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ISOGG Ireland

From ISOGG Wiki

This wiki page details some of the resources that are available for the advancement of genetic genealogy in Ireland. Irish DNA research has global implications, largely due to the Diaspora Irish population, which is 80-million-strong. In addition, Ireland has the oldest inherited surnames in Europe and Y-DNA research has the potential to connect with the ancient genealogies and other texts, advancing our understanding of Gaelic clan society. DNA holds a particular importance for Irish family history research due to the destruction of records in the Public Records Office in 1922 and the paucity of genealogical sources prior to 1800.

Irish DNA Projects

The Ireland yDNA Project is a Y-DNA Geographical Project which is also an umbrella project for Irish Surnames.

There are over 9000 surname DNA projects listed on the Family Tree DNA website and many of these surnames are Irish in origin. Surname projects of possible Irish relevance are listed here.

Collecting Y-DNA from a specific area can help define the major genetic signatures in that area, potentially linking them to ancient genealogies and Irish "clans" or septs. It also helps paint a picture of historic migrations into the area. A list of geographical DNA projects relevant to Ireland can be found here. There is a large degree of overlap between these geographical DNA projects and Y-DNA Haplogroup projects, but the two project types are complementary.

It is recommended that Y-DNA testees join their male-line surname project, all relevant Y-DNA Haplogroup projects and all relevant Y-DNA Geographical projects. Note that projects exist at FamilyTreeDNA only.

Irish Autosomal DNA Projects

Some geographic projects have specifically built a database of autosomal DNA (e.g. FTDNA's Family Finder test) and coupled it with a genealogical database of family trees from the area. This is an extremely powerful tool and can help reconnect people who have ancestry from that specific area. This works particularly well at reconnecting Diaspora Irish with Local Irish (i.e. the descendants of emigrants with the descendants of those who stayed behind) but also helps clarify the family links between local people. These projects are usually hosted on FamilyTreeDNA which has the advantage that it accepts autosomal DNA uploads from Ancestry, 23andMe and MyHeritage, thus allowing customers from these companies to take part in the projects.

Below is a list of Autosomal DNA Projects and the areas they cover (starting at the top of the island and moving anti-clockwise).

AtDNA Projects in Ireland v1.png
Map generated from template at, CC BY-ND 4.0

In addition, there are various DNA groups on Facebook that encourage crowd-sharing of Gedmatch kit numbers and family tree information. These include:

A list of Irish Facebook groups (many of which may accept Gedmatch numbers) can be found here.

DNA Project Administrators

Several of the Project Administrators involved in Irish DNA Projects are based in Ireland or the UK and a list of them can be found below, together with the projects they administer (or co-administer). Several of these Project Administrators are available to give presentations on DNA at National & International events (check the links for contact details):

DNA Special Interest Groups

  1. Family Finder Interest Group ... run by North of Ireland Family History Society on the fourth Saturday of each month. Contact: Martin McDowell

Genetic Genealogy Ireland

Every year since 2013, a series of DNA Lectures has been incorporated into Ireland's national genealogy exhibition, Back to Our Past at the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) in Dublin. This usually runs over 3 days on the third weekend of October each year. The presentations include a variety of topics relating to Irish genetic genealogy and are aimed at the general public as well as more advanced genetic genealogists. Speakers are both national and international, and include academics as well as citizen scientists. Most of the lectures have been recorded and are available free of charge on a dedicated YouTube channel. The schedule of lectures is usually announced several months in advance on the Genetic Genealogy Ireland website. The schedules for previous years can be found here - 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

In 2018, a Back to Our Past event was held in the Titanic Centre in Belfast for the first time. This was accompanied by Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2018 Belfast - 2 days of DNA lectures related to genealogy. The schedule for GGI2018 Belfast can be seen here.

Blogs of relevance to Irish Genetic Genealogy

  1. DNA and Family Tree Research (Maurice Gleeson)
  2. Cork Genealogist - Genetic Genealogy Interests (Margaret Jordan)
  3. Cruwys News (Debbie Kennett)

Genealogy Shows and Gatherings

Throughout the year, there are a variety of events of interest to anyone doing Irish family tree research. At many of these events you will find some of the DNA Project Administrators who make up Ireland's advance guard of genetic genealogists. Below is a summary of recent and upcoming Conferences, Meetings, Shows, Exhibitions, Gatherings & Rallies. Any events with a "DNA presence" are marked with an asterisk* beside the date.

If you know of any events that are not on the list, please leave a comment here with details and a weblink so that the list can be updated accordingly.

