Special to The Irish Gazette:The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has published the first genetic map of Ireland as part of a research project. It was done by seeking out Irish people who have eight great-grandparents who lived within 50km of one another. They took the DNA of the 196 people who were selected, all with four generations of Irish ancestry and used that to create the genetic map. Now all the movements and interrelationships of groups of ancestors can now be traced through DNA it has been determined by the research group.
In a highly researched process they have identified ten genetic groupings, or clusters, that mirrored ancient Munster which is divided between northern and southern genetic clusters which also coincided with the boundaries of the rival medieval kingdoms of Dal Cais and the Eoganacht. Also there was found genetic signatures from Norse Vikings in the Munster, Leinster, Connacht and Ulster. It was also found that there is a correlation between the people in the northernmost parts of the island and genetic disorders like multiple sclerosis.
“The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland had teamed up with the Genealogical Society of Ireland”, explained Professor Gianpiero Cavaleri, the director of the research, he went on to explain:
“They helped us to reach the very specific cohort of people needed, that was people who could demonstrate that all eight of their great-grandparents had been born within 50 km of each other. That had allowed us to create a genetic map for the Irish population, with resolution similar to that that was drawn for England.
“While we are delighted by what the study has revealed we want to point out that this is a live study. By that I mean that the more people who participate the greater resolution we can achieve.” He also added,”In terms of the genetic diversity we do see it is very subtle.”
The team found 10 district clusters, or genetic groups, in Ireland overall. Seven of these were of Gaelic ancestry and three of them of shared Irish-British ancestry, with a large footprint from the 17th century Ulster Plantations. The Professor went on to explain, “broadly speaking, these groups mirror all the provinces, and what we found in Munster for example is that there’s not one member with Munster ancestry outside of the province. Now it might be just chance, but we don’t think so.”