Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Speakers announced for GGI2017 (Dublin, Oct 20-22)

The line-up of speakers for Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2017 were announced today. This is the fifth year of the annual genetic genealogy conference and the topics included in this year's series of DNA Lectures illustrates how this new science is continuing to evolve and develop at quite an amazing rate. There are many new speakers at this year's conference, and this in itself will keep it fresh and engaging.

Each day will start off with an overview of the basics of DNA testing and how it can help your genealogical research. This year we welcome two new speakers to this slot - Ann Marie Coghlan from the Cork Genealogical Society and Donna Rutherford, who runs the Facebook group "DNA help for Genealogy". They will join Michelle Leonard who wowed audiences last year with her wonderfully straightforward and easy to understand presentation on how DNA can help your family tree research.

Now that DNA testing is becoming more commonplace, many more people need help interpreting their results. And to help them with their Y-DNA results, John Cleary and myself each have a presentation in this regard. In addition, Nigel McCarthy and James Irvine will be using the examples of their own individual Surname DNA Projects to illustrate what a powerful tool Y-DNA can be in researching your surname. We also are privileged to have Dave Vance from the USA speaking about his SAPP Programme which is a fantastic piece of software that will help surname project administrators generate Mutation History Trees from the data in their projects. In effect, this will help us build family trees for entire surnames, from their origins to the present day.

For the interpretation of autosomal DNA testing, we have a selection of atDNA aficionados including Paddy Waldron (Clare Roots Society), Debbie Kennett (author & blogger), and (all the way from the USA) Roberta Estes, who writes the world-renowned blog "DNA Explained".

We also welcome back Peter Sjölund (ISOGG, Sweden) who last year gave a very popular talk on Viking DNA and its links with Ireland. This year Peter will be discussing "The Power of mitochondrial DNA" and no doubt will be using some of the excellent examples from his own Swedish genealogical research. You can see Peter's excellent talk from GGI2016 on our dedicated YouTube Channel here.

We also welcome back Margaret Jordan, also of the Cork Genealogical Society. Margaret spoke at GGI2013 and it will be great to have her back to discuss the current status of the Ireland Y-DNA Project (currently over 7600 members strong, making it the largest Irish genetic project in the world).

Margaret's talk will nicely complement the much anticipated presentation of the (almost?) final results of the Irish DNA Atlas project. This is a joint collaboration between the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland and the Genealogical Society of Ireland. Over 200 subjects have been recruited from all over Ireland and their autosomal DNA sampled. Each participant must have 8 great grandparents born within a relatively strictly defined geographic area. As a result, the study gives us a snapshot of autosomal DNA in Ireland from about 1850, just after the Great Famine. Ed Gilbert has tantalised us with snippets of information and updates on the projects progress over the past 2 years and we look forward to welcoming him back for this exciting climax.

In addition to Ed's talk, Professor Gianpiero Cavalleri (who heads the Irish DNA Atlas team at the RCSI) will present on the results of an associated part of the study, namely the DNA of the Irish Travellers. The results of this allied study were published by the team earlier this year in the journal  Scientific Reports (a Nature Publishing Journal).

We also have an array of international academic speakers included in this year's event, and a big thank you has to go to Professor Dan Bradley (Trinity College Dublin) for facilitating this. Dan will be giving us another exciting update on the ongoing work of his ancient DNA lab, including the results from additional analyses on neolithic genomes. Another member of his team (Eppie Jones) will be speaking about ancient hunter-gatherers in Ireland. 

And we are delighted to welcome two new speakers to GGI2017 - Professor Gisli Palsson from the University of Iceland, and Professor Hannes Schroeder from the Natural History Museum of Denmark. Gisli will be talking about the genealogical database The Book of Icelanders and the DNA testing of the people of Iceland, how these have helped reconstruct the genome of a runaway Caribbean slave who became an Icelandic merchant in the early 1800s, and the quest of his descendants for roots and identity. And in an allied talk, Hannes will be discussing the work of the EUROTAST team which is exploring the genetics of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

There is lots to see at this year conference and I am very much looking forward to the privilege of chairing the event.

See you in Dublin in October!

Maurice Gleeson
June 2017

Thursday, 30 March 2017

GGI2017 returns to Back to Our Past

The dates for Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2017 are 20th to 22nd October 2017 (Friday to Sunday) ... so be sure to put those dates in your diary. As always we will have a fantastic lineup of speakers and a few surprises!

