Friday, 12 August 2016

The final DNA Lecture Schedule for GGI2016

We have a great line-up of speakers for GGI2016, which once again is kindly sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by volunteers from ISOGG, the International Society of Genetic Genealogy.  Below is the final schedule. 

This is the fourth year of Genetic Genealogy Ireland. We have 21 speakers and 21 presentations, making this the joint largest genetic genealogy conference in the world (along with WDYTYA in the UK).

This year's theme is: 
Remembering 100 Years Ago
And this theme is very much in line with all the 1916 / 2016 activities that have been going on in Ireland all year to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising and the continued Irish involvement in World War One. We are now in a decade of centenaries in Ireland, starting with the Dublin Lockout of 1913 and culminating with the emergence of modern Ireland as a Free State in 1922.

Several of the presentations speak directly to the theme. Jens Carlsson from University College Dublin will be talking about the amazing journey he took in helping to identify the remains of Thomas Kent, one of the 1916 rebels who was executed and buried in Cork Prison. Jens will discuss how the techniques he used have revolutionised the field of genetic archeology. Maurice Gleeson will discuss recent cases of how DNA can be used to help in the identification of soldiers who were killed in World War One and whose remains continue to be found on a regular basis in northern France. Many Irish names figure among those that have been identified.

We have a range of talks for beginners (from seasoned professionals Katherine Borges, Linda Magellan, and Michelle Leonard) as well as talks focussing on how to interpret your DNA results and use them to greatest effect (Diahan Southard, Jennifer Zinck, John Cleary, Debbie Kennett). There is a special focus this year on autosomal DNA test results with several tantalising case studies from Paddy Waldron and Diahan Southard (the latter relating to an adoption mystery).

We also have the pleasure of welcoming a host of international speakers. Peter Sjoland from Sweden will be exploring the genetic links between Ireland and Scandinavia. Peter runs the Swedish DNA Project which has over 4000 members and so is one of the largest geographic DNA projects in FamilyTreeDNA's database. Dennis Wright and Dennis O'Brien are coming all the way from Australia and will be discussing the DNA of the Dál gCais, one of Ireland's most influential dynasties. This in turn gave rise to many of today's Irish clans, including the O'Brien's, whose famous ancestors included Brian Boru, High King of Ireland up to the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. Keeping with the theme of the old Gaelic Clans, Maurice Gleeson will be discussing the trials & tribulations of trying to tie in Surname Project DNA results to what is written in the Ancient Irish Genealogies.

There is also an increased focus this year on Y-DNA SNP markers and what the "SNP Tsunami" of recent years is finally beginning to reveal. Robert Casey & John Cleary will be tackling this topic and discussing the promise this area holds for the future of surname studies, human migration studies, and population genetics. 

There are two presentations on "Ancient DNA" that will draw a particularly large crowd. Professor Dan Bradley hinted last year that there would be new developments in this field of particular interest to Ireland and in December last year a paper was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which reported on his team's genetic analysis of four ancient Irish humans dating back as far as 5200 years ago. Dan will be talking about these recent findings and perhaps giving us a glimpse of what we might expect in the next few years as more ancient Irish remains are analysed.

Complementing this presentation will be a dual presentation on the fascinating Barrymore Project. Jim Barry is the first person to undertake a private ancient DNA project in Ireland. His quest to identify the ancient remains of the Earls of Barrymore is a fascinating tale of challenges and discoveries. Jim will be sharing this presentation with René Gapert, a forensic anthropologist, who supervised the recovery of human remains discovered in the Barrymore mausoleum. This project will pave the way for similar "citizen science" projects in Ireland and elsewhere, and may become the template for such future research.

Another tag team of presenters is Ann Marie Coghlan and Maggie Lyttle, both of whom are heavily involved in the running of Family History Societies, Ann Marie in Cork and Maggie in Ballymena. Both of them have introduced DNA testing to their respective societies and here they will tell us how it made a difference.

Last but not least, Ed Gilbert will give us an update on the important and ever more interesting Irish DNA Atlas project. As more and more results come through, the mysterious contours of the genetic landscape of Ireland are beginning to emerge and paint a picture of how different historical migrations have left their indelible genetic marks.

Looking forward to seeing you all at GGI2016.

The DNA Lectures at GGI2016
(click to enlarge)

Maurice Gleeson
August 2016


  1. Great line-up Maurice, looking forward to a great 3 days!

  2. I just got my results back and will be in ireland that week.
    I won't miss a day. Looks marvellous and the variety is like a large Cadbury Chrsitmas choclate box of old.
    Thank you, what a great feat. Gráinne Ward