Wednesday 24 October 2018

Links to Live-streamed GGI2018 DNA Lectures

A big thank you to all the speakers at GGI2018 last weekend. The conference was once again a great success and the room was filled to bursting point on many occasions. 

The videos will be going up on the YouTube channel over the course of the next several weeks, but in the meantime, here is a handy list of the DNA Lectures at GGI2018 with links to the live-streamed videos on the GGI Facebook group. Just click a link to view the live-streamed recording of the lecture. You will be prompted to join the GGI Facebook group if you haven't joined already.

My thanks to Michael C Carragher for putting this list together.

Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2018 Checklist - Dublin, Ireland

Friday, October 19, 2018
DNA for Beginners (Debbie Kennett) Time 1:00:17
How DNA can help at Tuam (Maurice Gleeson) Time 56:45
Cold Case Solved: Identifying Offenders & Victims of Violent Crime (Barbara Rae Venter) Time 1:06:04
Ethical issues & the social application of DNA (Panel Discussion) Time 28:08
A Genomic Compendium of an Island (Lara Cassidy) - NOT RECORDED
Introducing DNA Painter (Katherine Borges) Time: 37:49

Saturday, October 20, 2018
DNA testing for genealogy - The Basics (Donna Rutherford) Time 53:59
Unusual use of Third Party Tools (Cathal McElgunn) Time 49:39
The North East Galway DNA Project (Martin Curley) Time 46:41
The North East Galway DNA Project part 2 (Martin Curley) Time 9:26
Running successful atDNA projects in Ireland (Panel Discussion) Time 54:54
Paddy Waldron's notes:
Developments in O'Neill Clan genealogy 
(Dwayne O'Neill) Time 43:49
Finding Missing Persons with DNA (Debbie Kennett) Time 1:08:43

Sunday, October 21, 2018
Raising the Dead (Martin McDowell) Time 46:16
WATO - the latest tool for your atDNA (Andrew Millard) Time 51:49
GDPR, Privacy & Data Protection (James Irvine) Time 52:43
DNA, Privacy & Data Protection (Panel Discussion) Time 1:02:38
Untangling a tumbleweed branch of the Y-DNA Tree (John Brazil) Time 51:04
Big Y, WGS & the future of Y-DNA (John Cleary) Time 58:42

Created by Michael Carragher (watching in New York).

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Speaker Profiles for the presenters at GGI2018 Dublin

There are fifteen lectures and three Panel Discussions at this year's Genetic Genealogy Ireland. And there are twenty people either speaking or appearing on the Expert Panels.

The Speaker Profile page gives a complete run-down of this year's Speakers, together with a brief biography, how they got involved in genetic genealogy, and what they will be talking about this year.

Speaker Profile page

Simply visit the Speaker Profile page and click on the Speaker's name to see their profile.

The lectures will be live-streamed each day on the Genetic Genealogy Ireland Facebook group courtesy of Gerard Corcoran. If you want to see the talks, you need to be a member of the Genetic Genealogy Ireland Facebook group - it is completely free to join.

The lectures will be recorded and it is planned to upload them to the GGI YouTube channel throughout November.
Maurice Gleeson
16 Oct 2018

Thursday 11 October 2018

GGI2017 lectures now available on YouTube

Last year, we had a great line-up of speakers and topics for GGI2017. The 3-day event (20-22 Oct 2017) had the largest audiences yet, but as the lecture area was in the main hall of the exhibition centre, the sound quality of the recordings of the lectures was less than optimal.

Nevertheless, with a bit of technical massaging, the audio has been manipulated to be as good as it can possibly be and on some of the videos it is reasonably okay (despite the background noise).

The entire collection of GGI2017 videos is now online

All of the videos (15 in total) are going online en masse today (11 Oct 2018) and you can view them on the Genetic Genealogy Ireland YouTube Channel.

For ease of reference, here is a list of the videos. To view a lecture, simply click on the speaker's name.

Academic Topics
Prof Gisli Palsson ... Icelandic Roots & Identities: genealogies, DNA, & personal names
Prof Hannes Schroeder ... The Genetics of the TransAtlantic Slave Trade
Prof Dan Bradley ... Prehistoric genomes at the Atlantic Edge

Y-DNA Topics
Dave Vance ... Family Trees with SAPP
Margaret Jordan ... Y-chromosome DNA & the Ireland Y-DNA Project
John Cleary ... Using SNP testing to build out your genealogical family tree - the Big Y & recent developments
Maurice Gleeson ... What do your Y-DNA results mean?

