Sunday 24 September 2017

ISOGG Day Out 2017

Once again, Gerard Corcoran (ISOGG Ireland Representative) has organised a fantastic agenda for our traditional ISOGG Day Out on the Monday after the conference (i.e. Monday Oct 23rd). This year we are visiting the two major universities in Dublin - Trinity College & University College. The agenda includes tours of their respective DNA Laboratories as well as the Irish Folklore Commission and some Ancient Irish Manuscripts.

Places are limited to only 20 people and the GGI2017 speakers and volunteers on the FTDNA stand get first pick. Any places left available after that will be available on a first-come first served basis to ISOGG members. If you would like to be considered for a place among the Lucky 20, please leave your details in the comments section below. There may be some future changes to the agenda (due to unforeseen circumstances) but such changes are not currently anticipated.

Trinity College Dublin - Campus Visit
9:00 Assemble at the Front Gates (position 2, on the left in the map below)
Guided Tour of Campus by Trinity Tours. The tour will cover the following points of interest:
1. Front gates
2. Parliament Square
3. Library Square
4. Campanile
5. Fellows Square
6. Old Library
7. Book of Kells
8. Botany Bay
9. New Square
10. College Park
11. Science Gallery
12. Beyond 2022, The Virtual Records Memory
13. Smurfit Institute of Genetics

12.00 Quick lunch in the University restaurant or a nearby cafe

12:30 Transfer to University College Dublin Belfield Campus (either by taxi or 46A bus)

14:00 Assemble at Ardmore House (4, in section 8C below, beside the Car Park)

(click to enlarge)
The guided tour will include the following points of interest:
1. Ardmore House
2. Newman Building
3. Irish Folklore Collection
4. UCD Special Collections
5. UCD Archives
6. UCD Science Center
7. Insight Center for Data Analytics
8. UCD Conway Institute
9. Ancient DNA Lab
10. Genomics Medicine Ireland
Detailed Agenda

14:00 ... Greeted on arrival at Ardmore House Carpark by John Barry, Director of Major Strategic Partnerships

14:00 ... Walk to UCD Newman Building, F001 - F005

14:05 ... Irish Folklore Collection, with Críostoír Mac Cárthaigh (F001 - F005 Newman Building)

14:25 ... Walk to UCD James Joyce Library

14:30 ... Ancient Irish Manuscripts from the UCD Library Special Collections, with Evelyn Flanagan & Kate Manning (UCD Archives)

14:50 ... Refreshments at UCD Library

15:20 ... Walk to UCD O’Brien Centre for Science

15:30 ... Ron Pinhasi Ancient DNA Lab (3rd Floor, Science Centre)

15:50 ... Insight Centre for Data Analytics, with Peter Fitzpatrick (3rd Floor, Science Centre)

16:10 ... Walk to UCD Conway Building

16:15 ... Genomics Medicine Ireland, with Dr. Sean Ennis

See this link for more information ...

18:00 Transfer to City Center

19:00 Dinner KaShing, 12a Wicklow Street (yellow star in the bottom left below)

And a very sincere thank you to our sponsors for the ISOGG Day Out 2017 ...

LivingDNA offer a single test that covers Y-DNA, mitochondrial DNA & autosomal DNA. Their "population admixture" tool incorporates data from the People of the British Isles Project. You can read Debbie Kennett's blog post about the company here.

Toolbox Genomics is a company that analyses your DNA results and makes diet & lifestyle recommendations that may help reduce your risk of chronic conditions

Friday 22 September 2017

Eppie Jones - Speaker Profile

Title of Presentation: Ancient DNA and the Genetic History of Europeans


I have a B.A. and Ph.D. and I am a Herchel Smith Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge and a Visiting Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin

I perform research using ancient DNA with the aim of trying to get a better understanding of the genetic history of Europeans. This often involves bringing genetic data together with information from archaeology, anthropology and earth sciences.

What will you be talking about? 

The ability to recover DNA from ancient human remains is transforming our understanding of the past. In this presentation we will look at how information from millenia-old bones is harnessed and what we can learn from studies using ancient DNA. In particular, we will explore how events which happened thousands of years ago have shaped the genes and traits of people living in Europe today.

This year, the four lectures on Friday afternoon (including Eppie's lecture) were made possible by the kind support of CITIGEN, a HERA Project. CITIGEN is an international collaborative research project that looks at the uses of modern and ancient genomic data in shaping public understandings of the past and our individual and collective identities. 

Further Information about Eppie

Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin ...

