The First Genetic Map of Ireland has been Revealed

Scientists have unveiled a detailed genetic map of Ireland that goes back to ancient times. The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The scientists involved in the study used four data sets of individuals with European ancestry: The Irish DNA Atlas, the Trinity Student Study dataset, the Peoples of the British Isles dataset, and the WTCC2 Multiple Sclerosis dataset.

The Irish DNA Atlas is a dataset of individuals with four generations ancestry within Ireland, where great-grandparents are usually born within 50km of each other. Informed consent was obtained from all Irish DNA Atlas individuals, and the data collection and analysis of these individuals was carried out in accordance with the relevant guidelines and regulations approved by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Research Committee.

The analysis, once compared with samples from Britain and Europe, showed up to ten clusters. Seven of the clusters are linked to ancient Irish kingdoms, and three of the clusters showed shared British-Irish ancestry.

The clusters with shared British-Irish ancestry were mostly found in the North of Ireland. These clusters have high levels of “northwest French-like” (probably Celtic) and “west Norwegian-like” (probably Viking) ancestry within Ireland. The results showed that the Vikings had a greater impact on the Irish gene pool than previously supposed.

A co-author of the study, Dr. Gianpiero Cavalleri, from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, BBC News that the differences between the different Irish groups were “really subtle.” He said that scientists are picking up on those subtle differences now because the data sets are getting really big, and also because “really clever analytical approaches to pick out these very slight differences that generate the clusters.”

The study highlights more recent population-shaping events in Irish history. The locations of the ten clusters identified in the Irish population seemed to reflect either the borders or the four Irish provinces – Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connact – or historical kingdoms.

Another purpose of the study was to add to the knowledge base required to improve the diagnosis of diseases where genes play a strong role, particularly for people who have Irish ancestry. Those diseases include: cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, and multiple sclerosis.

The results of the study can be used by historians and students of medieval Ireland, who will now have new avenues for research. It can be helpful for those who are researching the Irish medieval genealogies and the history of Irish clans/septs.

Related Articles at

* A Translation of Ireland’s County Names

* The Genetics that Influence Red Hair

* Censuses for Ireland 1901 and 1911

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