O'Malley

researching Maley, Malley, O'Malley (and variants) worldwide
  • 229 members

About us

13 May 2019
DNA Project blog launched for more frequent & visually appealing updates. Click here ... https://omalleydnaproject.blogspot.com/p/welcome.html

13 Apr 2018
Group 3 update
This group now has 27 members (up from 22 in January) but has been split into 5 distinct sub-groups - 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d & 3e. The reason for this split is because Big Y results have indicated that the subgroup are in fact quite distantly related to each other (as described in the update below from 1 Dec 2017). However new Big Y results have helped clarify the situation:
  • Subgroup 3a ... M222 > DF106 > DF104 > DF105 > BY35730 > BY35759 ... this is a completely new branch of the Tree of Mankind (discussed below).
  • Subgroup 3b ... M222 > DF106 > DF104 > DF105 > DF85 ... no one has done the Big Y test as yet and until this happens we cannot define which branch of the Tree of Mankind this group sits on. It may be related to Subgroup 3c below.
  • Subgroup 3c ... M222 > DF106 > DF104 > DF105 > DF85 > S673 > S668 > BY11548 > A10680 (Melloy B3380) - this branch has Kilcoyne, Claycomb, Lloyd, Craig, Galyean & Gallagher as genetic neighbours.
  • Subgroup 3d ... M222 > DF106 > DF104 > DF105 > ZS8379 > BY11707 > A11227 > A11427 > BY21143 (Malloy B2799) - this branch is primarily associated with people named Molloy (x4) and Malloy (x2) and probably represents the Firceall Molloy's from Offaly.
  • Subgroup 3e ... M222 > DF106 > DF104 > DF105 > A10528 (Molloy 310572) - this branch is associated with the surnames McFadden, Cryans, Lindsey, John & Fullerton.
The 3 Big Y results for Subgroup 3a suggest that this group sits on a completely new branch of the Tree of Mankind. This new branch is characterised by the SNP markers BY35730 & BY35759. The latter SNP marker (BY35759) is only found in 3 people within the entire FTDNA database - two called O'Malley & one called Donaho. The other SNP marker (BY35730) is only shared by 4 people in the entire database - the O'Malley & Donaho people described above and a third person called Maley. There are several points to note about these results:
1) this subgroup has several members from Mayo (everyone needs to supply me with their earliest known ancestor information and not everyone has). This could indicate that this group is related to Grace O'Malley. Please send me your earliest known ancestor information if you have not done so already (name, birth year, birth location).
2) It could be that the Donaho individual has had a surname switch earlier in his direct male line ancestry and is in fact a Donaho by name and an O'Malley by DNA. Or he could represent a family genetically related to the O'Malley's just prior to the introduction of surnames 1000 years ago (approximately). Further Big Y results from other Subgroup 3a members will help to clarify which of these two scenarios is the most likely.
3) it may be that we are very close to identifying the genetic signature of Grace O'Malley. Only further in-depth analysis by Alex Williamson and his colleagues will tell us this (see below)

Members of all the Group 3 subgroups should join the R-M222 Haplogroup Project. They should also send their Big Y data to Alex Williamson for additional (free) in-depth analyses (instructions here). Alex will add the data to The Big Tree which will place Group 3 members in a very nice graphical representation of the Tree of Mankind, and will help dating the age of each branch and when the O'Malley's of Subgroup 3a split away from their genetic neighbours. 

Maurice Gleeson



7 Dec 2017
A new genetic group has been discovered and has been named Group 4. It consists of two individuals (Maley & Meally) with a Genetic Distance (GD) of 1/67. They also match people called Phelan, Whalen & Markham, some of whom have done the Big Y and sit on this particular branch of the Tree of Mankind, characterised by the SNP Progression below. It is likely that these Group 4 members would also sit on this branch or somewhere close by, and this could be confirmed by Big Y testing ...  
  • R-P312/S116 > Z290 > L21/S145 > DF13 > Z39589 > CTS1751 > Z17966 > Z17969 > Z17967 > BY596 > BY595 > FGC35783 > S22219
It is difficult to know how old this group is as the two members are quite closely related. A review of their pedigrees (pending) might reveal a common ancestor. At this stage we don't know if there was a DNA switch in the last 1000 years or if this group carries the DNA of the founder of their surname. Of note, their GD to their Phelan, Whalen, & Markham matches is mainly 5-7/67 so the connection is not close.

The origins of this group are likely to be Irish, given that 2 of the 7 members on the S22219 branch of the Tree of Mankind are Irish, and given that 6 of the surnames on that branch are Irish. Where in Ireland they are from remains to be defined but their pedigree review (pending) may help, as might a review of their close neighbours in relevant Haplogroup Projects (which they should join).

