R DF21 and Subclades

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About us


Until about 4,000 years ago, Ireland was inhabited by Mediterranean-type people. The genetically closest present-day populations are not in Ireland, but in Spain and Sardinia. During the Bronze Age, which was ushered in by the Celts, newcomers arrived from the eastern fringe of Europe, the Pontic Steppes in modern-day Ukraine. They buried their dead with drinking vessels, therefore the name "beaker folk". Three "beaker folk" males buried about 4,000 years ago on Rathlin Island, Ireland, were DNA tested as Y-DNA haplogroups L21, DF21 (probably S5488 sub clade) and DF21 (Z30233 sub clade). 

Already, DF21 had split into the major sub clades of Z30233, S5488, FGC3213 and Z16727. These survive in major clan groupings such as the Airghialla of South Ulster (Z16267), the Seven Septs of Laois (Z30233), Ely O'Carroll (S5488) and the leading
 Eóganacht dynasty of south Munster (FGC3213). These clans held their lands and their identity down to the Elizabethan and Cromwellian Confiscations. The epicentre of these clans appears to be where the frontiers of the ancient kingdoms of archaic Ulster, Connaught, Munster and Leinster once met. DF21 is likely to pre-date these kingdoms, which are what the Anglo-Normans encountered when they invaded Ireland in 1169. 

Other smaller DF21 septs which once ruled independently in their own territory had become attached to the courts of the major dynasties of Ulster, Connaught, Munster and Leinster, and settled on the frontiers of the four provinces. One major upheaval was when the subject tribe, the Deisi, threw off their shackles, recreated themselves as the Dal gCais, and conquered north Munster from the Eoganacht. This process commenced with Lughaidh Meann in the 3rd Century and continued by Oengus mac Nad Froich, first Christian king of Munster. The Coenraige who had given their name to Kenry, Co Limerick, and the Tradraige who had given their name to Tradree, Co Clare, were pushed north into south Galway to become the Coenraige Ardrahan and the Tradraige Dubh-ros, keeping their old tribal name from their former territory and attaching it to their new territory in south Galway. The Dealbhna, whose tribal legends indicate that they once lived in close proximity to the Tradraige, were dispersed across Galway and Westmeath. 

Others like the Ruadraige remained in the lands of Corcomroe and the Burren, Co Clare, under increased pressure from the Dal gCais, and ultimately acknowledging their overlordship.      

The use of these tribal names is based upon the surnames associated with those tribes forming a cluster with DF21. This is not to exclude anyone else. It is noted, for instance, that the A663 clade of CTS4466 includes 
a Doorey (variant of Devoy) vs a Devoy & 3 Devines in DF21, nil Dorans, (also nil in DF21), a Dowling (11 in DF21), nil Kellys (12 in DF21), 2 Lalors (7 in DF21), 5 McEvoys (nil in DF21) and 15 Moores (9 in DF21). The Gaelic genealogies are little help in solving this, as they make O'Modha (Moore) and O'Lalor to be from the Clanna Rory of Ulster, and the others to be Laighin (which should make them R-L159, but they are not), and the McEvoys to be Clan Colla and thus the S971 clade of DF21, but they are not. Nor are the Ruadraige (i.e. Clanna Rory) clans of North Clare the same clade as the Moores. 


For more information on the R-DF21 haplotree structure, please see the tree below, or visit:

To join the R-DF21 project, most project members will meet one of these criteria:

  • A positive (derived) result for DF21 or any of the SNPs located under R-DF21
  • A close Y67 or Y111 match with a result that is positive for one or more of the DF21 SNPs
  • A close paternal relative that meets one of the above two criteria
  • Planning to order tests and wants assistance with determining what to order
The SNPs that were the initial focus of this project were found in 2010-2011 via analysis of whole genome sequences available from the 1000 Genomes Project ("DF" and "Z" SNPs), new "L" SNPs found via Thomas Krahn's Walk Through the Y (WTY) tests offered by Family Tree DNA, and new "S" SNPs found by Dr Jim Wilson (found in a whole genome sequence of his own DNA). More information on the "S" SNPs can also be found on the "news" tab of the project pages.

DF21 is strongly associated with the "celtic fringe" of the British Isles. Both Celts and Anglo-Saxons share SNP marker P310, with P310's "son", P312, considered the baseline Celtic marker. Alex Williamson's Big Tree at www.ytree.net attempts to follow all P312 and sub clades "discovery" tests submitted to the DNA databank. From P312, the pathway to DF21 is P313 > Z290 > L21 > DF13 > DF21. Some people refer to DF21 as being a "son" of DF13, and a "grandson" of L21.

TMRCA estimates by MikeW using Ken Nordtvedt's Generations5 spreadsheet suggest that R-DF21 is comparatively quite old, with a TMRCA of 3900 YBP versus 4200 YBP for all of R-L21. DF21's "sons" are also dated at about 3,900 ybp. 

