Friday 28 September 2018

ISOGG Day Out (GGI2018 Dublin)

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 22nd). This year we are visiting Genomics Medicine Ireland and the Harbour Innovation Campus.

Places are limited to only 20 people and the GGI2018 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.


Genomics Medicine Ireland

9:30 Assemble at the reception of Genomics Medicine Ireland

GMI Building

Location: Genomics Medicine Ireland, Floor 2, Building 4, Cherrywood Business Park, Dublin, D18 K7W4 (across from Dell)

Please note: parking is limited so Public Transport via the Luas (Brides Glen) or bus is encouraged. Parking is available in the GMI marked spots in the car park behind Dell. To access the car park, turn left before reaching the Dell building and the car park is on the right. There is a direct #7 bus from the Clayton Hotel, Ballsbridge to Cherrywood (45 min) or 4 people can share an Uber or MyTaxi (5€) each (20 min).

Location of GMI
Luas map to GMI, Cherrywood
See this link for more information ...

Agenda for GMI Visit:

9:30 Assemble at the reception of Genomics Medicine Ireland

10.00 Welcome and Introductions by Genomics Medicine Ireland

10:30 Tour of State of the Art facilities of Genomics Medicine Ireland

11:30 Overview of Genomics Medicine Ireland

12:00 Overview of Ireland Reference Genome Project

12:30 Working Lunch - "GMI and ISOGG Cooperation on Irish Genome Reference Project"

13:15 Wrap Up and Actions

13:30 Transfer to Dun Laoghaire


13:30 Dun Laoghaire County Council

Reception Cathaoirleacht Oisin Smith


14:30 Harbour Innovation Campus (see


Agenda for Harbour Innovation Campus

14:30 ... Greeted on arrival at Harbour Innovation campus by Philip Gannon, Founder and CEO of Harbour Innovation Campus

14:45 ... Tour of Harbour Innovation campus

15:15 …Overview of Harbour Innovation Campus

15:45 ... Katja Rybakova - Head of ResearchGenebox

16:15 ... Gerard Corcoran - Genome Innovation Cluster

16:45 ... HIC and ISOGG Cooperation

EVENING PROGRAMME (open to everyone)

18:00 Dinner and Drinks – The Forty Foot, Marine Road, The Pavilion Centre, Dun Laoghaire

Sponsored by Nebula Genomics

Jake Cacciapciagla - Introduction Nebula Genomics

And a very sincere thank you to our hosts for the ISOGG Day Out 2018 ...

Thursday 27 September 2018

Lara Cassidy - Speaker Profile

Talk Titles
1. Early Irelanders: who were they and what happened to them?
2.  The formation of the insular Atlantic genome: Over 4000 years of continuity on Europe’s northwest extreme?

What will be discussed?

Talk 1 - Ancient genomes from the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods can shed light on social organisation in prehistoric Ireland. We explore this here, alongside the contribution these groups made to the modern Irish.

Talk 2 - We explore the signals of genetic continuity (and discontinuity!) in Ireland from the Copper Age onwards using haplotypic data taken from both modern and ancient populations. Ancient data also allows us to trace the appearance and distribution of Y chromosome lineages through time on the island.


Lara developed an interest in biology and evolution from a young age through popular science books left lying around the house by her father. She went on to complete an undergraduate degree in Human Genetics at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin and finished with first-class honours.

She was subsequently awarded a postgraduate scholarship by the Irish Research Council to undertake a PhD in Palaeogenomics the Bradley Lab at the same institute. The main focus of this project was the sequencing of ancient human genomes from all periods of the island's prehistory to study past demography. 

The first publication of this work (Cassidy et al. 2016) presented a new demographic scaffold for the island, proposing that at least three ancestrally distinct Irish populations have existed on the island, whose inhabitation corresponds closely to the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Chalcolithic/Early Bronze Age eras. Large scale migrations into the island are implied during the transitionary periods carrying with them ancestry ultimately derived from Anatolia and later the Russian steppe. 

