Wednesday, 31 July 2019

DNA Summer School in Belfast (26-30 Aug 2019)

The North of Ireland Family History Society is forever coming up with new innovations and the latest one is running their first DNA summer school. Apparently tickets are selling fast and half the places went within the first few days of this initiative being announced. So if you’re interested, be quick! Contact them today and book your place on this excellent programme by emailing them at:

Each class costs £5. Book one class or book many!

Here are the summer school details:

Monday 26 August 2019

11.00am Y-DNA Martin McDowell
Y-DNA can be a very powerful tool to break through a brickwall. This class will cover the different levels of testing available and will explain how to interpret and work with your YDNA results.

2.00pm MT-DNA Martin McDowell
Mitochondrial DNA is the DNA test which is used the least in Northern Ireland. We will look at the circumstances where it can be a useful tool and how to understand your results.

Tuesday 27 August 2019

11.00am Uploading to other sites Martin McDowell
No matter which company you test with it is always advisable to add your DNA results to as many sites as possible. This class will take you through the steps and provide suppoort to allow you to do it there and then.

2.00pm Ethnicity Estimates Anne Johnston
This session will explain how ethnicity percentages are calculated and how they can be useful in analysing your DNA cousin matches.

Wednesday 28 August 2019

11.00am Using My Heritage DNA Anne Johnston
MyHeritage is one of the 4 main autosomal DNA testing companies and this session will outline the key tools which they provide to help you to analyse your matches.

2.00pm AutoClusters Martin McDowell
AutoClusters is a new tool provided by My Heritage DNA. Learn how they work, what to do with them and how they can help you find new DNA matches.

Thursday 29 August 2019

11.00am Maternal and Paternal Linking on FTDNA Martin McDowell
Using the maternal and paternal tabs on Family Tree DNA is an excellent way to make progress with your DNA matches. This session will cover how the integration of your family tree and your matches page can unveil new information that can lead you to confirm your relationship to a new match.

2.00pm Thru Lines - a new tool on Ancestry Anne Johnston
ThruLines is a new tool on AncestryDNA (replacing DNA Circles) which shows you the common ancestors who may connect you to your DNA matches. It uses public and private but searchable family trees on Ancestry to find people who are in both your tree and in other Ancestry members trees.

Friday 30 August 2019

11.00am Using DNA Painter Martin McDowell 
Chromosome painting is a relatively new, yet powerful, tool available through DNA Painter which  can be used to identify which segments of DNA you get from which ancestor. In this class you will also learn how to amalgamate your matches list from FTDNA and My Heritage and organise them by segment.

2.00pm  Theory of Family Relativity Anne Johnston 
The Theory of Family Relativity is a new tool from MyHeritage which uses information from their 10 billion genealogical records and from family trees on MyHeritage to offer theories on how you and your DNA matches might be related.

Classes will be held at Unit C4, Valley Business Centre, 67 Church Road, Newtownnabey, BT36 7LS.

Each two hour class will take the form of a 1hr talk followed by either questions/answers or a practical and they are priced at £5 per class.

Contact them today and book your place on this excellent programme by emailing them at:

Saturday, 2 February 2019

ISOGG Day Out - GGI 2019 Belfast (Feb 15-16)

GGI2019 returns to Belfast (Feb 15-16) and for anyone going, we have organised a series of social events where speakers, volunteers and friends can get together and let their hair down!

Below are the arrangements for dinner over the course of the 4 days in Belfast and the ISOGG Day Out on Sunday 17th Feb. Clicking the links will give you the directions to each venue.

If you are interested in attending any of the events, please email me (mauricegleeson AT Places will be offered on a first come first serve basis.

Belfast City Hall

Dinners at 6.30pm each day …

ISOGG Day Out (Sunday 17th Feb 2019)

10.00 … Walking Tour of The Troubles … (cost = £15 per person; currently booked for only 20 people)
12.30 … lunch at The Morning Star17-19 Pottingers Entry, Belfast BT1 4DT (5 minute walk, 0.2 miles)
13.45 … leave for Crumlin Road Gaol, 53-55 Crumlin Rd, Belfast BT14 6ST (25 min walk, 1 mile; or take the 1A, 1E or 1F from corner of Pottinger’s Entry & High St to Carlisle Circus / Antrim Rd)
14.30 … tour of Crumlin Road Gaol (cost = £15 per person; currently booked for only 20 people)
16.00 … Afternoon Tea / Coffee in the Crum Cafe (at Crumlin Road Gaol)
16.30 … ISOGG Discussion - how did it go? whither next? what would you like to see at the next GGI? 
18.00 … leave for The Dirty Onion restaurant, 3 Hill St, Belfast BT1 2LA
18.30 … dinner at The Dirty Onion

Detailed Schedule for ISOGG Day Out (17th Feb 2019):

08.30 … leisurely breakfast in your own Hotel

10.00 … Walking Tour of The Troubles … (cost = £15 per person; currently booked for only 20 people)

This award winning tour takes us through the history of the conflict in Northern Ireland, known colloquially in Ireland as “The Troubles”.

