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Niall of the Nine Hostages facts for kids

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Niall Noígíallach (Old Old Irish "having nine hostages"), or in English, Niall of the Nine Hostages, was an Irish king, the ancestor of the Uí Néill dynasties that dominated the northern half of Ireland from the 6th to the 10th centuries. Irish annalistic and chronicle sources place his reign in the late 4th and early 5th centuries, although modern scholars, through critical study of the annals, date him about half a century later. He is presumed by some to have been a real person, or at the very least semi-historical but most of the information about him that has come down to us is regarded as legendary.

Following a 2006 hypothesis by Moore et al. suggesting that his Y chromosomal signature had been discovered, popular science journalists and genetic testing companies began promoting the idea that millions of men alive today have an unbroken descent from Niall. However, more recent dating of the haplotype and corresponding SNP mutation M222 strongly indicates that all men carrying this signature are instead male-line descendants of a single man who lived two or more thousand years ago, quite earlier than the lifetime of Niall. However, one fifth of those men do indeed directly descend from a man who lived around 1500 years ago or somewhat more. If Niall was a real-life figure, he may have belonged to this male lineage, but this is not certain. Notably, many O'Neills and McShanes (a surname associated with a line of O'Neill cadets) arise from an entirely different lineage.

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