Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Y Chromosome Ancestor: Niall of the Nine Hostages

Skipping the Itinerary of Wales from 2016, my mind is processing the results of the DNA test my son took. Ancestry.com DNA is good, but it doesn't do an analysis of the Y Chromosome. My son did 23 and Me which does and the results are positively Celtic. Here's a summary:
You share a paternal-line ancestor with Niall of the Nine Hostages.
The spread of haplogroup R-M269 in northern Ireland and Scotland was likely aided by men like Niall of the Nine Hostages. Perhaps more myth than man, Niall of the Nine Hostages is said to have been a King of Tara in northwestern Ireland in the late 4th century C.E. His name comes from a tale of nine hostages that he held from the regions he ruled over. Though the legendary stories of his life may have been invented hundreds of years after he died, genetic evidence suggests that the Uí Néill dynasty, whose name means "descendants of Niall," did in fact trace back to just one man who bore a branch of haplogroup R-M269.
The Uí Néill ruled to various degrees as kings of Ireland from the 7th to the 11th century C.E. In the highly patriarchal society of medieval Ireland, their status allowed them to have outsized numbers of children and spread their paternal lineage each generation. In fact, researchers have estimated that between 2 and 3 million men with roots in north-west Ireland are paternal-line descendants.
Niall of the Nine Hostages apparently burning one of them,
or at least someone not likely to reproduce much more.
So, the earliest father of my fathers is identified as a mostly mythological king of Ireland who lived in the 4th or 5th Century C.E. While his exploits are not solidly verifiable, there are numerous well-documented historical figures who claim to be his children and grand-children so he must have existed as he established an Irish dynasty. And there are fairly solid stories that someone of his family captured St. Patrick from Wales and brought him to Ireland. Yes, St. Patrick was Welsh and I am . . . Irish?

This doesn't mean I'm not Welsh. We've established my paternal line (illegitimate as several were) to Breconshire, Wales, along the Wye River, which was established in the Dark Ages as the Irish Kingdom of Brycheiniog. We knew all that. The Welsh in Brecon connection is established geographically by verified genealogy at least back to the 18th Century. There are also fairly reliable lines breaking off maternally to go back to the originator of my surname, Rhosier Fychan [Vaughan] from the 14th Century. (no direct paternal line that we know of, but an illegitimate one is still possible). And his origins are in Cwmdu, just over the hill from Talgarth the center of the Kingdom of Brycheiniog and Llangorse Lake with its 9th Century Irish royal palace on the carrog built up in the lake.

I'm still trying to figure out how Irish conquerors picked the area of Breconshire. It's not exactly conveniently located with regard to Ireland or anywhere else for that matter.

It seems logical, though, that the Irish conquerors of Breconshire would have mixed with the local Welsh population. And the descendants of Niall were likely those conquerors or maybe inheritors of dynasties in Wales through royal marriages. In fact the whole reason why there are so many suspected direct male descendants of Niall is that ancient kings were kings because of conquest in battle and bed or wherever they may have had an opportunity to generate numerous offspring. Not exactly a reputable activity in modern culture although still prevalent among some of our political leaders. And it is oddly weird that the biological progenitors who were most prolific in a Darwinian sense were these wild men of half-myth.

Yet, maybe in modern times where the meeker of us are safely able to generate offspring is related to what the Lord said about the Meek inheriting the earth. I do not have to wildly conquer kingdoms and women to have solidly significant offspring. My children of one dear wife are all doing well and marrying well. And all my grandchildren are above average.

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