Tuesday, November 5, 2013

McCain Clan DNA Update

A lot of progress is being made with our McCain DNA Project.   If you take a look at the Family Tree public page with the results you will see that we are beginning to classify the 'clan' into sub groups linked to geography.  We have sorted out a lot of the Colonial McCain lines and the Irish lines, we are now focusing on the McCains in Scotland.

To do this we need is more McCain men in the project to upgrade their kits.  One of the DNA loci that is of interest to us is the 485.  All the McCain men that have tested the full 111 loci carry the value of 13 at the marker.  This is unusual, the norm with the R-L21 haplogroup is 15. 

Additionally, the other surnames in our match group, that is the non McCains that are of the same paternal line as we are, carry the value of 16.  This means there was a mutation event, probably at the generation of the 'first' McCains, or the Mac Eáin man living in Kilmichael Glassary parish that is our progenitor.  This man probably was Ailein Mac Eáin Riabhach or his father Eáin Riabhach.  Anyroad, that is where we are in the research.

Again, we need more McCain men to upgrade their Family Tree kit to the 111 level.  What we are attempting to do is reconstruct our history, prior to AD 1500 using DNA and primary sources. A lot of work, many hours of work, is going into this research.  The records I go through are written in a combination of Lallans influenced English, Lallans, Gaelic and bizarre phonetic Gaelic. But, I am having success at following the family from circa 1434. 

There is even some clues as to the origin of the family prior to their lordship of Glassary, but more on that later. Right now we those McCain men who have not done so to upgrade their kits.  There are a few men that have only done the 12 locus level.  Those are not much good to us.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Argyll Lord 1000 AD

Argyll Lord Circa 1000 AD  (c) Ulster Heritage
Above is clan member Donovan McCain in the dress of a Gaelic lord in mid Argyll circa 1000 AD.  The clothes and arms are period authentic and made from materials used in Argyll at that time.  Basic dress is the Léine, the linen shirt which came down to the knee and a Brat, the woolen cloak in the shape of a rectangle.  The helm is a one piece construction which was state of the art in that time and is a facsimile of a surviving helm in a museum; the chain mail shirt typical of that day for the well funded warrior.  The sword, which is fully functional, is a Norse style, reflecting the unique Gall Ghaeil culture that existed in mid Argyll at that time. The Gaels in mid Argyll borrowed both shipbuilding and arms technology from the Vikings and became in essence Gaelic Vikings.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sword On a Burial Stone

I received several inquiries into the sword that is carved on the burial slab of Donnchadh Rua Mac Eáin.  In Scotland, a sword on a burial slab symbolized a man of high rank.  Pretty much that simple.  The practice was in place very early in Scotland, certainly by the 1200 AD.  Donnchadh Mór we know was a bailiff for the third Earl of Argyll, Coilin Caimbeul.  Bailiff in late medieval Scotland was a very important position. A bailiff was the sheriff of a district and also was responsible for judicial proceedings.  We know that Donnchadh Rua even travelled to Edinburgh on the Earl's business.  His position as Bailiff alone elevated Donnchadh Rua to high status, but he was also a landed lord, head of the House of Dunemuck, which is in southern Kilmichael Glassary parish, very close to the village of Kilmichael Glassary, where is burial slab is located. While he served the Earl of Argyll, his clan affiliation was with Clann Mhic Lachlainn and he actually held his lands by grant of their Taoiseach (chief). 

Donnchadh Rua Mac Eáin, to our knowledge, is the first of our family that used the surname Mac Eáin.  We know this because he is recorded with that surname in multiple primary sources from the late 1400s into the early 1500s.  His father was Ailean Mac Eáin Riabhach.  Normally, in traditional Gaelic patronymics he would have been surname Donnchadh Rua Mac Ailean Mhic Eáin Riabhach, but in every case, even his burial slab, he was known by Mac Eáin, anglicised as McCain.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mid Argyll Group Research