These lectures are sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by volunteers from ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy).

Thursday 14 September 2017

FamilyTreeDNA - sponsors with heart

Once again, our sponsor for this year's Genetic Genealogy Ireland conference is FamilyTreeDNA. Max & Bennett at FTDNA have sponsored our conference since its inception and have been keen supporters of citizen science since they first launched the company back in 2000. FTDNA are the only company that has created an infrastructure for the running of DNA Projects by ordinary "citizen scientists" like you and me. Without this crowd-sourcing initiative, citizen science would never have taken off in the way that it has over these past 15 years or so.

Bennett Greenspan & Max Blankfeld, founders of FTDNA

FamilyTreeDNA is based in Houston, where Hurricane Harvey devastated the city and surrounding areas. The clean-up after Harvey is going to take months and years. Luckily, FTDNA themselves were not too badly affected but several of their employees did suffer from the after-effects of the hurricane. Our hearts go out to them and we wish them continuing support. Max and Bennett started a fundraiser page for affected employees and are matching donations dollar for dollar. So far this has raised over $23,000.

In addition, as members of the community and corporate citizens, FTDNA are donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of all their tests (including upgrades and paid transfers) during the month of September toward Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. A banner on their home page will display the cumulative amount raised and will be updated twice daily. To date, they have raised over $11,000 toward hurricane relief.

If you are thinking about buying a DNA test in advance of the GGI conference, now would be a perfect time to do so. Not only will you be starting your own incredible adventure into the Land of DNA and Genetic Genealogy, but you will be helping other people in the process.

So for a whole host of different reasons, thank you Max and Bennett!

Wednesday 13 September 2017

GGI2017 logo

The logo for GGI2017 is today revealed to the universe.

It is based on a map of the world by Gerard van Schagen, a Dutch engraver who lived from 1642 to 1724. His world atlas of 1689 was produced using copper engraving and consists of four views of the globe, including views of the north and south poles.

Map is in public domain and sourced from WikiMedia Commons

Ireland is located close to the centre of the map. Five arrows emanate from the island and travel to Iceland, North America, South America, Africa, and Australia. These locations will feature prominently in some of the talks at this year's conference: Gisli Palsson will discuss the Book of Icelanders; Hannes Schroeder will discuss the TransAtlantic Slave Trade; several presenters will be bringing an American perspective to proceedings (Roberta Estes, Dave Vance), whilst others hail from Scandinavia (Peter Sjöland, Hannes Schroeder) and Australasia (Donna Rutherford). The range of topics and presenters serves to underscore how we are all inter-related and how our histories are completely and inextricably enmeshed.

The intersection of the arrows creates several triangles. And Triangulation is a topic of several of the talks this year - using the DNA of several related people to focus on a particular ancestor (Debbie KennettMaurice GleesonRoberta EstesPaddy Waldron).

This ancient map reminds us of our deeper roots and both Dan Bradley & Eppie Jones will be discussing ancient DNA and what it is telling us about early Europeans, including the early Irish. On a related topic, Gianpiero Cavalleri will discuss the deeper roots of the Irish Travellers as revealed by DNA. 

Finally, the atlas is a suitable icon for the final results of the Irish DNA Atlas Project which will be presented at the conference by Ed Gilbert. This project has been running for over 5 years and it will be fascinating to see what it reveals about the DNA of the people of Ireland.

These lectures are sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by volunteers from ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy).

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Roberta Estes - Speaker Profile

Title of Presentations

Session 1 – Nine Autosomal Tools at Family Tree DNA & How to Use Them

Session 2 – Autosomal DNA Through the Generations

Biographical Details
  • Bachelors and Master’s degrees in Computer Science
  • Masters in Business Administration
  • Graduate work in GIS systems
  • Runs own business (at
  • Author of one of the most popular blogs in genetic genealogy ...

What do you do as a Day Job?

I prepare Y and mtDNA Personalized DNA Reports for clients, as well as general genetic genealogy consulting.

What do you do as a Night Job?

Whatever I didn’t get done in the day 😊
Hopefully some of my own genealogy or quilting.

How did you get into genealogy?

I was pregnant with my daughter, waiting on her arrival, and decided I wanted to know something more about my father’s side of the family. I had NO IDEA I was “doing” genealogy nor that it would ever become an obsession.

Tell us about your involvement with genetic genealogy

I first tested my mitochondrial DNA with Oxford Ancestors in 1999, then started the Estes DNA project with FamilyTreeDNA shortly thereafter. The rest, as they say, is history.

