Running successful atDNA projects in Ireland

Panel discussion: Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2018

2:30 p.m. Saturday 20 October 2018

Dodder Suite 5A, Main and Industries Halls, Royal Dublin Society

by Paddy Waldron

WWW version:

YouTube versions:


This is my attempt to answer Maurice Gleeson's 24-part questionnaire to panel members in the allotted 8 minutes!

My FamilyTreeDNA projects

My first public project was the Clare Roots project:

I am now administrator or co-administrator of the following public projects (member counts as of 17 October 2018):

[There are inconsistencies in the count of FF kits on the Order Summary page and the Project Statistics page (above). The latter appears not to count any autosomal transfer kits. The former appears not to count Y-DNA or mtDNA kits which subsequently add an autosomal transfer. It is unclear whether each page is counting orders submitted or results received.]
I welcome members with Y-DNA, mitochondrial DNA and/or autosomal DNA results to all of these projects, provided that they qualify for membership on either geography or surname grounds as appropriate.

My standard e-mail invitation, sent, for example, to people who contact me because they match a kit I manage:
I am co-administrator of the FamilyTreeDNA Clare Roots project which you can join by going to, logging in to your FamilyTreeDNA kit if necessary and following the prompts.
If you want to see how many of your Family Finder matches are in this project (or any project that you have joined), then just go to the Advanced Matches page at, login if necessary and tick the Family Finder checkbox and select the project in the "Show Matches For" dropdown.
In order to achieve the full benefits of project membership, you must take action to give the project administrators "Limited" or "Advanced" access to your kit. This can be done when you join or can be done later at For each project that you have joined, click the orange Edit button and if necessary select "Advanced" or "Limited" in place of "Minimum" from the relevant dropdowns, then click Accept and then click Confirm. If you belong to more than 10 projects, then they will be split across multiple pages.
The "About" page outlines both benefits of membership and responsibilities of membership.

The Clare Roots project probably has an emphasis on the old Kilrush Poor Law Union because of my involvement in the Kilrush & District Historical Society and my recruitment and swabbing campaign is also largely in that area (318 FTDNA kits processed).

The Clare Roots project has outgrown the 1000 individuals shown on the (private, unhyperlinkable) member information web page and the 500 lines available on the (public, hyperlinkable) Y-DNA results page.

A county is probably too big an area for an effective DNA project or genealogy database; the Poor Law Union, more recently known as Superintendent Registrar's District, is a more appropriate size; the wide diaspora of a single parish alone or even of a single townland could constitute a very useful and interesting project.

The public DNA results pages make no reference to autosomal DNA, and the Y-DNA Colorized Chart is the only one that I use.

Project members are encouraged to copy their Family Finder results to GEDmatch.

Those of us involved in geographically-based or surname-based genealogical projects have come up with informal ad hoc ways of using the other DNA websites for such projects.

AncestryDNA projects

Marrinan descendants: only 33 members of the FTDNA project, but over 105 GEDmatch DNA kits, with over 30 more on Ancestry but not on FamilyTreeDNA or GEDmatch.

143 people have shared AncestryDNA match lists with one AncestryDNA account, effectively an autosomal project with no tools or sophistication: requires

GEDmatch projects

I manage 46 GEDmatch kits.

GEDmatch tag groups are its nearest equivalent to projects.

Shared tag groups not yet implemented.

No facility to reorder members of saved tag groups, e.g. by family branch or by location.

Marrinan results are displayed using GEDmatch tag groups, broken down geographically - see printout.

Offline projects

My personal genealogy database:
I also keep a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet listing whichever of the following details I can find for autosomal DNA kits of interest, to enable quick switching back and forth between DNA and genealogy databases:

Useful tools

The most useful autosomal tool provided to FTDNA project administrators for private research is the Family Finder Illumina OmniExpress Matrix, the equivalent of GEDmatch's Autosomal DNA comparison matrix.

My favourite GEDmatch tool is the Tier 1 matching segment search.

Communication with project members

Major challenges

Unanticipated consequences of GDPR: It can be hard to persuade project members and others to:

My major successes

The future

Cuimhneamh an ChlŠir (Memories of Clare) slogan: 'When an old man dies, a library burns'.

We owe it to our descendants:
Those running DNA databases owe it to their stakeholders (and those participating in the databases owe it to fellow participants) to provide the best possible service, information and tools, as in the following wish list:

Wish list (cf. Challenges above)


Thanks to Cindy Wood of the Marrinan project for many of the thoughts and suggestions above.