The MacEgan, Egan, Eagan, Eagen,
Agen, Agin, Agins, and Keegan Families

Finte na hÉireann


Clan Egan DNA Project

The Bottom Line - Results

Until recently we were analysing FTDNA yDNA results to produce a measure called time to most recent common ancestor (TMRCA). Other time pressures prevent us from continuing this analysis however as many of you joined the Project quite early the TMRCA results may still prove useful. There is an explanation of how to use the Y-Utility tool on the FTDNA yDNA results page.

For the foreseable future we will be relying directly on FTDNA yDNA results. FTDNA provides FAQs which may assist you in interpreting the FTDNA results. You will receive direct advice from FTDNA as new potential relationships occur.

Why a DNA Project?

At the instigation of the late Mac Aodhagáin Dr. Michael J.S. Egan we have been undertaking the Clan Egan DNA Project as part of an attempt to bridge some of the major gaps in the documented genealogies particularly those occuring pre 1800. It is the male Y-DNA that is most commonly associated withthe family name.

The use of DNA in genealogical research has gathered momentum very quickly. As we are a family who had a major responsibility in documenting the law and history of old Ireland we are perhaps morally obliged to be part of the action. In the greater Europe names were often associated with trades e.g. Smith for blacksmith, Baker for baker etc. In Ireland however the gaelic names were tied to families. This makes the prospect for our surname project very good indeed as Egan is a recognised ancient name of Ireland. We know the Egans data back to at least 865 AD and most likely well before that.

Keeping it Simple

If you have joined the Clan Egan DNA Project you should have had a 37 marker or more test conducted and received the address of a Member’s Page on the FTDNA site showing your results. It is not necessary to understand what the markers mean, but for you to be related to someone most of your markers should match theirs. The number of differences, in simplified terms, is called Genetic Distance.

So how do you interpret the results? Well it’s easy enough in fact, just go to your Page and push the “matches” button. You will hopefully see a list of participants you may be related to. Their contact details, if they have provided them, should be visible if you click on their entry. After that, it is up to you, but we would like to hear of more Ferbane success stories.

There are default settings on the pulldown menus and it may be wise to change the “all” to “Egan” restricting the search to those in the project and reduce the Genetic Distance pulldown to about half the default which will give you people probably related.

Further Analysis by Us

We do some more analysis to estimate the time between participants and a common ancestor they may share. This is the TMRCA or time to most recent common ancestor. The time in TMRCA Results is measured in nominal generations of 30 years. To place this measure in context 37 Generations gets you back to the Aidacain (Aodhagáin/Egan) Stone 865 AD.

You May Find DNA Testing Befuddling?

Let's face it DNA testing can be confusing probably even if you are a full-time geneticist. There is considerable "encouragement" for you to "invest" (spend money) in more testing so before you do that it is considering carefully what gain there is to be had; apart that is from adding to the general research effort.


Y-DNA is passed by fathers to their male offspring and, because it is the males who conventionally carry the surname, Y-DNA is the focus of our DNA Project.

The additional analysis the Clan performs, using the FTDNA results, is to identify potential relationships by calculating the time to the most recent (potential) common ancestor (TMRCA) you may share. After you have looked at the TMRCA results, the DNA Project Administrator, Sue, can put you in contact with each other, should you choose.

If you have done the Y-DNA test and do not have access to the Internet contact Sue directly. If you haven’t taken the test, and feel it is a useful thing to do either for your family or for the Clan, we recommend you take the 37 marker test. You won’t definitely find out anything, but then again you just might!

Mitochondrial DNA

Now for Mitochondrial or mtDNA. There are, it is believed, only 7 basic mtDNA signatures, with some mutations, and the women from whom these came are often referred to as the “Seven Daughters of Eve”. Mothers pass their mtDNA to both their daughters and their sons. The sons do not pass their mother’s mtDNA to their offspring.

Confused already right?

FTDNA, which is providing analysis for our Y-DNA Project, also provides testing for mtDNA, potentially allowing you to identify siblings, as both brothers and sisters carry their mother’s mtDNA and the sons also their father’s Y-DNA. This may assist if siblings have been adopted out or lost in marriage breakdowns, for example. A small number of members have subscribed to the mtDNA test, although this is not currently part of our Project.

Family Finder

FTDNA also offers “Family Finder” which uses a combination of Y-DNA and mtDNA signatures to identify potential familial relationships over a limited number of generations from those taking Family Finder tests – the Family Finder test pool is currently still relatively small. If you have no surviving related Egan males, but there are other Egans that may be related to you, then there is a faint chance that Family Finder will enable you to show that at least you share a common female lineage.

Beware, however, as the probability is that many others in the same geographic area may share the same Eve. Family Finder studies are also not currently part of our Project.

Deep Clade et al.

Finally there is now some interest in “Deep Clade”, and related testing, which attempts to identify your origins further back in time. Are you a Viking or did you come from Ghengis Khan on one of his holiday trips to Europe? Does this explain some of your personality traits? For those interested perhaps look here:

Beware, like most of family history research this can be a bottomless pit of time, money and yes, you guessed it, Deep Clade analysis is not currently part of our Project.

In Summary

So, to close, The Project is focussed entirely on Y-DNA testing in an attempt to determine where in Ireland you most likely came from. This may change if there are “volunteers” wishing to lead other studies.

How to participate in the Clan Egan DNA Project and to obtain the Test Kits

The Clan has established a

Project with FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) in Texas. Please investigate their "FAQ" tab for comprehensive information on DNA testing.

FTDNA offers a range of tests. The 37 marker test was the one adopted by the Clan but you may choose more markers immediately but upgrades are in any case available to a higher number of markers without submitting a new sample. IMPORTANT: to receive preferential prices you should first go to the FTDNA Clan Egan Project.You will find the purchase link under the "Join Request" tab. At the same time as you send your kit to FTDNA please contact us giving your Test Kit Number. If you wish, please also advise an email contact and your earliest known ancestors details (names, country and county/state of birth) for display on the DNA study WWW site.

The DNA Test Process

The test involves wiping the inside of your cheek with a “toothbrush” like instrument – quite painless – sealing it in a container before returning it to FTDNA in Texas.

IMPORTANT: you only need to conduct the test on ONE member of your immediate tree. By immediate tree we mean one that goes back say two or three generations. On rare occasions there may be a change in the Y-DNA between two generations and as our aim is to link to other trees it is best to have the OLDEST MALE member of your family take the test. If the younger members are keen to take the test then that may encourage them to take an interest in the family history. Because one test effectively covers all of your immediate family it makes it relatively inexpensive.
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Mac Aodhagáin Association (Australia & New Zealand)- All rights reserved. Last updated March 2020.