Cathcart Main Page Ireland Page... find County Antrim from here Main Logo

Cathcart yDNA Study
Our Past... our Haplogroups

First of all, let me start with a few caveats:

Our Cathcart yDNA study as opened my eyes to a new world. I had assumed several things before joining the group started by Raymond Franklin Cathcart:

We now know that neither of my initial suppositions were correct!  I will deal with the unexpected ambiguities that have come out of our study results in more detail elsewhere . The purpose of this page is to briefly outline our results in terms of the discovery of at least two main Haplogroups: R1b and I2.DNA Migrations

As a first step in understanding these yDNA Haplogroups, the Family Tree DNA website provides an interactive yDNA migration map.

You get to this map by clicking on the Y-DNA tab at the top of the screen, and then on migration map nav"Migration Maps... New" in the drop-down box.   Click on the small image to the left to see what that FamilyTreeDNA navigation page looks like.

Since my predicted Haplogroup is R1b, that migration is the default migration path depicted in my case (the dark gray lines/boxes/circles). 

(see screenshot from my computer to the right)

You can bring up additional information by hovering your mouse over the colored dots on the map (which represent the main yDNA Haplogroups). 

For the screenshot to the right, I hovered my mouse over one of the blue circle icons, which brought up the migration path for the I2a group.  This is depicted on the blue line, which begins in Saudi Arabia, turns West towards northern Spain, and then veers North toward Scandinavia.

You can also click on each of these colored circles to bring up more detailed information (notice where it says "click for more..." in the pop-up box in the screenshot).

The family tree website also has a "frequency map" showing the distribution of the various Haplogroup throughout the world.  However, the map is somewhat difficult to use as you cannot zoom in to see the area that interests you most—in our case, northern Europe.

Let's now move on to our two main Haplogroups...


R1b image

The vast majority of our Cathcart yDNA participants—28 out of 33 as of April 2012—fall into this category. As can be seen in the map below—and as expected—this Haplogroup is the most common in Western Europe, and is heavily concentrated in Ireland and the Scottish Highlands (where the the Haplogroup approaches 80% of the local population).

R1b map
map from Europedia website showing population distribution

The history/origin of this Haplogroup is not yet completely settled amongst the experts. It does seem clear, however, that it is not as ancient as the I2 Haplogroup—the second major Haplogroup that has been discovered amongst our Cathcart yDNA participants to date (see below).

click here for more details about the R1b Haplogroup

I2 image 

To quote directly from the above-mentioned Europedia website: "Haplogroup I2 is thought to represent the direct patrilineal descendants of Paleolithic Western, Central and Southeastern Europeans, roughly from Northern Spain to the Carpathians, and from the British Isles to the Balkans."

The folks at have now placed three of our participants in the predicted Haplogroup I2b1.  However, there is some discussion about changes in nomenclature associated with this Haplogroup.  For example, they mentioned that the I2b group is now referred to as I2a2.

For the moment, more research is needed to determine exactly what testing criteria family tree DNA is using to place each of the Cathcart yDNA participants into this group.  Because of this, the map below may not be the most appropriate one... however, it at least gives the idea that this Haplogroup is very likely more associated with Northern Europe and the Baltics than is our other primary Haplogroup, R1b.

I2b map
map from Europedia website showing population distribution

Click here for more details