Welcome to the web-site of the Clan Irwin Surname DNA Study.  This Study was launched in 2005, with the assistance of Kent Irvin, and its website was re-vamped in 2011 with the assistance of Rick Byers. 

Both the Study and its website were under the aegis of the Clan Irwin Association (CIA) until April 2017 when the Study’s former URL, www.dnastudy.clanirwin.org had to be withdrawn for technical reasons.  Our new URL is www.clanirwin-dna.orgThe Study and its website are now fully independent from the Association, although the Study continues to respect and publicise the Association and to recognise that the interests of the members of the Study and the participants of the Association have considerable overlap.


This is Update No.24 of our Study.  : 

  • We now have over 470 participants with STR test results, of whom 36 have BigY test results and over 70 have L555 Pack Test results. 

  • We have now identified 41 genetic families using the Irwin surname or variant spellings thereof.

  • Our largest genetic family, the Border Irwins, has 308 participants, of whom 50% can now be included in the L555 haplotree.

  • The other 50% of our Border Irwins who are not yet on this haplotree are recommended to consider taking the $119 L555 SNP Pack test.

  • Our Study remains amongst the leaders in the rapidly evolving field of Surname DNA projects, particularly in its ability to connect the human haplotree to conventional pedigrees. 

Many minor improvements to our main results table have been incorporated.  These include:

  • I have updated the Irish branches of our surname, incorporating the Rathmoyle branch. 
  • As part of my preparations for the coming into force on 25 May of the new European Union General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) I have stripped out from our project’s results table testees who have left our Study over the years for one reason or another but whose data I had not deleted hitherto.  This has resulted in a "loss" of nearly 3% of our data, although most of these were NPEs.   
  • I have reworked all the TiP data following FTDNA’s unannounced change in their algorithm in 2016.  The new TiPs are less discriminatory (my threshold for genetic family membership is now a modal TiP of at least 90%) and less useful, but I still believe TiPs to be the best available tool for assessing STR data quality.
  • I have reassessed the STR "Matches" of the Study participants who are not members of the Borders genetic family, thereby reducing our Singletons to just 6%.
  • I have incorporated the significant results of FTDNA’s recent release of the 112-561 STR markers for BigY testees.  Alas this release has not yielded any appreciable enhancement of our Study.
  • I have reworked the Family Finder autosomal data relevant to Irwin “cousins” from both this Study and the Irvine autosomal project.
  • I have reworked all the BigY SNP data following FTDNA’s upgrading from hg19 to hg38.  This has not resulted in any major changes, but some minor changes and ambiguities await FTDNA’s release of their hg38 BAM data at some future date, as yet unannounced.
  • I have reworked out L555 haplotree to accord with this new SNP data; again no major changes.  The number of L555 BigY tests remains at 26 and L555 Pack tests at 70, but I am now able to place 50% of L555+ testees on this haplotree, a significant increase. 
  • I have used Dave Vance’s SAPP prediction tool to satisfy myself that the Wilson kit 61771 is probably not a NPE but instead a very early “son” of L555.  It follows that the earliest Border Irwin SNP is probably not L555 but its other “son”, Z16032.  I have no reason to doubt that this SNP dates from c1300.  However for convenience I intend retaining L555 as the “label” that identifies the Border Irwins.  Alas I have not yet found other enhancements to our Study using the powerful SAPP tool.
  • My latest presentation of our project in Belfast in February was well received – see https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=vvRBkYM1wQE) – and this video may be of use to those who struggle to absorb this ever widening field of genealogy.

Minor as these individual improvements may be, together they make our Study significantly more robust than it was six months ago.


Looking ahead however there are an increasing number of uncertainties.  FTDNA's new pricing structure means it is even more relevant than hitherto to seek my advice before ordering any upgrade.  It is also unclear what impact there will be on our Study of FTDNA's new precautions in anticipation of the entry into force of GDPR.

                            James M Irvine,  Surrey, UK;

 Study Administrator, 5 May 2018;


Kit no. 29479;  ISOGG Member.

Please note that various administrative features of this website are currently being updated in light of FTDNA's new arrangements and the entry into force of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation on 25 May.  In particular I have posted our Study's provisional Privacy Statement, "provisional" pending our digesting FTDNA's imminent Privacy Statement and revised Guidelines for Group Project Administrators. I have also posted guidance on FTDNA's new tools for managing your FTDNA account.  Some of these tools do not become fully operative till 25 May.  Standby for updates.                                                                                                           James Irvine  22 May 2018 

Please note that I have uodated our Main table and its accompanying notes, but that for technical reasons I am temporarily unable to fulfill many of my roles as your Administrator.  I am optimistic "normal service will be resumed as soon as possible", but meanwhile please be patient, and note that (1) if in doubt I recommend "Limited Access" (I'll explain more in due course), and (2) I still can answer private e-mails.                                                                                                            James Irvine  28 May 2018    

Consequential to FTDNA's updated responses to GDPR, I and your Co-administrators at last feel confident that this Study can continue in its traditional style.  We have accordingly updated our Privacy Statement and I am now addressing several "housekeeping" details that have arisen.  There will also be some minor changes to the next main results table at the end of this month.           James Irvine 9 October 2018