Clan CrestThe Clan McLea/Livingstone Forum

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Title: Old thread from Robert Livingston
Posted by: David Wyse Livingston
Date: 13 October 2007

I am sure this might be old news but I like to add things here when I find them out on the web. Thanks to Kyle and Google Alerts I found this old posting from Robert in an "Old Irish-L Archive" from ListServ.
Original Thread:

Subject: Revisiting MacOnlea 
From: rlivingston1488
Reply-To: Scholars and students of Old Irish 
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2003 12:36:46 -0800 

Hi Dennis,
    I've been doing a bit of new research in the last couple of months regarding the etymology of the Gaelic surname "MacOnlea".  It has given me some new ideas and I'd like to run them past you and the group.
    While doing some Y-chromosome DNA analysis I was given an exact match of my DNA with a family in London that goes by the name of MacOlloff.  Reviewing George Black's, The Surnames of Scotland, he equates MacOnlea (and MacDhonnsliebhe) with many versions of that name:  M'Conleif in 1498, M'Coleif in 1504, Makcolluf in 1509, M'Culloiff in 1509, McCollef in 1519, M'Collea in 1588, M'Conlea in 1613, M'Onleif in 1613.  These would appear to me to be phonetic versions of "MacOllamh", the only problem being the appearance of that "n" in some of the names.  I'm wondering if this "n" sound is something that is peculiar to the Scottish dialect - that sometimes the non-native ear hears it, and sometimes it doesn't.  I think you'll remember we ran into the same situation with "Dun Ollaigh" vs. "Dun Onlaigh" in the Annals of Ulster dating back in the late 700s (both versions repeated twice in the Annals).
    The "Oll" disappears from the spellings in the 1600s and 1700s and the name switches back and forth from MacOnlea and MacLea and back to MacOnlea again, within the same families over several generations.  
    Black is able to cite several examples of Donnsleibe in the records, but that doesn't necessarily connect them to the same families known as "M'Colleif" - James MacDunsleve in 1309, John M'Dunslef in 1502, Duncan McDunlaue and his cousin Dunslaue McNeil in 1518, Duncan M'Dunlewe in 1541, John M'Dunlaif in 1570, Duncan McDunslea in 1686.
    Do you think we are dealing with two different surnames here, or are they one in the same?
Thanks, Rob Livingston

From: Dan Mc Ginley
Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2003 2:19 PM
Subject: Re: Revisiting MacOnlea

> Hi Rob,
> Forgive me for adding another level of complexity to your impressive
> research. As you have a direct Y Chromosome DNA match with the surname
> McOlloff you might consider this possibility. A lot of the names in parts
> the north of Ireland (North Donegal/North and East Derry along the
> Neagh)and the west coast of Scotland are of Viking origin. For example
> McCualey, McCauliff, McKitrich, McSweeney,  seem to be Gaelicised from the
> following Scandinavian originals: Olafson, Ollyson(Little Ollaf),
> and Svenson.   And the ancestor of the McDonalds was the Viking
> and they keep the designation of 'Clann Ragnald' or Ranald to this day.
> was of course a  lot of intermarriage on the female side. Perhaps the DNA
> will yield some clues.
> Dan McGinley

Subject: Re: Revisiting MacOnlea 
From: rlivingston1488 
Reply-To: Scholars and students of Old Irish 
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2003 14:42:06 -0800 
Content-Type: text/plain 

Hi Dan,
    The DNA testing has been very revealing. At one point we were chasing a
Somerled/Viking line because of the close relationship between the MacOnleas
and the MacDougalls.  However, it turns out the MacOnleas do not carry that
Viking DNA signature in the male line - maybe in the female one, but that is
a different kind of testing.  What the testing has revealed is that we have
a close genetic relationship to the MacGregor Clan with a common male
ancestor about 55 to 60 generations ago (during the Christianizaton of
Western Scotland).  As more Scottish clans have testing done, it should
reveal more paternal relationships with these early Dal Riatic tribes and a
better understanding of their relationship to the Irish.  The testing is
expensive (about $180 per person), so getting people to participate can be
very difficult.


Subject: Re: Revisiting MacOnlea 
From: rlivingston1488
Reply-To: Scholars and students of Old Irish
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2003 22:24:50 -0800 
Content-Type: text/plain 

This is getting very sweet!  The Dean of Lismore who compiled the Book of
Lismore in the 15th century was "Giolla Coluim Mac an Ollaimh".  The family
estate owned by the MacOnleas is adjacent to the Cathedral of Lismore.  I
think I have nailed this one solidly.  I congradulate myself!  And I thank
everyone on this list who has contributed to my education.


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