Monday, September 20, 2021

How to Help the Kilcoyne Family Study

My work in the Kilcoyne Project has focused on the use of Y-DNA. This specialized test is different than the at home commercial DNA test you have surely heard of. Both tests are extremely useful. Y-DNA is wonderful for matching just the male Y chromosome to others in terms of thousands of years. The autosomal DNA test looks at the 22 autosomes and is great for family matching going back six or so generations. This is the test that reads all your family's lines. 

Many have tested their Y chromosome with our Kilcoyne Y-DNA Project on Family Tree DNA. The issue many of you have is that you do not have a male relative that carries the the surname Kilcoyne for Y-DNA testing. Or that the cost of the more expensive Y-DNA test is out of your financial reach. This is where the autosomal test can help our study. On sale, the autosomal test typical runs between 59.00 and 79.00 US dollars. The next big sale runs in November. Even if a family member has already tested, it is still worth testing yourself. This is because we all inherit different genes from our parents and ancestors. Lets say you and brother test, but your brother has more Kilcoyne matches than you and has a slightly different ethnicity reading, this is not because the test is incorrect, it is because you simply inherited slightly different segments of DNA during the DNA recombination process. 

I'll list here some step's on how to move forward with testing. This is the best path forward financially speaking to get the most out of your money.

1. Test with This company has a good ethnicity reading but more importantly, a very large database of testers. The last count I saw was in excess of 20 million people. 

Once you receive your ancestry result in a month or so time, you then can upload your DNA to several other sites for free. Some companies require a fee to unlocking your ethnicity reading, but you will be able to view your cousins list for free. You do not have to  spend the money on unlocking the reading if you are not interested. 

2. Upload your ancestry DNA and upload it

3. Upload your ancestry DNA and upload it to FTDNA.

4. Upload your ancestry DNA  to . This site is import because you can view the actual segments of DNA you share with others. Very important for the chromosome mapping tool many of us more serious researchers use for identifying matches in our quest to rebuild the family tree. Once you have uploaded to Gedmatch, you can then join the Kilcoyne ancestor project that I manage there. We have several dozen members joined there.

5. Ensure to build out a family tree on ancestry and make it public. You can then upload your tree to other sites. It is important to fill out the tree the best you can, you can do this without purchasing a membership. If you just testing for your own curiosity and to help this study, then make sure you do not get roped into a monthly payment. 

If you follow these steps, this would be extremely  helpful to further our Project. You will also save quite a bit of money. For the price of one kit, you will have access to four databases of users in excess of 30 million testers. Each company also has different algorithms they use, so you might have a few matches show up that might not have otherwise shown up on ancestry 

If you need any guidance, feel free to reach out.

 Find me on Facebook at

Michael Crow 

Friday, April 2, 2021

Unexpected Y-DNA Finding's in a One Name Study

 When starting out in my Y-DNA quest to genetically map all the Kilcoyne's of Western Ireland, I expected to find the usual variants of the name Kilcoyne in the DNA lists of the testers. Coyne. Coen , etc. Of the 60 testers there are in the Kilcoyne/Coyne Project, I have found no such connection between the Kilcoyne and Coyne surnames. I am sure as time goes on, that this will change. This is where it stands now though. 

One connection I see consistently across 4 unrelated Kilcoyne families, is the matching to the Coyle's. My initial thought was that it was a coincidence, that there must have been a non paternal event somewhere in these families. The two surnames are completely different clans. The Coyle's primarily being from Donegal and Tyrone. With Scottish and English lines as  well. The Kilcoyne's exclusively being from Mayo and Sligo. So I set out to discover more. I encouraged the testers to upgrade their STR kits to the BigY700. I was lucky in having wonderful participation and several made that happen. The BigY is a far superior test than the standard STR tests. STR's (short tandem repeats) are not very reliable in determining  genetic distance between testers. With the BigY, SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphism) are found in the y chromosome which enable the haplotree to build down genetic branches, which are much more helpful in seeing where families branched off more recent in time. 

While waiting on test results and finding and encouraging others to test, I decided to take on the Coyle Y DNA project on FTDNA. The administrator for that Project was no longer interested in managing it, and was eager to hand it off to me. My thought was to combine the two Projects, but there are many Coyle's and variants of the name that have no connection to the Kilcoyne's. So, the best I could do was to encourage members of both groups to join both the Kilcoyne and Coyle Projects. Most of the testers in the Coyle Project are no longer active so I found it was easier to have my Kilcoyne's join the Coyle Project. I labeled each lineage in both the Projects according to color. So the Gold in the Kilcoyne group are the same as the Gold in the Coyle Project. See  the results pages of both projects.

This is the name distribution of the kilcoyne and Coyle surnames on the 1901 census.

