By Siobhán Cronin
ANY McCarthys – or MacCarthys – who have not yet had their DNA tested were encouraged to join in a major surname project which is helping to create a massive database of the Irish clan.
Speaking at the MacCarthy clan weekend in Dunmanway on Saturday, DNA expert Nigel MacCarthy revealed the huge progress that has been made in the project.
He also revealed how one of Butch Cassidy’s outlaws appears to have strong Dunmanway connections.
‘We have built a global network of McCarthys,’ he said, explaining that the project concentrates on the Y chromosome – so is only concerned with male McCarthys.
He said that many people who trace their family trees in more conventional ways find they hit a brick wall around the 1800s, especially as many Irish parish records ‘run dry’ at this point.
However, using DNA testing, they can trace their ancestors much further back, and show the exact lineage of the males in the family.
‘I have destroyed a lot of illusions, but others have had a lot of good surprises,’ he said.
He said the McCarthy project began with a woman who arrived in Dunmanway in 2003, (Barbie Ann McCarthy), armed with testing kits, who basically walked down the street and asked as many McCarthys as she could find, to have their DNA tested.
Nigel McCarthy said that among the revelations that have come about as a result of the McCarthy Surname Project are that one of Butch Cassidy’s original Wild Bunch – Tom McCarthy – appears to have roots in the McCarthys of Dunmanway. It is estimated that McCarthy rode out with Butch Cassidy in the late 1800s, he said.
All the work collating the data is done on a voluntary basis, Nigel said, because he is personally interested in the project, and has two voluntary assistants also.
The only cost is for those who wish to have their DNA tested, and the project uses a very reputable firm based in the US, called FTDNA, in Houston.
‘Donations are always welcome,’ he said, and he also made a call-out to any McCarthys who have not yet tested, to get involved in the project.
‘We also need two new co-ordinators, so I would ask anyone interested in the McCarthys of Munster, and with an interest in data and analysis, to get in touch.’
The talk on the DNA project was just one element of the weekend which welcomed Susan and Don McCarthy who have allowed thousands of valuable documents to be repatriated to the Cork City & County Archives.
The brother and sister, from Oregon in the US, have given over 2,000 extensive and meticulously researched documents from author and historian Daniel MacCarthy Glas to the Blackpool archives.
The weekend, which drew McCarthys from as far away as Canada and other parts of the US, was a well-attended mixture of get-togethers, outings and workshops, organised by historians Mervyn O’Driscoll of UCC and Michelle O’Mahony.
More details on the project are at: mccarthydna.wordpress.com/