Maurice Gleeson

1 Dec 2017
Group 2 update
Membership has grown to 12 members (up by 5 since June). Two members have done the Big Y test (357319 & 350664) and their results have identified a further downstream sub-branch on which they sit, characterised by the newly discovered DNA marker DC735. As a result they now sit in Group 15C of the R-L226 Haplogroup Project. Because only O'Malley's have tested positive for this SNP marker, it is quite probable that this particular SNP marker characterises the Group 2 O'Malley's. The new SNP Progression for Group 2 is as follows:
  • R-M269 … > P312/S116 > Z290 > L21/S145 > DF13 > ZZ10 > Z253 > Z2534 > FGC5618 > L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > A10950 > DC29  > DC362 > DC735
Both members have been asked to send their data for incorporation into The Big Tree (instructions here) for additional (free) analyses, so that this new sub-branch can be added to the tree and the age of the branch can be calculated. If Group 2 represent descendants of the original bearer of the O'Malley name, the age of DC735 should turn out to be about 1000 years old.

Group 3 update
This group now has 22 members (up from 9 in June). In addition, 3 more members have done the Big Y test (Molloy 310572, Maley 43481, & O'Malley 590113 - the latter's results are expected in Jan 2018). These additional results paint a very confused picture for this group. The genetic family tree for the 4 members with Big Y results can be drawn as follows:
  • M222 > DF106 > DF104 > DF105 > ZS8379 > BY11707 > A11227 > A11427 > BY21143 (Malloy B2799) - this branch is primarily associated with people named Molloy (x4) and Malloy (x2) and probably represents the Firceall Molloy's from Offaly.
  • M222 > DF106 > DF104 > DF105 > DF85 > S673 > S668 > BY11548 > A10680 (Melloy B3380) - this branch has Kilcoyne, Claycomb, Lloyd, Craig, Galyean & Gallagher as genetic neighbours and may represent the genetic signature of the Mayo O'Malley's (see June update below).
  • M222 > DF106 > DF104 > DF105 > A10528 (Molloy 310572) - this branch is associated with the surnames McFadden, Cryans, Lindsey, John & Fullerton.
  • M222 > DF106 > DF104 > DF105 (Maley 43481) - this SNP marker is not yet on the Big Tree and is not yet in the R-M222 Haplogroup Project so it is not possible to ascertain which surnames are its nearest genetic neighbours.
This indicates that the 4 people with Big Y results thus far are all distantly related to each other, with no common ancestor (DF105) until at least 1800 years ago. Thus they represent a disparate group of "unrelated" people who all bear similar surname variants, but which appear to have arisen at different points in time. The results of the 5th Big Y test may reveal which of the terminal SNP markers above represents the "true" SNP marker that characterises the Mayo O'Malley's. 

The above results serve to emphasise how important Big Y data is for anyone who belongs to the M222 branch of the Tree of Mankind ... Convergence is widespread and chance matches are common, even with similar surname variants.

Again, all members of this group should join the R-M222 Haplogroup Project and send their Big Y data to Alex Williamson for incorporation into The Big Tree (instructions here) and for additional (free) analyses, so that each sub-branch can be added to the tree and the age of each branch can be calculated.

Maurice Gleeson


25 June 2017
An analysis of the project was presented at the O'Malley Clan Rally at the Claregalway Hotel in Galway, Ireland. This was recorded for YouTube and can be seen here ... https://youtu.be/jyHsuieMJ3Y

In brief, there are 3 genetic groups identified thus far within the project. Group 1 (2 members) has origins in Galway, Group 2 (7 members) has origins in Limerick, and Group 3 (13 members) has probable origins in Mayo. There is an Ungrouped section of 14 members who either 1) represent the only member to test thus far from a rare branch of the O'Malley's; or 2) there has been a Surname or DNA Switch (SDS or NPE) somewhere along their direct male line and they are O'Malley by name but carry someone else's Y-DNA . This could arise due to adoption, illegitimacy, legal name change, etc.

Group 1 consists of 2 closely related individuals (Genetic Distance 2/111) with the same common ancestor, namely John O'Malley born c.1795 in Galway, making them 2nd to 3rd cousins. One member has done the Big Y test and has thus identified the branch of the Tree of Mankind on which they sit, namely ... 
  • I-L460 > P37 > M243 > Y3104 > L161 > S2639 > L1498 > A1150 > A8611 (which is about 3000 years old)
This places them in Haplogroup I2, subgroup I2a1b, which appears to have emerged some time during the bronze age in Britain/Ireland. In the I2a Haplogroup Project, they are grouped under I2a2b ‘Isles-B3’ which only contains 13 members and there is no close connection to any of them.