All the SNPs with "DF", "L", and "Z" names shown on the haplotree below can be ordered à la carte from FTDNA; select "Order Advanced Tests" after clicking on "Order Tests and Upgrades" in the left-sidebar. Do not select "Order Advanced SNP Test."  SNPs with "S" names can be ordered from ScotlandsDNA.com.

Donna Moore, Founder of the organization Know Your DNA asked for inclusion on your resources page at https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/r-df21/linksWhen my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I immediately started searching for at-home preventative measures one could take. 


That’s why I started KnowYourDNA


Using a simple, FDA approved test like 23andMe (or one of the others we tested), women like my mother are empowered to take their health into their own hands and see if they are at higher risks for things like breast cancer. 


At-home DNA tests are at an exciting time, with consumers using them to find out Carrier status, Health Predispositions, and Wellness information like never before. Adopted children can find long lost siblings and reconnect with families. 


We have no affiliations to any services we cover, we don’t get sponsored, we pay for the tests we take, and we have no obligation to anyone other than our readers. Our mission is to empower the average consumer to take their health into their own hands. 


There are a variety of forums, boards, lists, groups, etc. where R1b in general, and sometimes DF21 specifically, are discussed. These include:


YSTR values are a valuable aid in both determining which SNP markers to order, as well as in determining how to cluster results. Unfortunately, the very low resolution Y12 and Y25 tests provide no assistance for either use, and the low resolution Y37 test is only of minimal use. There are STR clusters in this project that are only discernible if Y111 has been purchased.

Project members are requested to have results for the medium resolution Y67 test, and whenever possible, the full resolution Y111 test.

As of 2017, there are over 1,000 DF21+ project members with Y-STR results. 

FTDNA Projects of interest

·    R-L21 – Umbrella project for all varieties of L21+, including all DF21+ clades

·    Clan Colla – DF21+ Z246- L720- P314.2-
YSTR Motif: DYS425=NULL (100%),  DYS505=9 (100%),  DYS511=9 (99%), DYS413a=22 (95%),  DYS385b=15 (92%), DYS481=22 (88%)
GD=11 (or less) from Ysearch modal entry

·    Ely Carroll – DF21+ Z246- L720- P314.2-
YSTR Motif: DYS492=11
GD=12 (or less) from Ysearch modal entry

·    Little Scots Cluster – DF21+ Z246- L641- L642- L720- P314.2-
YSTR Motif: DYS391=10,  DYS458=18,  DYS449=30, DYS464=13-15-17-X,  GATA-H4=10,  DYS590=9, DYS413=22-23
GD=12 (or less) from Ysearch modal entry KXNRA


What Should You Order?

If you have questions about joining the project, or which SNP(s) to order, please contact one of the project administrators for assistance.

If you are S971+/Z3017+, the biggest sub-group is S905+/Z16267+. 

If you are CTS8704+/S6375+ and/or FGC3903+/S5201+, the biggest sub-group is Z246+/S280+.

If you are FGC3213+, you have a choice of P314.2 or S3058 if you have the Little Scottish Cluster signature.

If you are
P314.2+, you may choose to order:
  • L362  All results to date that are P314.2+ L362+ belong to the 21-1113-P12-A variety

If you are DF21+, you may choose to order:
  • S971/Z3017  especially if you have a null value at DYS425 signatures like the biggest S971+ sub-group, the Airghialla.

  • CTS8704/ S6375 or FGC3903/S5201 As the largest sub-clade of DF21, there is no specific Y-STR signature.
  • FGC3213  which includes but is not resticted to the Little Scottish Cluster.
  • L641  Likely private, and may sit downstream of FGC3903.
  • L642  Likely private, and may sit downstream of FGC3903.
If you have not tested any of the above SNPs, start by ordering DF21. Please check the haplotree and cluster lists below to see if you fall into a clade or cluster that has a known DF21 status.

DF21 Status for Deep Ancestral Varieties
See the "Haplotype Data for R1b-L21" file in R1b-L21 Yahoo Group Links for deep ancestral variety assignments and definitions. This is also known as "Mike W's spreadsheet" and contains ~10000 haplotypes gathered from a variety of FTDNA projects; currently ~8% of these are believed to be some variety of R-DF21.

Note that DF21 predictions may not be valid for short haplotypes or for haplotypes that are on the fringe of their cluster. Predictions may be based on a limited number of samples; you are encouraged to check the representative haplotypes in the spreadsheet.

The DF21 project uses member subgroup labels beginning with a letter, followed by definitive SNPs for that subgroup.  See our Results page.

Last Revision: 24 May 2013

General Fund Donations

Donations made to the General Fund that do not specify a specific use will be used to fund additional testing for kits that would help refine the phylogenetic tree, or provide additional information about the origins or migration paths of the DF21 clades.