Doherty Surname Group

  • 929 members

About us

This website was established on March 21, 2006 as a means of keeping the participants in the Doherty Surname Y-DNA Project more regularly apprised of new test results and other developments with respect to the Project.


Doherty Surname Project, Y-DNA Subgroups Reorganized in March 2017


Until recently, the Y-DNA Results Charts for the Doherty Surname Project had been organized into 10 subgroups based on:

 (1) the Doherty surname, and

(2)  STR (Short Tandem Repeat)results i.e. Y12, Y25, Y37, Y67, Y111 results.

The subgroups have now been reorganized into 9 subgroups based on just SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) results, regardless of participant surname. 

The fairly recent discovery of over 100 new SNPs below the R1-M222 SNP, and the upsurge in SNP test upgrades by Doherty Project participants though FTDNA’s recent 2016 end-of-year promotions (M222 SNP Packs, Big-Y tests, etc.), has enabled us to use SNPs to more accurately group our current 319 Doherty ProjectY-DNA participants into subgroups of genetically related participants.

  • If you share a terminal SNP with another participant, you are related. 
  • STRs can then help estimate the time to a shared common ancestor.

The reason the Doherty surname is no longer being used to sort participants into subgroups is primarily because of the following:

  • While the majority of participants in the Doherty Surname Project may have one of the known Doherty Surname variants, and are considered genetically related to the genetic signature (STR Haplotype) and SNP (Haplogroup) of the O’Dochartaigh Clann Chief’s line***, not everyone fits this profile.
  • There are many participants in our project who do not have a Doherty surname yet are  to the STR Haplotype and SNP Haplogroup of the O’Dochartaigh Clann Chief’s line. 
  • We have also found that there are some participants in the project who have the Doherty surname but are genetically unrelated to the STR Haplotype and SNP Haplogroup of the O’Dochartaigh Clann Chief’s line. 

***Another important outcome of the recently upgraded testing results is the clarificationof the genetic signature (STR haplotype) and terminal SNP associated with theO’Dochartaigh Clann Chief’s line; which provides the Doherty Surname Project an important ‘base-of-reference’ for our Y-DNA data set– which many surname groups don’t have.

There are many plausible explanations for the relatedness or un-relatedness situations:

  • In addition to over 140 variations in the spelling of the Doherty surname, we know some non-Doherty surnames in our project represent those participants whose ancestors split off from the Doherty Clann (e.g. McDevitt), while others changed their name over time for various reasons (persecution, debt, etc.).
  • There were likely many instances of Doherty individuals being absorbed / adopted into non-Doherty surname Clanns following famines, plagues, war, etc.
  • Conversely, there were instances of non-Doherty individuals being absorbed / adopted into the Doherty Clann.  This resulted in some participants who have a Doherty surname, but their STR and SNP results do not match up with the O’Dochartaigh Clann Chief’s STR and SNP results.
  • It is not uncommon for around 20% of any given Clann to be made up of members of the Clann who are not blood relatives of the Clann Chief.  They are still members of the Clann.
  • So, while we have some participants in our Doherty Surname Project who do not have a paternal link to their Doherty ancestors, they can still research their autosomal and/or maternal Doherty roots via Family Finder (FF) and/or mtDNA testing.  Which means that Y-DNA results for non-Doherty male participants can show up in the Doherty Project Y-DNA charts as well.


You can see the new subgroupings by clicking on the myGroup link near the top of yourFTDNA homepage, and then click on “DNA Results” under the Doherty coat of arms, then click on “Colorized Chart”. 

As you scan through the Y-DNA Charts, you will notice that the Haplogroup column lists each participants’ terminal SNP in either RED or GREEN highlights.

  • GREEN SNP indicates the furthest terminal SNP that has been confirmed by tests conducted by FTDNA.
  • RED SNP indicates the furthest terminal SNP that FTDNA is comfortable predicting based solely on the participant’s STR test results when no SNP tests have been done.
  • Only a positive SNP test result by FTDNA will result in a GREEN SNP label on FTDNA charts.