Autosomal DNA Topics
Roberta Estes ... Autosomal DNA through the generations
Roberta Estes ... Autosomal Tips & Tools at FamilyTreeDNA
Paddy Waldron ... Matchmaking in Clare using Y-DNA and atDNA
Donna Rutherford ... Autosomal DNA Testing for Beginners
Debbie Kennett ... Making the Most of Autosomal DNA

Other Topics
Peter Sjölund ... The Power of Mitochondrial DNA
Michelle Leonard ... DNA is dynamite - how to ignite your ancestral research
Ann Marie Coghlan ... Introducing DNA for Family Research

Maurice Gleeson
11 Oct 2018

Monday 8 October 2018

Finalised DNA Lecture schedule (with talk descriptions) - Dublin, 19-21 Oct 2018

GGI2018 takes place over the weekend of October 19th-21st2018 at the RDS (Royal Dublin Society) in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Below is the final schedule for the DNA Lectures. These will take place upstairs in Dodder Suite 5A (the same room as in previous years) and will be well sign-posted from the floor of the exhibition hall (just follow the signs for DNA Lectures).

It is planned to record the lectures and make them available on the Genetic Genealogy Ireland YouTube channel. A new lecture will be posted each few days following the end of the conference, so that by the end of November all the lectures will be available online.

Friday 19th Oct 2018

11.30   DNA for Beginners (Debbie Kennett, ISOGG, UK)
Thinking of taking a DNA test? Wondering how DNA can help your family tree research? Just got your results and wondering how to interpret them? Then this beginner’s talk is for you.

12.30   How DNA can help at Tuam (Maurice Gleeson, ISOGG, IRL)
Almost 800 children died at the Tuam Mothers & Babies home between 1925 & 1961. Many of them may be buried in a pit discovered on the old site of the home. This talk reviews how DNA can help identify the skeletal remains found in the pit, and explores some of the ethical issues involved.

13.30   Cold Case Solved: The Use of Autosomal DNA in Identifying Offenders and Victims of Violent Crime (Barbara Rae-Venter, ISOGG, US)
This talk explores how the powerful combination of DNA & genealogy has helped adoptees reconnect with their birth families, and more recently has been used to identify murder victims and violent offenders (such as the Golden State Killer).

14.30   Ethical issues & the social application of DNA (Panel Discussion)
A public discussion of recent developments in the use of Gedmatch by law enforcement agencies to identify victims of crime as well as serial rapists and killers. Will the use of this public database make society safer? But at what cost to the average member of the public?

15.30   A Genomic Compendium of an Island: Documenting Continuity and Change across Irish Human Prehistory (Lara Cassidy, TCD, Dublin)
Lara’s recent thesis interprets the DNA results from 93 ancient skeletons found in Ireland dating from about 5000 BC forward. These analyses have helped shape a new exciting history of Ireland’s ancient past and provide the most comprehensive assessment to date of how waves of migration into Ancient Ireland have shaped the people who live in Ireland today.

16.30   Introducing DNA Painter (Katherine Borges, ISOGG, US)
This user-friendly website is packed with tools to help you analyse your DNA matches (no matter which company you have tested with). Katherine reviews the tools available and how they can help you in practice.

Saturday 20th Oct 2018

11.30   DNA testing for Genealogy – The Basics (Donna Rutherford, ISOGG, UK)
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. Donna covers how to get started, how the tests work, and which test is best for you, using case studies of each type of test.

12.30   Unusual use of Third Party Tools (Cathal McElgunn, ISOGG, IRL)
One of the third party tools that can be used with your DNA results predicts physical traits and even propensity to medical conditions (e.g. Coeliac’s Disease). This talk provides an overview of what is (and is not) possible, how to interpret the results (with caution), and ethical issues raised by these tools. 

13.30   The North East Galway DNA Project (Martin Curley, ISOGG, IRL)
Using Facebook as a communication tool, the NE Galway DNA Project has had great success in connecting people within the greater Galway area and has reunited Diaspora Irish families with their Local Irish relatives, culminating in a major gathering of families this past summer. These successes have major implications for other similar projects.

14.30   Running successful atDNA Projects in Ireland(Panel Discussion)
A public discussion on localised geographical projects in Ireland (usually county-based), how they are run in different parts of the country, what lessons can be learned, and what does the future hold for these projects.

