Monday, January 18, 2010

Ancestor Network and EthnoAncestry Launch DNA Testing and Analysis Service

One challenge conducting Irish genealogy research is the loss of records such as census returns prior to 1901, a significant proportion of church parish records and wills. The number of extant records from the eighteenth century and further back is significantly lower in Ireland compared to countries like England, Scotland and the United States. However, because of advances in DNA research, there are scientific methods which can help people of the Irish Diaspora trace their ancestral origins through DNA testing.

RTE’s programme “Blood of the Irish” showed that some of the first people to arrive in Ireland originated from the Basque region in Northern Spain. Following the programme, many people would like to trace their ancestral roots through DNA testing.

Ancestor Network has introduced a service to assist people in Irish genetic genealogy.
Ancestor Network has teamed up with EthnoAncestry which carried out the DNA research testing in RTE’s “Blood of the Irish.” EthnoAncestry, founded by Dr. James F. Wilson, leading authority on European genetic history, is an innovative company dedicated to developing genetic markers and tests to help you in your deep and recent ancestry research.


"This is a service set up by one of the pioneers of genetic genealogy. This is a strong foundation in scientific excellence." Professor Dan Bradley, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

"Thanks for the YSTR27 data! Have found huge number of 100% YSTR27 matches with Moore's Irish Gaelic dataset - thanks to the link on your R1b info page. This is beginning to settle an argument about the ancestry of the paternal side of the family." John Griffen, EthnoAncestry customer

What tests do you offer?
We offer tests of paternal and maternal genetic ancestry. Some products are tailored to finding out about your deep ancestry, thousands of years ago, others to help understand your genealogy, for instance by checking if two people with the same surname are a ‘genetic match’.

Types of DNA Testing

The two types of tests that were used for the research side of "Blood of the Irish."
1) Haploview: This test looks at 27 microsatellite markers on the Y chromosome to identify which historical lineage the paternal ancestor belonged to. We are able to identify more distinct lineages than any other company. Although we identify types from around the world, we have a particular focus on British and Irish ancestry.

For customers interested in the Haploview tests, we are able to identify several distinct Irish Y chromosome types, including one that is particularly common in Ulster and Donegal (see Niall of the Nine Hostages further below); two others which find their frequency maximum in Munster, around the mouth the Shannon; and a fourth, which is more common in Leinster.

The Y-DNA, male line, your father’s father’s father’s father’s line, etc. This is also called the surname line. If you are female, you have to submit a cheek swab from your brother, father, paternal grandfather, father’s brother or other male who shares your genealogy in that line.

2) mtDNA: This test looks at the HVS1 region in combination with mtDNA coding region markers to identify which historical lineage the maternal ancestors belonged to.
The mtDNA, mitochondrial line, your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s line, etc. Both males and females carry this DNA information, so either can be tested for it, but only females pass it on to their children.

Niall of the Nine Hostages
Recent genetic studies at Trinity College Dublin have discovered the genetic signature of the most important dynasty of early medieval Ireland, the Ui Niell, literally translated as the descendants of Niall, a fifth century warlord whose descendants claimed the high kingship of Ireland. We provide this test using the same genetic markers as used in the landmark study by Moore et al. The test determines your genetic relationship to the Ui Niell signature.
After submitting your saliva sample we will extract your DNA and test 27 markers on your Y chromosome. We will then compare your results to our company's extensive database and infer your haplogroup. This will not only allow us to recognise if you carry Niall of the Nine Hostages' type, but also allow classification into a number of other Y chromosome types, each with a distinctive history. You will receive a certificate in pdf format summarising your results.

Privacy Ensured
Your personal information and results will be kept completely confidential and never shared with outside parties.

How can you order and what will the results look like?
Once you submit your online order to, we will confirm to you by email that your order has been received. Our email address is EthnoAncestry will in turn send you a confirmation email; post out a DNA kit directly to you. This normally takes 2-3 working days for UK customers, 3-10 working days for EU customers and up to 15 working days for customers outside Europe. You will receive an email notifying you that your kit has been shipped. You will then return this kit to our lab in London via the postal system. You will be notified via email when your sample arrives safely in London. Note the customer is responsible for ordering the correct test. EthnoAncestry will guide customers in selecting the most suitable test but are not responsible for incorrectly placed orders. You will receive a pdf certificate of your results by email which is an attractive certificate illustration with description.

