Are you ready to find more Irish relatives, cousins, and kin than you ever thought possible? Traditional methods of Irish genealogical research are wonderful and can open new doors and break down brick walls with startling regularity. However, as wonderful as methods such as archival research, cemetery studies, online databases, and reading published genealogies are, they have their limits.
Eventually, the record trail is going to run dry, or you’re going to come across a gap in the records that can’t be filled.
What do you do then?
Should you just give up researching that particular Irish line and be happy with what you’ve got? Not at all! You turn to DNA testing!
If you’ve never used DNA testing before to find more Irish relatives, you may be confused as to how it works. While it’s true that DNA testing won’t pinpoint exact, specific individuals who belong on your family tree, it can point you in the right direction in a number of exciting ways, and can help fill in those impossible gaps in your family tree. Here are the top 3 reasons you should be using DNA testing as part of your Irish genealogy research!
1. It can help you find the area where your Irish ancestors originated.
DNA testing is an excellent tool for placing families on the map. Through deep analysis of your ancient ancestral roots, DNA testing can show you where your ancestors came from, where they went, and where they ultimately settled. It’s particularly useful for those who don’t yet know the part of Ireland from which their ancestors came.
2. It can match you with genetic cousins.
When you get your DNA tested, you can use your results to find others in the testing company’s database with the same sequence as you. You can also choose to make your results public to other users for research purposes (though you can also keep your results private, if you wish). The greater a match you are with someone, the more likely you are to have a common ancestor. If you find someone who is a strong match with you and who also has one of your ancestral surnames, that’s even more exciting. You can then contact that person to exchange family history information and see if you can piece together your common threads into one.
3. It can uncover long-forgotten (or hidden) family secrets.
Sometimes, a DNA testing result isn’t what you expected it would be. You might find that your ancestral area of origin is different than what you thought, or that your DNA profile doesn’t match that of other people with your surname. Results such as these could indicate a non-paternity event–cases where an ancestor’s reported father actually wasn’t the biological father. Your results would reveal ancient truths and give you new clues for further areas of research. Unexpected results can also help prove or disprove old family origin stories, or reveal the presence of an unexpected ancestor (such as the indication of Asian DNA in a line that was expected to be entirely Celtic).
DNA testing today is more affordable than ever, so it’s really within the reach of nearly anyone who wants to explore it. The days of expensive, $500+ tests are over, with most companies offering testing for less than $200.
Ancestry.com is now offering simple DNA testing for $79
If you’re interested in expanding your known Irish relatives and finding out more about your family tree, then DNA testing can open up many new avenues of research, and may even answer a few long-standing questions. Just remember, females can only have DNA traced on their maternal line, so if you’re a woman and want to trace DNA on your father’s line, you’ll need to get your father, brother, or other direct male relative on that line to supply a DNA sample for you.
That’s another good reason to get a DNA test Garry, thanks for sharing 🙂
DNA should be used when all else has been exhausted to find data. It is a tool in the genealogist’s bag, not a magic wand. I volunteered at a national genealogical conference in 2002 and allowed by blood to be drawn. The terms were that I’d never find out the results for it was a theory of a genetics professor to see if DNA would be useful in genealogy. A few years went by and the prof. obtained success and was hired away from his university and with him his research. My family tradition was that the surname had originally been O’Bryan (O’Brien). Family came in the early 1830s to Canada being devout Catholics. 2nd great-grandfather ran away from home to avoid being a priest, dropped the “O'” and added a “t,” and went to Colorado for the gold rush abt. 1861. Such is how Bryant became our surname. No paper or record existed that stated this was true. In May 2006, I got a phone call from an O’Brien I had emailed with since 1997. He told me that my 43 DNA markers and his were a match at 100%. He and I shared a common ancestor back in Ireland in the 8th to 10th generation. He had his lineage proven on paper back to 1760 (7th generation) in western County Clare. Mine was to the 6th generation. Unfortunately the Irish records don’t exist to prove our line back further. But DNA helped verify a surname change and area in Ireland where my ancestors came from!