DNA Testing - know the In's and Out's of it. Genetic Genealogy, a new branch of genealogy combining genetics and traditional genealogy research, is the most accurate tool for the family historian. Family connections can be proven or disproven. DNA testing can support a paper trail which is often in question given the lack of surviving records. Its popularity grows daily with thousands testing monthly throughout the world.
31 October 2014
Back to Our Past 2014, October 17-19, RDS (Royal Dublin Society), Dublin, Ireland
Maurice Gleeson, originally from Dublin, but currently
living in London, is the mastermind behind the twenty presentations given in
the DNA area, and he is uploading most every one of them to YouTube, a few
each week. The following is just a quick mention of what you can hear online
with the accompanying slide presentations.
Maurice, Debbie Kennett, and Katherine Borges, all of ISOGG,
provided a variety of topics on helping the audience decide which test works
best of them as well as an understanding of DNA for beginners. Debbie sold her book The Surname Handbook and DNA and Social Networking.
Maurice also covered how DNA can help with adoption
mysteries, and I explained how autosomal DNA can help you locate cousins. I was fortunate to have sold all the books, Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond. My book is also available online at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble in paperback or e-book.
Spencer Wells, the keynote speaker, gave us an overview of
theGenographic Project he operates at the National Geographic Society as well
as some details for testing 100 persons in county Mayo.
Brad Larkin’s presentation DNA versus The Irish Annals
focused on some major Irish genealogical groups from the Irish annals such as
Uí Néill and the kings of Connacht, Munster, Leinster and Ulster along with
some Norman lineages as well as how much modern DNA connected with these
lineages has been sampled. Most ancient samples are haplogroups G and I. Today, haplogroup G is virtually gone in
Ireland and haplogroups I are present with R dominating. Brad is also a member
Paul Burns, ISOGG member, shared the results of his
Byrne/Burns/Beirne Surname Project while John Cleary of ISOGG explained how to
enhance your Y-DNA results through surname and haplogroup projects.
Cynthia Wells, along with Maurice Gleeson, spoke about
reconstructing the Irish-Caribbean ancestry. Cynthia is an ISOGG member.
We all love success stories, and Rob Warthen, creator of DNAadoptionwebsite and DNAGedcom, explained how he located the family of his wife who was adopted. She spoke to the group as well.
Michelle Leonard manages the Fromelles Projectdedicated to
identifying the fallen soldiers of World War I by using DNA. Her work, which she terms as a labor of love, has resulted in much success in
uniting families with the deceased soldiers.
Catherine Swift of the University of Limerick and a
historian spoke on the Emerging dyanasties in a maritime world – hunting for
Brian Boru’s genetic legacy. She
champions a stronger connection between the genetic genealogists, and historians. I couldn’t
Many other speakers will be of great interest to the
genealogical community as well as for those interested in their Irish
roots. Patrick Guinness, author and historian
spoke about The Clans of the North West and their DNA profiles, clarifying that the DNA of so many men in northwestern Ireland may not be a result of Neill of the Nine Hostages. Tyrone Bowes of Irish Origenes showed us how
to pinpoint our Irish origins while Gerard Corcoran explained how to use
genetic genealogy to map Irish migrations.
Daniel Crouch of the University of Oxford spoke on how the genetic
analysis of the People of the British Isles yields historical and physiological
insights. Kirsten Bos of the Universitat
Tubingen showed us how the plagues of our ancestors are revealed through
As you can see, the conference covered a large variety of
topics. You can also view the presentations from 2013. Visit the GGI site and immerse yourself in the
knowledge of this quickly growing field.
On Monday after the conference, Gerard Corcoran, who is my
DNA cousin as he just happens to have a Y-DNA match to my paternal first
cousin, constructed an event-filled day for our group. We began by
visiting the National Library and then the National Parliament which is
referred to as Dáil where we were greeted by Marcella Corcoran Kennedy a
Teachta Dála (member of parliament) for the constituency of Laois-Offaly. She
is also a DNA cousin of Gerard. Photos were taken with
her outside of Parliament before our tour. Framed certificates of Irish
ancestry were given to three of us, thanks to Derrell who located members of our group who had Irish ancestors, and many
thanks to the concerted effort of Gerard for having them produced.
In the afternoon our group traveled
to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown (DLR) where we had a wonderful lunch as guests of
Gerrard at the Kingston Oliveto Restaurant and where we met Kingsley Aikens, CEO of
Diaspora Matters and a promoter of the National Diaspora Centre. It was a delight to hear him speak about
diaspora and the work being done. (I must say that of all the places I have traveled, the Irish have made me feel more welcomed as a foreigner than any other country where my ancestors have lived.) We
then received a guided tour of the new DLR Lexicon, a very modern library with beautiful views of the waterfront. The plan is to open the library December 5th.
Gerard and Cathaoirleach Marie Baker
By 3:30 p.m. (15:30), we met
Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Marie Baker and John Hamrock of the Genealogical Society
of Ireland at the Dun Laoghaire County Hall. Our tour included visiting her
council chambers where we learned about what business was conducted and were
able to ask questions. Many photos were taken and she was kind enough to take a
DNA test. We then returned to the Dublin
City Center where we dined at Ka Sheng on Wicklow Street as guests of
What a delightful day, and…gee, my
cousin Gerard has connections! J
Cllr. Kennedy and Emily
Over the years I have attended many conferences and it is always a pleasure to see acquaintances, but even better is to meet new ones. This trip was no different. I met some wonderful people from academia and do hope to have more time in the future to to chat. But, beside them, I always find it very interesting to meet the people in my audience. One such person greatly stands out at this conference.
Patrick C. Kennedy, a wonderful Irish gentleman, former mayor of Limerick and currently a Councillor, spent all three days listening to every DNA lecture. He shared with many of us his political scrapbook which included a photo of himself as a senator meeting Senator Ted Kennedy of the US. Cllr. Kennedy decided to take a Y-DNA to learn more about his all-male Kennedy line. He was a recipient of a free test thanks to the project manager of the Kennedy Y-DNA project who offered free tests to male Kennedys attending the conference.