So why is your kit in subgroup 1 if your terminal SNP in the Haplogroup column of theY-DNA chart is colored red (like M173 or M269)? The answer is because you have a number of YDNA matches with fellow participants who have already tested positive for the BY471, SNP or even some that are further below this SNP.

If you would like to see how the results of the Doherty Big-Y testing are beginning to map out on the Big Y tree see .The O’Dochartaigh group now has seven branches below BY471.  Included in this Big Tree is kit 38173, O’Dogherty, representing the Clann Chieftain’s line which is online 129 of the colorized chart.

  • BY471 has two known equivalent SNPs: A1330 and FGC8840.
  • Here are some of the SNPs that you will see on the Doherty Project Y-DNA Charts: BY470, FGC49692, FGC49693, FGC52372, FGC51814, A11106, A11231
  • All the other GREEN highlighted SNPs in subgroups 1 & 2 lie above BY471 but below M222.

For those interested in SNP testing, we would recommend the following:

  • Those in subgroups 1 and 2 would benefit from either the M222 SNP Bundle Pack or the Big-Y test. (The M343 SNP Bundle Pack is NOT appropriate for subgroups 1 and 2 as it only tests down to M222.)
  • There currently is not a subgroup 3.  (The McDevitts have been moved to subgroup 1.)
  • Those in Subgroup 4 would benefit from either the M343 SNP Bundle or Big-Y test.

Hereare some cost considerations:

  • The M343 SNP Bundle Pack is currently on sale for $99, and will test for SNPs from M343 down to (and including) M222 but not beyond that.
  • The M222SNP Bundle Pack is available, but currently not on sale, and costs $119 - it will test the M222 SNP plus over 100 SNPS below M222.
  • The Big-Y test covers thousands of SNPs but normally costs $575.

If cost is an issue, we recommend waiting until these tests go on sale during one of FTDNA’s seasonal promotions.  The next seasonal promotion from FTDNA should be around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

If you have any questions about anything at all covered in this email, feel free to contact the Doherty Surname Project administrators. Note: All administrators are volunteers, not FTDNA employees. But we are here to help you find answers to your questions and update you on advancements in findings pertaining to theDoherty Surname – The Clann O’Dochartaigh.


Bob Doherty on behalf of Carleen Doherty, Kay Schmid and Zack Daugherty

Your FTDNA Doherty Surname ProjectAdministrators


2015 O’DochartaighReunion Y-DNA Report

by: Bob Doherty*,  Administrator of the Doherty Surname Group atFamily Tree DNA

(*of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Dohertys)

The goal of this report is to give an overview of the Y-DNA (patrilineal) test results for the Family TreeDNA (FTDNA) Doherty Surname Group.  We will touch on how these test results are helping to identify specificbloodlines and genetic relatedness within the O’Dochartaigh Clann. 


You can view the DNA data ofthe Doherty Surname Group at .  Click on theDoherty Project public website link at this web page.  Or, you can type FTDNA Doherty Surname Group in your web browser, and it will takeyou directly to the public website.


 Please note that the identity of individual participants is not revealed in this “public” website version to maintain individual privacy.  To have access to additional participant data, or to contact participants directly, you must be a member of FTDNA’s Doherty Surname Group and you must meet FTDNA’s relatedness criteria between participants.   You can join the Doherty Surname Group byordering any of the FTDNA test kits listed on this link.


FTDNA represents one of the largest genetic databases, and does offer other types of DNA testing such asFamily Finder (FF) which looks at autosomal DNA and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) for maternal lineage, but this report will only address Y-DNA testing which focuses on paternal lineage. 


The DNA of our ancestors lives within us today.  Our own DNA is an enormous archive that exists inside each of us that explains how we look and identifies where we came from.