Kilmichael Glassary parish in Mid Argyll

The Mid Argyll DNA Project is now up and running.  It's goal is to research the McCains circa 1300 to late 1500s, or when they were still living in Scotland.   Many of you have noticed matches to other Scottish surnames.  Most of these are from mid Argyll, specifically, the parish of Kilmichael Glassary and nearby areas, such a the island of Bute. 
We share paternal ancestry with these non surname matches.  The reason we have so many surnames showing up in our match group is because surnames were not fixed in Argyll in the 1500s.  Gaelic families often followed traditional patronymic customs of mid Argyll.  This generated several surnames within the same family during that century.  This is why we have McAlpin, Henry, Duncan, McDonald, etc., showing up in our match lists.
There was a historical McCain family native to Kilmichael Glassary, the precise area where we are turning up so many DNA matches.  For this reason believe that this historical McCain family is in fact our McCain family.  In addition to the DNA matches there are primary sources from Argyll in the 1500s that also support that we are 'the'  Kilmichael Glassary McCains in origin.  Even the move to Ulster in the late 1500s of families from Kilmichael Glassary is well documented.
Those are the facts, now for the speculation;  the historical McCain family in Kilmichael Glassary is also known as the Mac Lachlainn 'clan'  of Dunadd.  Branches of that clan did use the surname McCain.  Some of the other surnames on our match list were surnames used by other branches of the Mac Lachlainn of Dunadd clan.  We speculate we have located this Scottish clan in other words. 

So, I need every McCain in the 01McCain group to go to your 'Join Projects' part of your Family Tree page, click on it.  You will see the Mid Argyll Group in the list of DNA project, tick it, then when that opens the page, tick 'Join.'  You can be in several projects at once so this will not effect your participation in the McCain project.
This is the end game of the McCain research, it will take us back to the very origins of our family.  The first man to use McCain as a surname was Donnchadh Mór Mac Eáin, aka Donnchadh Rua Mac Eáin.  He lived circa 1445 to 1515. It is his burial slab that you see on the McCain family blog.  Many of McCains have already travelled to Scotland to see it.  Our Scottish branch in Glasgow, i.e. Joe McKane, has also visited the burial slab.
This project will have Dr Kyle MacLea as an administrator, he is a geneticist by profession and teaches at a university.   I will be a co-administrator helping out with the primary source research and Gaelic language elements. 
Please Join as soon as possible.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer DNA Test Sale

Family Tree labs, the company that does our DNA testing is running an excellent summer sale.  We recommend the 111 level test, though the 67 will give you enough data to confirm you are paternally related to our family.  Prices and link to purchase below.

Beginning on Thursday, June 27, 2013 and running until Friday, July 26, 2013, we will offer the following: 
Family Finder was $289 Now $99
mtDNA Full Sequence was $289 Now $189
Y-DNA37 was $169 Now $129
Y-DNA67 was $268 Now $208
Y-DNA111 was $359 Now $308
Family Finder + Y-DNA37 was $368 Now $228
Family Finder + Y-DNA67 was $467 Now $307
Family Finder + mtDNAFullSequence was $398 Now $288
Comprehensive Genome (Y-DNA67, FMS & FF) was $666 Now $496

Link to join:  McCain DNA Project

Monday, June 17, 2013

Two McCains on Mull

Gerrie Zhang and her son Chris Greer
In May, my son and I traveled to Scotland.  We visited Glasgow and the Isle of Mull, a repeat
of a solo trip I made two years ago.  On tours and walks on the island, we spotted wildlife, including red deer and sea eagles, and were enthralled by the ever-changing beauty of Mull.  There is something quite special about Mull, and I hope to return to try to discover what
it is that draws me there.  .... Gerrie Zhang

Gerrie and her son are descendants of the Pike County, Indiana, McCains.  Mull is in the inner Hebrides, home to Clann Mhic Ghiolla Eáin.  That clan was also a Redshank clan like our Clann Mhic Eáin.   The 'Eáin' element is found in several Gaelic surnames.  Eáin is the Gaelic form of the Latin name Iohannes.  It is a Latin loan word into Gaelic, in this case a Biblical name. 

Pike County Indiana McCains

Hanna Retta McCain, know as Rettie McCain, born in Pike County, Indiana on 4 January, 1875, to George W and Martha McCain née McConnell.  She passed away on 21 February, 1903, of tuberculosis.  This McCain line is a branch of the Marsh Creek McCains through Hugh McKean II, who was the son of the Hugh McKean, the immigrant, who died in 1748.  This photo was supplied by Gerrie Zhang, her great, granddaughter.  The Pike County McCains were first identified by McCain research Lou Poole and later through an autosomal DNA test, the connection was confirmed.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Am Baile Link

Link to the Am Baile webpage describing the stone of Donnchadh Mór Mac Eáin

page available in English and Scot's Gaidhlig.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Duncan Mor McCain's Sword

I have received several inquires about the symbols on the burial slab of Donnchadh Mór Mac Eáin, anglicised Duncan Mor McCain; I post an answer here in case more people are curious about the slab.  Prominent on the slab is a Scottish style broad sword, or claidheamh (said Clay).  There is also ornamental leaves that appear to be vines and several lions, all done in the late medieval Celtic style.