What will you be talking about? 

My presentation will cover autosomal DNA exclusively. Session 1 will cover tools to help you interpret your autosomal DNA results. Did you know that Family Tree DNA provides customers with 9 different tools for autosomal DNA matching and analysis? Did you know that you can use these in combination with each other for even more specific matches. Not only that, but within these tools there are lots of ways to utilize the various features. Do you know how to use your Y and mitochondrial DNA results together with your Family Finder results? We’ll be looking at several different scenarios and different approaches to solving brick walls. Come and see what you’ve been missing!

The second session will explore DNA through the ages - literally! What might you be able to do with DNA matching if you had 4 generations to work with? What could you learn? Looking at how DNA is inherited through multiple generations of the same family is the perfect way to learn about the principles of inheritance and might just peak the interest of your children or grandchildren. What a fun project to undertake with them, or bring older children along to the session. Come and see just how much fun DNA can be as a family affair! DNA kits as Christmas gifts might just be in your family’s future.

Further information about Roberta

Roberta's main blog ...

Roberta's professional website ...

Roberta's publications ...

These lectures are sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by volunteers from ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy).

Thursday 7 September 2017

Gisli Palsson - Speaker Profile

Title of presentation - Icelandic roots and identities: Genealogies, DNA, and personal names.

Biographical details:
  • Title - Professor of Anthropology
  • Affiliation - University of Iceland
  • Professional qualifications – B.A., M.A, Ph.D.


Honorary Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.

Day Job - Professor of Anthropology, University of Iceland

Night Job – Photography, sport & grandchildren

How did you get into genealogy?

Icelanders usually grow up with genealogies and family reunions. Family relations are strong and my parents kept records into the past. Long after I left my hometown, the Westman Islands, Iceland, I got passionately involved with genealogy when the Book of Icelanders – a pioneering online tool for tracking connections and family trees – was constructed. I was fortunate, as an anthropologist and a citizen, to follow the construction of the database and its use in genetics and by the public. This experience satisfied my personal curiosity and my anthropological interests in kinship relations and ideas of identity and belonging. One of the issues I have found fascinating is the design and visual metaphors of genealogical relations and their cultural differences across time and space. I have published extensively on these issues for the last 15 years, both academic books (Anthropology and the New Genetics, 2007) and magazine articles (“Spitting Image”, Anthropology Now, 2009).

Tell us about your involvement with genetic genealogy ...

I first got involved with genetic genealogy when I followed developments at deCODE genetics in Reykjavik, all of which are based on combining “deep” genealogies, more or less back to the settlement of Iceland in the 9th century, and genomic mapping. Apart from tracking the genetics of common diseases and their family connections, deCODE launched a project called deCODEme (now out of service), the first case of personal genetic testing services as we now know them (similar to 23andMe). Aside from this I was working on two rather different projects. One of them focused on Inuit communities in Greenland and Canada, addressing indigenous notions of family, relationships, and inheritance. In the Inuit view personal names are a key to identity and belonging, not hereditary material in the Western sense. I discussed the similarities and difference of what I called gene talk and name talk in my article “Genomic Anthropology: Coming in From the Cold?” (Current Anthropology, 2008). The other project relates to my biography of an enslaved man from the Danish West Indies who escaped to Iceland, via Copeinhagen, in 1802 (The Man Who Stole Himself: The Slave Odyssey of Hans Jonathan, 2016). How, I asked, do the descendants of Hans Jonathan (now about 1000), presumably the first black person to settle in Iceland, relate to their African-Caribbean roots? Interestingly, Hans Jonathan’s genome has now been largely reconstructed by anthropologists at deCODE genetics, drawing upon the genetic signature of his living descendants and the Book of Icelanders.

Tell us about your presentation ... 

I will be talking about the genealogical database The Book of Icelanders and the DNA testing of the people of Iceland, how these have helped reconstruct the genome of a runaway Caribbean slave who became an Icelandic merchant in the early 1800s, and the quest of his descendants for roots and identity.


Icelanders, genealogies, deCODEme, The Book of Icelanders, personal names, Hans Jonathan

Relevance to Ireland & Irish genealogy
1. It may be useful and interesting to compare the cases of Iceland and Ireland. How is the use of, and interest, in genealogies different?

2. Genetic research shows that there are significant Irish signatures in the genetic makeup of modern Icelanders, thanks to Norse travels through Ireland. As a result the two contexts may have lots in common.

Questions addressed during presentation:
1. What has driven Icelanders’ interest in genealogies, how have they been assembled and used, and to what extent has their significance been altered with digitalization and the new genetics?

2. How have genealogical records and genetic databases helped the reconstruction of the genome of a runaway Caribbean slave, Hans Jonathan (1784-1827) who settled in Iceland, and the quest of his descendants for roots and identity.

This year, the four lectures on Friday afternoon (including Gisli's lecture) were made possible by the kind support of CITIGEN, a HERA Project. CITIGEN is an international collaborative research project that looks at the uses of modern and ancient genomic data in shaping public understandings of the past and our individual and collective identities.

Links & Further Information

These lectures are sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by volunteers from ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy).

Monday 4 September 2017

Donna Rutherford - Speaker Profile

Talk Title - Introducing Y-DNA for autosomal DNA testers

Background - I'm a New Zealander with English, Scottish and Irish ancestry. Many of my family were New Zealand pioneers.


Day Job - I work in the Technology Industry as a Global Business Operations Manager, currently working mostly in the Cloud Technology space. I'm professionally an Accountant, but worked mostly in IT Management during my career.

Night Job - Running our DNA facebook group, writing blogs, and chasing down those DNA matches. I co-admin the Rutherford Project and have a Rutherford one-name study. I manage DNA kits for several friends and family.

How did you get into genealogy?

As a teenager I loved the stories from my great aunt about her early life in New Zealand and why our family had left England. Many family members passed down handwritten genealogies and family bibles that were invaluable in starting my own research. In the 90s I wrote my own family tree database and whilst it wasn't a particularly good bit of software, by today's standards, it did the job and got me more interested in the technology side of genealogy.

What about your involvement with genetic genealogy?

At the beginning of 2015 I decided to take an Ancestry DNA test. Once I got the results I spent all my spare time immersing myself in YouTube videos, blogs and facebook groups learning about DNA for Genealogy. It basically changed my life, as I then set about testing on other sites and testing all my family. Since then I've become co-owner and admin of a DNA facebook group where I've been helping people with questions about their own results. Last year I became co-admin in a Y DNA project (the Rutherford project). I now manage Big Y tests, MtDNA and many many autosomal kits. I specialise in trying to make the complex side of DNA testing easy to understand for people who are new to genetic genealogy.

So what will you be talking about?

Many DNA testers have started with autosomal DNA testing. For these people Y-DNA is still a mystery. This talk is aimed at those already using genetic genealogy but are curious about Y-DNA testing. I will explain the Y-DNA test and results in basic terms to help those starting out.

What DNA tests will be discussed?

The talk will cover all three basic DNA tests - Y-DNA, mtDNA, and atDNA.

Where can people get more information about you or your topic?

My Blog:
My Facebook DNA group:

Previous talks by Donna at Genetic Genealogy Ireland

GGI2019 Belfast: Managing your DNA Matches ... Our DNA matches have been rapidly increasing. We are uploading to other sites, testing more of our family, and getting more matches as the databases grow. It's all good news, but we need to be able to manage all these matches to get the maximum benefit from our DNA test. This talk will look at the increasing database sizes, how we can upload to other sites for more matches, and then how to manage all our information. We will look at the tools on the test site that help us manage matches, and also how to use other tools like spreadsheets, DNA Painter, and even our own family tree to keep all our information in order.

GGI2018 DublinDNA testing for Genealogy – The Basics ... This introductory talk on DNA for genealogy outlines how the different type of DNA tests can help your research and which one is best for the particular research question you have in mind. I cover how to get started, how the tests work, and which test is best for you, using case studies of each type of test.

GGI2018 BelfastGame of Genes: DNA of characters from Game of Thrones - The genetics of the Game of Thrones characters. This will be a unique presentation that delves into the DNA results of characters from the Game of Thrones TV show. Although the characters are fictitious, details about their DNA can be applied to our research and understanding of our own genetics. What could we find out if we distributed DNA kits across Westeros, the Iron Islands, Essos and even beyond the Wall.

GGI2017Autosomal DNA testing for beginners. Understanding DNA results can be confusing and complex. If people can learn how to read and understand their results, they will get the maximum use of their investment in a DNA test. My talk will breakdown what a DNA test is, how it works, and how to interpret the results. This will be an easy to understand overview that beginners can feel comfortable attending without any previous experience with DNA. Experienced users most welcome, and hopefully they may pick up some tips and tricks too.

These lectures are sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy).