Reading Anna Swayne’s blog post, Luck of The Irish: How Irish Are You?, I was reminded of the friendly sibling rivalry between my sisters and I shared when it came to who was more Irish. I can confirm Anna’s find that proximity to being born near St. Patrick’s Day does not factor in when it comes to how much Irish DNA was inherited.
While my birthday is only five days after St. Patty’s Day, my sister Diana’s Irish DNA came in at an estimated 40% versus my 23%. I’m way ahead of her in Eastern European though!
(If you want to learn more about why we don’t match up in our results, read Understanding Patterns of Inheritance: Where Did My DNA Come From? And Why It Matters.)
While it’s fun to compare the results of the DNA tests, and the various ethnicities that show up in our estimates, it’s also interesting to compare who we match and don’t match. When I look at the matches of my mother and sisters and compare them to my own, I can get new insights because we all inherited different segments of our parents’ DNA.
I haven’t had a ton of time to spend on researching the many DNA connections that I have, so I typically focus on the matches that are 4th generation or closer. But when I compared my connections to Diana’s, I found that one connection that shows up as a 5th cousin to me, actually shows up as a 3rd cousin to her. And when I look at my mom’s test, that match is a 2nd cousin to her. Time for a closer look!
Sure enough, when I look at this match’s tree, I see some familiar names. She has some dates that are a little different than what I have, so it was not showing as a shared relative in our trees, but the connection is pretty clear.
We connect through our Dennis line. The earliest immigrants in that family came over from Ireland in the 1820s and were milkmen in what was at the time, the village of Brooklyn, Kings County, New York.
On the other side of our shared connection are the Huggins. The Huggins were famine-era immigrants with a twist. The parents came over just before the famine, presumably to get established, while the children stayed in Ireland and would be sent for later.
I would imagine that Anne and William Huggins thought it would be safer to leave the children in Ireland when they made the trip to America in 1844, but they couldn’t have known that before they would be able to send for them, the potato famine would strike in Ireland. The children were ages 7, 9, and 11 when they set sail from Ireland after the famine, in January or February of 1849. Nearly 9% of the passengers on that ship did not survive the trip.
While it’s cool to think that we share DNA with this new-found cousin, it’s even cooler (in my opinion) that we share these stories. And who knows what stories she has to share with us.
Like St. Patrick’s Day, DNA testing brings people together to celebrate our shared connections—and the stories that those DNA segments have in common. Whether your DNA says you’re Irish or not, I hope you have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day!
What does your DNA say? Let the world know.
Need help pinning down your Irish origins? Check out this 5-Minute Find video.
About Juliana Smith
Juliana Szucs Smith has been working for Ancestry.com for more than 16 years. She began her family history journey trolling through microfilms with her mother at the age of 11. She has written many articles for online and print genealogical publications and wrote the "Computers and Technology" chapter of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Juliana holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists.