Every Irish person has more than 14,000 living relatives, research finds

Genomics database reveals people in Ulster have more cousins than those in Connacht

The research was carried out by tracking the average number of genetic eighth cousins or closer an Irish person has based on shared ancestors born in the last 200 years. File photograph: Getty Images

The research was carried out by tracking the average number of genetic eighth cousins or closer an Irish person has based on shared ancestors born in the last 200 years. File photograph: Getty Images

 

The average Irish adult has more than 14,000 living cousins scattered around the world, according to data released to mark World DNA Day.

An adult living in Ireland today can expect to have a total of 14,435 relatives globally based on anonymised testing carried out by the Ancestry genealogy company.

Ancestry is one of a number of commercial genealogy organisations that has cropped up in recent years offering people the chance to discover their family’s heritage through a small DNA saliva test.

The research was carried out by tracking the average number of genetic eighth cousins or closer an Irish person has based on shared ancestors born in the last 200 years.

The company also offers subscribers the chance to link up with potential first, second, third, fourth etc cousins from different regions around the world based on matches in the Ancestry DNA database.

People from Ulster could have up to 17,558 relations globally while people in Connacht were found to have 13,504 relatives, scientists found. File photograph: Getty Images
People from Ulster could have up to 17,558 relations globally while people in Connacht were found to have 13,504 relatives, scientists found. File photograph: Getty Images

The genealogy company’s research is carried out by expert geneticist, statisticians, data scientist, engineers and molecular biologists, according to the Ancestry website.

Irish study

In its latest Irish study, which was carried out using the DNA of 5,300 people who had provided samples to the Ancestry database, scientists found people from Ulster had a significantly higher number of relatives internationally compared to people from Connacht.

People from Ulster could have up to 17,558 relations globally while people in Connacht were found to have 13,504 relatives, scientists found.

Munster folk were found to have 14,150 cousins around the world, while people from Leinster have an average of 13,706 relatives.

Scientists also found that 99 per cent of these cousins remain unknown to Irish people.

The research was carried out by tracking the average number of genetic eighth cousins or closer an Irish person has based on shared ancestors born in the last 200 years.

A robotic genomic testing machine that extracts DNA from customer samples. “We’ve come a long way since the double helix was discovered in 1953 and the fact that we’re now able to use that pioneering science in our own homes to enrich our lives and make new connections with relatives we never knew existed is remarkable.” File photograph: Jason Henry/The New York Times
A robotic genomic testing machine that extracts DNA from customer samples. “We’ve come a long way since the double helix was discovered in 1953 and the fact that we’re now able to use that pioneering science in our own homes to enrich our lives and make new connections with relatives we never knew existed is remarkable.” File photograph: Jason Henry/The New York Times

The release of the Irish genealogical data marks World DNA, which is held annually on April 25th to commemorate the “scientific discovery and the key milestones that forever changed our understanding of the code that makes us who we are,” said Ancestry’s Russell James.

Pioneering science

“We’ve come a long way since the double helix was discovered in 1953 and the fact that we’re now able to use that pioneering science in our own homes to enrich our lives and make new connections with relatives we never knew existed is remarkable.”

Mr James encouraged Irish people to contact some of these newly discovered distant cousins. “It might be that striking up a relationship with even a few cousins could end up being a life-changing experience - and it all starts with your DNA.”