17 May 2015

Y-DNA or Who’s My Daddy?

By Emily Aulicino

In the past I have posted information about the various tests on this blog.  However, when I was approached my my local genealogical society, I submitted several articles to help members of the society with DNA testing.  I am most grateful to all those who helped compile many of the coming articles and who edited my work.  A special thanks to Laurel Smith, our current president, for pushing me to do this and for all her help.

In the coming weeks, I will cover mitochondrial testing in two parts, autosomal testing, SNP testing and a few other topics.  You may email me directly if there is a topic you would like clarified and posted here.  Do not post to the blog, but to me directly:  aulicino@hevanet.com



The following questions or goals may be addressed with the Y-DNA test. 
Although there are no guarantees of success, this is the mostly logical path to try. Each of these will be considered here:   
  •     Proving if a person is my father
  •     Finding biological father’s (grandfather’s, etc.) surname (adopted or not)
  •     Proving two of same surname living in adjoining towns are related
  •     Y-line brick wall, hoping to jump the brick wall
  •     Tracing mother’s father’s line back to a known immigrant



FIRST LET’S REVIEW WHAT THE Y-DNA TEST CAN DO AND WHO CAN TAKE IT.
The Y-chromosome is passed from father to son virtually unchanged since mankind began. The small changes (mutations) that can take place help determine the closeness of a relationship and help place people into family groups. These mutations are random and can happen at any time. That is, a father could give one son a certain DNA result and another son the same, but perhaps with one mutation. Consequently once a mutation occurs it is passed to the next generation of sons from the father who received it.

As the Y-chromosome is only inherited by men, this test can be taken only by men. It tests the top line of a pedigree chart for a male tester. However, the results does not really belong to or indicate a particular male as all the males in the family and everywhere along a direct line of descent can have the exact same Y-DNA results. That is, a great-great-grandfather gives a copy of his Y-chromosome to all his sons, but so do that great-great-grandfather’s brothers give it to their sons. For this reason, it tests more than just the direct line of male descent, but all the direct male lines of that progenitor.

The result of a Y-chromosome DNA test yields a number for each marker. That number depends upon the number of times four chemical bases (adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine) repeat themselves in a short pattern. These patterns must repeat themselves right next to each other or in tandem and are referred to as an STR or short tandem repeat. For example a marker could have a pattern of AGAT or some other combination, and the number of times it repeats itself in sequence; for example, AGATAGATAGAT would result in the number for that marker. In this example, the result would be a 3. The result of a marker is called an allele. The entire test result is referred to as a haplotype. In the example below marker DYS393 has 13 STRs.



The alleles (marker results) are compared with those of other testers to give an indication how closely related they could be, but as DNA does not tell you the name of a common ancestor, you still need to do your genealogy. DNA testing can help you get through a brick wall, determine the surname of a person who is adopted, and prove that two males do or do not have a common ancestor in genealogical time. DNA testing gives you the names and from some companies the emails of the people with whom you share a common ancestor. This allows you to contact the matches and share genealogies. The more wide-spread your records are, the easier it is to find the common ancestor. That is, do not research just your direct lines, but everyone’s children, grandchildren, etc.

SO LET’S MOVE ON TO SOLVING SOME OF THE PROBLEMS ABOVE.
If you are a woman, you need to have a male in your father’s all male line do the testing; otherwise a man can test for his father’s line as I have said.

To prove if your father is your father, you should test yourself and your suspected father. If that cannot be done for some reason, test yourself and a male that either descends from your suspected father or from one of his brothers, given that you are certain of those relationships.

To obtain a man’s biological surname, just test the man and see what surname is most frequent among the matches. The odds are this would be the testers’ surname, barring any NPE (non-paternal event or any event that would result in a non-biological surname such as an adoption, illegitimate birth or a name change for any reason).

To determine a paternal great-grandfather (adopted or not), without knowing which of two people that could be, I’ll address both. If the paternal great-grandfather is your paternal grandfather’s father, then test yourself, if you are male, and see whom you match to get a surname. If the paternal great-grandfather is your paternal grandmother's father, then you need to find a brother of your paternal grandmother and bring his line down to the present in an all-male line. If this is confusing, look at a pedigree chart. The same system can be applied to the comment above about finding a great-great-grandfather.

Proving that two men with the same surname and living in nearby towns are related can be easily done. Just bring to the present the all-male lines from each of your target people. Test one person each and see if their test result matches. However, finding a viable candidate is often the problem. For this reason bring all the male lines to the present as some lines may “daughter-out” or some men may refuse to test or cannot be located.

Jumping a brick wall can be done, but there are different methods. One is to test a male and contact the matches, hoping someone has more information than you do. Another way is to check the area where your trail went cold to see if there are others in that area who may be related whom you cannot fit into your pedigree. Bring an all-male line to the present and test that living person. If there is a match, perhaps they know something you do not or together you and your match can research the line to see if you can track it back farther. Sometimes distant cousins leave better paper trails than your direct line. Lastly, you can triangulate a line. This method is a bit longer to explain, and will be covered in another lesson.

And for the last problem above, tracing mother's father’s line back to a known immigrant, use the Y-chromosome test. You must go back to the moth­er’s father, bring an all-male line to the present, and test that person. Then you must bring an all-male line from the known immigrant to the present and test them. This method was actually used to prove a Mayflower descendant a few years ago.


As you can see from all these examples there is great similarity in how to use the Y-chromosome DNA test. BUT, which Y-chromosome test? I recommend at least 37 markers as that number of markers puts your matches within genealogical time. After all, you need to have a paper trail along with the DNA to really prove your lineage. Of course, testing more markers is just fine, as well. Some people choose to start out with a 37 marker and upgrade later while others test the 67 or 111 initially. The cost of upgrading is a bit more than the difference between the two tests you choose. This is because the company has to locate your sample in their vaults.

Much of what you need to know is on my blog in the older sections. There are many articles you can skip as they are about my antics at conferences or on past sales. Also understand that over the years genetics has evolved so some things that were thought to be true a few years ago may be understood differently now, but the basics are the same.

I urge all of you who have not tested to write me before you order. I will ask you what problem you are trying to solve so I can be sure that the test and the company you choose will serve you well. I have had several emails from people who bought first and then inquired. They are not happy. Remember that DNA testing is becoming very popular and as a result there are many companies who want a slice of the pie, but they do not offer all the services that others do. It is wiser to not let price be your guide in most cases. Variety of testing, service, storage of your sample so you can upgrade later, etc. are only a few of the important features.

One last reminder: DNA testing does not have all the answers for you. Not every brick wall can be demolished; there will always be brick walls. Not every person you need to test can be found or, if so, they may elect not to test. Not every person you match will know as much as you. With luck, some will know more.

One last hope: DNA testing is the most accurate resource we have as genealogists. By testing you will have an opportunity to learn more about your ancestry. More people are learning about DNA testing for genealogy daily. More people test all the time so in the future you may find the person and connection you need. Doing nothing gets you nowhere.



Written for the GFO DNA Special Interest Group, 29 Jan 2013 and appeared in the GFO Bulletin, Volume 63, No. 3, Mar 2014. 

GFO is the Genealogical Forum of Oregon in Portland Oregon.  See their website:  www.gfo.org

Thank you,
Emily

15 May 2015

Who Do You Think You Are? Live – Birmingham, England April 2015



Yes, it has been weeks since we all returned from Birmingham, and I have not been enthused enough to blog about the experience.  There is the good and the bad of it all, and being spoiled does not help my outlook.

So why you ask I was reluctant to post.

The venue moved from the Olympia Center in London to Birmingham, in the Midlands.  The reasons seem to be that Earl’s Court was closed so the venues there had to go somewhere, and one vendor plunked down more money to replace Who Do You Think You Are? who lost their lease.  At least that is what I am told.

Although the aisles at the NEC in Birmingham were spacious, it is apparent the hall was smaller than Olympia and there were fewer vendors and attendees.  It is nice to be able to reach out to people who may not have been able to come to London for the venue, and perhaps, in the next few years, the vendors and numbers will increase.

The lecture areas were not enclosed so the sound carried, providing much background noise.  Although the FTDNA area is never enclosed, the noise from the others as well as the traffic made listening and recording difficult.  Also, the size of the Family Tree DNA lecture area was much smaller than that in London which meant that many people had to stand.  The ISOGG stand was minuscule, but everyone had no choice but to make the best of it all.

As a result of fewer attendees, fewer DNA tests were purchased, and I sold just over half the number of books that I sold the previous year in London.