Your electronic pdf certificates for Haploview and mtDNA tests are emailed to you, which contain both your individual marker results as well as a map showing where your type is found in the world, with some interpretation of your genetic history. Y-SNP and mtDNA subgroup as well as custom SNP test customers will receive a PDF detailing their individual marker results.

Additional Information
Technical details on your Haplogroup subgroup tests
The Haplogroup subgroup tests use either direct sequencing of known SNP locations or a technique known as TaqMan in which different genetic types are tagged with different coloured dyes for detection. We use a "tree approach" to testing for some haplogroups. For example not every possible SNP in Haplogroup J is tested. As each person can only be in one group, it is possible to chose which SNPs to test following the Y chromosome tree on the basis of the previous round of results.

How to supply a DNA sample
The DNA extraction kit shipped to you contains a small vial of a harmless preservative solution. All you need to do is rinse your mouth out thoroughly with water (to remove any food particles) then provide a saliva sample to the tube. The preservative solution will keep your saliva sample in good condition until it reaches our lab in London. The DNA provided by this process is of the very highest quality and ensures fast and reliable results for whatever testing you decide to have undertaken.

Turnaround time on your tests
Lab-based tests take a varying amount of time depending on the exact test ordered and the number of orders at the lab. Eight-twelve week turnaround times (from receipt of your sample at the lab) are the norm but testing can sometimes take longer.

The procedure from receipt of your DNA samples is as follows:
a) DNA extraction - this is where we purify and store your DNA,
b) DNA sequence reactions - this is where we prepare reactions to sequence and/or analyse your DNA,
c) DNA sequence analysis - this is where we run the result of your sequence reaction on machines that provide us with information on your DNA,
d) Interpretation and returning of results - this is where we interpret your DNA sequence information and return your result as an official certificate. Note that low throughput testing such as particular custom select SNPs are more prone to delays as they require more 'hands on' time in the lab.

Interpretation of results
Our Haploview and mtDNA test results include interpretation; however the more advanced tests (Y-SNPs and mtDNA subgroup tests) do not, in common with the majority of other companies.

Can results be used to determine medical conditions?
EthnoAncestry does not test any DNA marker that is associated with any known medical condition.

To order a Haploview test the cost is €200. The mtDNA test costs €140.

About Ancestor Network Limited

Ancestor Network Limited was established to provide Irish family history research and to promote knowledge and learning about genealogy and heraldry in Ireland. John Hamrock, the founder of Ancestor Network Limited, is a member of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy.

"The mission of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy is to advocate for and educate about the use of genetics as a tool for genealogical research, and promote a supportive network for genetic genealogists."

Friday, January 1, 2010

Riddle of 200-year-old Irish grave in New York

Riddle of 200-year-old Irish grave in New York
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Source: The Belfast Telegraph

Workers uncovered a young Irishman's grave in New York's Greenwich Village more than 200 years after he died.
Now authorities are determined to solve the mystery of the life and death of the Co Kildare man.
New York City Dept of Parks and Recreation workers expected to find unidentified bones when they dug below the city's Washington Square Park -- more than 20,000 people are believed to be buried in the former graveyard. But they discovered the 210-year-old 3ft-high sandstone gravestone of a Co Kildare man who died in 1799.
Its writing, still clear, read: "Here lies the body of James Jackson, who departed this life the 22nd day of September, 1799 aged 28 years, native of the county of Kildare, Ireland."
Workers have several times found skeletons during the restoration of the park, but Jackson's stone was the first burial marker.
"It's very unusual," John H Geismar, the archaeological consultant who made the discovery, said. "In fact, I'm stunned."
The New York Historical society has identified one James Jackson of 19 East George Street, who was listed in the city death records on September 23, 1799, Ms Geismar said. His occupation is listed as a watchman, though a city directory at the time listed him as a grocer.
Diana de Zerega Wall, an archaeology professor at the City University of New York, said that at the time Jackson was buried, the city was wrestling with a series of yellow fever outbreaks and he may have died from the illness.
Victims were buried there away from the then centre of town, as a safety measure.
After the discovery, workers dug seven feet below the gravestone but found no body. It is thought it may have been moved when the area was developed into parade grounds.
Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said that even in the absence of a body, the city hopes to learn more about the young Irish immigrant.