The good news is that genetic testing for genealogy purposes has made tremendous strides in the last ten years and has led to what is now referred to as genetic genealogy, which has become an additional tool that can help more traditional genealogy research break through some brick walls and clarify relationships.

Anyone who has seriously contemplated having their DNA tested quickly finds out that there are multiple testing options, at varying costs, at multiple vendors.  But trying to determine which option gives you the “biggest bang for the buck” can be confusing. This report will confine itself to results found at FTDNA.  However, if you have questions about which test is best for you, you can contact Bob Doherty (aka Earthquake) at 

If you have tested at other vendors, you may be able to transfer your test results toFTDNA.

On December 6, 2004 The O’Dochartaigh Clann Association announced its endorsement of the DohertySurname Project at FTDNA as a means of assisting Clann members and others withthe Doherty (or variant) surname with their family genealogy research.  There was also mutual agreement at that time for the Doherty Surname Project at FTDNA to maintain its independence from theClann Association organization to focus on DNA research and analysis.

The DohertySurname Group has grown to 336 participants as of mid-2015, 254 of which are participating in Y-DNA testing; and a significant number of these are participating in further research and analysis with FTDNA and other DNA testing facilities as well as partnering with efforts of professional and citizenscientists, researchers and analysts associated with other Y-DNA websites groups such as the R-M222 Haplogroup Project (formerly the R1b1c7 Project) at . 

While not the largest surname group at FTDNA, the Doherty Surname Group represents one ofthe more robust, and active Y-DNA data groups at FTDNA. 

DNA will not produce a genealogy, but it can show similarities with others who participate in Y-DNA testing who may have documented pedigrees or other information that can help break through brick walls or at least help focus research efforts to areas that show potential, or eliminate areas that are not relevant.   

  • STR markers can help determine how closely related individual participants are.

  • SNP tests can establish anindividual’s terminal SNP which identifies that person’s location (branch) on the Y-DNA tree.  A terminal SNP is usedto identify an individual’s haplogroup.

  • Individuals who share a common terminal SNP are genetically related; but it takes an analysis of STR markers to determine how far back a common ancestor lived.

  • Clade is a term used to refer to genetically related individuals who share a common terminal SNP.

Relevance of Y-DNA in identifying descendants of a clan’s chiefly line.

  • Irish Clanns are traditional kinship groups sharing a common surname and heritage and existing in a lineagebased society prior to the 17th century. 

    • Under Brehon Law the leaders of Irish clans were appointed by their kinsmen as custodians of the clann and were responsible for maintaining and protecting their clann and its property.

    • Gaelic society placed great emphasis on family relationships organized around a strongly patrilineal system (derbhfine) in which land and title could be handed down to successors chosen from within a kin group of male lineage relatives. It is also important to remember, whereas medieval Ireland was Christian, earlier marriage customs persisted and allowed divorce and concubinage.

    • Despite the strong patrilineal system,not all Clann members are necessarily genetically related.  Males from outside the clann married into the clann.  Study of history reveals that Ireland experienced its share of fighting, raiding, rape and pillage; whether it was between rival clanns, with people in other lands, or invasions by the Vikings, the Anglo-Normans and later the Tudor (English) re-conquest and the Plantation of Ireland.  Then there were refugees from wars, plagues and famines whose survivors were absorbed into Clanns.  There were those who were adopted and fostered into the clann as well as those who joined the clann for strategic reasons such as safety or combining lands and resources.  So a significant number of the members of just about every Clann are not part of the patrilineal bloodlines from which the clann chiefs were chosen. 

    • We see a genetic mixed bag when we look at most Irish surname groups at FTDNA.  Usually a predominant number of participants genetically represent the Clann chiefly bloodlines, but there are also participants who do not have close genetic connection withthe clann’s chiefly bloodlines (derbhfine).

  • The endof the Clann system

    • In the 16th century English CommonLaw was introduced throughout Ireland. Together with a centralized royal administration in which the county and sheriff replaced the country and the Clann Chief.

