Friday 18 October 2013

The GGI2013 conference starts today. Be sure to follow the Facebook updates and the Twitter feeds #ggi2013, and why not watch the presentations on our dedicated YouTube channel - most will be uploaded there immediately after each talk.

Help make this conference a success - please Like, Comment, & Share -

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Patrick Guinness - The Genetic History of Ireland

Patrick Guinness will be joining the panel discussion on The Genetic History of Ireland (Fri 18th Oct at 16.45). The following information about Patrick is taken from Wikipedia

Patrick Guinness
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Patrick Desmond Carl Alexander Guinness, KLJ (born 1 August 1956 in Dublin) is an Irish historian and author, and one of heirs of the Guinness business dynasty. Son of Desmond Guinness and Marie-Gabrielle von Urach, he was educated at Winchester College and Trinity College Dublin. He continues his father's business in real estate development and is a financial analyst. He formerly represented Sothebys in Ireland.

A historian, Patrick Guinness has authored a biography of Arthur Guinness, the founder of the Guinness brewery dynasty.[1][2] He has lectured on genetic genealogy relating to the early Irish dynasties and Viking Ireland, and has sponsored academic research on Irish genetics.[3][4] He is a council member of the County Kildare Archaeological Society[5] and of the Order of Clans of Ireland. He is a trustee of the Iveagh Trust and President of the Irish Georgian Society.[6]

His daughter by his first marriage is the celebrity model Jasmine Guinness. He remarried in 1990 to Louise Arundel and they have 4 children. Through his mother's descent from the second Duke of Urach, he is a potential claimant to the medieval Kingdom of Jerusalem, Kingdom of Lithuania and to the Principality of Monaco (see Monaco Succession Crisis of 1918). He is also 2259th in line of succession to the British throne.

In September 2010, he became a Knight of Justice of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem (KLJ) at a ceremony in St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin and in 2013 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Eagle of Georgia by Prince David Bagrationi of Georgia.

Book on Arthur Guinness, 2008
Independent comment December 2007
Longue Duree paper
Trinity Alumni magazine 2009
CKAS website

This Wikipedia page was last modified on 12 August 2013 at 23:36.
Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.

The lectures were sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy).

Margaret Jordan - The Genetic History of Ireland

Name - Margaret Jordan

Member - I am a member of the Accredited Genealogists of Ireland -

Day Job - My background is in science and mathematics and I taught in a second level school until I took early retirement in 2006. I live in Co. Cork, Ireland.

How did you get into genealogy?
I started researching the Irish side of my family tree in 1997. My father was fostered and with very little paperwork to go on, it proved very difficult to make progress so I turned to DNA in 1999.

What about your involvement with genetic genealogy?
Over the years, I became more and more involved in using DNA in family history research. I was involved in setting up the O’Shea yDNA Project in 2003 and the Ireland yDNA Project in early 2006. I am also using autosomal DNA in my family history research.

So what will you be talking about?
I will be part of the panel discussing the Genetic History of Ireland (on Friday 18th) and will present some of the data from the Ireland yDNA Project which is a y-Geographic Project run through Family Tree DNA -

What DNA tests will be discussed?
Y-DNA primarily

Where can people get more information about you or your topic?
For more information just click on the links below:
The lectures were sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy).

The Genetic History of Ireland - discussion panel

An especially convened panel will discuss the genetic history of Ireland at the first day of Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013. The panel will explore the different genetic imprints that various migrations have left on the island and will delve deeply into the various subgroups of the R1b haplogroup, the most common genetic signature of the Irish people.

The panel will review the cutting edge work that is currently ongoing in this area and discuss the possible implications for Irish genealogy.

The panellists include:
Dan Bradley
Patrick Guinness
Margaret Jordan
Elizabeth O’Donoghue/Ross
Nigel McCarthy
Finbar O’Mahony

The panel discussion takes place in Speakers Area 3 at 16.45 on Friday Oct 18th at the Back to Our Past exhibition at the RDS, Ballsbridge.

The lectures were sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy).

Monday 14 October 2013

Will DNA testing change the face of Irish genealogy?

Maurice Gleeson looks at the results of a recent DNA survey and offers a critical appraisal.

A new survey on this website reveals that 93% of people would be interested in having a DNA test done to help find their ancestors. The survey is being carried out as part of the run-up to Ireland's first conference on genetic genealogy at the Back to Our Past exhibition at the RDS in Dublin from October 18th to 20th.

The overwhelming majority of people who responded to the survey (at gave a resounding yes when asked "would you be interested in doing a DNA test?". This suggests that the Irish public is more open to DNA testing than previously thought and many more people may undertake such testing in the future.

A peculiarly Irish problem
Genealogy is one of the fastest growing hobbies worldwide, and the Irish are no exception as regards popular interest in this addictive past-time. Last year 20,000 people attended the Back to Our Past exhibition in the RDS, and this year it plays host to Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 - a 3-day series of lectures and presentations on how DNA can help people trace their ancestors.

Ireland has a particular problem when it comes to family history research due to the vast destruction of records in the Four Courts fire of 1922. Eight hundred years of Irish history was reduced to smoke and ash in the space of a few hours. As a result, many people will hit a "Brick Wall" on most of their ancestral lines around about 1800. Only the very lucky can trace back into the 1700's. But DNA testing can help break through these Brick Walls.

What do you want to find out?
You can get several things from a DNA test, depending on which test you take, and which company you test with. For example, your DNA can tell you about your deep ancestry, and reveal the route your ancestors took when modern humans left Africa about 60,000 years ago. Only 14% of respondents selected this option when asked "what would you want to find out from a DNA test?". And of these 9% were interested in the deep ancestry of their direct male line (i.e. the father's father's father's line) and only 5% in the deep ancestry of their direct female line. The gender gap exists in genealogy by virtue of the patrilineal descent of surnames in Western cultures and the fact that we are a male-oriented society. Men appear in historical records more often than women.

Deep ancestry makes for some interesting cocktail party banter, but it does a lot more than that - it helps to root us all in Africa, the place of our ancestral birth. We are all ultimately Africans. And this cuts across notions of race and how at the end of the day we are all genetically human, no matter what the colour of our skin. In fact, as time goes on, notions of race will become far less important than one's actual genetic makeup. It is quite possible for two people of the same "race" to have more genetic differences than two people from "separate races". There is a lot more to human beings than skin colour. Genetically, what's under the skin is much more important.

Still on this topic, 17% of respondents suggested they would be most interested in discovering their ethnic makeup from a DNA test. This is a rather strange result as one would assume that most people in Ireland would be predominantly European or Caucasian by ethnicity, with very few people having African, Asian, or Native American Indian ancestral origins. Maybe there is a romantic notion that an African influence was introduced to Ireland by virtue of the Spanish Armada or trading with Spain, which after all was the first muslim country in Europe thanks to the Moors, who themselves were a mixed bag of Arab, Berber, and sub-Saharan African. Or perhaps Irish people are more interested in discovering what percentage of their DNA came from European ethnic subgroups - Viking, Norman, English, Scotch. As technology advances in this field, the biogeographical analyses that underlie these particular tests will become much more sensitive enabling more accurate assessments of ethnic admixture to be undertaken.

However, the majority of people (65%) are more interested in their recent ancestry with equal numbers wishing to explore their direct male line specifically (28%) and connect with cousins on all their ancestral lines (28%). Only 9% of people were interested in exploring the recent ancestry of their direct female line. As usual, our female ancestors get a raw deal. Along the female line, the surname changes with every generation, and it is easy to lose the traces of our female ancestral heritage. This seems particularly unfair given that the majority of genealogists are women.

So what test do you want to take?
The last question in the survey asks "what DNA test would be the most important for you?" and again a clear gender bias is obvious with 25% choosing the Y-DNA test (which measures the father's father's father's line) and only 8% choosing the mitochondrial DNA test (which measures the mother's mother's mother's line).

However, the vast majority of people in the survey chose the autosomal DNA test (66%). This looks at all the chromosomes and therefore assesses all one's ancestral lines. In short, not just one's direct male and female lines, but those too and everything else in between. It also provides you with a breakdown of your ethnic makeup and can reveal information about physical traits and medical risk (depending on the testing company). So it kills several birds with the one stone.

And in terms of breaking down Brick Walls in your family tree, the autosomal DNA test holds out the most promise. This test will identify about 99% of first and second cousins, 90% of third cousins, 50% of fourth cousins and 10% of fifth cousins. Typically, about eight weeks after you have tested, you will get an email from the testing company instructing you to go to your own personal (private) webpage where they have uploaded your results together with a list of the people in their database who match you - your DNA cousins, so to speak. Given that the average age for the intrepid family historian is about 70 (i.e. born around 1940), and allowing 30 years per generation, most Irish genealogists will be interested in contacting DNA cousins who are estimated to be their third or fourth cousins, and who therefore share a common ancestor born about 1820 or 1790 respectively. This collaboration between genetic cousins may help break down Brick Walls in your family tree occurring around the 1800 timepoint.

Many of these genetic cousins are likely to be American and some of them will have more extensive family trees than you do. After all, American records were not blown up in 1922. In fact, despite the US and Canada being relatively "young" countries historically, their genealogical records frequently go back much further than ours in Ireland. And this can provide a rich source of information when Irish records run out. Sometimes the way to go further back in Ireland is to jump across the Atlantic and trace those distant cousins who emigrated to the New World. Many of them will have recorded information about their parents that will help you push a particular ancestral line back an extra generation.

What does the future hold for our past?
Autosomal DNA testing is still at an early stage of development and the testing companies need to provide more tools and utilities for manipulating, analysing, and interpreting the data. There are many areas where automation is possible and this would help prevent people getting bogged down in their results. In time, as more people take this test and the tools for analysis improve, people will find this a very powerful method for identifying common ancestors.

Because of the joint patrilineal inheritance of surname and Y-chromosome (it is only passed from father to son), the Y-DNA test is helping to elucidate the history of Irish surnames and it won't be long before specific surnames are linked genetically to the ancient Irish genealogies. Much of the current ongoing Irish DNA research will be presented at the forthcoming conference at Back to Our Past in the RDS.

DNA testing is an additional useful tool for the genealogist's armamentarium. The results merit careful interpretation. Oftentimes DNA will not provide definitive answers, but it will frequently help focus your research and hint where to look next.

As a science, genetic genealogy is relatively young (the first tests only became commercially available about ten years ago) but the fact that so many people are interested in DNA testing augurs well for the future of genetic genealogy in Ireland.

Additional information
The survey results thus far are based on a maximum sample size of 152. The survey was widely advertised on Facebook and people were encouraged to complete the survey if they were Irish. Most of the 10,700 visitors to the GGI2013 website to date are from the US (36%), Ireland (27%), and the UK (20%). The survey can be found at

Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 is a 3-day series of presentations that runs at Back to Our Past at the RDS, Dublin, October 18-20, 2013. The lecture series is sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy), and runs in parallel to the usual traditional genealogy lectures sponsored by and organised by APGI (Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland).

Maurice Gleeson is a medical doctor and genetic genealogist. He has used DNA testing to break down a Brick Wall in his Spierin line and to confirm a common Gleeson ancestor with a family in Australia. He runs the Spearin Surname Project and is co-administrator of the Irish Mitochondrial-DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA. He is an active member of the International Society of Genetic Genealogists (ISOGG).

Dr Maurice Gleeson
ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy)
9th October 2013

Saturday 12 October 2013

Free access to

More free stuff for those attending Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 at Back to Our Past next week (Oct 18-20). This time it's free access to Here's a message from Brad Larkin ...

  • Genetic Homeland Finder plots genealogy records on a mapping system so that you can visualize your genealogy data.
  • See how multiple surnames and data sources intersect to help overcome ‘brick walls’ in your genealogy. 
  • Built for PC, Mac, mobile phone or tablet use.
  • No registration fees. No monthly subscription fees.

New: 1798 Walker Map of Ireland
We have digitized an original 1798 Walker Map of Ireland and will be offering it in our Genetic Homeland Finder maps. This exciting new map layer will debut on October 18th in conjunction with the Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 conference. You will also be able to save a customized version of the map with your ancestral surnames plotted.

Free, Special Offer
We are offering 6 surname & data search credits free to attendees of the Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 conference in Dublin on October 18-20, 2013. 

This offer is on top of the 6 free credits we normally grant for new users. Offer expires October 27, 2013 and is limited to those with a valid registration for the conference. Limit one user account per person.

To redeem the credits, please pick up a leaflet at the conference.

Also see:
Surname DNA Journal
Genetic Genealogy Studies published. 

Irish Origenes - use your DNA to rediscover your Irish Heritage

Wednesday 9 October 2013

New survey reveals 93% want DNA test

A Press Release was sent out today to all the local, Regional and National Irish newspapers, together with a Feature Article, reporting the interim results of the poll that is running on this website (at the end of the column to the right).

A stonking 93% of respondents are interested in doing a DNA test which augurs well for the future of genetic genealogy in Ireland. There was a clear gender bias with 25% of people voting for the Y-DNA test as the most important test for them and only 8% choosing the mitochondrial DNA test. However, two thirds of people favoured the autosomal DNA test, further underscoring the need to provide better tools and utilities for manipulating, analysing and interpreting the data.

You can read the full Press Release here.

Winner of our second Prize Draw

Congratulations to Mrs Coffey from Clare !!

She is the winner of our second Prize Draw for a Free DNA Test to be given out at the FTDNA stand at Back to Our Past.

If you are attending the event, be sure to enter for a chance of winning.

The final two prize draws are on Mon 14th and Tues 15th October (next week), so be sure to enter now. Just go to the Free DNA Tests page and follow the instructions.