Another couple of dates for your diary are Friday-Saturday 16th-17th Feb 2018, because that is when Back to Our Past will be launching at The Titanic Centre in Belfast for what should hopefully become an annual event. Genetic Genealogy Ireland hopes to have a presence there also, bringing you an array of speakers with a focus on the genetic genealogy of the north of Ireland.

Things just continue to get bigger and better!

Maurice Gleeson
March 2017

The Latest News on Back to Our Past
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Back to Our Past returns to the RDS, Dublin and is coming to the Titanic, Belfast!

Back to Our Past in the RDS in October has grown over the years into the world's pre-emient event for showcasing Ireland's past, heritage and traditions, while also providing visitors with a unique opportunity to trace their Irish roots.. all at the same time..all under one roof!

Back to Our Past Belfast
And due to numerous requests from both exhibitors and the general public alike we are delighted to be able to announce will be coming to the world's most popular tourist attractions, The Titanic, Belfast, next February. 
Also Featuring...Antique Valuations with Eric Knowles, a series of free presentations and much much more!
To Make A Stand Enquiry Click Here
We have redesigned our Back to Our Past website and want to update it on a regular basis with latest news stories plus topical and relevant articles from the field of genealogy/family history
Send Us Your Genealogy Article/News Item Here

Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Tribes of Galway make a comeback!

Back in 2013, during the first annual conference of Genetic Genealogy Ireland, we had a wonderful presentation from Adrian Martyn on the fourteen Tribes of Galway, based on his extensive research. There was a huge amount of interest in the topic then, and there has been ever since, with over 2000 people viewing the YouTube video of his presentation online. 

For many years now, Adrian has been working on publishing a book of all his research and I am delighted to announce that this eagerly awaited publication has now been realised. You can order your own copy via Adrian's website on the link below. This would make an excellent Christmas present (for yourself or others) and comes highly recommended.

Here is what Adrian says about the book on his website:
"Fourteen families from the medieval Irish lower-classes rose to become Galway’s prime merchant families, nicknamed the tribus Galvia in the 1600s.
The families of Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, Darcy, Deane, Font, French, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martyn, Morris, Skerrett, have been THE TRIBES OF GALWAY ever since.
Over the course of four centuries, they and their fellow Galwegians survived and often thrived against warlords and sieges, during economic booms and busts, times of plenty, famine, and plague. All within Europe’s most westerly urban settlement. This is their story."

Some of Adrian's academic papers can be downloaded and read free of charge from Academia.edu. And here is Adrian's presentation from GGI2013 ... it starts at 1 minute 22 seconds, so skip ahead to the good bits! You can view a larger version on YouTube here.

Maurice Gleeson
Dec 2016

Friday, 11 November 2016

Some great publicity ...

We had a huge interest in the DNA Lectures at Back to Our Past this year from a variety of radio and TV stations. This was a major change from previous years and a very welcome one too. Radio and TV reaches a very different audience to that engaged in social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Below is a selection of the TV and radio interviews that took place prior to GGI2016 and feature myself, Ann Marie Coghlan and Paddy Waldron. We also had some news coverage in the popular press, including this article in TheJournal.ie which has already been viewed over 24,000 times.

16th Oct 2016, thejournal.ie

First of the radio interviews is a very comprehensive piece put together by the Morning Ireland programme on RTE (Ireland's national radio station). Will Goodbody, Science and Technology Correspondent, discusses the advent of genetic genealogy and specifically the DNA Lectures at Back to Our Past. Mike Mulligan from Ancestry also features in this clip (click the image to listen).

Pat Kenny is an institution in Ireland, being one of Ireland's premier radio & TV personalities. Pat interviewed me on his Newstalk programme and we covered a huge range of topics in the 15 minute spot including how DNA can help adoptees, the anonymity of sperm donors, identifying the remains of WWI soldiers, and the Irish genetic footprint in the Caribbean. Click the PLAY button below to listen.

Myles Dungan has run The History Show on RTE Radio 1 for many years and has a wide audience. Myles interviewed myself, Ann Marie Coghlan (DNA Corcaigh), and Paddy Waldron (Clare Roots Society) about genetic genealogy and the success stories we have had. Click the image to listen.

Lastly, I appeared briefly on the 6pm National News on RTE television discussing the 3 main types of DNA testing. It's good to see that Irish Genetic Genealogy is beginning to make national headlines in Ireland.