For those of us who travel from the United States to work at the Family Tree DNA booth, our expenses (for those of us who receive no reimbursement or compensation) were astronomical.  I fly from the West coast and my airfare was 50% more than going to London.  I realize the airfares are constantly traveling upward and this area’s airport is smaller; however, even in London, the airfare rose by only $100 or so each year.  A few of us could not afford to state at a hotel near NEC due to the cost being double of that in a nearby location.  Of course, we were always spoiled in London by having a B&B only 2 or 3 blocks way from Olympia which always gave us a great rate.  However, we were saved by our genetic genealogy pal, James Irvine who chauffeured us back and forth to NEC. What a wonderful, kind man! Thank you James!

AND, my understanding is that the cost of the stand increased greatly over the price in London.

So where is the good in all this?

We had some wonderful speakers thanks to the efforts of Maurice Gleeson and Debbie Kennett.  Maurice hosted the programs and uploaded the presentations to YouTube  where you can view those who gave permission to share with you. (My two presentations are there, also.) Joss Le Gall was superb in ushering people to the presentations, distributing handouts and guiding them to the Family Tree DNA stand for testing. 

Turi King gave a wonderful review of finding the grave of King Richard III.  No doubt it was the largest program attended. Professor Mark Jobling from Leicester University spoke on “Fishing for Vikings in the Gene Pool” and Professor Mark Thomas at University College London presented on “Ancestry testing using DNA: The pros and cons” which focused on Y-DNA testing and mitochondrial DNA and the problems in using these to determine where your ancestors were located. His presentation is available on the above line and is a very good one to view.

See Debbie Kennett’s in-depth post on Birmingham.  

It is always nice to be able to share the opportunity of DNA testing for genealogy with new people, and this area provided a new arena. It’s always a treat to see old friends and meet new people. 

I was able to meet a newly found cousin of a man I know from my presentations in my home state.  Both cousins are a delight, and below you can see our meeting, along with a photo of the two cousins.  Jeff was in my audience as I told his story at WDYTYA.  He also showed me a photo of Cliff’s brother who looks even more like Jeff!
Jeff in Wales
Cliff in the US
It was also very nice to chat with Professor Mark Thomas over drinks.  I found him very personable.  He was very complimentary to all of us and strongly suggested that we were not "citizen scientists" but scientists.  His belief is that whoever uses scientific tools deserves the title.

This year, my wonderful roommate was Traci Barela who currently lives in Germany.  She and I flew to Frankfort, and I stayed at her home for a few days as a guest.  I spoke to her friends regarding DNA, and we spent a day in Krefeld as my ancestors came from there in 1683.  They were part of the immigrants who started Germantown, Pennsylvania, and the first petition against slavery in the US was signed on my ancestor's table.  I'm greatly proud of that, and am most appreciative to Traci for being so gracious to have me and to make the train trip north so I could trod the land of my ancestors.  Thank you Traci!
Traci and I with skyline of Frankfurt

Lunch at the old Frankfort square

Berg Linn Castle - the only place from my ancestors' time period.


WDYTYA will return to Birmingham April 7-9, 2016, so join us to learn more about what is available in the UK for genealogy and take a DNA test.

See you there!
Emily

11 April 2015

35th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy

As more and more DNA testers are finding segments of Jewish genealogy, along with all of those who know their Jewish heritage, more and more interest is turning toward understanding the connections and culture.

Barbara Hershey, President of the Jewish Genealogical Society in Portland Oregon, has alerted me to the coming International Conference on Jewish Genealogy in Jerusalem this year, and shares the following information.

Happy Passover from the 2015 IAJGS 35th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy. For the ease of those who are vacationing over the holiday, we have decided to extend the Early Registration Discount fee through Wednesday May 6, 2015. Visit www.iajgs2015.org to register now! And since we promised a drawing for prizes those registered by April 15th your chances of winning are now double! Be patient if we are slower in answering e-mails, Israel is on vacation until April 12. Ortra our Conference Organizer, like most non-essential businesses in Israel, is closed for all but emergencies. I and most of our volunteers will be answering questions as rapidly as we can.

Our Preliminary Program now is now listed in the Program & Schedule section of the website in the “Program” tab at www.iajgs2015.org. You’ll see why we are boasting that this will be “A Conference Like No Other”. The schedule will become interactive after Passover.

The conference will be truly international and the Promised Event with speakers and registrants hailing from round the globe. Among the nearly 20 nations represented to date are New Zealand, American Samoa, the Americas and all of Europe.

