Connecting my Brennans back to Ireland – DNA makes it official

Even when I’m sure something is true, it’s always great to get verification.  That happened recently with my Brennan family tree.  How amazing to connect two families, separated by an ocean 180 years ago.

My great great grandfather, Michael James Brennan, left Roscommon in 1833.  He settled in Providence, RI.  Tracing him back to Ireland seemed like a long shot.  Meeting cousins seemed beyond the possible.  Here’s the latest chapter of the story.

Charles Brennen (1947)

Charles Brennen (1947)

Back in 2010, I first met my Brennan cousins at the family homestead in Roscommon.  I had built on research done by my mother back in the 1970’s.  She based her work on a hand drawn family tree made by her father, just before he died in 1947.  I was able to identify the townland, Carrownamaddy, and was lucky enough to find them still living there.  For the story of my 2010 trip, see Irish Family History Tour.

Just before my trip in 2010, I noticed an message board post by Noel Masterson.  Noel said he was researching Brennans from St. John’s Parish in Roscommon.  I contacted him when I returned from my trip.  I had no idea he was connected to the Brennans I just met.  He was surprised and pleased to tell me I had met his uncles.  What a connection!  We assumed it would bear more fruit as we agreed to exchange our family trees and other Brennan related information.  Noel had done quite a lot of research, so I would have to say I benefited more.  But, he was happy to get my information as well.

Vincent, Mick, and Eamon Brennan (2010)

Vincent, Mick, and Eamon Brennan (2010)

My siblings and I visited the Brennans in Roscommon several times over the years.  They are always very welcoming.  For the story of my 2012 visit, see A Cornucopia of Irish cousins …  What a treasure to have this connection.  Noel and I have stayed in touch, vowing someday to meet in person.

Recently, I mentioned to Noel that it would be great to verify our connection using an autosomal DNA test at  He asked his mother if she was willing, and she was.  Her test results supported what we “knew” to be true, that our mothers were 3rd cousins!

It only took 180 years, but it was worth the wait.

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