Irish DNA Atlas project launched

From an article in an Irish genealogy newsletter (pdf): "Over the past decade or so genealogists around the world have become increasingly intrigued by the possibilities afforded through the advances in genetic genealogy to augment or confirm our traditional record based research. This new group project is yet another first for Irish genealogy building on the Society’s unparalleled record of innovative projects and initiatives. The Society’s Director of Archival Services, Séamus O’Reilly, FGSI, will spearhead this new group project in conjunction with Dr. Gianpiero Cavalleri of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland aimed at promoting an awareness, appreciation and knowledge of genetic genealogy. The project will compile an Irish DNA Atlas through the collection of birth briefs and DNA samples. [. . .]

Dr. Cavalleri explained the objective of the project as ‘seeking to create a collection of DNA samples from individuals of Irish origin, which can then be used to explore human genetic variation in the Irish population. Understanding human genetic variation in the Irish population is required for two principal purposes; (1) to further our knowledge of the population history of Ireland and (2) to help us understand how genes influence health in Ireland.’ He said that ‘the diversity of the Irish genome is a valuable, yet largely unexplored, resource of the Irish nation. As an island population on the edge of Europe, Ireland has a rich cultural heritage that is the product of ancient migrations to the region. Understanding and preserving this history enriches our culture. Whilst historical records and archaeological studies have uncovered many wonderful aspects of Irish history, there are many questions left unanswered and DNA can help address these.’

The Aims of the Irish DNA Atlas are (1) To create a DNA collection that allows genetic analysis of population structure within Ireland, and ethnic groups across the island. Analysis of such a collection will reveal ancient demographic movements and inform on the ancestry of specific regions and ethnic groups within Ireland. (2) To create a DNA collection to act as controls in population based studies of health in Ireland. The Project aims to recruit individuals representing each of the 32 counties of Ireland. Each participant should have all eight great grandparents from that county – so that their DNA represents that particular region of Ireland. By recruiting people from every county the project hopes to build a “DNA atlas” of the island of Ireland. This new group project is not confined to GSI Members, anybody can participate. For further information or to participate please contact Séamus O’Reilly on"


p.nuadha said...

I would love to know how much "Viking", or recent Scandinavian, is in the Irish. (A small question but one I really want to know).

I also want to know whether or not the Irish are very homogeneous.

Anonymous said...

"Each participant should have all eight great grandparents from that county"

I think that would be quite hard to do. There's been alot of internal movement, though that movement tends to cluster together i.e. hard to find 8 from Donegal, easy from Donegal, Tyrone, and Derry. Also, marriages were often matches made by the local clergy, whose parishes do not match county boundaries, i.e. they made those marriages from the pool of singles within their jurisdictions. They should do this by parish instead of county, or better still do both and compare.

n/a said...

"I think that would be quite hard to do."

Possibly (though they only need a few thousand people out of a country of millions), but I'm glad they're trying.

Eventually, I expect we'll see databases linking genealogical information and high-resolution genotyping or sequencing data for very large numbers of people, which should (even if most of the participants are ethnically mixed) allow the reconstruction of samples of "pure" individuals representing various locations throughout Europe (at various levels of geographical detail, perhaps down the level of villages) at different points in time going back at least several hundred years. But this is probably at least 5-10 years off.

mainph7 said...

In September I wrote a letter to a national newspaper about the link between Irish specific diseases and the effects of the famine on our DNA and also to a University professor in Ireland. It gives me great pleasure that this is now being explored. Ireland has a rich resource from which to study and it should have been undertaken long before now. The connections between Haemachromatosis and its cross links to Diabetes and Cirrhosis, heart conditiions can be linked to the Famine period, one just needs to look at the Dutch Famine study and that was by far less severe than Ireland's Great Hunger experience, yet no real study has ever been carried out, so I am delighted this is now happening.

mainph7 said...
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