This tour is recognised not only as the No.1 walking tour in the city, but also as one of the most unbiased, engaging and accessible insights into the conflict for visitors of nearly all ages. The tour explains how the Troubles began, tells the stories of the people involved, their place in the conflict and the effect these attacks and incidents had on the city and its people. It also shows how far the city has come since the ceasefires and Peace Process.

Between 1971 and 1998 Belfast City Centre was the setting for many tragic incidents of ‘the Troubles’. Our unique walking tour of the City Centre visits the actual sites of some of the most significant events. This is not a sightseeing tour in the strictest sense, (although you will discover art, architecture, bars and museums in parts of the city you may not otherwise have found).  There is no physical reminder or legacy of the incidents involved. Belfast City Centre is now an active, vibrant place, far removed from the time when it was secured with a ring of steel and security checkpoints at every entry point.

The tour examines the troubled past of our city through historical accounts and the stories of those involved. Our walking tour allows you to get a real feel for the history of the city, – many of our guests say they have felt transported back in time through the rich and detailed story-telling. It offers total locational authenticity; we will bring you to the sites of many of the most significant incidents in the history of the Troubles, such as Bloody Friday, when 23 car bombs were driven into the city, resulting in a tragic loss of life. It is then for you to decide whether these incidents have left an invisible but indelible mark on our city.

The tour will allow you to better understand Belfast’s recent past and also appreciate the reconciliation and regeneration which has taken place.  It is honest, accurate, objective and enthralling. We understand this period of our history can appear hugely confusing to visitors to our city, and you may have many questions, – we guarantee our guides are capable of answering each and every one!

12.30 … lunch at The Morning Star17-19 Pottingers Entry, Belfast BT1 4DT (5 minute walk, 0.2 miles)

13.45 … leave for Crumlin Road Gaol, 53-55 Crumlin Rd, Belfast BT14 6ST (25 min walk, 1 mile; or take the 1A, 1E or 1F from corner of Pottinger’s Entry & High St to Carlisle Circus / Antrim Rd)

14.30 … tour of Crumlin Road Gaol (cost = £15 per person; currently booked for only 20 people)

Book your own ticket online here … … Make sure you select the 2.30pm tour on Sunday Feb 17. The tour may be sold out on the day so please buy your tickets in advance!

The Crumlin Road Gaol dates back to 1845, and closed its doors as a working prison after 150 years in service in 1996. The Gaol re-opened as a visitor attraction after extensive renovations and today you can follow in the footsteps of over 25,000 prisoners as you make the journey through Northern Ireland’s only remaining Victorian Era prison. The guided tour will allow you to explore the building’s colourful past and gain a unique and memorable insight into the daily lives and routines of both prisoners and prison officers over the Gaol’s existence. Your tour guide will inform you about the Gaol’s history including when women and children were imprisoned, the executions that were carried out, its more recent history and learn about why the decision was taken to close the prison. The tour covers all aspects of the Gaol from the Tunnel linking the courthouse on the other side of the Crumlin Road to the Hanging Cell, the Historic Holding Cells, Centre Circle, C-Wing and Graveyard.16.00 … Afternoon Tea / Coffee in the Forbes Boardroom (at Crumlin Road Gaol)

16.30 … ISOGG UKI Discussion (Matron’s Gallery, CR Gaol) - how did it go? what would you like to see at the next GGI? whither next for GG? what more do you want from the companies? Action Points

18.00 … leave for The Dirty Onion restaurant, 3 Hill St, Belfast BT1 2LA

18.30 … dinner at The Dirty Onion

Looking forward to another fabulous few days in Belfast !

Maurice Gleeson
Feb 2019

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Final DNA Lecture Schedule for GGI2019 Belfast

Here is a summary of the DNA Lecture schedule for this year's GGI2019 Belfast. The event is being held as part of Back to Our Past at the Waterfront Centre in Belfast on Feb 15-16.

Below is a summary of each talk.

The letters Y, M, & A above represent Y-DNA topics, mitochondrial DNA topics, 
and autosomal DNA topics.

Friday 15th Feb 2019

10.30  DNA Testing for Complete Beginners (Debbie Kennett, ISOGG UK)

DNA testing is an essential tool for the family historian and has the potential to provide answers which can’t be found from the paper trail alone. The large genetic genealogy databases are helping to reunite long lost cousins and break down long-standing brick walls. But if you’ve not yet tested it can be very confusing trying to decide how a DNA test can help with your research and working out which test you should be taking. Come and learn about the three different tests – Y-chromosome DNA, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA – and how you can apply them to your research. The talk will be illustrated with case studies and some inspiring real-life stories.

