Paul J. Burns
Nicholas C. Burns
It has been confusing and frustrating for historically motivated members of non-Co. Wicklow Byrne clans and families to find material relating only to the more famed Co. Wicklow clan or to be more accurate, the clan that was synonymous with the Byrnes' Country, a territory that extended somewhat beyond present day Co. Wicklow.
A great deal of myth has developed about the assumed or perceived Co. Wicklow origins of the various other Byrne, Burns etc. clans and families but it is hoped that the Byrne DNA Project
together with this book will dispel these myths and link the non- Leinster families to their proper backgrounds and histories. It is also a concern that many traditions of the other and unrelated
Byrne clans might be lost if they do not find a “home” in this generic study.
An increasing number of people are taking up the opportunity to have their DNA tested, so this volume commences with a brief view of the genetic history of the human race before discussing the
clans and families who are known as Byrne or by variations of the surname.
A glance at the contents for Volume 3 indicates the wide interest and geographical background of the numerous contributors from Ireland, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand, to whom thanks
is expressed. This is a reason why there is a wide variety of styles within the volume, which gives space not only to articles that are highly researched, groundbreaking, and state of the art, but also
to narratives which are in part folk history and at times “homely.”
This volume is also a vehicle for the work of two dedicated researchers. These are Paul J. Burns of Tallahassee, Florida, and Nicholas C. Burns of Big Rapids, Michigan. Paul, as organiser of
the Byrne DNA Project, has contributed invaluable research to this study and without the DNA Project the present understanding of the various origins of the Byrne etc. surnames in Ireland could not have been achieved. Furthermore, Nicholas organised extensive DNA testing in the counties of Armagh, Meath, Monaghan, and Louth, and both of them have also collected and contributed many of the family histories and genealogies that appear in this volume. The status of the Byrne DNA Project, which now has over 200 tested members, may be viewed online through www.worldfamilies.net/surnames/byrne
This study of the Byrnes and the O'Byrnes began many years ago as a “dead” project where the members of the various “clans Byrne” only had recourse to a few inadequate and outdated books
and where a small number of historians and genealogists were working in isolation. Now, it has grown to such an extent that on one level it is making an important and significant contribution to
the understanding of Irish national history, while on another level it has preserved traditional and personal accounts that extend the work far beyond the scope of a mere political history. It thus
provides an unprecedented model for other clan histories.
The work also incorporates some of the original classic texts such as O'Hart and Kirwan so that they may be compared with modern thinking and new research on the surname. The originals,
flawed and outdated as they now appear, have still a place not so much in telling the history of the clans, but now as part of the history of the clans.
Incorporating the Byrne DNA Project and related family histories into The History of the Byrnes and the O'Byrnes deserves to be recognised as one of the most exciting steps in Irish historical studies of recent times. This is a history that is capable of setting into a national and worldwide context what is close to being the most personal and intimate level of human history - the history of one's own family and heritage. This is the common denominator of all history and therefore, so it may be argued, the purest form of history.
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