Who we are, and who are we?
The Fitzpatrick Y-DNA study, which was started 18 years ago by Dr Colleen Fitzpatrick, has found there are several large and distinct groups of Fitzpatricks. Aligning the results of the DNA study with historical records and genealogies has enabled three of these larger genetic groups to also be defined by geographic location. They are Fitzpatrick of Ossory (Mac Giolla Phadráig Osraige), O'Mulpatrick of Bréifne (Ó Maol Phádraig Bréifne) and MacKilpatrick of Ulster (Mac Giolla Phadráig Ulaid). These genetic groups match those identified by McLysaght as the three clans who ultimately took the surname Fitzpatrick.
There is also a large group we can distinguish genetically, but at this stage we are unable to identify an Irish homeland. It is possible this group are Ó Maol Phádraig Bréifne because there is an association with Cavan for some members. And it is also possible they are associated with Mac Giolla Phadráig Osraige since O’Hart and other Irish historians refer to Mac Giolla Phadráigs from Ossory who migrated to Bréifne, but primary sources for this are lacking - it may well be based on the Annalistic reference of Ossorians fleeing to Connaught in 1157 AD combined with the knowledge that large numbers of Fitzpatricks were known to reside in Bréifne from the early 18th Century. The DNA project has established these Fitzpatricks, some of whom trace to Cavan, are a branch of haplotype FGC11134, which is common in Munster and Leinster. In addition, the group is further identified by a block of Fitzpatrick specific SNPs, including BY9002, that are old (later than ca. 450 AD) and consistent with an early adoption of a Patriac patronym. The DNA project is endeavouring to uncover more about this group who, at this stage, are referred to by their haplotype (BY9002).
As well as the five larger groups mentioned, there are many smaller genetic groups that include haplotypes R-Z255, R-L513, R-M222, R-U106, I-M223 and J-M172. The L513 group is particularly interesting because it is strongly associated with the surname Maguire and, therefore, may represent descendants of Gilla Phádraig of Fermanagh of the Maguires.
And then there are many individuals with no close Y-DNA matches to any other Fitzpatricks; they include men identified by haplotypes R-Z253, R-CTS1751, D, E, I and Q-M242.
Many of us have a strong understanding of who we are as Fitzpatricks. But for many the question is, "Who are we?" Whatever being a Fitzpatrick means to you, know the Fitzpatrick Clan Society warmly embraces all who have connections to the Fitzpatrick surname.
The Clans we know
Fitzpatrick of Ossory (Mac Giolla Phádraig Osraige)
Very much has been written about the Fitzpatricks of Ossory and much of that recorded relates to the line of Brian Óg Mac Giolla Phádraig (c. 1485-1575) who was the last claimant to the kingdom of Ossory (Osraige). Under surrender and regrant he was created the Baron of Upper Ossory in 1541 by Henry VIII; in doing he took the surname Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick has remained a common surname in Counties that share the territory of ancient Ossory, viz., Kilkenny, Laois, Offaly, Tipperary and Waterford.
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Many Fitzpatricks who trace to Ossory are readily identified by their distinctive Y-DNA signature and further, recently obtained, DNA evidence has revealed fascinating insights into the relatively recent Frankish roots of the most documented of all Fitzpatrick Clans, challenging the long held beliefs that they descend from the ancient Giolla Phádraig dynasts.
O'Mulpatrick of Bréifne (Ó Maol Phádraig Bréifne)
The swathe of territory that is Bréifne has a history of powerful chieftains, conflict and upheaval. Fitzpatricks have long been present in Bréifne with historians recording both Ó Maol Phádraig and Mac Giolla Phádraig throughout the country. The DNA study has identified at least three different haplotypes associated with Bréifne Fitzpatricks, but with the surname Ó Maol Phádraig being absorbed into Fitzpatrick in the 17th Century it is not trivial to determine who is who.
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Advanced DNA test results have closely matched haplotype BY2630 (a branch of L513) with the surnames of several close Ó Maol Phadráig associates in the 17th century. In addition, these BY2630 Fitzpatricks trace to near Belturbet in Cavan, which is where references to Mulpatricks are found in the 1641 Depositions. Hence, our working thesis is that one type of Ó Maol Phádraig Bréifne may be BY2630. However, any Fitzpatrick who traces to Bréifne may consider themselves part of this Clan.
MacGilpatrick of Ulster (Mac Giolla Phádraig Ulaid)
There are numerous Fitzpatricks clearly identified in historical records, starting with the Patent Rolls of James I, pertaining to Co. Down, from the early 17th Century to the present day. MacGilpatrick, an established variant of Mac Giolla Phádraig, is listed as one of the principal names in the Barony of Upper Iveagh in the 1659 Census.
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Until recently the origin of these Fitzpatricks was unknown, but with the discovery of their Fitzpatrick-specific genetic fingerprint, BY2849, which formed ca. 1100 AD it is now understood this Clan trace to Leinster in ancient times. Clan members are still found in Leinster today in Co. Kildare and Co. Louth, but they are by far most numerous in Co. Down.
The mystery of their arrival in the Barony of Iveagh, the Barony of Mourne and the Lordship of Newry before the early 1600s, their rapid proliferation in that area, and their associations with the Clanaboy O'Neill and Clan Magennis is being uncovered for the first time.