Egan DNA Project
Why a DNA Project?
At the instigation of the late Mac Aodhagáin, Dr. Michael J.S. Egan, we have been
undertaking the Clann
Egan DNA Project as part of an attempt to bridge some of the major gaps in
the documented genealogies particularly those occuring pre 1800. So while others
research back thousands of years we are more pragmatic and interested in the last
few hundred years when the major diasporas occured. The Project focus to date
has been on the male Y-DNA as it is most commonly associated with the family name.
The use of DNA in genealogical research has gathered momentum very quickly. As
we are a family who had a major responsibility in documenting the law and history
of old Ireland we are perhaps morally obliged to be part of the action. In the
greater Europe names were often associated with trades e.g. Smith for blacksmith,
Baker for baker etc. In Ireland however the gaelic names were tied to families.
This makes the prospect for our surname project very good indeed
as Egan is a recognised ancient name of Ireland. We know however that one Egan
dates back to at least 865 AD and most likely others well before that.
We are aware of, and sensitive to the fact, that individuals carrying the Egan
names are not necessarily related through Y-DNA to each other. There are many
reasons for this including adoption and adoption by the mother of her family name
for her child. To us they are family.
How to participate in the Clann Egan DNA Project and to obtain the Test Kits
Egan DNA Project uses the services of FTDNA in Texas. FTDNA is one of the
earliest providers of DNA analysis. Although we provide an overview of testing
below please investigate their "FAQ" tab for comprehensive information
on DNA testing.
FTDNA offers a range of tests. The 37 marker test was the one initially adopted
by the Clan but you may choose more markers immediately; upgrades are in any case
available to a higher number of markers without submitting a new sample. You may
choose to jump straight to 111 Markers if you wish to pursue deeper studies (see
IMPORTANT: to receive preferential prices you should first
go to the FTDNA Clann
Egan DNA Project
You will find the purchase link under the "Join Request" tab. At
the same time as you send your kit to FTDNA please add your earliest known ancestors
details (names, country and county/state of birth) for display on the DNA study
The test involves wiping the inside of your cheek with a “toothbrush”
like instrument – quite painless – sealing it in a container before
returning it to FTDNA in Texas.
You only need to conduct the test on ONE member of your immediate
tree. By immediate tree we mean one that goes back say two or three
generations. On rare occasions there may be a change in the Y-DNA between two
generations and as our aim is to link to other trees it is best to have the OLDEST
MALE member of your family take the test. If the younger members are keen to take
the test then that may encourage them to take an interest in the family history.
Because one test effectively covers all of your immediate family it makes it relatively
We now rely directly on yDNA
results provided by FTDNA. You will receive email notifications from FTDNA
as new potential relationships occur.
We were analysing FTDNA yDNA
results to produce a measure called time to most recent common ancestor (TMRCA).
Other time pressures prevent us from continuing this analysis however as many
of you joined the Project quite early the TMRCA results
may still prove useful. There is an explanation
of how to use the Y-Utility tool on the FTDNA yDNA
Keeping it Simple
If you have joined the Clann Egan DNA Project your kit number and password will
log you into your Member’s Page on the FTDNA site showing your results. It is
not necessary in the first instance to understand what the markers mean, but for
you to be related to someone most of your markers should match theirs. The number
of differences, in simplified terms, is called Genetic Distance.
So how do you interpret the results?
Well it’s easy enough in fact, just go to your Page and push the “matches” button.
You will hopefully see a list of participants you may be related to. Not everyone
is related to everyone else in the Project so don't be disappointed if the number
of others related to you is small as the Project membership is still growing.
Their contact details, if they have provided them, should be visible if you click
on their entry. After that, it is up to you, but we would like to hear of your
There are defaults in your Account settings which may be adjusted to simplify
your research workload.
- Under Account information put in the details of a beneficiary who can take
over your research in the event of your loss of interest, illness or death.
- Under Genealogy, add your earliest known ancestors, and their place of origin,
and a list of surnames and locations you are researching.
- Under Project Preferences allow your anonymised results to be displayed
on our public website.
- Under Privacy & Sharing set your match levels so that matches can see
your tree and you see as many matches as you are comfortable with.
