Background to the Project

One of the most important Anglo-Irish families, the Barrys are found today in every county in Ireland and in all of the countries of the Irish Diaspora. Yet much remains unknown about this prominent family. The several works that document the family's history have significant gaps regarding its origins and evolution. The aim of this project is to use the tools of modern anthropology and genetic science, coupled with genealogical research, to address these mysteries and learn how the Barrys of today relate to their aristocratic forbears.

Among the titles held by the Barrys of County Cork, the most important was that of the Earls of Barrymore. The Earls occupied their positions as a result of intense struggles among the branches of the Barry family, with the result that lines of descent and claims to the title were mired in controversy. In that context, the Earls of Barrymore DNA Project seeks to investigate the genetic history of the Earls, their descendants and more distant relatives.

To that end, we have assembled a team of anthropologists, genetic scientists and family historians who are conducting a forensic examinations and DNA testing of remains in the Barry mausoleum in Castlelyons. The focus is on analysis of YDNA, which is passed down the direct paternal line and thus links the remains of males in the crypt to their titled ancestors as well as to more distant paternal cousins.

In addition to illuminating this important family in Irish history, the project is also exploring new techniques for collecting, analyzing and assessing DNA from ancient remains, an increasingly important challenge in marrying genetic science with other fields of research.

An article entitled Decrypting the Dead, reporting on the first phase of the project was published in the Spring 2018 issue of Archaelogy Ireland (

Following publication of that article, a second examination of the remains was conducted and additional DNA results and other evidence were obtained. The overall assessment is that the one set of identifiable remains in the crypt are those of Richard Hugh Smith-Barry, great great grandson of James Barry, 4th Earl of Barrymore. He was a descendent of the Barryroe branch of the Barry family and the DNA test results show that this lineage has a distinctive YDNA haplogroup and subclade, as well as a unique combination of five specific YDNA markers. There are men living today who bear that genetic fingerprint and thus are distantly related to Barrymore1 and his ancestors.

A comprehensive report on the results and findings from related research is available here.

This project is funded entirely by private contributions. We would like to thank all of our contributors and especially acknowledge the generosity of the late Jean Manco, author of Ancestral Journeys and Blood of the Celts, for both her financial and scholarly support of ancestral DNA research. If you would like to make a contribution, you can do so here.

We welcome inquiries and support for this important project. Please contact us with any questions.