The Donegal Piper has Irish and Welsh roots. The surname O'Byrne was the original name of Valerie's family, before and after they immigrated to America in the 19th century. It was changed in the late 19th century to Byrnes by one of her ancestors to seem more American, as so many families in that time did. The O'Byrne family has roots in the counties of Meath, Wicklow, Antrim and Donegal in Ireland.
The County of Donegal is in the Northwest region of Ireland. The Donegal Bay directly faces the Atlantic Ocean. It comes as no surprise that the O'Byrne clan has the symbol of the mermaid perched upon its family crest.
To stay true to her roots, and because she is partial to the ocean, Valerie has chosen the mermaid as her symbol. The colors of the ocean are in the kilt she currently wears and in her family's tartan from County Donegal.