Thus, given the current data, it is not possible to say how long this genetic group has carried the O'Malley name, or where it originated 1000 years ago. Additional matches and additional Big Y testing will help address these questions.

Group 2 has 7 members, with two sets of close cousins - one related to a Michael O'Malley born 1780 in Murroe, Limerick; the other related to a Denis O'Malley born 1793 in Cappamore, Limerick. The largest Genetic Distance (GD) of 14/111 generates a midpoint estimate for the age of this group of 240 years, which equates to a common ancestor born around 1710 AD (assuming that 1950 is the average year of birth of the group's members). Without more members and more Big Y data, we cannot say at this stage for how long before 1710 that this group has carried the O'Malley name.

Two members did the R-L226 SNP Pack and thus identified a downstream branch of the Tree of Mankind on which they sit, namely ... 
  • R-M269 … > P312/S116 > Z290 > L21/S145 > DF13 > ZZ10 > Z253 > Z2534 > FGC5618 > L226 > FGC5660 > Z17669 > A10950 > DC29 (which is about 3000 years old)
This places them in Haplogroup R1b, sub-branch R-L226 which appears to have emerged in Ireland at least 1450 years ago and is the hallmark of the Dalcassian group of surnames associated with Brian Boru. The results also identify a further sub-branch below L226, namely DC29, which is at least 800 years old and therefore emerged some time before 1200 AD.

A review of the surnames associated with this branch of the Tree of Mankind was undertaken, based on data from The Big Tree and the R-L226 Haplogroup Project, (where they are grouped in Group 15 of that project). This indicated a predominance of several of the "genetically close" surnames in and around County Clare (namely O'Loughlin, McInerney, and to a lesser extent Slattery & McNamara). This suggests a Clare origin for this group, which is in keeping with Woulfe's Surname Dictionary which describes "a Thomond family who were chiefs of Tuath Luimnigh a district in the neighbourhood of the city of Limerick". It would be interesting to track down the ancient texts referring to this particular sept / clan and see if the associated surnames include the "genetically close" surnames identified.

Thus, given the current data, it is not possible to say how long this genetic group has carried the O'Malley name prior to about 1710, but there is some good evidence that it originated in County Clare and may represent the descendants of the Tuath Luimnigh. Additional matches and additional Big Y testing will help address these questions.

Group 3 has 13 members, 4 with MDKAs (Most Distant Known Ancestors) from Mayo, 2 others from Ireland, 2 from England, 1 from Scotland, and the rest from the New World (mainly USA). The members belong to Haplogroup R1b, subclade M222, which is renowned for a high incidence of Convergence, resulting in many Chance Matches. This was detected in this group too because 2 members had done the Big Y test (Malloy B2799 & Melloy B3380 - note the surname variants). Despite the fact that their Genetic Distance (based on STR markers) is 7/67, they sit on different branches of the Tree of Mankind (A11427 & A10680 respectively), and their common ancestor carries the SNP marker DF105 which is at least 1800 years old. Thus they cannot be related within the last 1000 years since the presumed introduction of the O'Malley surname. Thus, any matches within this group must be treated with a degree of caution until downstream SNP testing (e.g. with the Big Y) has confirmed that members have been accurately grouped in this group.

In fact, it turned out that the Malloy B2799 member is more closely related to Molloy's from Offaly with whom he shares the same terminal SNP marker (A11427). This makes it more likely that the results of Melloy B3380 are more representative of this group. 

Because of the uncertainty surrounding "true matches" within this group, estimating the age is more unreliable than with other groups within the project. The best estimate (using a GD of 15/67) gives a midpoint estimate of 20 generations, which equates to about 600 years, which equates to a crude year of birth of 1350 for the group's common ancestor. But we need more members and more Big Y data to generate a more accurate estimate.

The range of Genetic Distances between Melloy B3380 and other group members (comparing 67 marker results) is 15/67 (1 member), 14/67 (1), 11/67 (3), 10/67 (1), 8/67 (2), and 7/67 (3). In addition there are several people in the Ungrouped section that may very well belong in Group 3 - their surnames, kit numbers, & GD are: Curley 591619 13/67, Malia 577761 10/67, McGovern 509238 10/67, Mullin 228786 8/67. Only Big Y testing will determine whether or not they should be placed in this group.