- Under Notifications set email notifications to alert you to new matches.
Consolidation of Results (GEDMatch)
There are now many testing options including our Project's FTDNA - see below.
GEDMatch allows you to compare your results with people who have chosen other
To that end there is an Egan GEDMatch DNA Project, with
an accompanying Facebook closed group, both administered by Peter
McEntyre assisted by Gerry Egan and
Siobhán Ní Fhaircheallaigh.
We continue to establish links with other groups who have been independantly exploring
family origins in Ireland including most recently the East
Galway Genealogy & DNA Group.
More Explanation and Other Testing Options
Let's face it DNA testing can be confusing, probably even if you are a full-time
geneticist. There is considerable "encouragement" for you to "invest"
(spend money) in more testing, so before you do that it is worth considering carefully
what gain there is to be had, apart that is from adding to the general research
effort, and whether you are prepared to put in the considerable time and effort
involved in analysing your results.
Y-DNA is passed by fathers to their male offspring and, because it is the males
who conventionally carry the surname, Y-DNA is the primary focus of our DNA Project.
Now for Mitochondrial or mtDNA. There are, it is believed, only 7 basic mtDNA
signatures, with some mutations, and the women from whom these came are often
referred to as the “Seven Daughters of Eve”. Mothers pass their mtDNA to both
their daughters and their sons. The sons do not pass their mother’s mtDNA to their
Confused already right?
FTDNA, which is providing analysis for our Y-DNA Project, also provides testing
for mtDNA, potentially allowing you to identify siblings,
as both brothers and sisters carry their mother’s mtDNA
and the sons also their father’s Y-DNA. This may assist if siblings have been
adopted out or lost in marriage breakdowns, for example. A small number of members
have subscribed to the mtDNA test, although we do not
do any analysis on mtDNA results.
FTDNA also offers “FamilyFinder” which uses autosomal
DNA signatures to identify potential familial relationships over a limited number
of generations on both the paternal and maternal lines. The FamilyFinder test
pool is growing quickly, currently (August 2022) 115 members, and, if you have
no surviving related Egan males, is a way to find other Egan descendants who may
be related to you.
DNA is tested by other companies, such as Ancestry, MyHeritage and 23andMe.
If you have tested with any of these companies, you are likely able to transfer
your DNA without charge into the FamilyFinder pool to
make potential new matches.
Big Y formerly Deep Clade et al.
Finally there is now some interest in “Big-Y”, and related testing, which attempts
to identify your origins further back in time. Are you a Viking or did you come
from Ghenghis Khan on one of his holiday trips to Europe? Does this explain some
of your personality traits? For those interested perhaps look here:
At the time of writing (August 2022) we have 46 Big-Y testers out of 243 37-marker
Y-DNA testers. Big-Y testing amongst other things identifies your haplogroup;
it used to be possible to test only for your haplogroup, and some project members
have done this. Currently we have 47 distinct haplogroups, over half of whom are
in our ungrouped members cluster.
Haplogroup R and its Subclades - 2018
Those who participate in this type of testing are often involved in haplogroup
projects, which concentrate on this type of longer-term research and can be contacted
in the same way via the link above i.e. Y-DNA Haplogroup R etc.
For most of us, DNA testing is a way to find other relatives, and where we all
came from in Ireland. To this end, posting your family tree on the FTDNA website
enables you to show others where potential links may occur.
In the case of the FamilyFinder test, your tree and linking documented matches
to it, helps FTDNA to separate the rest of your matches into paternal and maternal
buckets. This separation helps you to decide which matches to concentrate your
research efforts on. When you upload your tree, make sure you put in death
dates and places if you know them, because without them, the person is deemed
to be living and their information is hidden and no use to anyone.
The Clann Egan DNA Project was focussed entirely on Y-DNA testing in an attempt
to determine where in Ireland you most likely came from. This has changed with
the interest in autosomal testing to enable female Egan
descendants to look for their relatives and ancestors in the same way and the
creation of the Gedmatch Egan Surname project facilitates
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Australia & New Zealand
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Aodhagáin (Australia & New Zealand)-
All rights reserved. Last updated November 2023.