15.30   Developments in O’Neill Clan Genealogy (O’Neill Project Team, ISOGG, US)
The O’Neill Clan is one of the biggest clans in Ireland, famous for its legendary progenitor, Niall of the Nine Hostages. Conclusions based on the most recent Y-DNA results will be presented and discussed, including the relevance to families related to the O’Neill clan.

16.30   Finding Missing Persons with DNA (Debbie Kennett, ISOGG, UK)
Use of Gedmatch has led to the identification of at least ten “missing persons” in the US, and there are an additional 70-90 people awaiting identification within the Gedmatch database. This novel use of DNA & Genealogy in combination will be reviewed and ethical issues discussed. 

Sunday 21st Oct 2018

11.30   Raising the Dead (Martin McDowell, ISOGG, IRL)
Martin gives a few practical examples of how autosomal DNA can be used to identify specific ancestors and explains how ancestor reconstruction can be used easily as a constructive tool to further your DNA research. This is something that isn't as complicated as it sounds and might just help you to break through that Brick Wall that refuses to come down.

12.30   WATO – the latest tool for your atDNA (Andrew Millard, Uni of Durham, UK)
Ever wonder how a DNA match fits into your tree? Andrew discusses the new WATO tool and how to apply it in practice to identify where in your tree a match is likely to sit. This is an indispensible tool for those working with adoptees.

13.30   GDPR, Privacy & Data Protection (James Irvine, ISOGG, UK)
These are hot topics in genealogy as well as elsewhere. James presents an overview of recent refinements in privacy & data protection and how these are helping to safeguard your DNA.

14.30   DNA, Privacy & Data Protection (Panel Discussion)
How can you maximize your privacy & data protection? This facilitated public discussion will give you tips and pointers so that you can easily achieve the level of protection with which you are personally comfortable.

15.30   Untangling a Tumbleweed Branch of the Y-DNA Tree (John Brazil, ISOGG, IRL)
As more people test with the Big Y, many branches of the Tree of Mankind are growing further downstream and approaching the surname era (roughly the past 1000 years). However, the journey is sometimes far from easy. This talk explores the challenges faced in exploring one particular branch, deriving lessons applicable to many others. 

16.30   Big Y, WGS, & the future of Y-DNA (John Cleary, ISOGG, UK)
The recent introduction of the Big Y-500 has made a significant impact on Y-DNA family history projects. The future of recreational DNA testing will hold some major surprises in particular for the evolution of the Tree of Mankind. This talk explores what we can expect in the next few years.
Maurice Gleeson
8 Oct 2018

Friday 5 October 2018

Martin Curley - Speaker Profile

Presentation: The North East Galway DNA Project - how Gedmatch & Facebook combined are helping people connect with their Galway roots.


Martin Curley is a native of Guilka, Menlough in east Co Galway. As a teenager he began to start handwriting his family tree but this was limited due to the lack of access to records. His interest was revived when he emigrated to the US and met family on both paternal and maternal sides in New York, New Jersey, and Salem, Massachusetts. 

He began to start compiling other families' trees when living in Liverpool, England with much success and gave him an idea to consider working full time in genealogy. Returning to Ireland in August 2013 he started his own business in Genealogy and Heritage, working with schools delivering workshops and with families in researching their long lost cousins. 

Hod did he get involved in Genetic Genealogy?
DNA tests became popular in 2015 and Martin was at the forefront in east Galway in getting people to test. A successful family history project in Ballygar in 2016 was augmented by parents doing a DNA test. This led to the start of a FB group in 2016 for the area and currently this has several hundred members scattered throughout the world, all with roots in Ballygar. 

Other parish and area Facebook groups were started in 2017 which replicated the success of the Ballygar group. In 2016 he started the Mannion DNA Facebook group which has 500 members and with over 300 DNA profiles. This has been a successful complement to the Mannion Gathering which has now become an annual event.

He has published articles about some of the success stories including the re connection of cousins, descendants of an Orphan Girl, Ellen Hansberry, who was given assisted passage to Australia in 1852 whom he reunited with their Irish cousins as part of a project featured in RTE's Nationwide in May and August 2018. 

Currently he is working on the Cusack family of Newbridge Galway whose most famous descendants are Joan & John Cusack as well as the Mannion family of Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, US Vice President Candidate in 2016. 

He is also kept busy with delivering workshops in schools in Galway, Roscommon and Mayo and assisting people in analysing their DNA results as well as tracing their family roots.

So what will he be talking about?
Martin will be discussing the North East Galway DNA Project. This project is open to everyone with Galway ancestry and encourages people to share their autosomal DNA data via Gedmatch so that connections can be made. The project is centred around the Galway Genealogy DNA group on Facebook but there are a number of subgroups that focus on particular areas of northeast Galway, including the following:

Martin will discuss how the combination of Gedmatch and Facebook is helping people reconnect with their Galway roots.

Furthermore, the lessons learnt from this project willl have direct applicability to similar projects both within Ireland and globally.

Where can you find more information about Martin?

Martin's Facebook page can be found here.

Martin's LinkedIn Profile ...

Martin is a Heritage Expert with the Heritage Council and provides services to local schools ...

Read about Martin's work as a genealogist on the Mountbellew Workhouse Orphan's project ...

Wednesday 3 October 2018

Cathal McElgunn - Speaker Profile

Presentation: Never Give Up – Miracles Do Happen (an adoption story)

ISOGG, European Society of Human Genetics, Clogher Historical Society.

Day Job:
Ph.D. Molecular Biologist. 
Industrial Principal Scientist in London, with expertise in sample preparation, assay design/development, amplification technologies and bioinformatics.

Night Job:
Project Administrator for the McElgunn family project.

How did you get into genealogy?
During my childhood, my father took me to see my great, great, great grandfather’s 1846 gravestone in South West Ulster. My father, together with a Monaghan man, had put together my paternal family tree back in the 1980’s. Distant relatives from North America and Australia occasionally visited my parents to trace their roots. 

At the close of 2008, I renewed my interest in both sides of my family tree realising that those with the knowledge would not be around for ever. I travelled to visit relatives in various parts of Fermanagh, Leitrim, Cavan, Donegal, Yorkshire and New Hampshire and transcribed their family narratives. I heard about my ancestors and relatives travels to locations as far away as Japan, Brazil, the Philippines, America and Scotland. Some of them were even lucky enough to return to Ireland. 

Fortunately, I learnt in 2008 that my maternal grandfather’s family tree had been drawn out by relatives in Long Island in 1967. This was added to with information from my mother and her cousin.  

From 2008 onwards I compiled the text narrative and subsequently built family trees on a number of the usual websites. These were even further expanded as I increased my experience with the genealogical databases and some of the main line siblings information was added, which helped later with genetic hits dependent on these siblings.

What about your involvement with genetic genealogy?
My first test was taken back in 2016 and I immediately became intrigued with an anonymous individual with 2.5% similarity to me. It took me a year to identify that relative, who turned out to be fully explainable on the tree. However, along the way I contacted someone from Kerry on-spec that had matching paternal and maternal haplotypes to the 2.5% hit, on the off-chance that they might be that person. In the end that gentleman had a small similarity to some of my paternal relatives. A relative in Leitrim suggested that I contact the local newspapers in my home county to see if I could get my paternal grandfather’s obituary. The newspaper staff referred me to the local library and the gentleman there who replied with the obituary subsequently turned out to be a 2 segment hit in data from one of the companies. 

To understand the genetic history of my Westmeath ancestors who spent some years in Rio de Janeiro, I reached out to my only Brazilian genetic relative, an Irish Brazilian author who wrote about an Irish emigrant with the same surname and an American actress. This was one of these all too often discussed “brick walls”. 

I have used online tools to refine Y-haplotype from raw SNP data with older haplotype calls, have done autosomal transfers whenever possible and like to help genetic relatives, including adoptees, to figure out where their ancestry might lie. I am able to synergistically combine bioinformatics skill, easy familiarity with the Irish and British genealogy databases and a fascination for history towards occasionally constructing large trees having historical context. 

For my own part, I am interested in identifying the descendants of various emigrated ancestor siblings, in relating the variable ethnicity calls to historical situations, in explaining the connections to genetic relatives in unusual far flung locations and in pushing my tree back to the 17th century.

So what will you be talking about?

Cathal helped an overseas DNA-connected adoptee find their biological family and explain a mismatch between their DNA ethnicity result and their perceived origins. He will describe a 3-country, 500 km train and 1100 km plane journey, DNA and record search towards finding family and solving the DNA ethnicity conundrum.

Further information about the Speaker

Cathal has authored or co-authored many papers for scientific journals and you can see a list of them here ...

Previous presentations at Genetic Genealogy Ireland: 

GGI2019 BelfastFermanagh-Monaghan Transborder DNA & History ... The transborder region of Fermanagh and Monaghan has had a lot of mixing of DNA over the centuries. This talk examines the ancient history of the area and links this to Y-chromosomal signatures in the present. It also looks at the local autosomal matches seen for a number of local datasets on GEDMatch and elaborates on how autosomal and Y signature similarity can be used to prove the historical record and vice versa.

GGI2018 DublinUnusual use of Third Party Tools ... Most of us will have used DNA data for genealogical purposes. However, many of the variations (single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs) that make up these datasets can also be used for understanding physical traits and health issues. These can be as uncontentious as tanning tendancy, red hair, digesting lactose, breaking down alcohol and smelling urinary asparagus. But, individual risks for complex diseases can also be examined using free or paid online tools. Some of the tools will be introduced and examples illustrated using simulated datasets. 

Issues to be discussed include the benefits and limitations of partial SNP datasets (as opposed to those that would be generated by Whole Genome Sequencing), the fact that de novo mutations are not identified by the currently used recreational DNA tests, and the potential implications for health insurance coverage. There could be a tremendous benefit in using our genetic information to predict, screen for and/or prevent disease states already encoded by our genes – if a compromise with profit can be made.

Monday 1 October 2018

John Brazil - Speaker Profile

Presentation: Untangling a Tumbleweed Branch of the Y-DNA Tree

Dr John Brazil MSc PhD. Retired.
Now an Independent Researcher
ISOGG Ireland

What do you do as a Day Job?
Previously a Clinical Biochemist, a Medical Science Researcher, a Medical Laboratory Scientist, a Laboratory Information System Manager and a Public Health Information Systems Manager.

What do you do as a Night Job?
I am investigating the genetics of my own Brazil family and other Brazil families in Ireland. I am also an FTDNA Project co-administrator with a number of Y DNA haplogroup projects including R1b-CTS4466 Plus and RL21 4466&SouthIrish. I am especially interested in R-A151 and particularly my own R-A714 sub-branch, trying to identifying historical events that might explain their distribution and the various surnames associated with these branches.

How did you get into genealogy?
Having a relatively unusual surname I am repeatedly asked where it came from and usually encounter surprise when I reply it is a native Irish surname. Likewise my mother’s maiden name is unusual in Ireland. This eventually led me to investigate these names further and to try to determine where they came from and to determine the history associated with them.

Tell us about your involvement with genetic genealogy
My genealogy and historical research identified numerous Brazil families associated with different locations in Ireland. I turned to genetic genealogy in an effort to identify the relationships between these families and also to determine what other family names might be associated with my Y chromosome haplotype. Early on in my genetic genealogical research I became aware of close genetic paternal ‘cousins’ from the south east US with an apparently English surname but with an Irish genetic haplotype clearly of relatively recent origin.

What will you be talking about? 
The genetic relationships between men who possess the Y chromosome R-A151 haplotype, the geographical distributions associated with this and its various sub-branches and historical events that may have contributed to this.

What is the relevance of this to Ireland & Irish genealogy?
The R-A151 haplotype is itself a sub-branch of the R1b-CTSS4466 haplotype, a haplotype that is closely associated with Munster in the south of Ireland. I'll discuss the genetic relationships between men possessing these haplotypes, their surnames and the locations reported for their Most Distant Known Ancestors and trying to identify historical events before and after the adoption of hereditary surnames that might have contributed to the social turbulence and geographical dislocation associated with this distribution.

To what surnames is this topic relevant?
Brazil (Wexford in Ireland), O’Connell (Kerry, Limerick and Clare in Ireland), MacAulay (of Lewis and Harris in Scotland), Thrasher and Davidson (US), Hill (US but also England and Sweden), Shinnick (Cork in Ireland) and Fox (in Tipperary in Ireland). And various surnames of Welsh and Scandinavian origin.

Where can people get more information about you and the work you do?
The R1b-CTS4466 Plus Y DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA ...

The R1b-CTS4466 Plus Haplogroup Forum on is a restricted discussion group that people are welcome to apply to join ...

RL21 4466&SouthIrish Y DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA ...

A website focussing more specifically on the R-A151 haplotype and its sub-branches is currently under development and will hopefully be available within the coming months.