    • When the Kingdom of Ireland was createdin 1541 by the English Crown, the Dublin administration wanted to involve theGaelic chiefs in the new entity, creating new titles for them such as the Earl of Tyrone, or Baron Inchiquin.  In the process they were granted new coats of arms in 1552.  The associated policy of surrender and re-grant involved a change to succession to a title by the European system of primogeniture; and not by Irish Tanistry, where a group of male cousins of achief were eligible to succeed by election. This change to the inheritance system was also taken up by the Scottish clans in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The diverse geneticmakeup of the O’Dochartaigh Clann is not much different from most other Irish clanns in general; especially other North West (NW) Irish clanns who are also on the M222 branch of the Y-DNA genetic tree.

Based on analysis of genetic data of different NW Irish surname groups, only 60% of themales in any given surname group are potentially genetically related  to the chiefly bloodlines of their surname group.  Another 15% might potentially berelated to the chiefly bloodlines; even though they may not have the clann surname.  But around 25% of the males in any given surname group are not genetically related to the chiefly bloodlines of their surname group/clann; even if they have the clann surname.

Here is a genetic breakdown of the 254 Y-DNA participants in the Doherty Surname Group:

  1. 126 (50%) have a Doherty surname and meet M222 relatedness criteria.

  2.   39 (15%) don’t have a Doherty surname but meet M222 relatedness criteria.

  3.   20 (  8%)are McDevitts and meet M222 relatedness criteria.

  4.   41 (16%) have a Doherty surname but don’tmeet M222 relatedness criteria.

  5.   15 (  6%)have a Doherty surname but are on different Y-DNA branches (eg R1a1, E, G, I and J) .

  6.   13 (  5%)DON’T have a Doherty and are on different Y-DNA branches.

Note: the first 3 groups represent 185 participants (73% of the Doherty Surname Group)whose genetic signature (haplotype) meets FTDNA criteria for relatedness with the Doherty Modal Haplotype and the Ui Niall or M222 Modal Haplotype.

R-M222 is currently the ‘terminal SNP’ on the R branch of the Y-DNA tree that defines the North West (NW) Irish Modal Haplotype (genetic signature). But recent research is discovering additional SNPs below M222 on theY-DNA tree that will help distinguish the O’Dochartaigh bloodlines from other R-M222 clan bloodlines.

The following represents the evolution of newer SNPs under R-M207 (the most ancient SNP on the R branch) to the BY470 SNP to the most recent SNP on the R branch). 


There are thousands of SNPs, but these listed above are the more common ones that show up among the Doherty Surname Group.  If you have tested positive for M269, you are encouraged to test for M222.  If you tested positive for M222, you are encouraged to test for DF97.

A number of Doherty Surname Group participants have already tested positive for DF97/FGC8739 and somehave already ordered tests for the BY470 series SNPs which so far appear to beunique to Doherty participants.



2015O’Dochartaigh Reunion Y-DNA Report

by: Bob Doherty*,  Administrator of the Doherty Surname Group atFamily Tree DNA

(*of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Dohertys)


The information in this appendix expands on the terminology used in the report and provides some additional background on the relevance of genetics and patrilineal lineage research.


DNA Terminology

To understand and interpret the genetic data we need to understand some basic nomenclature.

  • Y-DNA STR test kits

    • FTDNA currently offers Y-DNA STR test kits for 12markers ($59), 25 markers ($109), 37 markers ($149), 67 markers ($248) or 111markers ($339). Check for sales and discount coupons.

    • Starting at less than the 37 marker test kit does not give enough data to provide meaningful results. When you try to compare values, most variations occur in the 37 and 67marker ranges.

    • FTDNA does have occasional promotions that will lower the price of certain tests, and upgrades can be ordered at any time using the original test samples submitted when you joined FTDNA.  Your samples submitted when you join are usually enough for many future tests and upgrades.   

