that we are closing in on 1,000 Twitter followers ("Follow us, we follow back."), with 920 at last count. We recently acquired our 500th subscriber to our e-mail newsletter, and now have 1,514 Facebook fans.
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