County Donegal DNA Project

Target is to have 100 Donegal People do an Autosomal DNA test.

In October 2014 I attended Back To Our Past in Dublin, took a special interest in the DNA presentations, and got to know people in the genetic genealogy community. I subsequently sought to prove certain family connections using DNA and did so. I applied DNA testing in particular to the Quinn Gathering and following on from that I set up the County Donegal DNA Project at FTdna in March 2015.

I get a fair number of e mails from outside of Ireland and hope the information that I place here will assist those who are seeking to establish connections as I am unable to give a full explanation by return to each individual query.

Seán E. Quinn

Sunday 3rd April 2016.

* Have you stated the name of your matching person

* Have you stated the name(s) of the person with whom you match

* Check what other matches you have with my e-mail address

* Have you given Gedmatch number and strength of Centimorgan match

* Do not send a list of Gedmatch numbers without the names of people

* Please put an accessable family tree on FTdna

* It is most likely you have Donegal Ancestry

* It is most unlikely that we will establish where the connection is

* The majority of persons tested in this project are elderly and do not own a computer


The Project is aimed at Donegal people living in Donegal with a Donegal pedigree (at least four grandparents) and would include Donegal people in Derry and Tyrone.

Establishing the connection

We are unlikely to be able to find the connection where the match is less that 60 cm. Remember Civil Registration only began in 1864 and there are few written records for the years before that. A person should in all cases have stated whom they match and whether on FTdna or GedMatch. They should also check other matches with the e-mail address. This will be helpful to all.

Those who have tested

I have encouraged around 50 people of a Donegal connection to take the Family Finder test with FTdna, and I now have 100 more kits which are being distributed in County Donegal and Derry. Practically all of these people are elderly, they do not own a computer and they have no internet connection.

The person that people are communicating with is me not them, where a person has an e-mail and connected to the Internet, I forward your message to them. I do of course report back to everybody and discuss the results with them and their family.

Quinn Gathering

The core group were those connected to me through the Quinn Gathering and I have been able to prove the connections between us. Needless to say I did not have information as to the other lines in their pedigree and am slowly putting that together. Unfortunately in most cases I am doing this on my own without assistance. If a person matches a number of my people their ancestor or ancestors were from Donegal. If I look at the persons whom you match and those whom you do not match, I can sometims get a rough idea where the connection is and will let people know as soon as I have done so.


There are three main companies involved in DNA testing: FamilyTreeDNA; 23 and Me; and Ancestry. There are a number of different types of DNA tests used for genealogical purposes: Y-Chromosome; Mitochondrial; X-Chromosome; and Autosomal, and full information on these can be obtained at the website of ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy). Whilst there are many service issues with FamilyTreeDNA I prefer their Autosomal test which they call Family Finder and includes the X-Chromosome. Tests cost US$ 89 for members of the Project and it is possible to get this down to US$79 during their sales throughout the year.


When I get results I download the raw data and put it up on Gedmatch and data is also on DNAgedcom. Any basic information which I have on their pedigree I put it on the Family Tree on ftdna and it can be seen by matches, however I have an editing problem there. On such family tree I link to proven relationships. I will not be putting peoples pedigree information up on other sites

Ireland North West Haplogroup

One of the tests I had was a Y-DNA test which chromosome is inherited exclusively on the paternal line. This indicated that I belonged to the Ireland North West Haplogroup, which result was not entirely unexpected. It is the group to which 20% of men in Donegal belong. It has mistakenly been described as an Uí Néill signature which it predates. The common ancestor may have lived around 200 A.D and not in Ireland. Niall Noígíallach or Niall of the Nine Hostages was reputed to have lived in the fifth century and was mythical. He did not exist and accordingly there are none who could be in decent from him.

With respect to the Quinn Gathering; if we were all the one Quinn family it would mean that other Quinn males within the Quinn Gathering should be the same. Seán A. Quinn agreed to also be tested. The results in respect of Seán and myself are exactly the same, with a nil genetic distance between us. This proved that we are the one Quinn family with a most recent common ancestor in the past two hundred years.

Little information on some

In the case of a number of persons I have very little information. I am always trying to get further information and if I get it I place in in the Family Tree and Surnames list on FTdna. Sometimes it is not possible to give information as to parentage as this information is not known. Please be aware that that is sometimes the situation.

Non-Donegal People

I assist all who wish to test, and there are a few people who are not of a Donegal connection that I look after. My Wife who is a Longford connection is an example of that.

Do you wish to test?

If you are of a Donegal connection or know of someone who wishes to do a DNA test you should get in contact so as a Kit can be got to whosoever requires it.

My Birthplace: Clonglash, Buncrana, Inishowen, County Donegal.

Facebook Posts to Group Donegal DNA

You are welcome to join this Facebook Group Group

County Donegal DNA Project

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all. I am pleased to announce the establishment of the above as a project at FamilyTreeDNA. It will take me a while to get it properly up and running.

The purpose of the County Donegal DNA Project will be to promote and encourage the use of genetics in genealogy in order to prove family relationships. The Project will be aimed at Donegal people living in Donegal with a Donegal pedigree (at least four grandparents) and would include Donegal people in Derry and Strabane.

It is not for those who may have some Donegal ancestry. However in the long term it should be beneficial to those who may have some Donegal ancestry

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Annual Report Year 1

It is a year since the County Donegal DNA Project was established and there are now 58 members these include people whom I established contact with during the past year who matched people within the Quinn Gathering group.

I was able to get a total of 44 FamilyTreeDNA kits for testing which I distributed. In addition 3 other tests were ordered. The DNA kits were distributed amongst the Quinn Gathering group. Results are awaited in respect of 4 people and there is one kit is out there in Donegal waiting to be used. I hope to receive further kits directly from FamilyTreeDNA.

In July Genetic Genealogy was the theme of Quinn Gathering 2015 and in November I addressed the Foyle Family History Society on DNA and Genealogy; these generated interest. I issued press releases to the Donegal papers during the year and was also interviewed on Highland Radio on the DNA Project.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

DNA and Genealogy

Quinn Surname

My Ancestral Surnames

McLaughlin Ancestors

Keeloges, Bauville, Clonglash

Copyright © Seán E. Quinn 2016, all rights reserved.

Saturday, 03-Sep-2016 16:45:15 MDT

"Go n-éirí an bóthar leat"