What It All Means

Project Summary April 2007

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(Note:  the McKane spelling will be used to represent all the spellings and variations of this name in this report)

The DNA project has proven that McKane is the anglicised form of several similar Gaelic names.  Some of these names are Mac Catháin, Ó Catháin, Ó Cadháin, Mac Cadháin, Mac Eáin, and Mac Eathain.  All these names have been anglicised as McKane and its variations, both with O or Mc and without.  Mc is the abbreviation for Mac and is sometimes used in both English and Gaelic writing of the name. Several of the groups have had much success from both DNA results and from location of new primary source records in 2006-2007. 

Summary of what we have learned from the McCain/McKane/O’Kane DNA Project:

Four major septs of McKanes have been found with multiple matches.

 McKane Group 01- This group was located in the northern County Antrim , Ireland .  The Gaelic form of the name is Mac Eáin.  The origin of this group of McKanes has been particularly hard to locate.  A promising line of research that led to Donegal in the end returned to north Antrim as more data was collected.  Late in 2006 DNA results were received that linked this McKane group to families living in mid Argyle circa mid 1400s AD.  This new origin theory is being pursued via DNA testing and primary source research.   Anglicised forms found in this group are McCain, McCane, McKane, McKain, McKean, and McKeen.   This group includes the McKanes of the Marsh Creek Settlement, of northern Maryland , and has many Canadian members.  Many of the McCains in the US South and West are of this group.

McKane group 02 - The Irish form of the name may be Mac Catháin or Mac Eáin.   McCain and McCaine are the anglicised spellings.  The group found in the US South and West and in New England and date to Colonial times.  This group includes Thomas McKean, Signer of the Declaration of Independence and President of the Philadelphia Hibernian Society in the 1790s and also includes Rev Alexander McCaine, born in Tipperary , Ireland , a famous Methodist theologian and writer in the ante bellum South. 

McKane group 03 - Gaelic form of this name is Mac Eain and these are the very famous McKanes of Clan Donald. This group is Norse in paternal ancestry and Gaelic on its maternal side.  This group is the same line as the Clan Donald chiefs. Anglicised forms are McCain, McKane, McKean, and Johnston.  Both the Ardnamurchan Mac Eain family and the Glencoe Mac Eain family are in this group.

 McKane group 04 - This is the County Derry Ó Catháin clan and perhaps the most numerous and most well-known Kane family.  They have a long and distinguished history.  Anglicised forms which have been proven via DNA testing are O’Kane, Kane,  McCane, McKane, McKeen, McCaughan, McCann, and Cain.

 Individual McKanes:  the individual McKanes (by all spellings) represent other groups of course, but ones that have not yet found matching families.  We have Irish, Manx and Scottish McCains in this group. Anglicised spellings include Keane, Cain, and McCain and they are geographically spread from Cork , to the Isle of Man to Scotland .  Most are Gaelic in origin, with a few being Norse in origin.

Please email your comments and suggestions to:

Project Coordinator
Barra McCain

Jim McKane