Kevin J. O'Brien in Killernan Graveyard, County Clare, Ireland June 1981

Kevin J. O'Brien in Killernan Graveyard, County Clare, Ireland June 1981
Kevin J. O'Brien in Killernan Graveyard, County Clare, Ireland June 1981

DNA Connection to other O’Brien families in Kilmurry-Ibrickane Parish.

The O’Brien’s of Kilmurry-Ibrickane Parish, County Clare, Ireland

And their DNA Connection to other O’Brien families in the Parish.


By Kevin J. O’Brien


The use of Y-DNA testing with my family history search has opened doors that a few years ago I would have never dreamed.   My grandfather immigrated through Ellis Island in 1900.  His youngest sister stayed on the ancestral farm until 1950 when she sold the farm.  I was fortunate that I had a record of the location for my ancestral home.


This information allowed me to trace my family back to 1855  to my second great grandfather, James O’Brien b. 1793 and d. 1845.  This is documented through property records, church records, civil birth, death and marriage records; gravestone inscription and personal family records.   Patrick’s wife Honoria O’Brien is listed as “Occupier” in the 1855 Valuation of Tenements in Killernan Townland, Parish of Kilmurry-Ibrickane Parish. 


This is the point where many of the records end for the Irish family researcher.  There are four other O’Brien families in this area that I have contacted that are able to do what I have done and identify the Occupier of their O’Brien farm in 1855.  Before this time there is only speculation as to the identity of the previous generation.


The following is a list of the Five distinct O’Brien families that live a short distance from each other.  They were neighbors and surely knew each other and from what the DNA  tests have shown there is a close relationship between these six O’Brien families just a generation or two before the start of written records.


1855 Valuation of Tenements for Parish of Kilmurry-Ibrickane, County Clare, Ireland

·         Lot 15,16,17        Honoria O’Brien, Killernan Townland, 26 acres

·         Lot  17,18            Michael O’Brien, Killernan Townland, 20 acres

·         Lot 1,2                             Michael O’Brien, Quartermire, Knockanalban Townland, 27 acres

·         Lot 59,60,61,62  James O’Brien, Mount Scot, Knockanalban Townland,  51 acres

·         Lot 15                    Patrick O’Brien, Shanaway West Townland, 41 acres



 This information led me to three more O’Brien families.  One family is from New Zealand that has their ancestral farm in Mt. Scot, Knockanalban, townland just down the road from the O’Brien’s of Killernan.  The second O’Brien family presently living in County Clare have their ancestral origins in the townland of Shanaway West just over the hill from my farm and the third family still living in Ireland has their roots in Quartermire, Knockanalban near the Mt. Scot O’Brien’s.    After my contact with members of these three distinctly different O’Brien’s families; they agreed to submit a DNA sample to the O’BRIEN GROUP with Family Tree DNA.   



The samples were taken and the Y-DNA results confirmed a close match with the three O’Brien families from Killernan townland.   Now there were five O’Brien families in the parish that have a near perfect DNA match.  This has been very satisfying to us and has answered many questions. 


There are still a few O’Brien families in the parish that I hoping to encourage having their DNA tested and I have thought of a few friends that could use this same approach to see if they share a common ancestor.  


  1. Hi Kevin, I would be interested. My grandmother was Kate O'Brien, Seafield, Quilty. Brian Galvin

    1. Brian,
      Thanks for the message. I would like to look at your family tree. Do you have one on line?
      Would you contact me at
      Kevin J. OBrien
      Buffalo, NY, USA

    2. Brian,
      I found your family tree on Ancestry and have corresponded with your cousin, Cathy C.
      Do you know where the O'Brien's were from before Tromra Castle?

  2. Do I understand correctly that Y-DNA means we need a male descendancy line in order to qualify for this investigation? That is, as my grandmother was born an O'Brien, my DNA won't be suitable as it is not a continuous patrilineal connection?

  3. Yes, this is a "Y" DNA test. It is only for males and the results will only give you the "Y" markers from the father.
    You would need your grandmother's, brother, her father's brother's children or a male that is a descendant of an O'Brien.
    Kevin J. O'Brien

  4. Kevin,
    My GGGrandfather is named Michael O'Brien. We are searching for his roots. He was born in Ireland but went to Wigan England where my GGrandfather Patrick O'Brien was born. We have found a possible family connection to Michael O'Brien/ Anne McInerney married Kilmurry 1830. Do you have any information on O'Brien/McInerney family. If we can't find the paper trail ... we think there is a possibility our Michael is their son... would my brothers be candidates for the DNA testing?
    Bernadette O'Brien Thompson

  5. Kevin,
    Thank you for including the Egan/O'Brien connection. My descent is apparently from O'Haren/O'Haran. Patrick O'Haran born circa 1729 married to Anne McDonnel in Kilkenny. My Y-DNA includes several matches with O'Briens of Ibrickane in West Clare, branching off from the main Thomond line after about 1400. I suspect that Patrick was born in County Wexford where there is Ballyharran of the same derivation, and that he and John O'Brien patriarch of Kilernan were closely related.

  6. My grandmother, Margaret Obrien, born june 7th 1895 in Cork. Left Ireland to travel the world as as governess at the age of 16. She met and married my grandfather John Flaherty in New Jersey. She almost never mentioned her family again...we do know that she had 2 sisters who joined the convent of Good Shepard, but I am tirelessly searching for her parent's info. Any thoughts? Thank you!