Maurice Gleeson
Nov 2016

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Maggie Lyttle - Speaker Profile

Talk Title: Adding DNA to your Family History Society

Affiliation: member of the NIFHS

Qualifications: 23 years works experience in a criminal investigative role

What do you do as a Day Job?
Medically retired Police Officer

What do you do as a Night Job?
24/7 genealogist

How did you get into genealogy?
I was always interested in my family which became a hobby back when I was a teenager (many moons ago). I recall sitting down with my mum and a blank A4 sheet of paper and drawing out our family tree. It was my own curiosity, wanting to know my roots. So that was that, completely hooked on finding out more information who they were, where did they live, what life was like for them growing up in Ireland and where they came from in generations past. My only regret was not starting sooner and asking my elderly relatives. My parents would say these names of people when I was young and I never thought then to ask about them. I just never knew how we connected.

One fact drew me into researching in earnest. My mum mentioned one day that we were connected to the last man hung in Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast. Wow such scandal and literally a skeleton in the cupboard. So I set out to find out who this ancestor was. I did not have a computer back then and so information and facts were thin on the ground. It was not until I got a computer and was able to search on the internet that I found out that the last man hung in the prison was Robert McGladdery. It was only when I researched the tree more that I found out that in fact our family connection was not tothe last man hung but the 3rd last man hung Harold Courtney. He was my 1st cousin 2 x removed. Hung for the Murder of Minnie Reid. I was able to find lots of information online and picked up several books about the hanging. Newspaper reports were fantastic as I found a photograph of him.

Tell us about your involvement with genetic genealogy
When I hit the infamous brick walls in my tree I turned to these new genetic tests to see if could help me fill in the blanks and answer some of my questions. In 2012 I took a mtDNA test and I had my brother take a Y-DNA test with Ancestry. It did not tell me much at all apart from the halogroups to which we belonged to but I was very interested in what genetic genealogy testing could provide me with and I wanted to know more.

In 2013 our Ballymena branch of the NIFHS discussed the idea of having Dr Maurice Gleeson an expert in Irish genetic genealogy give us a talk in Ballymena. We advertised our event and were amazed that so many turned up to hear about this relatively new concept which included the Autosomal DNA test that could help you find living relations. The event took place on the 30 April 2014. Maurice brought along FTDNA kits and we had over 50 people test at the event. A project was set up for the NIFHS in conjunction with the talk which has grown and grown with a membership of 362 to date.

My interest in the Autosomal DNA test has grown into an obsession of getting more and more family members to test when I can afford to. The introduction of phasing has been amazing and a great help. Having lost my Father prior to my interest in genetic DNA I have been able to create much of his DNA using ‘Lazarus’ in Gedmatch. Anyone can join our project who has had an ancestor born in Ulster. You do not have to be a member of the NIFHS to join the project.

What will you be talking about?
I will describe what the NIFHS stands for and where it covers. Its structure and how it works in practice. The benefits of being a member. Brief historical background to Ulster – Vikings, Gallowglass, Ulster Scots etc. Why did we add a DNA project and what difference has it made? Are different DNA profiles evident? What makes it different from other DNA projects in Ireland. Y-DNA will be discussed in brief with more focus on Autosomal DNA. I'll also discuss a few success stories.

Further information ...

Paddy Waldron - Speaker Profile

Talk Title: The Ups & Downes of atDNA matching.

Qualifications: MA, MLitt, PhD

Chairperson of Clare Roots Society, Public Relations Officer of Kilrush and District Historical Society, Ireland Reaching Out volunteer Parish Administrator for Moyarta civil parish in County Clare, council member and former chairman of Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations, member of ISOGG, Irish Genealogical Research Society, Thomond Archaeological and Historical Society, Shannon Archaeological and Historical Society, Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society, etc.

Day Job - no time for one!

Night Job - genealogy. For more details of all my activities, see my website: http://pwaldron.info/

How did you get into genealogy?
I am a third generation genealogist. My grandfather began work on the family tree when he retired at 65 in 1949. His mother had four children before she turned 21, including my grandfather and his identical twin, and she lived to 88, so was still around to help him. The identical twins posed a further problem for those who like to calculate expected percentages of DNA shared - by marrying two sisters, whose own father had married twice, to two first cousins. My father caught the genealogy bug from his father and passed it on to me at a young age. At the age of 13, I rewrote the whole tree. I've now spent 30 years trying to get it all into a computer database. Every time I think I'm nearly finished, another batch of new records comes online.