The sword is the most prominent motif by far.  In Scotland, especially in the west Highlands, this symbol on a burial slab denoted a military family, one of noble birth, or a family from the gentry of that district.  Donnchadh Mór we know functioned as a bailiff for the Earl of Argyll and his family and extended family were captains in service of the Earl of Argyll, hence the sword. 

Scottish Gaelic swords had a very unique design to them, which is shown on Donnchadh Mór's burial slab. The hilts were angled, toward the blade side and the pommels of a designed favoured by Gaels.

modern reproduction of a Argyll sword

The Earls of Argyll, who were the chiefs of Clann Chaimbeul, made their fortune supplying Highland Scots, called Redshanks in the 1500s, to Irish Gaelic lords.  The demand for Redshanks was strong in sixteenth century as the Irish Lords, such as the Ó Dónaill, the Ó Neill, needed these stout soldiers in their long wars against the Elizabethan English. Redshanks were expensive to hire and gold and silver poured into the House of Caimbeul.  It is very likely that the migration of McCains from Argyll to their initial settlement in the Laggan district of east Donegal, was in the role of Redshank captains.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Glencoe McCains, Revisited...

One of the questions which gets asked often is..... is our McCain family, or clan, connected to the Glencoe McCains.  No, we are not.  We are not related to them at all via the paternal line.  Both clans use the same surname, which is how the confusion ensues. We both have the Gaelic surname of Mac Eáin, written MacEain in modern Scots Gaelic.  The surname is from the Latin name of Iohannes.  The etymology is Latin to Gaelic, hence our name is not from 'John' as that is the English form of Iohannes, and our surname went straight from a Latin loan word into Gaelic.

In the late nineteenth century several histories of our family were published in which it was suggested that we were connected to the Glencoe Mac Eáin family. These early published histories took on a life of their own, so much so, that the error became incorporated in our family lore.  Many of us, me included, went out an purchased, very expensive, Clann Dhónaill kilts.  At that point we did not know our real history. 

As several researchers, myself, my cousin Dr William McCain, and others, such as Jim McKane in Ontario, Joe McKane in Tennessee, began to dig into our early history, we realized that there were several McCain families from Ulster and that the reported link to the Glencoe McCains, had never been verified. 

Then came the DNA testing in 2003.  By 2004, we did locate the Glencoe McCain family as several of their members participated in the McCain DNA Project.  They did not match us, but they did match the Mac Dónaill chiefs, which had already tested in one of the very first DNA projects.  So, we found them, but we are not connected to them.  Of interest, they are Norse in paternal ancestry, where as our family is Gaelic in paternal ancestry. 

I did locate a McCain clan, native to Kilmichael Glassary parish, in Argyll, south of Glencoe. As I was researching them, the McCain DNA project, began to get DNA matches to Kilmichael Glassary parish, lots of them.  So using DNA results as a guide I researched 'that' McCain family.  As the research stands now, I am satisfied, they are 'our'  McCain clan.  I use the word clan with intention, as they were a Gaelic 'clann' in the historical sense the word was and is used. 

After many delays, I hope to get out the book, Finding the McCains, this spring.  I had several delays from summer to winter last year.  (those that know the series of great misfortunes that happened to me, know of what I speak).  The book will have a very details chapter of the progenitor of our McCain family.

A sidebar..... as many have observed, we have a paternal connection to a large Henry family.  In Gaelic that surname is Mac Eanruig and there was a historical Mac Eanruig family native to Kilmichael Glassary family, so it is at least suggestive, that our Henry matches originate with the Kilmichael Glassary Mac Eanruig family.  Now they were also the maternal line of the Glencoe McCain family.  Which means, it is possible that we do have a very distant maternal connection to the Glencoe McCain family, but it would be very distant indeed, going back to late medieval times.

Summary, we are the Mac Eáin clan of Kilmichael Glassary and have no paternal connections to the Mac Eáin clan of Glencoe. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A McCain in Snow

Donovan McCain in the mountains near Ft Collins CO

Donovan McCain of Oxford, Mississippi, on a recent trip snowshoeing in the mountains just west of Ft Collins, Colorado.  McCains do cold weather well.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Squire James McKane of Ontario

Squireen Jim McKane
The Canadian McKanes' answer to Ivan Knox of the Finn Valley is our own Jim McKane of Wiarton, Ontario.  Jim is seen here sporting his new Donegal tweed cloth caipín and stout Shillelagh walking stick.