Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day - I Didn't Know I Was Irish Until My DNA Told Me So!

Am I Irish if my AncestryDNA test says that I am 18% Irish ancestry?  I guess I'm entitled to post this:

Here are my AncestryDNA test results (two screens):

Some thoughts about my "Irish" ancestry:

*  The matches they've made of my autosomal DNA with that of other "Irish" people show that I'm 18% "Irish."  however, the range could be 3% to 32%.

*  This ethnicity estimate is based on a pool of 154 persons identified as having "Irish" ancestry.  That's probably why the ethnicity range is so wide.  I really question how they can make judgments when there are so few persons for comparison purposes.

*  I am nowhere near the percentage of the "typical native" of Ireland.  For all we know, those 154 could have significant English ancestry.

*  From what I've heard, the autosomal DNA test indicates ethnicity as of about 2,000 years ago - around the time of the Roman invasion and rule of southern England, but not of Ireland.  The Celts in England were pushed westward to Ireland and Wales and Cornwall.  There were earlier migrations to the British Isles in prehistoric times from central Europe, Gaul and Iberia. 

*  My ethnicity according to my genealogy research is about 65% British Isles and about 35% Western Europe (mainly Germany, with a little Dutch, French and Scandinavian).  But that's based on where my ancestors lived about 500 years ago.  Of course, it's those Angles, Saxons, Danes, Normans, Vikings, etc. who muddied up the gene pool in England. 

*  Over the last 400 years, I may have a few ancestors who lived in Ireland, but I doubt that I have 18%.  If the ethnicity estimate was 3% or even 6%, I'd tend to believe it.  It may be that some of those conquering heroes took Celtic wives and they contributed to my gene pool with a fair amount of Irish ancestry in the green end. 

For the record:

*  I love Irish music.

*  I love the spirit of the Irish people, both sides, Orange and Green.

*  I've been to Northern Ireland once on business in 1985, and it was really green.

*  We visited Dublin for a day on the Legacy Family Tree 2013 genealogy cruise, and we visited St. Patrick's cathedral.

*  I don't like beer, and especially green beer.

* I would love to experience Irish research...if I could only find the connection in my genealogy.  I do have some "dead ends" in my pedigree chart, and some of them may lead to Irish ancestry if I can find the intervening generations. 

I also posed for this picture in Dublin with a wee Irish lass (is this my cousin?) ...


The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2018, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.  Share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest using the icons below.  Or contact me by email at

1 comment:

Bill said...

Hi Randy-

I had these same questions when I first got my Ancestry results about two years ago - saying I was 42% Ireland. I've got 6-8 generations in most lines that points to England, Scotland, Wales with only one line, 3rd great grandparents coming from Northern Ireland.

In submitting those test results to other sites, they put a different context to the information. Given the "about 2000 years ago" reality of the genetic information, they talked about this part of my DNA as Celtic which is completely logical.

A few months ago, Ancestry shifted the description of my heritage to Ireland/Scotland/Wales and discussed the Celtic heritage. The graphic presentation of the data changed a bit as well. Was the screen shot in this post from the current presentation or a few months ago? I has a subtext Ireland/Wales/Scotland, but in what I'm getting on mine now, the Ireland/Sotland/Wales is in the top line.

In any case, Éirinn go Brách !

Bill Greggs