Lara completed her PhD last year and is now continuing on with her work on Irish human ancient genomics as a postdoctoral researcher in the Bradley lab.

Employment Experience:

2018- to date: Postdoctoral Researcher, Trinity College Dublin. PI: Prof Dan Bradley
Project: Ancient Genomics and the Atlantic Burden

June 2012 - August 2012: Research Assistant, Ecological Genetics Lab, National Institute of Genetics, Mishima, Japan. Supervisor: Prof Jun Kitano.
Project: Investigating the phylogeography of Japanese threespine sticklebacks using microsatellite markers.

Education & Qualifications:

2013-2018: Ph.D. Genetics, Trinity College Dublin

2009-2013: B.A Human Genetics, Trinity College Dublin; First Class Honours

Other Merits:

The Leslie Bloomer Prize in Human Genetics, Trinity College Dublin (2012)
Gold Medal for Degree Examinations, Trinity College Dublin (2013)
Overall winner in the Life Sciences category of the 2013 Undergraduate Awards


Lara's thesis is available at the following link but access is embargoed until May 2020 - A Genomic Compendium of an Island: Documenting Continuity and Change across Irish Human Prehistory ...

Previous Presentation at GGI2018: A Genomic Compendium of an Island: Documenting Continuity and Change across Irish Human Prehistory

Lara discussed the findings of her recently completed thesis which assessed the genomes of 93 ancient skeletal remains across the island of Ireland. This analysis provided the most comprehensive analysis yet of prehistorical migrations into Ireland and how the arrival of these waves of new populations shaped who the people of Ireland are today.

Tuesday 25 September 2018

O'Neill Project Team - Speaker Profile

Presentation: Developments in O’Neill DNA Genealogy

Project Team: Sean O’Neill, Fred Mulholland, Dwayne O’Neill & Ed O’Neill. Sean is a member of Clans of Ireland and the Association of O’Neill Clans.

Day Jobs: All four of us are professional engineers in various technical disciplines. Three of us are retired. Sean has been involved with a number of high technology companies since their start up.

Our outside activities include travelling and some of us play tennis, golf and sail.

Night Jobs:
As the administrators of the O’Neill DNA project, there are always questions to be answered from O’Neill’s all over the world. The four of us co-ordinate our activities concerning how best to encourage people to take tests that will yield significant information that matches known genealogy. We interpret their results, group the kits and provide an overview.

How did you get into genealogy?
Sean became involved in genealogy through his father, Desmond O’Neill, who had an avid interest in the genealogy of the Tyrone O’Neill’s and compiled the genealogy of all the main branches of the O’Neill’s into the book ‘The Ancient and Royal Family of O’Neill’. This involved traveling Ireland, visiting churches, graveyards, and meeting people all over Ireland.

Fred initially did not know anyone beyond his grandparents, however, after his father died he found a little scrap of paper with the names of his grandparents and great‑grandparents.  When genealogy data first went online about 1998, he made contact with a cousin who had done extensive research on the Mulholland family. He was then hooked and has been expanding the family tree ever since.

Dwayne first became interested in genealogy with his mother by exploring their common Hodgins (Co. Tipperary) family connections. The family stories that his mother shared was the spark to pursue family information through traditional research.

Ed has been involved in genealogy for over twenty-five years, for the purpose of learning more about his grandparents (and their immigrant parents) who were such special people in his early life. His interest morphed into passion, and then into near-addiction.

What about your involvement with genetic genealogy?
Ed O’Neill was the original group administrator and started in 2005. Sean and Fred started to get involved with DNA testing a couple of years later. Dwayne joined the effort a couple of years ago.

Ed co-authored a paper titled “Insights Into the O’Neills of Ireland from DNA Testing” in 2006 where, for the first time, two separate and different groupings of Tyrone O’Neills were described through DNA test results. From this work the “O’Neill Variety” group was identified with the Tyrone, Fews, McShane and Clanaboy septs.

All of us have done traditional genealogical research on our family trees and had come to a dead end in tracing our ancestors to the late 1700’s. 

