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NW Irish

From ISOGG Wiki

The (North West) NW Irish project is a Y-DNA haplogroup project hosted at Family Tree DNA.


With the established patrilineal transmission of Y-DNA with surnames in Ireland, researchers for some time sought to find sets of short tandem repeat (STR) marker values that might identify the great ancient families of Ireland. The distinctive STR signature of one Haplogroup R1b cluster was identified (Wilson, D 2004, and separately and formally Moore et al 2006) as the Irish Modal Haplotype (IMH). Wilson also showed the connection of IMH with the, kings of medieval Ireland, and specifically descendants of the semi-legendary 5th Century king, Niall of the Nine Hostages. It was later found that this cluster is derived for the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) M222 (McEwan, 2006).

The Irish Modal Haplotype was first recognised as the Haplogroup R1b1c7 in the R1b-Tree at ISOGG (2006, 2007). The subsequent identification of other R1b SNPs has resulted in the Irish Modal Haplotype having several different nomenclatures in subsequent versions of the ISOGG R1b Tree, namely R1b1b2a1b6b (2008), R1b1b2a1a2f2 (2009, 2010), R1b1a2a1a1b4b (2011), R1b1a2a1a1b3a1a1 (2012), R1b1a2a1a2c1a1a1 (2013, 2014), and R1b1a2a1a2c1a1a1a1 (2015). It is often described as R-M222.

The definitive markers identified for this cluster are:-

  • DYS390 = 25
  • DYS385b = 13
  • DYS392 = 14
  • DYS448 = 18
  • DYS449 = 30
  • DYS464 = 15,16,16,17
  • DSY456 = 17
  • DYS607 = 16
  • DYS413 = 21,23
  • DYS534 = 16
  • DYS481 = 25 (FTDNA convention; = 24 EthnoAncestry convention)*
  • DYS714 = 24

Y-search ID M5UKQ has been set up for the NW Irish cluster modal values.


The R-M222 branch of the Y-DNA tree is defined by a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) called M222. This diagnostic marker is associated with many individuals whose roots lie in the counties of Northwest Ireland, Ulster and Lowland Scotland. The shaded footprint in the map below shows the area where this profile is most often found. In no county is this pattern the dominant DNA profile, but in some counties (Donegal in NW Ireland, for example) it approaches 20 percent.

The map is intended only to show a population concentration; R-M222 individuals have roots within the oval but are not constrained by it. R-M222 individuals have been found in nearby areas outside the footprint -- in the Western Isles and in Orkney, for example, as well as in the North of England adjacent to the Scottish Border. A very few individuals have been found in Iceland, Norway and Germany.


Age of cluster

Defining SNP

The cluster was shown to be M222+ when this single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) was discovered in 2006.

SNP M222 is recognised by ISOGG on their yDNA Haplogroup R Tree.

A project has been established at FTDNA for those testing M222+.