Hughes' Views & News

An invitation for Hughes men in Ireland

Posted in Genealogy, Hughes by tahughesnc on May 23, 2017

The H. Hughes pub in Carrickmacross.

Five years ago, in 2012, I decided to begin researching my family history and to have my DNA tested.  I ordered a Y-DNA37 test from Family Tree DNA, joined the Hughes DNA Project, and began waiting for my results.

While I was waiting, I noticed that there was a man in the Hughes Project from South Carolina who reported having the same earliest known ancestor as my family:  Andrew Hughes, who was born near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1755 and died in Pickens County, South Carolina, in 1843. When my Y-DNA results came back, the man in South Carolina was listed as a match for me, and I was able to work out from genealogical records that he and my father were 4th cousins. I later learned that the man, whose name was Larkin Hughes Jr., had died in 2008, so he and my father never met or even knew about each other.

Over the next several months after I got my Y-DNA37 results, I noticed several things that were a surprise to me. For example, most of the men who were listed as matches for me weren’t named Hughes, and many of them reported having earliest known ancestors in Ireland. These were men with surnames such as McArdle, McMahon and McQuillen, to name a few. I also noticed that Larkin Hughes Jr. was a member of the Clan Colla 425 null project, which is based on the theory that its members are descended from the Three Collas who ruled the Kingdom of Oriel — an area that corresponds roughly to the present-day Irish counties of Louth, Monaghan and Armagh — about 300 A.D. I joined the Clan Colla project as well after learning that my Y-DNA signature met the requirements for membership.

Finally, I noticed that my Y-DNA matches included several men named McMahon. At that point I contacted Patrick McMahon, who is an administrator for both the Clan Colla and McMahon DNA projects, and learned that my Y-DNA signature met the requirements for membership in the McMahon Project. So, I joined the McMahon project as well. I have since upgraded my Y-DNA results from 37 to 111 markers and have taken Family Tree DNA’s Big Y test, which is the most advanced paternal line test currently available.

The McMahons were the ruling chieftains over about 4/5 of County Monaghan for more than 400 years, from about 1200 until the English imposed their control over the area in the 1600s. The McKennas ruled the other 1/5. The last McMahon chieftain, Hugh Oge MacMahon, was held prisoner in the Tower of London and beheaded for his participation in the 1641 Irish rebellion against English rule. According to The Monaghan Story by Peadar Livingstone, people in central and northern County Monaghan with the surname Hughes — which means “Son of Hugh” — are considered to be probable descendants of one of the many Hugh McMahons or Hugh McKennas who lived during this era. The Monaghan Story says Hughes is also a very popular surname in counties Armagh and Tyrone.


St. Mary’s in Castleblayney — the black headstone in the foreground is for a Hughes.

I recently visited County Monaghan myself for the first time. As I walked through the graveyard at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Castleblayney, I was struck by the fact that many of the surnames from my Y-DNA and Big Y match lists — including Hughes, McMahon, McArdle and McKenna — were well represented on the headstones there.

My Y-DNA matches include men named McMahon who live in Ireland, but I don’t have any Y-DNA matches in Ireland named Hughes — all of my matches named Hughes live in the U.S. I would like very much to find one or more men named Hughes in Ireland who are a Y-DNA match for me.

Are you a Hughes male in Ireland with ancestral roots in the counties of Monaghan, Armagh or Tyrone? If so, then I hereby invite you to have your Y-DNA tested and to join the Hughes DNA Project, for which I am a co-administrator. You can do so at this link:

You will need to order the Y-DNA67 test, at minimum, in order to find out if you share the particular Y-DNA signature that I share with men in the Clan Colla and McMahon projects.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at