As BigY results began to post, the result was clear for two groups, the Blue and Gold. In the early 18th century, the Blue Kilcoyne's were based around Louisburgh, Mayo and the Gold are from South Sligo. Both groups had Coyle matching that can be estimated back 400-600 years. The other two groups. Light Blue and Brown, do not have BigY testers, but they show close STR matching with Coyle's, the matching for these remain unsubstantiated at this point though due to STR's not being very reliable for dating. The matching is still very telling.

The Gold Kilcoyne's  match is to Donegal. While the Blue Kilcoyne's is to Athlone, Roscommon. My opinion is that the matching to these four groups are not a coincidence, that they are the result of the cultural pressure Ireland was under in the last several hundred years. As the Irish were forced to anglicize their names, surnames became mistranslated as they were documented. This was a common occurrence for many Irish families. So I had to take a closer look at the two surnames and see what could have happened, and sought help from an Irish speaker. As explained, the Coyle name in the Irish language is "Mac Giolla Chomhghaill, which translates as "son of the servant of St Chomhghall. Kilcoyne translates to Mac Giolla Chaoin. As in son of the servant of Coyne. There is substantial similarity between Chaoin and Chromhghall, particularly if you drop the ghall part off the name, for convenience or translation purposes. If you hand write Chaoin and Chomh, they are remarkably similar, particularly since "in" looks identical to "m" and the literacy levels of those are in question when these names when being written"

 To me, the evidence was clear. There are many Kilcoyne's that  carry the Y chromosome found in many that have the name Coyle. And vice versa. From the Y-DNA evidence and what is known about the two clans, there are many Coyle's that have no connection at all to the Kilcoyne's, but there are surely many that do. It will be interesting to see how all this unfolds as more testers are recruited in both Projects. 

The results from the Blue Kilcoyne group, as mentioned, show a match to Coyle man from about 400-600 years ago. But interestingly, this same group shows a match to a Kilcoyne man that is estimated back 600-800 years ago. So it seems the Kilcoyne surname in this instance has been used for that long, and the introduction  of Coyle in this genetic pool could have been the result of the Kilcoyne name being mistranslated, and it being a variant of Kilcoyne. The timing of the match coincides with the island losing its native language as it's primary language.  I eagerly await test results and finding and encouraging others to test, so we can discover more

These are the  Kilcoyne families in Ireland discovered using Y-DNA . 8 groups. The largest being the Gold, Light Blue and Blue. Its is possible the smaller groups are from non paternal events, like adoption, or a child taking the surname of his mother. 

Thoughts and suggestions are always welcome. 

If you are a Coyle, Coyne or Kilcoyne, and would like to participate, feel free to reach out to me. 

I am the volunteer Project administrator of the Kilcoyne and Crow Projects on FTDNA. 
Michael Crow 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Kilcoyne Blue Group Update

 Progress in the Blue Group in the Y-DNA Project has come along nicely in the past year. In the beginning this group was only defined by the Louisburgh, County Mayo Kilcoyne's. We have since added several testers with some interesting results. We are seeing the names Coyle and Coen appear in the match lists of the Kilcoyne's. The Coen kit has tested at an entry level DNA kit, so I am unable to decipher time to the most recent common ancestor between him and the others. His earliest known ancestor was from County Sligo. So if this man upgraded to the BigY700 DNA kit, we could see exactly when the match was. I have talked about the match to the Coyle's extensively in my Facebook group. I believe the Coyle and Kilcoyne surnames in this instance are one in the same. As explained to me by an Irish speaker, Kilcoyne translates to  Mac Giolla Chaione, Coyle translates to Mac Giolla Chomgaill. Giolla means Kil, if the pronunciation is stretched it sounds like Coyle. I believe the names at one point were the same and was used by a man who was the common ancestor for all the testers in this group. It is likely that due to the Anglicization of surnames in Ireland beginning in the 16th century, that the surname evolved into the variations we are seeing in the match list. This was quite common during this period with many clan names all over the island. With the information we have this point, we can ascertain that the common ancestor for this group was sometime between 600-800 years ago. So the surname Coyle/Kilcoyne has likely been fixed to this specific family for that amount of time. Surnames became custom around 1000 years ago in Ireland, so its possible that this family has carried the same surname throughout the course of the surname era in Ireland. I haven't come across any information on a historical connection between the families. So with our Y-DNA study, we are rewriting was is known about this clan.

In this image below is the "Block Tree" on the results page of Family Tree Dna. This shows where the testers sit on the Haplotree, or the Tree of Mankind. I-FT418455 is downstream or a twig on  Haplogroup, I-M223. I-M223 is prehistoric Irish Gael, and was formed about 14k years ago in Europe. You can read about that here .

The Block Tree shows an average of 7 Private Variants for these testers. We can estimate the time to the most recent common ancestor by multiplying about 100 years per variant, or mutation.  

