Sunday, May 6, 2012

Irish Genetic Ancestors

Irish Genetic Ancestors


  Irish Times article by by Dick Ahlstrom

Today, DNA can deliver proof of your genetic ancestry and genetic markers can help provide details about your ancient history. Following in the footsteps of Moffat and Wilson in "The Scots a Genetic Journey," “Ireland’s DNA” has been launched, a genetic ancestry service. 

Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri, one of three founders of the company says "we can understand about Irish history from the resulting dataset."

Ireland before the arrival of the Normans was dynastic, with powerful local warlords controlling territories. Their high positions in society also provided the opportunity to deliver many offspring, explains Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri, a geneticist at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. It means that many of the genes passed forward into later generations had their origins in a powerful dynastic leader.

The important families are well known here, for example, the Uí Néills in Ulster begun by fifth-century warlord Niall of the Nine Hostages. Family names associated with him include O’Neill, O’Conner, O’Donnell, McLoughlin, O’Rourke and others. These surnames are associated with one particular type of Y chromosome, the male-only part of the genome.

The Eoganachta were another important dynasty in fifth-century Munster led by Conall Corc, descended from founder Eoghan-Mor. This family, with surnames such as O’Donoghue, Hayes, O’Keeffe and O’Sullivan, have a different Y chromosome type.

The Eoganachta were displaced in the 10th century by the Dalcassians, originally descended many centuries earlier from Cormac Cas, Cavalleri says. Family names here include O’Brien, Kennedy, McGrath and O’Casey, to name a few.

Then there were the kings of Laighin (Leinster) led by Dermot McMurrough who invited the Normans into Ireland. Names here include Kearney, Kinsella and McMurrough.

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