As announced, the keynote speaker will be Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, one of the most prominent figures in Israeli society today. (See the website for his full biography.) Rabbi Lau, a child survivor of the Holocaust,  carries a crucial message for genealogists regarding their research.

We are delighted to announce that master genealogist Dick Eastman will deliver a speech at the closing banquet. In the mid-1980s, at the dawn of the World Wide Web, Eastman pioneered one of the first online Genealogy Forums. By 1996, he created a weekly online newsletter called "Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter" which has now grown from a circulation of 100 to more than 60,000 genealogists worldwide.

And when you join us for the conference, don’t miss the pre-conference festivities:
PRE-CONFERENCE SHABBATON on the Friday-Saturday, July 3 -4 weekend preceding the Conference, followed by an UNFORGETTABLE “EXPLORATION SUNDAY” on July 5. Full and fascinating details are on the conference website www.iajgs2015.org.


THIS YEAR IN JERUSALEM!  See you in Jerusalem in July for the momentous and exciting 35th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy!


Thank you for sharing this information, Barbara.

Enjoy,
Emily

23 March 2015

Gathering for Genetically Linked People

What an interesting idea for a conference...and so inexpensive and for a good cause!



Extracted from announcement today:

Family Tree DNA has partnered with The Global Family Reunion to create the first-ever gathering that brings together genetically linked people (However, I did have a three-day conference in 2012 which brought together genetically linked people in my Talley project.) This gathering will "deepen your understanding of your genetic past and meet your cousins from around the world..."

The announcement continues as follows:

All Family Tree DNA members are being offered a limited-time early-bird price of $25 for the event.

Event Details

When:  June 6, 2015
Where:  New York Hall of Science, New York City

Click here for early bird tickets and more information.

Click here for exclusive reward packages!

The offer is only available until April 1, 2015.

All proceeds from the Global Family Reunion go to benefit the Cure Alheimer's (sic Alzheimer's) Fund and the Alzheimer's Association NYC.

If you can't make it to New York, there will be simultaneous festivals around the world with a livestream of speakers.

The Global Family Reunion will be an entertaining, eye-opening festival for all ages - a TED conference meets a World's Fair - so bring your kids, nephews, grankids, and grandparents.  All proceeds from the event go toward fighting Alzheimer's Disease.

What can you expect at Global Family Reunion?
...See more than 30 top speakers with fascinating presentations on genetics and family heritage, including Henry Louis Gates of PBS's Finding Your Roots, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, NPR host Scott Simon, and Family Tree DNA President Bennett Greenspan
...Meet thousands of cousins and figure out how you are related
...Explore more than 450 interactive science exhibits from the New York Hall of Science
...Enjoy live entertainment, including music by Sister Sledge, who will be singing "We Are Family," of course.  There will also be comedy from The New Yorker's Andy Borowitz and comedian Nick Kroll
...Take part in family-themed trivia contests, scavenger hunts, games, and potato sack races for those who are bold
...Help build the biggest family tree ever
...Meet the staff form Family Tree DNA, as well as Family Tree DNA partners such as MyHeritage and Findmypast, and get exclusive tutorials
...Break world records, including the biggest family photo ever

The Global Family Reunion has already been featured in the New York Times, TED, Good Morning America, NPR, People magazine and many more.

The Huffington Post called it "so fun." Conan O'Brien said it is "fascinating," and NPR's Scott Simon said "I wouldn't miss it."

All Family Tree DNA members are invited.  Those who are genetically linked to Global Family Reunion founder and author A.J. Jacobs will be tallied in our attempt to break the record for most number of related people gathered in one place.  Our hope is to beat the current world record of 4, 512.

If you'd like to contact AJ directly, you can reach him at info@worldfamily.us

Regards,
Bennett Greenspan
President, Family Tree DNA

Join in the fun!
Emily

25 November 2014

Family Tree DNA Holiday Sale!



Need a holiday gift?  Don’t know what to get those who have everything?

Give them what they already have…their DNA! 

Each year, Family Tree DNA has a sale for the entire month of December, and all the major tests and upgrades are included!  It begins today and ends Dec. 31, 2014 at 11:59 PM Central. 

Testing a family member or friend can reveal matches with others who relate to you that you have never met. These new relatives may have some additional information on your family and some photos you do not have.  It can help you find new genealogical research partners. DNA is the gift that keeps on giving...matches continue appearing over time.  That’s a lot of gifts for the holiday!

