Pinpointing R-M222 McIntyre origins

There is a lot on the internet about the McIntyres of Scotland’s origins. They have the Clan Chief and a big following. The Irish McIntyres however seem to have no real idea of their origins. There is some crossover and mixing but I’m going to split them into 3 groups here and concentrate on my own McOrigins in this post. There are more than 3 pedigrees that I may mention later to fill in the gaps. You can view the tested pedigrees here on the FTDNA website McIntyre spreadsheet.

My James McEntyre can be seen on the spreadsheet at
Hg R1b – Lineage 04 – R1b > R-M269 > L23 > L51 > L151 > P312 > L21 > DF13 > DF49 > DF23 > Z2961 > M222 > A7360 > R-BY18041 (Irish)

As you can see there are over 14 different groups split between R1a Scandinavian and R1b Celtic lines

These will be my observations and not 100% proof of anything. To be more accurate there needs to be 100s of more DNA tests done with fresh McIntyres, preferably those who never left Ireland.

Group 1: Scotland McIntyres include the Clan Chief line. They have a Scandinavian Viking paternal line.

Group 2: Scotland to Ireland Plantation McIntyres from the 1600s. They are probably mostly belonging to group 1 but not necessarily. Some/most will some won’t.

Group 3: Irish origin McIntyres. They were in Ireland prior to Viking and Norse invasions. R-M269 to R-M222 is their haplogroup. They appear to have originated in 2 main pockets in Tyrone and Donegal.

I will be focusing on my group 3 here.

In all my DNA matches one name keeps popping up as a very close match to my DNA profile and that is the Gillespies of Donegal. Other names that crop up are Carpenter (most likely McIntyres who have translated their Gaelic names to English at some stage). There are also a few McLaughlins showing as well as others.

It has often been said that the Irish McAteers are the Irish McIntyres. So far I have seen no DNA evidence linking the two except for a few U.S/Canadian families who have found their name has been spelt as either in the past and is now either one or the other. Still no McAteers showing up in DNA matches. (maybe they need to do tests). We can only decipher with people who have tested; so if no McAteers have done DNA testing then of course they won’t show up anywhere.

Here is a distribution map showing the McIntyres of Ireland. There is a big clump in Offaly where my McIntyres were last found before the famine. Below that map the Gillespie map to see a comparison.

There is no clump in Offaly of Gillespies but there is overlap in Donegal where there is also a clump of McIntyres.
The Gillespies showing up in my DNA matches are all from Donegal. There are more Gillespies than McIntyres as well which may mean that my McIntyres may have originally been Gillespies or 1000 odd years ago in Donegal when surnames were becoming mainstream some cousins became Gillespies and some became McIntyres. The population will also depend on the number of male offspring. My family has been hard to trace due to a lack of male brothers. My father, grandfather, great grandfather all had no brothers…so finding cousins to help my research was impossible.

If we look at Gillespie history (which I yet know little of).  See Irishorigenes distribution map below…

If you have time have a look at the theory used to pinpoint as demonstrated by Dr. Tyrone Bowes.


On the First Families of Ireland map below there are no Gillespies but the Tyrone Chief McIntyre is listed under the Clan O’Neill L for Lord. The Gillespies are supposedly a sept of this O’Neill
Clann Néill (also Clan Neill)
Clan name (Tuath); Clann Néill (also Clan Neill)
Progenitor; Niall Caille
Hereditary Chief or Clan chief; Ó Néill Mór (O’Neill)
Septs (finte); Mac Lochlainn (McLaughlin), Mac Bearáin (Barron), Mac Seáin (McShane or Johnson), Mac Suibhne (MacSweeney, MacSwyn, Swain, Swine), Ó Doibhlín (Devlin Swordbearer to O’Neill), Mac Giolla Easbaig (Gillespie, MacAnaspie, Bishop), Mac Íomhair (MacIver, MacKeever, MacUre, Orr), Mac Ladhmainn (MacClement, Lamond, Lymon, MacLamont or Clements), Mac Conmidhe (MacNamee, MacConamy, MacMeadh, Mee), Mac Néill (Mac Niall), Mac Eoghain (MacKean, MacKeon), The O’Higgins family (of Ballynary)
Location – county, barony or townland; County Tyrone
Cinéal (Kinship); Cenél nEógain
Branches; Uí Néill Ruadh (Ó Néill Mór), Clann Áodh Búidhe.