Conferences & Meetings, Shows & Exhibitions

  1. 2017 Mar 2, 7, 14 ... London: the Irish in London lecture series
  2. 2017 Mar 4-5 … Cork: Over 50’s show
  3. 2017 Mar 11 ... Manchester: National Irish Studies Conference
  4. 2017 Apr 22 ... Dublin: IGRS AGM & Spring Lecture
  5. 2017 May 6 ... London: IGRS AGM & Open Day
  6. 2017 May 7 … Killarney: Over 50’s show
  7. 2017 May 15-19* … Nenagh: Clans & Surnames
  8. 2017 May 20 ... Dublin: IGRS Genealogy Open Day
  9. 2017 Jun 14-21 ... Belfast (+ tours): Tracing your Irish Ancestors (Ulster Historical Foundation)
  10. 2017 Jun 28-29 … Athlone: Over 50’s show
  11. 2017 July ?* … Belfast: Over 50’s show
  12. 2017 Sep 1-2* … Adare, Limerick: The Genealogy Event
  13. 2017 Sep 2* … Ballymena: NIFHS Family Fair & DNA Event
  14. 2017 Sep 5-6 … Galway: Over 50’s show
  15. 2017 Sep 6-13 ... Belfast (+ tours): Tracing your Irish Ancestors (Ulster Historical Foundation)
  16. 2017 Sep 25-29 … Portrush, Antrim: Return to the Causeway ~ Family History & Genealogy Conference (NIFHS)
  17. 2017 Sep 29 - Oct 14 ... Dublin Festival of History
  18. 2017 Oct 20-22* … Dublin, Over 50’s show (i.e. Back To Our Past and Genetic Genealogy Ireland)
  19. 2017 Dec 2-3 … Costa Del Sol: Over 50’s show
  1. 2018 Feb 16-17* … Belfast, Back To Our Past and Genetic Genealogy Ireland
  2. 2018 Mar 24 … Cork, Cork Genealogical Society annual conference
  3. 2018 May 5* … Mountbellew, Co. Galway: Galway Genetic Genealogy Conference
  4. 2018 Sep 5-12 ... Belfast (+ tours): Tracing your Irish Ancestors (Ulster Historical Foundation)
  5. 2018 Oct 19-21* … Dublin, Back To Our Past and Genetic Genealogy Ireland
  6. 2018 Nov 5-9 ... Belfast (+ tours): Irish Genealogy Essentials (Ulster Historical Foundation)
  1. 2019 Feb 4-8 ... Belfast (+ tours): Irish Genealogy Essentials (Ulster Historical Foundation)
  2. 2019 Oct 7-11 ... Belfast (+ tours): Irish Genealogy Essentials (Ulster Historical Foundation)
  • there will be a DNA presence at this event.

Family Gatherings & Clan Rallies

  1. 2017 April 20-23* ... Ennis: Curtin Clan Gathering
  2. 2017 May 19-21* ... Spanish Point: Kelly Clan Gathering
  3. 2017 May 20* ... County Clare: Crotty/Griffin Gathering
  4. 2017 May 26-28* ... Dunmanway: "Homecoming of the Daniel MacCarthy Glas Archive"
  5. 2017 Jun 16-18 ... Courtmacsherry, Cork: O Mahony Gathering
  6. 2017 Jun 23-25* ... Galway: O'Malley Clan Rally
  7. 2017 Jun 26 ... Dungarvan: McGrath Clan Gathering
  8. 2017 Aug 18-19 ... Abbeyknockmoy, Galway: Mannion Clan Gathering
  9. 2017 Aug 25-27* ... Tullamore: O'Molloy Clan Gathering
  10. 2017 Sep 8-10 ... Inchigeelagh, Cork: O'Leary Clan Gathering
  11. 2017 Oct 9-17 ... Madrid & Malaga: O'Donnell Clan Gathering
  1. 2018 May 11* ... Ennis, Co. Clare: O'Dea Clan gathering
  2. 2018 May 18-20* ... Gort, Co. Galway: O'Shaughnessy Gathering
  3. 2018 June 3rd* ... Dunmore, Co. Galway: Donnellan Gathering
  4. 2018 July 16-20* ... Longford: Farrell Clan Gathering
  5. 2018 July 27-29* ... Letterkenny, Co. Donegal: McGinley Diaspora Reunion
  • there will be a DNA presence at this event.

List of Genealogical Organisations in Ireland (including Family History Societies)

Local Family History Societies

These are voluntary organisations consisting of groups of people with an interest in family history research. Some require an annual subscription, others are free. Most hold regular meetings throughout the year and frequently host lectures on topics of interest to the society.