Below is a map of Kilcoyne/Coyle and Coen matches. Based on the location of the earliest known ancestors of the testers. All being in the 19th century. With new testers and existing testers upgrading to the BigY700, we can learn much more. In the image below, I have entered the surname alongside the blue pin. 

This family tested positive for genetic mutation  I-FT418455. Formed around the year 1200AD in the common male ancestor in Ireland. Here is the paternal migration for this family out of Africa. Which began a few hundred thousand years ago. This family likely entered Ireland around 800BC.

The latest BigY700 tester for this group will be adding a new branch to the Haplotree. This branch will be  downstream of I-FT418455. This high level Y chromosome testing is now building a family subclade in modern times.  Building the genetic branches down in the genealogical era has enormous value, as more testers come in to the mix, we can more accurately determine genetic distance between the testers. And see where families branched off. This is the ultimate goal of Y testing. And an achievement for this group. The new branch is not yet added to the haplotree but will be within the month. 

Blue Group in the Y-DNA Project. Visit the Kilcoyne Project at

Trees of testers

                                              Ballymote, Sligo to Lawrence, Massachusetts

                                                 Louisburgh, Mayo to Clinton, Massachusetts

Aglish, Mayo to Quebec/NY

                                                       Louisburgh, Mayo to Pennsylvania

Thursday, December 17, 2020

2020 Year in review for the Kilcoyne Y DNA Project

 2020 has been a successful year for the Kilcoyne Y DNA Project. I took over the group last March from a group of historians from the state of Maine. This group oversaw several dozen small Irish surname Projects, names which are found in the west of Ireland. After an interview with the group, they decided to hand me the Project as I could breathe some life into it. 

Before the Maine group managed this project, the first administrator, a Coyne descendant, primarily had Coynes tested in the Project. We have determined that up until this point, there have been no Y DNA matches between the Kilcoynes and the Coynes. Because my maternal side are Kilcoynes who were rooted in County Sligo, I decided to genetically Y DNA map all the Kilcoyne families of western Ireland. Using the Griffiths Land Valuation as guidance, (  I documented all the families carrying the surname on specific townlands, then set out to find testers.

 The Project has recruited 20 new Kilcoyne testers, and has added seven  new and  unrelated groups to the previous one. Of the 20 testers, we have had 4 from England, 7 from Ireland, and 9 from the states. Considering Family Tree DNA has a database that consists of it being over 90% American, the Project's international success speaks for itself. The Kilcoyne Family History Group on Facebook has certainly helped with this. Please continue to share this group with family members, if it generates interest in just one person, then it is worthwhile.

Below is the current map of testers found , based on the Griffiths. I recruited testers and built out their family trees. Then added them to the specific townland their family farmed in the 19th century. The black pins are untested lines, the colored ones are tested and placed in their respective group in the DNA Project . You can see that there are Kilcoyne groups living near each other that are unrelated to each other. This is of enormous help to the average family researcher who wonders if other Kilcoyne's nearby their family, are related. 

As Y DNA results began to come in, I expected to see matching to similar sounding surnames. For instance, the Coynes. I did not see any Coyne matches but one name that was consistent in 3 different Kilcoyne's lines were the  Coyle's and Kyle's. The three groups that saw matching to the Coyle's are the Gold, Blue and Light Blue. Due to the current level of testing in the groups, the only group that I could put dating estimates on was the Gold. It is determined the Kilcoyne's from Sligo shared a common ancestor with the Coyle's of Donegal between 1400-1600ad. New testing is underway so hopefully we can further understand where these families lived long ago. If I recruit the right testers, it's possible we can find out when the naming mishap occurred. If one even did. The Blue group from Louisburgh, is currently undergoing further testing so we will be able to date their match to the Coyle's as well. I will keep the Louisburgh family up to speed on that in the coming months. 

In a few months, every Kilcoyne group in the Project will have a BigY700 tester. This is the most advanced DNA test there is, and will be very informative. This is an accomplishment as this test is very pricey. 

Here is a nice graphic that explains the three periods of ancestry that I am interested in. Courtesy of David Vance.

There has been many successes for families in our project. One I can think of is an American who did not know his family roots in Ireland. It was believed to be County Mayo, but nothing was certain. The issue was his line arrived in England in the 1840's, and documentation was poor. A Y DNA test revealed this man shared the same exact y chromosome as those that tested into the Light Blue group from Achill Island. In this case we determined his family roots within just a few miles of where his family left nearly 200 years ago. Moving forward I anticipate if any Kilcoyne man  takes a Y DNA test, that we can likely  tie him into a specific geographic location in the west of Ireland. 

The Kilcoyne Project has been a fun and worthwhile adventure. The pandemic freed up a lot of time for me this past year, so we may not keep up with the current speed moving forward, but progress will continue. Thanks to all those that saw the value in this and participated. It's been a labor of love. 

The hunt goes on. 2021 will be a good year. 

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.