Tell us about your involvement with genetic genealogy
My degrees in mathematical sciences, economics and finance included a lot of statistics, which inspired my curiosity about drawing genealogical inferences from genetic data. The jargon finally began to make sense when I first heard Maurice Gleeson speak at the Irish Genealogical Research Society in March 2013. A few months later, Katherine Borges swabbed me at Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 and I have been hooked since my results arrived a month or so after that. My closest match at the time was a lady who was adopted in 1938, but my best efforts to help her have so far turned up nobody closer to her than a few of her second cousins. Other adoption and fostering cases, including the one that inspired the title for my talk at GGI2016, have proved much easier to solve. I've also taken my own County Limerick ancestry back another two generations as the result of a DNA match between my first cousin and our fourth cousin twice removed, whom I already knew without ever suspecting a relationship or discussing our common roots.

I am now co-administrator with Terry Fitzgerald of the Clare Roots project at
which was established to coincide with Maurice Gleeson's talk at the monthly Clare Roots Society meeting on 19 November 2015. By 3 October 2016, it had 358 members. Anyone with an ancestor who lived in County Clare is welcome to join. I have also set up a Clancy Surname Project and am working on establishing an Irish Waldron Surname Project.

I have recruited around 100 people to genetic genealogy in Clare, Limerick, Mayo and other ancestral heartlands via the DNA Outreach IRL project. Three years ago, the top 30 matches for any Irish person getting autosomal DNA results were typically complete strangers; nowadays, I expect to know personally about six of the top 30 matches of anyone from West Clare that I swab. Working out the relationships can still be a challenge.

What will you be talking about? 
My presentation will combine examples of the successful application of autosomal DNA matching from my own experience with my thoughts on the statistical shortcomings of the current matching methodology. Examples will include how to use phasing and triangulation to confirm or refute suspected relationships, often revealing unexpected double relationships. I will demonstrate other tips and tricks for managing lists of DNA matches. I will show how DNA matching inter-relates with adoption and inheritance searches, marriage dispensations, bad record-keeping, and other aspects of genealogical research.

My examples will show how DNA matching unites the Irish diaspora around the world. Just like the financial markets, the work goes on around the clock, with Irish researchers often passing the baton at bedtime to those on the west coast of the USA, who pass it on to members of the diaspora in the Antipodes, who may have solved the problem by the time we wake up here in Ireland the next morning.

Further information ...

Paddy's personal website ... http://pwaldron.info/

Peter Sjölund - Speaker Profile

Talk Title: Viking DNA in Ireland. Do you have some and where did it come from?

Affiliations: I am one of the founders of SSGG, the Swedish Society of Genetic Genealogy. Also a member of ISOGG.

What do you do as a Day Job?
I’m a professional Genetic Genealogist who runs a company providing training, presentations and consultancy for genealogists and genealogical societies. I am also an author, having written a handbook in genetic genealogy and a popular science book on the peopling of Sweden, spanning the past 11,000 years. I am a regular contributor to the Swedish genealogy magazines.

Before I did go 100% into genetic genealogy, I worked many years as a chemical management consultant.

What do you do as a Night Job?
When I’m not deep into mutations, DNA segments and church records, I have a family of four, 10 chickens and a farm house built in 1799 to care for.

How did you get into genealogy?
I have always been interested in local history and I love solving mysteries, so I got hooked on genealogy 30 years ago. My special interest is to dig out facts from really old records to investigate families and the local societies in the 17th and 16th Century. I have traced all my family lines back to at least the early 18th Century and many lines back to the 16th Century. But my curiosity makes me want to look even further back. Enter Genetic Genealogy!

Tell us about your involvement with genetic genealogy
With my background in Natural Sciences and my love for mystery-solving and family history, the field of genetic genealogy came as a God-send. I started out in 2010 with testing myself and my mother. Since then I have dug deeper and deeper into the fascinating world of DNA and genealogy. I have come to focus on the investigation of deep ancestry with the help of Y-DNA and mtDNA. This has led me to write a book on the peopling of Sweden, from when the ice melted 11,000 years ago up until today, based on DNA and archaeology. In my own family history, genetic genealogy has helped me to break through the brick wall of finding the ancestors of my GGGG Grandfather. In 2015 I and a group of genealogists founded SSGG, the Swedish Society of Genetic Genealogy, a society for promoting genetic genealogy in Sweden.

What will you be talking about? 
One of the most common question we get in Sweden, from people living outside of Scandinavia, is “Do I have Viking DNA?” In Ireland and Scotland, many men indeed carry Y-chromosomes which arrived with the Vikings. I will talk about how you can know if your Y-DNA is of Scandinavian origin. I will trace the DNA of the Vikings back to different parts of Scandinavia and all the way back to when people first colonised Scandinavia at the end of the Ice Age.

My talk will focus on YDNA.

Further information ...