This year’s December sale prices:




BUT WAIT…There’s more…..

Family Tree DNA has another gift for you…

Introducing…  Drum roll, please…Ta Da!

..........Mystery Rewards

This year, FTDNA has a new twist on their annual December sales.  Not only are there discounted prices, but there is a randomized discount up to $100 off that can be applied ON TOP of the Holiday sale prices!  WOW, two gifts in one!





The Mystery Reward icon will appear on the testers’ myFTDNA dashboard each week and the code will expire the night before the next Mystery Reward appears. (See above icon.)

When you click the icon, you'll to go to the reward page (see below) to open the Mystery Reward which can be a savings up to $100.





BUT WAIT…There’s more…..

FTDNA will send an email notification to the kit’s primary email address when a new code is available for use or sharing for the next Mystery Reward.

WHAT?  There’s more than one Mystery Reward?  YES!


AND…
Best of all, there will be a new Mystery Reward every week. Customers can use this Mystery Reward discount, or they can share it with a friend or relative by using the graphic below.  







BUT WAIT…FTDNA is NOT DONE!

In addition, all customers who have purchased the Big Y test will receive a coupon for $50 off another Big Y test.

This coupon, like that below, that can be used ON TOP of a sale price during the holiday sale, and it can also be "re-gifted," to a friend, relative or fellow project member.






I’ve lost track!  How many gifts is that?

It is definitely time to order or upgrade your FTDNA test with this amazing sale!  Share this information with friends, family and strangers!  You never know who else may match you!  Hopefully ME!

Have a great holiday whichever it may be!
Emily


21 November 2014

AncestryDNA Announces Updates



Last October 6, seven genetic genealogy bloggers were invited to AncestryDNA’s headquarters in San Francisco for a “Bloggers Day” to learn about the coming changes at AncestryDNA. Two of the items discussed are now implemented.


Matching Improved

One of the major features is the improvement in AncestryDNA’s algorithm to determine your matches.  As Ancestry has about 500,000 sutosomal DNA (atDNA) testers at this time and their threshold (until now) was 5.0 cMs (centimorgans) with Family Tree DNA’s test called Family Finder has a threshold of 7.7 cMs and 23andMe’s threshold is 7.0.  This made Ancestry quite liberal in matching people and as a result there were many false positives (IBS).  Consequently, any tester received many matches that may not be real matches.  Most people will lose about 66% of their matches after the change which is very good!  The matches we retain will be meaningful. 

Before November 19th, I had 17,917 matches, and now I have 4,250 which is a 76% reduction. Not only is this more manageable, I am now more certain that these people actually match me through inherited DNA (IBD).

See the following blogs for more details of this meeting from some of those who were present.  Although not everything discussed is highlighted here as some changes will be made in the future.


Robert J. Estes, DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist

Many genetic genealogists have tried since Ancestry began doing autosomal DNA (atDNA) tests in 2012 to have them provide a chromosome feature.  Attendees of this meeting reported the same comment by Ancestry that we heard from the beginning which is basically that Ancestry does not believe the common genealogist can understand how to use the chromosome browser.

I, along with many other genetic genealogists I know, have been teaching any atDNA tester to use the chromosome features at Family Tree DNA and at 23andMe for nearly five years to help people map their chromosomes and discover which ancestor gave them a particular DNA segment.  We have also encouraged any AncestryDNA tester to upload their data to GEDmatch (a third-party tool) in order to have a feature to see where on the chromosomes they match other testers.  I have more faith in people…this isn’t rocket science.  It can be learned.  I am not a science major (didn’t care much for biology in school) and I can understand it.  I believe Ancestry’s comment about most genealogists cannot understand chromosome mapping not to be the total story.  I have my suspicions as to why they will not do this…and I’m not alone in those beliefs.

At the meeting, the attendees were told that this action will take place before the end of the year.  However, the improved algorithm actually took place November 19th.


"DNA Circles" in Beta Testing

            A feature new to AncestryDNA started November 19th as well. Ancestry uses phased data and their new matching algorithm along with public Ancestry.com trees to determine your “DNA Circles.”
DNA Circles creates clusters of test-takers who all match the same common ancestor based on their public trees the matches have.  Each person in a circle matches at least one other in the circle. In order to be in the DNA Circles you must subscribe to Ancestry.com, have a public tree and be a DNA customer.  Customers are to receive an email about it on Nov 19, 2014, but no one I know did.

