McHale Family History
It will doubtless be of interest to your McHale readers as well as local Mayo historians that I have undertaken detailed research of the McHale clan, both written and DNA, over the past few years and have come up with some startling conclusions.
Using a core group of McHale DNA project members who have been tested for their Y-DNA history (the male lineage), the origin of the clan is confirmed as a branch of the O’Byrnes of Co Wicklow. More than that, a single O’Byrne male ancestor, the founder of the clan, has been genetically identified and his genetic fingerprint can be tested for at a cost of about $23.
By combining DNA results with written history, it appears that the O’Byrne founder of the McHale (originally McKeale) clan migrated to south Mayo from Wicklow c.1370 in the employ of the first Mayo Mac William, Edmund Albanach Bourke. From the area that became the barony of Kilmaine, the McHales moved north to Turlough as part of Bourke society, then to Lahardane, and finally to Ballycastle. The McHales spread out from these locations across north Mayo.
The origin of the McHale name has long been debated; guesses (often taken as fact) include Welsh Howells and Sligo O’Healys, but I believe I may have found it in the ancient name of Kilmaine barony. The area was known as Conmaicnecuile and a short-form may well be Mac Cuile, especially bearing in mind that one of the Bourke hierarchy was indeed nicknamed Conmaicnecuile.
What may also be of interest to McHales and local Mayo historians is the genetic ancestry of the Brabazons of Swinford, of which I am a proud member. The Brabazons are recorded as a junior branch of the Earls of Meath, but on closer inspection of the historical records, including our family papers, there was a break in the Brabazon lineage in 1654 in the person of Capt William Brabazon, the founder of what became Swinford. Capt William’s father, Anthony Brabazon of Ballinasloe, left for exile in Spain eighteen months before the birth of his supposed son, William, and died in Seville within a year. Capt William Brabazon was adopted into the Brabazon family in 1660 in order to preserve property rights under Charles II. The Y-DNA of the Brabazons is actually McHale – a shock to both junior and senior lines of the Brabazon family, but (hopefully) a win for the McHales!
I would be delighted to hear from any of your readers interested in McHale history and from any male McHales wishing to be tested for the Y-DNA McHale fingerprint. I can be contacted at the postal and email addresses, above.
Phone: 00353 (0)28 31757