Who we are, and who are we?
The Fitzpatrick y-DNA project has found there are several large and distinct groups of Fitzpatricks. Aligning the results of the study with historical records has enabled these larger genetic groups to also be defined by broad geographic locations. They are Fitzpatrick of Ossory, O'Mulpatrick of Bréifne (Ó Maol Phádraig Bréifne) and MacGilpatrick of Ulster (Mac Giolla Phadráig Ulaid). These genetic groups fit within those identified by McLysaght as the Clans who were to take the surname Fitzpatrick.
However, the y-DNA project has also revealed the incredible genetic diversity of Fitzpatricks; there are a quite remarkable 54 distinct STR-haplogroups. As expected for a surname that arose in Ireland, the majority of Fitzpatrick haplotypes are associated with those classified as Gaelic or Norse. The most common are R-M269 and I haplotypes. Also represented are haplotypes D-PH43, E-M2, J-M172 and Q-M252, associated with East Asian, Sub-Saharan African, Caucasas/Levantine and Indigenous American origins, respectively.
Three haplogroups (28% of members) show evidence of shared ancestry with other Fitzpatricks from ca. 850-950 AD, i.e., at the dawn of the age of surnames (Ó Murchadha, 1999) in Ireland;
13 haplogroups (7% of members) have no shared ancestry with any surname group from ca. 850 AD;
12 haplogroups (46% of members) from ca. 1300-1600 AD;
12 haplogroups (12% of members) from ca. 1600-1900 AD; and,
14 haplogroups (7% of members) are strongly associated with another surname.
For many in a small number of the large haplogroups, who identify with Bréifne or Leinster, a patrilineal descent from an ancient Pátraic ancestor (e.g., a Mac Giolla Phádraig or Ó Maol Phádraig appears feasible. Also, for 13 single-member haplogroups a patrilineal descent from an ancient Pátraic ancestor cannot be discounted since they have no post-surname connections whatsoever. There are large numbers of Fitzpatricks among four haplogroups, identified alongside Ossory, Munster and Bréifne, who show patrilineal descent from a Pátraic surname during the Late Middle Ages (ca. 1250-1500 AD). The DNA project continues to disrupt the historical narratives of the Ossorians but the origins of the large group of Munster Fitzpatricks will only become clearer via a regime of NGS testing, which is scheduled for 2021. Bréifne has more diverse patrilineal associations with Pátraic surnames than any other kingdom of Ireland.
Many of us have a strong understanding of who we are as Fitzpatricks. But for many the question is, "Who are we?" Whatever being a Fitzpatrick means to you, the Fitzpatrick Clan Society warmly embraces all with connections to the Fitzpatrick surname.
The Clans we know
Fitzpatrick of Ossory
Very much has been written about the Fitzpatricks of Ossory and much of that recorded relates to the line of Barnaby Fitzpatrick (c. 1485-1575) who was created the Baron of Upper Ossory in 1541 by Henry VIII. Fitzpatrick has remained a common surname in Counties that share the territory of ancient Ossory, viz., Kilkenny, Laois, Offaly, Tipperary and Waterford.
Many Fitzpatricks who trace to Ossory are readily identified by their distinctive y-STR signature and further, which is shared by other surname groups, most notably D'Alton, Brannan/Brennan/Branham and FitzGerald. Further, Ossory Fitzpatricks are defined by R-A1488, which is not surname specific and arose ca. 1300 AD.
This DNA evidence points to the probable Norman roots of the most documented of all Fitzpatrick Clans, challenging the long held beliefs they descend from the ancient Giolla Phádraig dynasts. Alternative theories, that Ossory Fitzpatrick may have Viking or 'isolated Irish-Gael' origins are not implausible but lack evidence, since ancestors of A1488 appear neither Viking nor Irish, rather their origins are in Wales, England and Scotland.
O'Mulpatrick of Bréifne (Ó Maol Phádraig Bréifne)
The swathe of territory that is Bréifne has a history of powerful chieftains, conflict and upheaval. Fitzpatricks have long been present in Bréifne with historians recording both Ó Maol Phádraig and Mac Giolla Phádraig throughout the country. The DNA study has identified at least three different haplotypes associated with Bréifne Fitzpatricks, but with the surname Ó Maol Phádraig being absorbed into Fitzpatrick in the 17th Century it is not trivial to determine who is who.
Advanced DNA test results have closely matched haplotype BY2630 (a branch of L513) with the surnames of several close Ó Maol Phadráig associates in the 17th century. In addition, these BY2630 Fitzpatricks trace to near Belturbet in Cavan, which is where references to Mulpatricks are found in the 1641 Depositions. Hence, our working thesis is that one type of Ó Maol Phádraig Bréifne may be BY2630. However, any Fitzpatrick who traces to Bréifne may consider themselves possibly part of this Clan.
MacGilpatrick of Ulster (Mac Giolla Phádraig Ulaid)
Edward McLysaght identified the Mac Giolla Phádraig Ulaidh who he also referred to as MacGilpatricks, having “an older form of Fitzpatrick almost peculiar to Ulster”.
In the 1901 census Fitzpatricks were significantly more numerous in Ulster than Ossory, being found especially in Counties Cavan, Down, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Antrim. Without the benefit of modern science McLysaght naturally assumed these Ulster MacGilpatricks, who later became Fitzpatricks, were all one clan.
It is now understood from the DNA project that Ulster Fitzpatricks are several distinct genetic groups, the largest of which are FGC11134…BY12234 and Z255…BY2849. Targeting these two groups with advanced DNA testing has led to the understanding they represent the oldest Pátraic lineages in the broader Fitzpatrick clan. In addition, the DNA findings among Mac Giolla Phádraig Ulaidh are shedding light on old and previously not well-understood records, bringing new insights into the ancient Irish origins of Mac Giolla Phádraig Ulaidh and their deeper clan connections.
While the origin of FGC11134…BY12234 is not yet well understood, the origin of Z255…BY2849 is in Leinster.