  • Base Acids

    • Four basic nucleotide acids: adenine, cytosine,guanine and thymine (represented by the letters A, C, T and G), cluster in our chromosomes as the building blocks of our DNA, and physically define who we are.  They form a nucleic acid sequence represented by a succession of letters that indicate the order of nucleotides within our DNA.  This sequence has the capacity to represent information that can be read from the biological raw material through DNA sequencing methods.  The patterns (the number of times the combinations of the base acids repeats) in those building blocks within ourchromosomes define how unique we each are as individuals, and how similar we are to others. 

  • STR, or Short Tandem Repeats

    • STR stands for short tandem repeat. These STRs occur at a place (a marker) in your DNA code where a letter sequence is repeated. For example, AGTAAGTAAGTA is three repeats of the sequence AGTA.

    • All STRs mutate overtime, but some are much slower to mutate. The slower mutating STR markers tend to remain unchanged over many generations. So with Y-DNA, there exists a high probability that your STR marker values should be identical to your father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and further up your paternal line.  The same is true about your paternal uncles and cousins. When STR marker values do change, it is usually an increase or decrease in the number of repeats at a specific STR marker in your DNA.

    • The value of testing Y-DNA STR markers comes from creating a Y-DNA signature (haplotype) with them and comparing that Y-DNA signature to others in a database. They are useful for genetic genealogy because your Y-DNA signature distinguishes your paternal lineage from others. They can then be used with Family Tree DNA’s comparative database to discover genealogical connections or historic ancestry.

  • Haplotype (Y-DNA signature)

    • A haplotype is the set of numeric values for each specific STR marker tested. The numeric value of each STR is the number of times the letter value at that marker is repeated.

    • The STR results of the Y-DNA test for one person is their haplotype.

    • Two individuals that match exactly on all markers have the same haplotype.

    • Multiple individuals with closely matching STR markers form a Haplogroup.

  • Modal Haplotype

    • The most common result for each individual marker tested in a group of haplotype results becomes the modal haplotype value for that STR in that haplogroup.


  • R-M269,the Western Atlantic Modal Haplotype

    • In 2006, a group of researchers explored the frequency of haplogroup R-M269 and the Western Atlantic Modal Haplotype (WAMH) in Ireland.They showed that haplogroup R-M269 accounts for about 85% of the lineages inIreland.

  • North West (NW) Irish Modal Haplotype

    • Within the R-M269 haplogroup, a distinctive subclade haplotype identified as R-M222 is found at a frequency of up to 20% among North West Irish males. The authors attribute this M222 Y-Chromosome signature to Niall ofthe Nine Hostages, a medieval Irish warlord whose descendants called the UíNéill were the most powerful rulers of Ireland until the 11th century. It is their prolific production of progeny to which the journal article’s authors attribute the modern frequency of Niall’s haplotype.  Over 50% of Doherty Surname Groupparticipants share the R-M222 SNP.


  • Haplogroup

    • A haplogroup is a major branch on either the maternal or paternal tree of humankind. Haplogroups are associated with early human migrations. Today these can associated with a geographicregion or regions.

    • A terminal SNP shared by members of the haplogroup is used as a shorthand lable for the haplogroup.


      A clade is agroup of related individuals in a common haplogroup which is defined by acommon terminal SNP.

      Clades often divide intosub-clades.

  • SNP, or Single-NucleotidePolymorphism

    • An SNP is a singlenucleotide polymorphism test that determines a male’s place (branch) on theancestral tree for all mankind. These changes are rare. Once they happen, they seldom change back(back mutate).

    • Knowing how you connect to other people on the Y-tree can help narrow geographical origins and can potentially confirm specific genealogical connections.  

    • Testing Y-DNA SNP markers help place you further down the branch on the Y-DNA haplotree and assists with scientific research on the Y-tree and for the Doherty Surname Group project.

    • The more people that test their SNPs, the more data points we have to further our understanding of the O’Dochartaigh part in human migration and history. 