On the Gillespie distribution map it says 16th and 17th century Scottish Origin for Antrim/Down. These would be from the plantation of Ulster.  The Donegal Gillespies are more native Irish  (R1b)[Celtic] Having been in Ireland prior to the plantation.
On the McIntyre map it still has the biased Scottish origin… and I say biased because the Irish McIntyre (Irish origin) seem to be ignored all the time.The Gallowglass grouping bears some weight but it doesn’t fill in all the gaps. Also there is no proof that McIntyres were gallowglass warriors. Not enough is known about them. Were they of Viking or Celtic stock or a mixture???

If we look at an old map showing the first families of Ireland there are 2 McIntyres. One in Tyrone and one in Donegal.

A bit hard to see but the Tyrone Mac Intyre is written in directly under the TYRONE box and the Donegal MacIntyre is to the far left from LETTERKENNY. There is a capital C there to note a Clan Chief. This would be the Irish McIntyre Clan Chief and not the Scottish Chief. What is disappointing with this map is I’d expect to see some Gillespies up and around the McIntyres. So I had a look at their FTDNA name project and low and behold they have more branches in their DNA with multiple origins. So possibly they didn’t have a big united Clan but lots of disassociated fragments. The A-7360 matches of them to me may be fewer than expected. (lines 136 to 141 on the spreadsheet.) They also have a big split between Viking and Celtic origin. Surnames didn’t seem to care too much about the DNA origins with the McIntyres and Gillespies.

Maybe one day when all this is sorted out we can vote in a new Irish Clan McIntyre Chief. Not that anybody seems to give a toss. Maybe that’s the biggest difference between the Irish and the Scottish McIntyres.

The McIntyres I’ve spoken to in Offaly where mine come from have their folklore bringing them down from Tyrone to the battle of Kinsale circa 1601/2 and resettling in Offaly.
The Battle of Kinsale story is intriguing here as the fighters came down to Kinsale from both Tyrone and Donegal.

I’d really like to get some of the Offaly McIntyres to do a DNA test one day to sort the puzzle out.

There are at least 2 big branches of McIntyres and a few smaller ones in Offaly around Birr, Banagher, Ferbane. Are they all from the same place? Are the Donegal McIntyres the same family as the Tyrone McIntyres? Did they both go down to Kinsale and magically both end up in Offaly?
If they have matches to the Gillespies maybe they were from Donegal. Donegal to Tyrone?

If we try and sort them by religion we also run into crossovers but to generalise.
Group 1 Protestant (some may have stuck to their Catholic roots in Scotland but unlikely.)
Group 2 Ulster Plantation would have been Protestant whether they wanted to be or not.
Group 3 Your pre-plantation original Celtic Catholics.

Let’s look at the earliest recorded McIntyre in history…
St Ciaran of ClonMacnoise.   Saint Ciarán of Clonmacnoise (c. 516 – c. 549),[ supposedly born Ciarán mac an tSaeir (“son of the carpenter”)), was one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland and the first abbot of Clonmacnoise. He is sometimes called Ciarán the Younger to distinguish him from the 5th-century Saint Ciarán the Elder who was bishop of Osraige. His name produced many variant spellings, including CeranKieran and Queran.

The Gaelic usage of the name was not only used in Scotland but across the divide.

Let’s look at the R-M222 genetic haplogroup marker… still debating which side of the sea it originated, not that it really matters. We can see DNA didn’t care about being Scottish or Irish… it just followed the food and women. Read about it here at Irishorigenes

And what is this relationship between McIntyres and Gillespies.
A: Here is the Scandinavian DNA results showing the Scotland Mc Chief with a very close match to a Gillespie.
B: Below that are my Celtic Irtish matches showing a few Gillespies as well.
A & B are not genetically related but show a relationship between Gillsepie and McIntyre.
Could this be a language relationship. Wrights or Carpenters of the family became Macs and those who were working with the Bishop became Gillespies.


More to come… If this interests you and you have something to add please join out McIntyres of Ireland FB closed group.

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