Several members did the R-M222 SNP Pack and together with the Big Y results of member B3380, this suggests that they sit on the downstream branch of the Tree of Mankind characterised by the SNP marker A10680 (or a branch nearby). The SNP Progression for this branch is as follows:
  • R-P312/S116 > Z290 > L21/S145 > DF13 > Z39589 > DF49/S474 > Z2980 > Z2976 > DF23 > Z2961 > M222 > DF106 > DF104 > DF105 > DF85 > S673 > S668 > BY11548 > A10680
This places them in Haplogroup R1b, sub-branch R-M222, which appears to have emerged in Ireland at least 2000 years ago and is the branch to which Niall of the Nine Hostages apparently belonged. The results also identify further sub-branches below M222, including DF105 (at least 1800 years old), S668 (at least 1500 years old), BY11548 (at least 1000 years old).

A review of the surnames associated with this branch of the Tree of Mankind was undertaken, based on data from The Big Tree and the R-M222
 Haplogroup Project, (where they are grouped in Group 92.2 of that project). This indicated a predominance of one particular surname (i.e. Kilcoyne) in County Mayo. This suggests a Mayo origin for this group, which is in keeping with the Surname Dictionaries of MacLysaght and Woulfe (among others) which describe one branch of the O'Malley's as being "a Connacht family who were chiefs of the two Umhalls now the baronies of Burrishoole and Murresk in the west of Co. Mayo and were particularly celebrated as naval commanders being called the Manannans or sea-gods of the western ocean and having a considerable fleet always under their command". This particular group of O'Malley's gave rise to Grace O'Malley (Gráinne Mhaol), the celebrated sea captain and Pirate Queen who controlled the waters off County Mayo for much of the 1500s.

A next step in the research would be to consult the ancient genealogies for the Mayo O'Malley's and determine if any of the surnames that allegedly "sprung from the same stock" are indeed genetically related to Group 3. This would help confirm that they are descendants from the Mayo O'Malley's. Additional matches and additional Big Y testing will also help address these questions.

Maurice Gleeson


4 May 2017
Membership now stands at 55 with 11 new members since February.


14 Feb 2017
As the project grows, more genetic families will be identified. The challenge will be to try to identify the ancestral origins of each. This is where the MDKA information is most important (MDKA stands for Most Distant known Ancestor). So too is “downstream SNP testing” as this will help us place each genetic family on the Haplotree (Human Evolutionary Tree) revealing who their nearest neighbours are. These nearest neighbours may help tie specific genetic families to the ancient annals and genealogies. I am using this technique with my other projects and currently Gleeson Lineage II is the most advanced example.

Melia being R-M269 indicates a common ancestor with Malley … but the connection is thousands of years ago. Downstream SNP testing will be needed to define the “characteristic SNP Signature” for the "O’Malley clan” and to see if it is the same as that for the Melia surname … and I use inverted commas because we already know there are several O’Malley genetic families - the question is which one goes back to the originator of the surname, and where did the other ones come from? Time and "More recruits, more MDKA info, more downstream SNP testing” will tell. 

Clustering them all together (Melia, Maley, Malley, etc) in the same project makes sense for now. We may even throw in a few Malloys for good measure, if nothing else but to illustrate that they are indeed members of a different genetic family, related to the O’Malley’s some 2000 year ago perhaps (and therefore not really related at all).


Maurice Gleeson

6 Feb 2017
Following a reanalysis of the results by the new Project Admin (Maurice Gleeson), the members were divided into 3 major genetic groups:
  • an I-P37 group with Maley/O’Maley as the dominant surname and apparent origins in Galway (but both these individuals have the same common ancestor)
  • an R-L226 group with O’Malley as the dominant surname and origins in Limerick (again 2 pairs within the group share the same common ancestor)
  • an R-M222 group with Malley/O’Malley as the dominant surname but of uncertain origin (other than “Ireland”)

Further SNP testing is recommended as follows:
  1. people in I2-Group 1 (Galway) should do the I2-P37 SNP Pack (unless a known close Maley relative has already done the Big Y test or similar downstream SNP testing)
  2. people in R1b-Group 1 (Limerick) should do the R-L226 SNP Pack (unless a known close O'Malley relative has already done the Big Y test or similar downstream SNP testing)
  3. people in R1b-Group 2 (Ireland) should do the R-M222 SNP Pack (unless a known close Maley/Malley/O'Malley relative has already done the Big Y test or similar downstream SNP testing
Anyone who has only tested to 12 markers should upgrade their test to 37 markers. It is not possible to group them otherwise.

Maurice Gleeson