Blogs about this feature:
·         Ancestry's better mousetrap - DNA circles by Roberta Estes
·         Changes at AncestryDNA by Judy Russell
·         AncestryDNA Review and Breaking News! Updates Launched by Diahan Southard

For a view of the DNA Circle pages, see Ancestry’s blog at:
New AncestryDNA Technology Powers New Kinds of Discoveries

There is a white paper associated with DNA Circles. In the Ancestry help forum, the following was posted by Laura Davenport for anyone with an Ancestry subscription to view it.  A paraphrase of her post follows:

To view the DNA Circles’ white paper without a circle:
1. Go to your DNA matches page you’re your home page)
2. Click on the question mark upper right. This brings you to a graphic menu.
3. Click on "what can I do with my DNA matches".
4. Scroll down to the paragraph headed "Find DNA evidence for your genealogical research".
5. Click on "Learn more about DNA Circles" at the end of the paragraph.
6. Go to the end of a summary page, click on "check out our white paper on DNA circles".


Downloading Matches and Raw Data from AncestryDNA

Your matches are downloaded in a CSV (Comma Separated Values), so be sure to save it in some spreadsheet like Excel.

To download the file:
·         Go to your DNA Home Page
·         Under your name, click on the “gear icon” next to the word Settings
·         On the right hand side under “Actions”, click on the bar that says:  “Download v1 DNA Matches”.

For your matches file, your spreadsheet columns are:

Name – the person you match
Administraor – the person who manages the test. (NOTE:  You get the cryptic name they use at       AncestryDNA and no email)
Range – the of cousinship
Starred – whether you have starred this person or not
Viewed – whether you have viewed this match or not
Hint – whether there is a hint (shaky leaf) or not
Archived – (Sorry, I have no idea what this is, but maybe it has to do with attaching this info to your tree?)
Note – If you have written a note on the page, this appears.


Suggestions:
  • Download your old match list before AncestryDNA removes those matches.
  • Download your raw data (it comes in a zip file).  Then upload it to GEDmatch
  • Also consider transferring that data to Family Tree DNA to be placed in another database (you get more matches).  You will remain in the AncestryDNA base, however.  The cost to transfer is $39 unless you have four others from Ancestry view the transfer process at FTDNA. They do not have to actually transfer for your transfer to be free.

·       
         If you have no idea how to map your chromosomes, put the term in your browser and/or consult the following sources:

         Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond by Emily D. Aulicino, available at AuthorHouse.com, Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble online in paperback or ebook.  You can also order it from any brick and mortar store.

Email me personally at:  aulicino@hevanet.com with questions.


Emily
21 Nov 2014


31 October 2014

Back to Our Past 2014, October 17-19, RDS (Royal Dublin Society), Dublin, Ireland



 Genetic Genealogy Ireland (GGI) is an event within the Back to Our Past (BTOP) conference.  TheAssociation of Professional Genealogists in Ireland (APGI) organized BTOP.  Family Tree DNA sponsored GGI, and members  of the   International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) agreed to speak at their own expense.


Maurice Gleeson, originally from Dublin, but currently living in London, is the mastermind behind the twenty presentations given in the DNA area, and he is uploading most every one of them to YouTube, a few each week. The following is just a quick mention of what you can hear online with the accompanying slide presentations.

Maurice, Debbie Kennett, and Katherine Borges, all of ISOGG, provided a variety of topics on helping the audience decide which test works best of them as well as an understanding of DNA for beginners. Debbie sold her book The Surname Handbook and DNA and Social Networking.

Maurice also covered how DNA can help with adoption mysteries, and I explained how autosomal DNA can help you locate cousins. I was fortunate to have sold all the books, Genetic Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond. My book is also available online at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble in paperback or e-book.

Spencer Wells, the keynote speaker, gave us an overview of the Genographic Project he operates at the National Geographic Society as well as some details for testing 100 persons in county Mayo.

Brad Larkin’s presentation DNA versus The Irish Annals focused on some major Irish genealogical groups from the Irish annals such as Uí Néill and the kings of Connacht, Munster, Leinster and Ulster along with some Norman lineages as well as how much modern DNA connected with these lineages has been sampled. Most ancient samples are haplogroups G and I.  Today, haplogroup G is virtually gone in Ireland and haplogroups I are present with R dominating. Brad is also a member of ISOGG.

