Heron Surname DNA Project

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April 2012:

I've gathered together everything I found on this webpage:


The Y-signature of the Airghialla 2cluster is rare enough that John also having the surname Heron seems to make it certain that he descends from the Ui Breasail Herons. I'm just not sure what to make of his relations being from Ballybofey, Co Donegal - other than to say that people have always moved around Ireland. Another clue is that the spelling"Herron" is very rare outside Co Down/Armagh/Antrim, and it is odd to see it in Donegal at all. But 2% of all the Herons were seen in Co Donegal in the Griffith Valuation (and none of them spelled it with two r's), so the Airghialla 2 Y-line signature was already in Donegal 150 years ago.

Beyond that, I guess we'll just have to wait until more Herons get tested!

Best regards,

Dennis Garvey

April 2012:

Dennis Garvey wrote:  Here is some more food for thought.

I mapped out the distribution of the surnames Heron, Haran, and Horan in the mid-1800's Griffith Valuation here:


Heron (green in map) seems to be a Co Down (and Antrim and Armagh) surname - and are probably the descendants of the Ui Breasail O'hErudains I wrote about before - but McLysaght also mentions another Haren group (O'hEarain) in the same area.

Haran (blue in map) seems to havemultiple origins in Ireland. McLysaght says that one Haren group (O'hEaghrain) originates in Co Clare and Connacht. Another Haran group (O'hArain) originatesin Co Fermanagh, and a third Harran/Herron group (O'hEarain) originates in County Donegal. So the"blue" counties shown in the map might actually have three different genetic signatures.

Surprisingly, the surname Horan (yellow in map) was more common than Heron and Haran added together! McLysaght gives the Irish name as O'hOdhrain (dun colored) and describes it as a north Connacht sept.

As far as John's oral family history, his line sounds more like they should be of the Donegal Harans rather than the Ui Breasail Herons. I don't know what sense to make of his DNA match with the Ui Breasail Garveys other than that we'll just have to wait for more results to come in.

I also mapped out the distributions for the surnames Hearn, Harn, and Harney here:


McLysaght writes "Harney (O'hAthairne) was formerly anglicized Haherny, now sometimes Hartney. Thelatter is confused with Hartnane. Originally of Co Roscommon, Harney is still found in Connacht, but has also spread to Co Tipperary".


February 2012:

Regarding Kit #71425:

Iam the Group Administrator for the Garvey DNA Study. I would like to point out that your Y DNA results indicate that you belong to a cluster known as"A2" in the "Combo 11-13" Group. You may read information on the Combo 11-13 Group here:


Most of the members of the A2 cluster are relations of the Maguire family from County Fermanangh, but the Co Armagh branch of the Garveys also belong to the A2 cluster. Ancient genealogies indicate that a branch of the Herons were related to the Armagh Garveys and were rulings families in a medieval Armagh kingdom known as Ui Breasail:


It appears that you are a descendant of this Armagh branch of Herons (there are other Irish branches of Herons, and also Herons from other countries). I would be curious to hear if your family stories indicate any connection with Northern Ireland or Co Armagh.

Agenetic marker has been found that is peculiar to our A2 cluster (called L69.5and available through Family Tree DNA). 

In addition to joining the Combo 11-13 group on Yahoo, you may also want to join your genetic cousins in the Mag Uidhir Clan project at Family Tree:


Best regards,

Dennis Garvey



September 2010:
I just want to announce that we have a new member from the Jamaican arm of the Heron family, and we will anxiously await his test results! You can check out a video at http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/island-roots/68j9rlv by Lester Holt, NBC TV, regarding his visit back to his roots in Jamaica -- very interesting!

We recently transferred our Heron Surname DNA Project to World Families Net -- check it out at http://www.worldfamilies.net/surnames/heron
Contributed by William Herron – Aug/2007:

CLAN DONALD FAMILY -- Names listed under the Clan Donald Family and its septs at http://www.highlandconnection.org/clandonaldnames2.html.
Those from Kintyre, Arran or Bute. No more than 1 in 402 Ilherons originally had a 'Ma' prefix. MacIlherons not of Clan Donald may be of Clan Grant. Clan Donald MacIlherons derive from the Gaelic: Mac Gille Chiarain -"son of the servant of St. Ciaran". From Kintyre, Bute & Arran - Clan Donald South.
Those from Kintyre, Arran or Bute. MacKerrons not of Clan Donald may be of Clans Grant or Stewart
A form of Carroon if from Lochalsh, or of MacIlheran if from Kintyre, Arran or Bute.
Those from Kintyre, Arron or Bute and would have originally been a MacIlheran. Approx. 37% of all Herrons are of Scots ancestry. Scots Herrons not of Clan Donald may be of Clans Grant or Stewart or from Northumberland, Stewartry, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Dumfries, Edinburgh or Kirkcudbright.


If anyone has any additional history or background information on the Heron surname and the migration of our Ancestors, please contact the Administrator of this Project. Thanks so much!