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Mulvihill DNA Project

From ISOGG Wiki

The Mulvihill DNA Project is a Y-DNA program domiciled at Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) as part of our Genetic Genealogy Program. The goals of the project are to characterize the structure of the extant Mulvihill population, investigate the ancient origins of the people, and provide our individual members a view into their past. The project began in June, 2005 and has grown to 67 participants, tested at FTDNA and elsewhere.


Mulvihill is one of the most ancient surnames in the world. Derived from the Irish Gaelic Maoil Mhichil, it may have been in limited use as early as the late 10th Century. The meaning in English is "Servant of St. Michael". The earliest recorded use as an individual's given name is about 450 AD. Although this name may have been adopted by a number of individuals during the early Christian period in Ireland, only one instance of it's use as a surname is recorded in the ancient annals. This ocurred in east central County Roscommon, in the tribal lands of the Corca Achlann.

The specific source of the name within the Corca Achlann appears to be Maelmichil, Chieftain of the tribe in 866 when he is elected Chieftain also of the Sil Murray (Siol Muiredhaigh). The Sil Murray was the most powerful federation of tribes in the province of Connacht.

The Mulvihills were driven from their homeland in 1416 and are today widely dispersed in Ireland. They are most numerous in Counties Kerry and Clare, with sizezable populations in Counties Longford and Galway.


The name Mulvihill has been rendered in a wide variety of phonetic variants: Mulvehill, Mulvahill, Mulvoihill, Mulvihell, etc. Other variant names were adopted during periods of prejudial strife, beginning in the 17th Century: Mitchell, Melville, Mulville, and others. It must be noted that these latter names have other established origins, and the Mulvihills among them represent a very small fraction of the total.

It is estimated that there are 6000-8000 persons of the name in the world, not including a nearly equal number whose maiden name was Mulvihill. The name is currently most numerous in the U.S.

In about 1050, a faction of the tribe adopted the surname Brennan, honoring a recent Chieftain, Bran. This surname is not unusual in Ireland and arose independently in at least six different, unrelated areas. The Corca Achlann Brennans comprise about 30% of all Brennans, and generally may be distinguished in our DNA program. The DNA Program has also confirmed that the Corca Achlann Brennans and Mulvihills came from the same pre-surname stock.


The Mulvihill DNA project is a Y-DNA STR Project, meaning we test the Y-chromosome, present only in males and passed from father to son. See DNA 101: Y-Chromosome Testing for a layman's explanation of DNA and the Y-chromosome and how this applies to genealogy.

Anyone interested in testing under this Project should go to , which is the home page of our testing program. Choose "Join the Project" and follow the instructions. We recommend that all males test a minimum of 37 markers to provide enough resolution to unambiguously distinguish among related families.

--Jmulvihill 11:12, 17 January 2012 (EST)