Reconstructing Limerick family histories using DNA

Irish Palatine Association Irish Palatine Weekend

8:00 p.m. Friday 28 September 2018

Rathkeale House Hotel

by Paddy Waldron

WWW version:

YouTube version:


***** NB: FamilyTreeDNA kits will be available after this talk for anyone interested via the DNA Outreach IRL project *****


The objectives of this talk are:

My Limerick Palatine connections

What can the Y chromosome tell us about surnames?

What can the rest of our DNA tell us?

male offspring female offspring
sperm Y chromosome X chromosome
22 paternal autosomes
egg X chromosome
22 maternal autosomes

Inheritance paths

Y chromosome
Only males have a Y chromosome.
The Y chromosome comes down the patrilineal line - from father, father's father, father's father's father, etc.
This is the same inheritance path as followed by surnames, grants of arms, peerages, etc.
X chromosome
Males have one X chromosome, females have two.
X DNA may come through any ancestral line that does not contain two consecutive males.
Blaine Bettinger's nice colour-coded blank fan-style pedigree charts show the ancestors from whom men and women can potentially inherit X-DNA.
Exactly 50% of autosomal DNA comes from the father and exactly 50% comes from the mother.
On average 25% comes from each grandparent, on average 12.5% comes from each greatgrandparent, and so on.
Due to random recombination, one might inherit, for example, 27% from the paternal grandfather and 23% from the paternal grandmother.
Siblings each inherit 50% of their parents' autosomal DNA, but not the same 50% (except for identical twins).
Similarly, siblings each inherit 50% of their mother's X DNA, but not the same 50% (except for identical twins).
Sisters each inherit 100% of their father's X DNA.
Everyone has mitochondrial DNA.
Mitochondrial DNA comes down the matrilineal line - from mother, mother's mother, mother's mother's mother, etc.
The surname typically changes with every generation in this line.

What can we learn?

The big DNA companies

Other competitors come and go:

The big two currently are:
Part of
Autosomal DNA only
Very limited analysis tools
Overcharges non-U.S. customers
Full access requires paying ongoing annual subscription
Internal messaging system
Reached 1 million samples in July 2015; 2 million samples in June 2016; 3 million samples in January 20174 million samples in April 2017; growing exponentially
Most people use pseudonyms or initials
My results
FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA)
Dedicated to genetic genealogy
Autosomal DNA (Family Finder) plus various Y-DNA and mtDNA products
Good analysis tools
Single worldwide price
One-off payment
No U.S. bias
Simple e-mail communications
997,537 records as of 28 September 2018
Most people use real names: but married women are recommended to use maiden surnames
Projects - e.g. Clare Roots or Palatine or surname projects (administators needed to start individual Palatine surname projects)
My results

What do you get for your money?

How DNA extended my known Limerick family tree by two generations

Conclusion: Why you should submit your DNA

Further reading