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Nov 28, 2014

Niall of the Nine Hostages

Niall of the Nine Hostages

Niall Noigiallach aka "Niall of the Nine Hostages" (d450/455 ad.) was one of the greatest Irish kings. He was said to have consolidated his power by leading raids on the Roman Empire, taking hostages from rival Irish royal families, Britain and the European mainland, thus earning the name Niall of the Nine Hostages? Saint Patrick was said to have been kidnapped and brought to Ireland as one of his hostages during his raids.

Researchers indicate that there could be as many as 3 million descendents of Niall alive today. Most of his descendents are concentrated in northwest Ireland, an area where DNA testing has shown that one in every five males have inherited his Y-chromosome. Studies also that outside of Ireland, approximately one in 10 men in western and central Scotland also carry the gene, and 2% of European American New Yorkers carried it as well, likely due to the historically high rates of Irish emigration to North America.

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About Niall:

  • Niall was the son of Eochaid Mugmedon, an Irish High King, and Cairenn, the daughter of a British king.
  • Niall was the was the founder of the dynasty Ui Neill "descendants of Niall".
  • Ui Neill was one of the most powerful dynasties of ancient Ireland, ruling Ireland until the 11th century.
  • Niall reportedly raided the coasts of Britain and France and brought St. Patrick to Ireland as a hostage.
  • Niall was known to be a ruthless leader who took his enemies hostage.
  • Niall established small kingdoms in Wales and France.
  • Niall reportedly had 12 sons, many of whom became powerful kings, especially in the northwest. In fact, all but two of the High Kings at Tara were descendants of Niall.
  • According to tradition, Niall was said to have died outside of Ireland, some sources indicating that he died at sea fighting Eorchaid mac Enna, the king of Leinster and others suggesting that he died fighting against the Picts in Scotland.

Prior to the genetic evidence, there had been doubts that Niall actually existed since he existed prior to written records and is often considered a mythological figure. Sources for Niall's existence as a historical king come from Lebor Gabala Erenn, Annals of the Four Masters, and cronicles and legendary tales such as the Adventure of the Sons of Eochaid Mugmedon, and The Death of Niall of the Nine Hostages. However, the genetic evidence confirms ancient fables about Niall and suggests that he may be the forefather of approximately 3 million men in the world today.

Discover your relation to Niall of the Nine Hostages »

Discover your relation to Niall of the Nine Hostages »

Y-DNA Haplogroup of Niall of the Nine Hostages:


Y-DNA Haplotype of Niall of the Nine Hostages:


High King of Niall: the most fertile man in Ireland
Jan Battles
The Sunday Times, Times Online
Jan 15, 2006

Irish genes span the globe, and one king spawned nearly all
Siobhan Kennedy
The Sydney Morning Herald
January 19, 2006

Irish king left a wide genetic trail
Siobhan Kennedy
11:16 a.m. ET Jan. 17, 2006

Laoise T. Moore,1,* Brian McEvoy,1,* Eleanor Cape,1 Katharine Simms,2 and Daniel G. Bradley1
A Y-Chromosome Signature of Hegemony in Gaelic Ireland
1 Smurfit Institute of Genetics and 2School of Histories and Humanities, Trinity College, Dublin
Am. J. Hum. Genet., 78:334-338, 2006
Abstract: Seventeen-marker simple tandem repeat genetic analysis of Irish Y chromosomes reveals a previously unnoted modal haplotype that peaks in frequency in the northwestern part of the island. It shows a significant association with surnames purported to have descended from the most important and enduring dynasty of early medieval Ireland, the U?Nill. This suggests that such phylogenetic predominance is a biological record of past hegemony and supports the veracity of semimythological early genealogies. The fact that about one in five males sampled in northwestern Ireland is likely a patrilineal descendent of a single early medieval ancestor is a powerful illustration of the potential link between prolificacy and power and of how Y-chromosome phylogeography can be influenced by social selection.

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