Paul Burns, ISOGG member, shared the results of his Byrne/Burns/Beirne Surname Project while John Cleary of ISOGG explained how to enhance your Y-DNA results through surname and haplogroup projects.

Cynthia Wells, along with Maurice Gleeson, spoke about reconstructing the Irish-Caribbean ancestry. Cynthia is an ISOGG member.

We all love success stories, and Rob Warthen, creator of DNAadoption website and DNAGedcom, explained how he located the family of his wife who was adopted.  She spoke to the group as well.

Michelle Leonard manages the Fromelles Project dedicated to identifying the fallen soldiers of World War I by using DNA.  Her work, which she terms as a labor of love, has resulted in much success in uniting families with the deceased soldiers.

Catherine Swift of the University of Limerick and a historian spoke on the Emerging dyanasties in a maritime world – hunting for Brian Boru’s genetic legacy.  She champions a stronger connection between the genetic genealogists, and historians.  I couldn’t agree more!

Many other speakers will be of great interest to the genealogical community as well as for those interested in their Irish roots.  Patrick Guinness, author and historian spoke about The Clans of the North West and their DNA profiles, clarifying that the DNA of so many men in northwestern Ireland may not be a result of Neill of the Nine Hostages.  Tyrone Bowes of Irish Origenes showed us how to pinpoint our Irish origins while Gerard Corcoran explained how to use genetic genealogy to map Irish migrations.  Daniel Crouch of the University of Oxford spoke on how the genetic analysis of the People of the British Isles yields historical and physiological insights.  Kirsten Bos of the Universitat Tubingen showed us how the plagues of our ancestors are revealed through ancient DNA.

Brad Larkin who runs The SurnameDNA Journal predicted the future of genetic genealogy.

As you can see, the conference covered a large variety of topics. You can also view the presentations from 2013.  Visit the GGI site and immerse yourself in the knowledge of this quickly growing field.


On Monday after the conference, Gerard Corcoran, who is my DNA cousin as he just happens to have a Y-DNA match to my paternal first cousin, constructed an event-filled day for our group.  We began by visiting the National Library and then the National Parliament which is referred to as Dáil where we were greeted by Marcella Corcoran Kennedy a Teachta Dála (member of parliament) for the constituency of Laois-Offaly. She is also a DNA cousin of  Gerard.  Photos were taken with her outside of Parliament before our tour. Framed certificates of Irish ancestry were given to three of us, thanks to Derrell who located members of our group who had Irish ancestors, and many thanks to the concerted effort of Gerard for having them produced.
In the afternoon our group traveled to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown (DLR) where we had a wonderful lunch as guests of Gerrard at the Kingston Oliveto Restaurant and where we met Kingsley Aikens, CEO of Diaspora Matters and a promoter of the National Diaspora Centre.  It was a delight to hear him speak about diaspora and the work being done. (I must say that of all the places I have traveled, the Irish have made me feel more welcomed as a foreigner than any other country where my ancestors have lived.) We then received a guided tour of the new DLR Lexicon, a very modern library with beautiful views of the waterfront. The plan is to open the library December 5th

Gerard and Cathaoirleach Marie Baker
By 3:30 p.m. (15:30), we met Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Marie Baker and John Hamrock of the Genealogical Society of Ireland at the Dun Laoghaire County Hall. Our tour included visiting her council chambers where we learned about what business was conducted and were able to ask questions. Many photos were taken and she was kind enough to take a DNA test.  We then returned to the Dublin City Center where we dined at Ka Sheng on Wicklow Street as guests of Ancestry.com.

What a delightful day, and…gee, my cousin Gerard has connections! J


Cllr. Kennedy and Emily
Over the years I have attended many conferences and it is always a pleasure to see acquaintances, but even better is to meet new ones. This trip was no different.  I met some wonderful people from academia and do hope to have more time in the future to to chat. But, beside them, I always find it very interesting to meet the people in my audience.  One such person greatly stands out at this conference.
Patrick C. Kennedy, a wonderful Irish gentleman, former mayor of Limerick and currently a Councillor, spent all three days listening to every DNA lecture.  He shared with many of us his political scrapbook which included a photo of himself as a senator meeting Senator Ted Kennedy of the US. Cllr. Kennedy decided to take a Y-DNA to learn more about his all-male Kennedy line.  He was a recipient of a free test thanks to the project manager of the Kennedy Y-DNA project who offered free tests to male Kennedys attending the conference.