A few years ago, Ed O’Neill decided to step back as the lead administrator for the O’Neill Project and Sean volunteered to become the administrator with Ed, Fred and Dwayne being co-administrators.

So what will you be talking about?
The presentation will connect the traditional genealogy of the O’Neill septs to their genetic signatures using Y STR and haplogroup markers. The focus will be on the Tyrone, McShane, Fews and Clanaboy septs and the unique DNA characteristics of this “O’Neill Variety”. In addition, the Ui Neill as descendants of Nial of the Nine Hostages and his son Eóghain (Cenél Eóghain) will be detailed. Other septs will be highlighted including the O’Neills of Leinster, Eoghanachta and Thomond and how they differentiate. Widespread testing using Big Y has greatly contributed to our current understanding.

What DNA tests will be discussed?
Y-DNA including STRs, SNPs & Big Y.

To what surnames is this topic relevant?
The O’Neills (and its various derivations) and related surnames including McShane, Johnson, Paine, etc.

Where can people get more information about your topic?
The FTDNA O’Neill Project at
The Association of O’Neill Clans at
The Clans of Ireland at
The Big Tree for the O’Neill Variety at

Saturday 22 September 2018

Andrew Millard - Speaker Profile

Presentation: What are the odds? A tool for fitting a DNA match into a tree

Dr Andrew Millard
Associate Professor in Archaeology at Durham University
BA Chemistry, DPhil Archaeological Science
Member of ISOGG, Society of Genealogists, Guild of One-Name Studies, Northumberland and Durham FHS, Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. Chair of the Trustees of Genuki.

What do you do as a Day Job?
My day job is as a university academic. I’m an expert in dating, chemical analysis of bones and teeth and statistics in archaeology. The activities include teaching undergraduates and postgraduates, researching and the inevitable admin. So you might find me in a lecture theatre, preparing samples in the lab, or (most likely) sat in my office at my computer.

What do you do as a Night Job? 
You mean when my day job isn’t stretching into a night job as well? I’m using genetic genealogy to identify ancestors and unravel more than one adoption in my family tree, but I only have one match at the third-cousin level on that side. So I’m looking at matches and building lots of trees for fairly distant relatives. They all have roots in either Caherciveen in Kerry or Athenry in Galway. You’ll also find me hanging out and answering questions in a few genetic genealogy Facebook groups

How did you get into genealogy?
I don’t really remember as I started very young. My mother has a family tree I drew up aged 7, and the first source material I collected (and still have) was a newspaper cutting from when I was 10. By the age of 17, I’d done a course in family history and joined the local family history society. My Granny had a family story about being related to the founder of Crosse & Blackwell. Studying her family soon led to the Bodimeade one-name study. It turns out that I spent the last two years of school at a college in the hamlet where every Bodimeade alive has had an ancestor. Thomas Blackwell of Cross & Blackwell was born there, and his mother was a Bodimeade, but I’ve never proved the connection. My paternal grandparents had a family archive going back to the early 19th century, and I spent many Saturday afternoons poring through it for clues. That led me to chasing records for family around the globe. New Zealand, India, St Helena, California: they were a well-travelled lot!

Tell us about your involvement with genetic genealogy
I think Katherine Borges was to blame for my initial involvement in genetic genealogy, it might have been about 2007. I was teaching about ancient DNA and ISOGG had a page on its website about ancient DNA sequences, which was a clear crossover between my professional interests and my genealogy interests. We started corresponding, and I would send her things from academic papers to add to the page. Since then mitochondrial DNA and Y-DNA have been eclipsed by autosomal DNA of course.

I got involved with the ISOGG Facebook group and with my mathematical bent ended up answering queries that needed quantitative answers. I realised that the academic papers that many ideas were based on didn’t actually account for the way genetic genealogy companies analyse data, so I started doing my own simulations. Then along came Leah Larkin with the idea behind WATO and I helped develop the maths behind it. I’m still working on simulations to examine the amount of shared DNA expected for different possible relationships, which is particularly useful when there is pedigree collapse. It’s coming along slowly, but that’s because it’s my night job!