11.30   Why testing at Ancestry is not enough (Martin McDowell, NIFHS)

Due to the promotion of DNA testing by the North of Ireland Family History Society and ISOGG, many people within the nine counties of Ulster have now tested their DNA and more are testing all the time. This provides people throughout the world with a better chance of finding relatives of their North of Ireland ancestors. This talk gives tips and advice on how best to maximise your chances of using your DNA results to find relatives of those elusive Irish ancestors. Uploading your DNA to other sites, using chromosome browsers and joining projects will help you in ways that Ancestry DNA can't. 

12.30   Do you have the DNA signature of a Scottish Clan? (Alasdair Macdonald, ISOGG UK)

Since the Scottish DNA Project began in 2001 there has been significant growth in Y-DNA participation.  It is now generally accepted that Y-DNA testing may present objective evidence to resolve genealogical questions and challenge received understanding.

Scottish Clans descend from a variety of peoples, including Pict, Briton, Irish, Angle and Norse.  To what extent do we know the genetic signature of lineages from these peoples?  Alasdair will discuss how advances in technology have helped us understand the origin and inter-relatedness of many Scottish Clans. The presentation will include discussion on research strategies, the limitations of current testing and include case studies detailing recent findings on the medieval origins of a number of Clans and families.

13.30   Using y-DNA in practice (James Irvine, ISOGG UK)

y-DNA tests enable the exploration of the origins and diaspora of surnames.  James Irvine has administered the Irwin surname project, now with nearly 500 members, since its foundation in 2005.  He will draw on this experience, and on other surname projects, to show how raw y-DNA test results can be enhanced using various tools, both on-line and “do-it-yourself”.  Using actual examples he will show how to identify Matches, how genetic distances can be both helpful and misleading, how STR test results can be grouped into genetic families, and how to calculate TMRCAs using both STRs and Big Y SNPs.

14.30   Interpreting your matches with DNA Painter (Jonny Perl, ISOGG UK)

Jonny Perl will give an overview of how the DNA Painter website can help you understand how you might be related to the people who appear on your list of DNA matches.  A brief introduction to chromosome mapping will be provided, along with background on the process and limitations of predicting relationships based on the amount of shared DNA shared. This talk is suitable for both beginners and more experienced researchers who are curious about these topics.

15.30 Double-Helix History (Jerome De Groot, University of Manchester)

This presentation reports some of the findings of the Double-Helix History project which has been talking to family historians around the world about their experiences of genetic genealogy and the impact on their work of the new DNA information that is available. Presenting information from the USA, Australia, South Korea, Japan and the Netherlands, the talk will look at the ways in which family historians around the world are grappling with the new challenges - and opportunities - that genetic genealogy is opening up for them. 

16.30   Ask the Experts Panel Discussion

Saturday 16th Feb 2019

10.30   Managing your DNA Matches (Donna Rutherford, ISOGG UK)

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.

11.30   Using Y DNA testing to investigate Ulster and Scottish surnames (John Cleary, ISOGG UK)

This talk presents an overview of the best ways to use Y-DNA testing to research the origins of surnames in Ulster, and the best strategies for applying DNA evidence. DNA is just one form of evidence that needs to be used in tandem with other types of genealogical evidence for best results.  This will be explored with examples of projects for surnames with possible Scottish origins such as Orr, Cochrane, Cummings and Kemp.

12.30   DNA Successes of a non-DNA expert! (Alan Rosborough, NIFHS)

Genealogy is like the board game Cluedo! The characters are all gathered together, the murder weapons are placed in the rooms and the game begins with a roll of the dice. But who can solve the mystery? In the same way we carry out genealogy research trying to build a family tree or solve the family mysteries by gathering the clues, and when we have enough evidence, we try and come to conclusions and make the links or solve the mystery. But sometimes it is only when we open those DNA results that we can truly say we got the research right. Hear how some genealogy mystery stories were finally solved and how DNA has helped.  

13.30   DNA tests, tips and tools : a guide for beginners (Linda Kerr, ISOGG UK)

This talk is aimed at beginners and will cover the three main tests and some of the current tools that can help you to find lost ancestors and unknown cousins. Find out what each test can tell you and what you can do with your test results. Using examples from her own research, Linda will show how DNA testing can extend your family tree and how it works alongside your documentary research.

14.30   Using DNA to Solve Adoption and Unknown Parentage Mysteries (Michelle Leonard, ISOGG UK)

There are some mysteries traditional research can never solve but DNA has revolutionised the options available to adoptees and those with unknown parentage.  This talk will explain how to use DNA testing to solve previously unsolvable mysteries.  Michelle will illustrate the entire process from choosing the correct tests through to making contact with new close relatives.  Using case studies she will outline how to combine DNA cousin matching with traditional research when you have no known family history to draw upon and give a practical demonstration of the most important techniques required for successfully identifying birth parents or other unknown ancestors. 

15.30   Fermanagh-Monaghan Transborder DNA & History (Cathal McElgunn, ISOGG IRL)
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.

16.30   Ask the Experts Panel Discussion

Maurice Gleeson
Jan 2019