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Ancient Breifne Clans (Ireland)

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  • 1067 members

About us

Updated 20 February 2015

Use the menu bar to the side of the project page to navigate to any page of the project website.  To post to the forum ("Activity Feed"), make sure you are signed in as a member.

Check the surnames (left hand menu) to learn if yours is one already in the project.

Updated 22 November 2014

The Kingdom of Bréifne is the apparent homeland for the Uí Briúin Bréifne. The area included the counties of Leitrim, Cavan and Sligo with parts of Longford, Meath and Fermanagh later added. 

Apparently the meaning of Breifne is "hilly" and this certainly describes the appearance of the lands.  

History indicates that around the 8th century, the area known as Breifne was conquered and settled by the Uí Briúin who were a branch of the royal family of Connacht.  By the 9th century the O'Ruaircs had established themselves as kings of Breifne.  You may also be interested in looking at the O'Rourke site. 

Update 12 October 2014

This project has just come under new management and has been undergoing a revamp of the way the members are arranged.  Although many of the clusters (as used from the extensive work by the previous Administrator) remain intact, there have been many new members joining as well as others upgrading in the time lapse between Admins.  This, understandably, resulted in a multitude of “unplaced” members. 

In the on-going revamp, I have changed some clusters and formed others, although not with the same coding system as previouly used.  The new clusters are placed into haplogroups with additional sub-grouping where the haplotypes signify family matches.  Those who are atY-37 (or less) and matching with numerous surnames, have been placed into a group labelled “Please upgrade”.  This upgrading to at least Y-67 is particularly important for testers in the R1b haplogroups for geneological purposes.  If your interest is in 'Deep Ancestry". then SNP testing is required..

The Admin of the O'Donoghue project regularly reports to her members and includes aspects of the Breifne clans of Cavan – these can be located at

Although this project is full of specific surnames, it is not listed amongst the FTDNA Surname Projects. It is a Geographic Project specifically for the descendants of the old Breifne kingdom of Ireland.  Nor does this project cater for mtDNA results, but if members wish me to turn this feature on, please just ask.  Autosomal DNA (‘Family Finder’) cannot be displayed, but if you enquire of me, I can certainly tell you more..


Counties of Cavan & Leitrim plus areas of adjoining counties constituted the initial area of the Kingdom of Breifne.  In the early 12th century, this kingdom was coextensive with the Catholic Diocese of Kilmore. Certain surnames have been associated with the Breifne area since the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, and according to the traditional genealogies, their descendants have a common male-line ancestor from the 6th century.  These names are listed in the project’s profile.

However, some branches of these families apparently later took other surnames - no doubt for specific identification (or not) purposes, as the case may be.  Over succeeding centuries, with families bearing similar (some identical and others were variations) surnames for whatever reason, moving into the Breifne area, we now have numerous similar surnames of differing Haplogroups and haplotypes.  The sub-clade of R1b (R-M222) appears on the surface to be the most common, but definitive ages of such sub-clades has not yet been ascertained. (There are other common sub-clades in this project.  Always remember that genetic genealogy is cutting edge science and discoveries are only made through males testing just that little bit deeper each time an opportunity presents itself).  

This project is concerned with all of the surnames listed in the Project profile.

The following website will enable you to see much more…

Here is another website that will give further detail. History_of_Breifne

I am Gail Riddell and you can contact me directly at