What will you be talking about?
I’ll be introducing WATO - What Are The Odds? – a new tool to help place matches in a tree. Adoptees and others with unknown parents (or grandparents, or even great-grandparents) often have a set of autosomal matches with a common ancestor. The question is where do they fit within that family tree? Using things like the Shared cM Project, it is possible to eliminate some potential relationships, but what about all those that fall within the known ranges? Can we say that some are more likely than others? Who would be the best people to test next in order to narrow the possibilities? These are the types of questions WATO is designed to address. 

Where can people get more information about you and the work you do?
WATO can be found on Jonny Perl’s DNA Painter website

The ideas underlying it have been set out by Leah Larkin in a series of posts on her DNA Geek: Science the heck out of your DNA ...

The support group is on Facebook

Friday 14 September 2018

Barbara Rae-Venter - Speaker Profile

Title of your presentation: Cold Case Solved: The Use of Autosomal DNA in Identifying Offenders and Victims of Violent Crime.

Brief biographical details
Ph.D. Biology University of California at San Diego, San Diego, California
J.D. University of Texas Law School, Austin, Texas.
Member: ISOGG, Monterey County Genealogy Society (MoCoGenSo)

Day Job: Retired intellectual property attorney; specialized in patenting biotechnology inventions.

Night Job: I am a Search Angel with and help teach the online autosomal DNA classes that we offer to teach adoptees how to use their autosomal DNA to find birth relatives. I also assist law enforcement with identification of unknown crime victims as well as violent offenders using autosomal DNA and work with adoptees and others to identify immediate birth family members.

How I got into genealogy: My mother was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne in England but at the age of 7, she and her family emigrated to New Zealand. Her father was born in Inverness, and my mother was very proud of her Scottish ancestry. Starting in about the late 90’s, with her help, I began researching my mother’s family history. In November 2006, my parents were in a car accident in New Zealand in which my mother was killed. I stayed in my parent’s home during my father’s lengthy hospitalization and I discovered my paternal grandmother’s birth certificate in my father’s desk. To my surprise, my grandmother had been born in New Zealand. I had thought that all of my grandparents were off the boat from Scotland. Clearly there was a lot to be learned about my family and so it began—my addiction to genealogy. Research on my paternal grandmother’s family, revealed not only that her father had been born in Waipu, New Zealand in 1862 but that her mother’s family had arrived in New Zealand in 1839. And my paternal grandfather’s family I discovered had arrived in New Zealand 1851.

Involvement with genetic genealogy: I began doing DNA testing on myself and family members when consumer DNA testing first became available and have personally tested at just about every one of the consumer testing companies. And whenever I travel, I take along some DNA kits. Due to a scarcity of official records, traditional research, especially on my paternal grandmother’s paternal line, is difficult. My grandmother’s family was caught up in the Scottish clearances. They made their way from Sutherlandshire, Scotland first to Pictou and then St Ann’s in Nova Scotia and then three decades later to Waipu, New Zealand where they founded a Gaelic speaking community. Details of this epic voyage: To facilitate research on this branch of my family, I have set up the Normanites Project on FamilyTreeDNA; followers of the Rev Norman McLeod were often referred to as Normanites. Matches with adoptees led me to take a class with DNAAdoption in 2012 to learn how to solve unknown parentage cases. I have now taken that knowledge and applied it to solving unknown parentage cases of a different ilk, those involving identification of violent crime offenders and victims of crime whose identity is unknown.

What I will be talking about: I will explore the use of autosomal DNA testing in solving cases of “unknown parentage”, from adoptees, to the unknown victims of violent crime, to violent offenders. I will also discuss some of the issues raised by the use of public databases such as GEDmatch in solving these cases.

Information about me and the work that I do:


video: adoptee reunion ...

Adam Keim’s story (adoptee) ...

Forensic Magazine Article on solving cold case ...

Boston Globe Article on the aftermath of identifying Lisa’s mother ...

Boston Globe article on identification of Lisa’s abductor ...

New York Times Article on identifying The Golden State Killer ...