V. DNA – Conclusion

No yDNA "Conclusively Proves" a Laois Origin


Since modern science can pinpoint a paternal ancestral genetic homeland it can also be used to confirm it by DNA testing individuals from the pinpointed location. [1] 

Later in the study we see:

My Bowe paternal ancestral genetic homeland is situated close to the town of Abbeyleix in County Laois ... In 2011 after I had pinpointed the area surrounding Abbeyleix in Laois as the origin of the Irish Bowes ancestors, Mrs Jeane Robinson ... visited this area and collected DNA samples from a number of male Bowe’s. These Bowe were a DNA match to me, conclusively proving that my Bowe ancestors originate in Laois. I do not genetically match English or Scottish Bowes. [2; emphasis his]

A more recent presentation states under the heading "DNA Testing Confirms the Paternal Ancestral [Surname Origin] Link with Laois":

Bowe/Bowes from County Laois recruited for DNA testing are a match to Joseph Dooley and Dr Tyrone Bowes. [3]

Unfortunately, this notion appears in various forms in numerous Origenes materials online. As administrator of the Bowes DNA project I can relate that as of April 27, 2014, the Bowe(s) DNA results have not confirmed Tyrone's "pinpointed" Bowe(s) homeland in Laois close to Abbeyleix. The facts are:
  • Jeane Robinson, another researcher interested in Irish Bowe(s), did visit Laois, Kilkenny and Offaly and took it upon herself to try to collect some Bowe(s) DNA samples. She was only able to collect one yDNA sample (not "a number of" them). This Bowe(s) does not "still live" in Tyrone's pinpointed Bowe(s) genetic homeland ("this area"). The paper trail for that Bowe(s) is very recent with the earliest known location in Ballyfin, Laois, in the late 19th century. Ballyfin is about 19 km (walking) northwest of Abbeyleix, away from the Kilkenny–Laois border where many Bowe(s) are found. Just one Bowe(s) hailing from Laois in the late 19th century, especially amongst numerous others with earlier histories not in Laois, falls far short of "conclusive proof" that the Bowe(s) surname originated in Laois. The other kits Jeane obtained were for autosomal DNA tests and not applicable here.
  • There is only one other male Bowe(s) in the project who descends from Laois and who tested of his own accord long ago. His paper trail leads to Rathmore, Laois, in the early 19th century. Rathmore is also about 19 km (walking) northeast of Abbeyleix, away from the Kilkenny–Laois border where many Bowe(s) are found. His yDNA does not match the Ely Carroll Bowes.
  • As of April 26, 2014, four of seven Ely Carroll Bowe(s) trace their ancestry to Kilkenny. One of those has very strong circumstantial evidence of coming from Tipperary in the 18th century. The fifth has strong oral tradition that his family was from Kilkenny, but no documentary evidence to confirm where in Ireland the family lived. The sixth traces from Isle of Wight, England, in the early 18th century, and the seventh is the one with recent history outside the pinpointed homeland, in Ballyfin, Laois.
  • Family histories shared with me by several Irish Bowe(s) lineages indicate that a number of families, who belong to a different Bowe(s) yDNA subgroup, moved back and forth over the Kilkenny–Laois border since at least 1800. It would not be surprising to find the differing yDNA of these families in Laois today.
  • No Bowe(s) yDNA proves a Laois origin.
  • No Bowe(s) has yDNA tested who lives near the theorized "pinpointed genetic homeland" close to Abbeyleix, Laois.
Origenes claims, "Once an ancestral [o]rigin within Ireland is [p]inpointed one can confirm the link by DNA testing people that still live there". Another way of looking at the question of Bowe(s) surname origins might be to note where DNA subgroups' earliest ancestors cluster, possibly suggesting a region of origin for each subgroup. I had a map prepared in 2013 as an experiment to help track this notion as the project grows. Unfortunately our DNA project sample size remains rather small compared with the number of distant lineages available for testing. The map isn't representative, but in addition to illustrating another approach, it helps show that there is no support for Origenes' "pinpointed genetic homeland" "close to the town of Abbeyleix" in the DNA tested so far.

To be mapped, the participant's location needs to be known below the county level, so participants who only know, for examples, "Ireland" or "Tipperary" are not mapped. There are no unmapped participants from Laois. The total numbers for each DNA subgroup are shown in the legend. The red squares are the Ely Carroll Bowe(s). The only recent participants not yet included are from Carlow (M222) and an unknown location in Ireland (U106). So far, limited though the sample size is, it does not support a Laois origin for the Ely Carroll.

Bowes (and variants) DNA Project Map
Bowes One-Name Study Irish Bowe(s) DNA Participants Map
Click To Enlarge

Aims of the Bowes DNA Project

Origenes states:

Other Bowes from counties Laois and Kilkenny are being recruited to establish a clear link between Clan Bowes and the Clans medieval territory on the Laois/Kilkenny border. [5] 

I don't know if Tyrone himself ever attempts to recruit for the DNA study. Not one of the current participants was recruited by him. 

As administrator of the Bowes DNA project, I welcome participation by all Bowes, Bowe and their variants (recognized or potential) to:
  • further their own family history or haplogroup research through yDNA matching, and/or
  • assist the one-name study in building as representative a sample as possible for better insight into the surname(s). (A truly representative sample is technically not achievable.)
At the surname level I am interested in seeing what emerges in the data, not in proving a particular theory. While yDNA results are often very useful to family researchers, one should not order a kit for the purpose of obtaining an Origenes case study and hoping for a sound analysis.



[1] Bowes, Tyrone, "Pinpointing the Bowes Paternal Ancestral Genetic Homeland (using commercial ancestral Y-DNA testing)", Irish Origenes (Updated Oct. 2013). (URL: http://www.irishorigenes.com/case-studies?page=2; accessed 25 Apr 2014)

[2] Ibid.

[3] Bowes, Tyrone, "Authenticating Your Roots," Sons of the American Revolution Genealogy Conference. Presentation, p. 35. (URL: http://www.irishgathering.ie/images/RootsTyroneBowes2014.pdf; accessed 15 Jun 2014)

[4] Bowes, Tyrone, "Case Study: Pinpointing the Bowes Irish Paternal Ancestral Genetic Homeland (using commercial ancestral Y-DNA testing)", Irish Origenes (Updated Jul. 2014). (URL: http://www.keepandshare.com/doc/2842681/bowes-case-study-1-4-meg?da=y; accessed 17 Jul 2014)

[5] Bowes, Tyrone, "Pinpointing the Bowes Paternal Ancestral Genetic Homeland (using commercial ancestral Y-DNA testing)", Irish Origenes (Updated Oct. 2013). (URL: http://www.irishorigenes.com/case-studies?page=2; accessed 25 Apr 2014)