The MacTighernan Clan

The surname McTernan / McTiernan / MacTiernan in Gaelic is Mag Tigernain.  Tiernan means lord and Mag Tigernain means son of Lord. The Irish history "The Annals of the Four Masters"  state that we are the descendents of Tiernan O'Rourke from the Barony of Tullyhunco, Co Cavan. With that said, the results of the worldwide DNA test show that so far none of the 38 testers match The O'Ruairc"

With 38 tests completed, 1 in process and 4 pending, the DNA sampling in this test is random from 38 MacTighernans or surname variants from around the world that live in nine countries and five continents with no correlation except the same surname and the same close proximity of origin in Cos Leitrim, Sligo, Roscommon, Cavan and perhaps Fermanagh. Like most Irish families, the deep time history of the MacTighernans is almost all but lost. In the 11th century two MacTighernan families were noted in Irish history as chiefs, Lord McTernan of Tullyhunco, Co Cavan and the McTernans of Co Fermanagh. Their lines may well be extent at this point in time. In recent history, at least since the famine years, most of the MacTighernans in Ireland are found in Co Sligo or Co Leitrim. How any of us might connect to them or to each other is very difficult to prove.

The DNA test is perhaps the only chance to begin to make those connections as many of the MacTighernan families on a much smaller scale than the larger Irish Diaspora have scattered to distant lands in the world and live there today. The spelling of the surname does not really matter as the historical spelling never seem to match the current spelling in many of the families so the Gaelic spelling of  MacTighernan is used to cover all the different variants of our surname.

So far, all tested MacTighernans come from this small area in NW Ireland shown in green on the map on the left, 23 square miles more or less with the one exception of Gus McTiernan whose verbal family history states that his line is from Scotland.

Philip O'Rorke, The O'Ruairc of Bréifne whose family were the past kings of Drumahaire in Co Leitrim has taken this DNA test. Desmond O'Conor, The O'Conor Don, whose ancestors were the past high kings of all of Ireland has not yet agreed to take the DNA test. The tests for Larry McTernan and Terry McTiernan are in process. James Patrick Tiernan and soon Kevin Tiernan are the first without the prefix Mc to take the test with their info on this web site, With the tests completed so far we MacTighernans fall into 14 separate unrelated and different DNA groups.  MacTighernan DNA test

There is no way to know for certain what the total number is for distinctly separate MacTighernan families on a worldwide basis. At this time it would be a guess to say how many there would be worldwide. The search off the web and phone books for US, UK, Canada, Australia and Ireland shows 581 individuals whihc might be  a reasonable approximation as to the MacTighernan density in Ireland and the main countries of immigration as of 2004. Many of the individuals counted in their specific country are most likely related so they would be counted as one family when it is known. The ones that have already completed the DNA test and their known relations are not counted. None the less the gross total of 581 would be greater than what the actual total would be for distinct and separate MacTighernan families.

Traditional McTernan Achievement

The Blazon of Arms: Ermine, two lions passant in pale gules [on field of caltraps].

The odd looking spikes and dots on the McTernan Arms are caltraps, a device that peasants used that looks like 2 to 3 inch spikes in a round shape very much like the jacks in the game, "pick up jacks". They would throw them over their shoulder when being chased by calvary, thus stopping the horses, the chase and getting away.

Translation: Ermin (fur) is the emblem of Dignity. Gules (red) denotes Military Fortitude and Valor. Vert (green) denotes Hope and Joy. Argent (silver) signifies Peace and Sincerity. Azure (blue) represents Loyalty and Truth. Or (gold) denotes Generosity and Intellect. The lions denote Strength, Courage and Majesty.

Crest: A griffin statant Gules (red), winged Vert (green).

Translation: The Griffin represents Vigilance. Vert (green) denotes Hope and Joy. Argent (silver) signifies Peace and Sincerity. Azure (blue) represents Loyalty and Truth. Or (gold) denotes Generosity and Intellect.


Seat: In and around the Barony of Drumahaire, Co Leitrim, Connacht, Ireland.



I hope to make this a good start in the process of sharing information about the McTernan Clan. What this first attempt is not and will attempt to be, is explained further down the page. The goal is to help any and all McTiernan descendents find more info on their ancestors and link up with current relatives. The success of this Clan effort depends on several very important things: The Web, the active involvement of all who become members and an attitude by all, of cooperation. At present there is no cost to be a member, just send me your short family abstract or web site or both and I will post it below.

If you are not connected to the McTernan family then this page most likely will not help your search. It is not a general Irish page for general searches. If on the other hand, you are connected to the McTernan family then please send me your short family abstract that I will include below and or your home page for a link listing here. The key is knowing or finding the name of the townland your family comes from. Send me your ideas on how to improve this page also.

A list of MacTighernans looking for historical family information is at

Michael McTiernan

The following is only my specific family line..there are many other MacTighernan family lines

 Michael McTernan: The McTernan family from Sheskin, Killargue, Killarga, Drumahaire, Co Leitrim, Connacht: The setting for my McTiernan family history is the Barony of Drumahaire, under the shank of the Drumlin Mountains, the area of the "Wild Rose" and the "Howling Dog", in north Leitrim, Connacht, about 38 miles from Tullyhunco. The townland of Sheskin is where my known McTiernan family history begins.

The earliest known McTiernan from the townland of Sheskin is Hugh McTernan I, born in 1708. Hugh is the first known McTernan from Sheskin to be buried in 1783 in the family grave at the foot of the High Altar in the Abbey of Creevelea. The Abbey was burned by Cromwell in the mid 1600s and is today an Irish National Historical Site in County Leitrim. It stands on the bank of the Bonnett River across from the town of Drumahaire in the civil parish of Killanummery, Barony of Drumahaire and PLU of Manorhamilton. The earliest known gravestone at the Abbey is the one right next to the Sheskin McTernan grave, for Hugh O'Rourke and Catherine McTernan buried there on August 22, 1721. A documented connection has not yet been established. Creevelea means "gray branch" in Gaelic.

The ten generation chart with the extended McTernan / McTiernan family from the townland of Sheskin, Barony of Drumahaire with photos of all four McTernan lines, Irish, American, British and the Australians.

MacTiernan / McTernan / McTiernan specifics

Sir Edward McTiernan, KBE, Chief Justice of the Australian High Court [T3 DNA Group]

Co Leitrim specifics

Related family's specifics

Counties around and nearby Co Leitrim.

Ireland specifics

Emigration specifics

Manorial specifics

Oscar Wilde's last words on his death bed a minute before he died in a flea bag hotel in Paris were, "Either the wallpaper goes or I do". He left and the wall paper stayed.

St. Claire Co. IL USA Genealogy Society

St. Louis, MO USA Genealogy Page

Others like us, looking . . . .

Searching for links and Web pages to other McTiernan / McTernan families ?

Searching for links and Web pages to other Carney / Kearney families ?

Searching for links and Web pages to other McGreal / McGrail families ?

Searching for links and Web pages to other Beirne / Bryne / Byrne families ?

Michael McTiernan

The Gaelic saying Arbh fhiu aithne a chur air? is pronounced Erv you anna hur err

N40 03' 05.5"
W75 24' 13.5"