    • SNPs offer a definitive answer to a potential relationship. When one person is positive (derived) for an SNP and the other person is negative (ancestral) for the sameSNP, they are not related in genealogical times.  On the other hand, if both men have matching SNP results, their STR (short tandem repeat) marker results determine how recently they are related.

  • Niall of the NineHostages

    • The Niall of the NineHostages Match badge on the My Account – Personal Profile page of your myFTDNA account means that you match exactly or are a close match to thehistoric Irish Modal Haplotype (NW IMH) that was documented in a 2006Y-Chromosome population genetics study.

      • The R-M222 SNP haplotype, which has been attributed toNiall of the Nine Hostages and the Doherty Modal haplotype are very close – ata genetic distance (GD) of 3.  Note thatthe GD sometimes changes to only 2 because there are virtually the same numberof Doherty participants with an STR value of 11 and 12 at DYS460.  The modal value can therefore change as newparticipants join the group.

        Modal Haplotype DYS393 DYS390 DYS19 DYS391 DYS385 385b DYS426 DYS388 DYS439 DYS389i DYS392 DYS389ii DYS458 DYS459 DYS459 DYS455 DYS454 DYS447 DYS437 DYS448 DYS449 DYS464 464b 464c 464d DYS460 Y-GATA-H4 YCAII YCAIIb DYS456 DYS607 DYS576 DYS570 CDY CDYb DYS442 DYS438
        M222  13 25 14 11 11 13 12 12 12 13 14 29 17 9 10 11 11 25 15 18 30 15 16 16 17 11 11 19 23 17 16 18 17 38 39 12 12
        Doherty 13 25 14 11 11 13 12 12 12 13 14 29 18 9 10 11 11 25 15 18 30 15 16 16 17 12 11 19 22 17 16 18 17 38 39 12 12
        marker count 12   25   37

      The Y-DNA Adam lived about 60-90,000 years ago.  He was not the only male living at that time.  He is simply the only male with an unbroken male line of descent to the present day.  Geneticists have identified 20 distinct branches that descend from this single Y-DNA Adam.  About 60,000 years ago the first branching/mutation (the A branch) occurred, followed by the B branch about 55,000 years ago.  The C branch represents the common ancestor of all people who migrated out of Africa. About 27,000years ago the R branch appeared in Asia. The R-M207 SNP identifies this branch. Below the R-M207 SNP, the R-M269 branch appeared about 4-8,000 years ago in SW Asia and spread to Western Europe. Today the R-M269 SNP can be found in 85% of the male lineages in Ireland.And below R-M269, the R-M222 SNP was identified and to be present in up to 20% of all North West Irish Males today.  The R-M222 SNP is present in over 70% of the Y-DNA participants of the DohertySurname Group.



      All 185 Doherty SurnameGroup Y-DNA participants in the first three groups at the Doherty Public Website have been reviewed by the group administrator and it was determined that they meet the FTDNA relatedness criteria for the Doherty Modal Haplotype which contains the R-M-222 SNP.  However FTDNA requires that the each participant has to go through their test process before they will officially certify an individual as being positive for the M-222 SNP.  Getting tested for the M222 SNP is required before FTDNA will test SNPs below M-222. 


      Notes about haplogrouplabels on FTDNA Charts:

      • R-M269 is listed (in red) as the Haplogroup label for many of the Doherty Surname Group participants because the participant has not yet paid to have the test for the R-M222 SNP performed by FTDNA to verify that the R-M222 SNP is part of their genetic profile.

      • R-M222 is listed (in green) as the Haplogroup label for those participants who have paid FTDNA to have the test to verify that the R-M222 SNP is part of their genetic profile.

      • Other SNP tests (in green) such as DF97 and FGC8739 are SNP test below M222 that participants have paid FTDNA to verify.



        This report is intended as an overview.  If you have questions about the content or related topics pertaining to the Doherty Surname Group at FamilyTree DNA, please feel free to send an email to:


        Bob Doherty, administrator– FTDNA Doherty Surname Group