  1. Cork Genealogical Society
  2. Clare Roots Society
  3. Blessington Family History Society
  4. East Clare Heritage
  5. Raheny Heritage Society
  6. Wicklow Genealogical Society
  7. Western Family History Association
  8. NIFHS (North of Ireland Family History Society) & its branches - Ballymena - Belfast - Causeway (Coleraine) - Foyle - Killyleagh - Larne - Lisburn - Newtownabbey - North Armagh - Tyrone (Omagh)

Regional & National Family History Societies

These organisations have a more regional or national reach than the local family history societies. An annual subscription is usually required. Regular meetings and an annual publication is available from most of these organisations.

  1. IFHS (Irish Family History Society)
  2. NIFHS (North of Ireland Family History Society)
  3. CIGO (Council of Irish Genealogical Organisations)
  4. IGRS (Irish Genealogical Research Society)
  5. GSI (Genealogical Society of Ireland)
  6. FFHS (Federation of Family History Societies)
  7. Local History Societies in Ireland
  8. Ireland Reaching Out
  9. Accredited Genealogists of Ireland

Commercial Organisations

These are organisations that provide professional genealogical services to paying customers.

  1. Irish Ancestry Research Centre
  2. Irish Family History Centre
  3. Eneclann
  5. (includes access to the County Genealogical Centres for professional genealogical help)

Specialist Groups

  1. Huguenot Society
  2. Irish Palatine Association
  3. Guild of One-Name Studies (GOONS)

List of Irish Clan Associations & Surname Societies (with their associated DNA Projects)

  1. Ireland -
  2. Scotland -

Academic research projects relevant to Irish genetic genealogy

  1. Irish DNA Atlas Project
  2. LivingDNA Ireland project
  3. Molecular Population Genetics Lab, Trinity College Dublin (run by Prof Dan Bradley)
  4. Ancient DNA Laboratory, University College Dublin (run by Prof Ron Pinhasi)

Commentary on the Adoption (Information & Tracing) Bill 2016

Several ISOGG-Ireland members submitted a commentary on the proposed Adoption Bill in June 2017. This Bill is due to be passed into Irish law sometime in 2018. The views expressed are the personal views of the authors and not necessarily those of ISOGG. You can view the Commentary here ...


Help for Irish Adoptees wanting to use DNA

A general introduction to using DNA to help you find your birth family can be found on the Genetic Genealogy Ireland website here. See also the ISOGG wiki page on DNA testing for adoptees. The process involves taking a DNA test, uploading the results to several different databases, building family trees for your closest matches, and finally making contact with close genetic cousins who will lead you to your birth family. The average amount of time from start to finish is anywhere from several weeks to 2 years (on average).

So, if you are an adoptee, and your birth parents were Irish, and you would like to explore the DNA route to tracing your birth family, there are several option open to you:

1) Firstly, discuss the DNA option with the Adoption Agency dealing with your case. Even if you go down the DNA route, the Adoption Agency can be very helpful tracing living persons (based on clues from the DNA) and helping you make initial contact with your birth family once you have identified them.

2) There are lots of free resources available for adoptees, whether you want to do everything yourself or if you want someone to do most of the work for you. These include the following:

3) Some genetic genealogists based in Ireland offer help and assistance with the DNA and genealogical aspects of the process. Some do pro bono work and some charge for the service. Below is a list of people you may wish to contact. Click on their name for their email address:

The Objectives of ISOGG Ireland

The broad aims of ISOGG in Ireland reflect those of ISOGG in general and include the following:

Promoting genetic genealogy by ...

  • educating the public about the benefits of DNA testing
  • increasing the level of interest among the Irish public
  • managing people's expectations about what DNA can and cannot do

Promoting Irish genetic genealogy in particular by ...

  • encouraging / advancing genetic genealogy research relevant to Ireland
  • engaging academics in the work we do (e.g. via the DNA Lectures at Genetic Genealogy Ireland & Who Do You Think You Are? Live)
  • lobbying organisations to take an interest (including government)
  • raising the level of expertise among Newbie genetic genealogists from beginner through intermediate to advanced … and creating a new generation of genetic genealogists actively promoting the interests of ISOGG in Ireland

Supporting our community of genetic genealogists by ...

  • sharing knowledge & information
  • providing advice & support
  • getting more people into DNA projects
  • raising the level of expertise within the community

ISOGG Ireland representatives

Gerard Corcoran, Country Representative

Maurice Gleeson, Education Ambassador

  • Maurice's profile can be viewed here.

See also