Saturday, March 16, 2024

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Are You a Descendant of Irish Ancestors?

I knew Randy Seaver would be asking about Irish ancestry on this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, because tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day.

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision.

1.  This Sunday is St. Patrick's Day.  Are you a descendant of Irish ancestors?  Who are your most recent ancestor(s) who were born in Ireland?  Do you have DNA Irish ethnicity?  Have you performed any Irish genealogy research?

2.  Tell us about your Irish ancestry, ethnicity, and research in a comment on this post or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own post.

Well, this is one of those topics that has been discussed in my family for a while.  You see, my mother insisted we had Irish ancestry — on her side of the family.  Which was Jewish.  There are indeed Irish Jews, and I have even visited the Irish Jewish Museum in Dublin, but my mother didn't have a drop of Irish blood in her.  I guess she just really wanted to be Irish, because don't we all.

When I received the results of my AncestryDNA test, they said that I was 12.5% Irish, which would be about the amount expected if I had one great-grandparent who was Irish.  But I knew about my ancestry and pooh-poohed the mere idea.  I was 50% Jewish, 25% English, and 25% German.  What did those silly people at Ancestry know?

Let's keep in mind, of course, that the ethnicity estimates are the most useless part of the DNA results.  They're not based on statistically significant numbers, and they are primarily based on self-reported information.  Judy Russell calls the ethnicity information "cocktail party conversation"; I call it smoke and mirrors.

But I had begun to suspect that my paternal grandfather's biological father was not, in fact, Mr. Sellers, which is where that German ancestry came from.  I have researched that line and taken it back to 1615 in Weinheim, Baden.  Before that some of the ancestors were probably Swiss.  But definitely not Irish.

I was fortunate in that my grandfather had a brother, who had sons, who had sons.  My father had taken a Y-DNA test, so I tracked down one of my male cousins descended from my grandfather's brother and paid for his Y-DNA test.

And the results were clear:  My grandfather and his brother did not descend from the same man.  The two Y-DNA results were worlds apart.  My cousin descends from the family from Weinheim, Baden.  My father and me, not so much.

Coincidentally, I had bumped up my father's Y-DNA to the maximum number of markers available at the consumer level.  And who did he match at that level?  Two guys named Mundy, who apparently are Irish.

So do I have to admit that Ancestry might have been right?

I'm still working on trying to figure out who Grampa's biological father was.  But I might have Irish ancestry after all.

Now, separately from that, I have done a bunch of Irish research.  My ex is half Irish, and I did a ton of research on his family.  His best friend is also half Irish, and I've worked on his family history (mostly because my ex thought the two of them might be related, but they're not).  My half-sister's mother was all Irish, all day long (although I think it's going to turn out that she was at least partly Welsh, and that they came to Ireland as mercenaries, but I'm still working on that also).  A friend whose genealogy I still work on is one quarter Irish.  So I know a fair amount about researching Irish ancestry.

Maybe one day I'll research my own.


  1. You better get to that research. We're not getting any younger.

  2. I would have been surprised, with your 12.5% estimate, if you didn't find Irish ancestry somewhere in your family tree. That's a pretty high amount to be bogus, but like you said, ethnicity estimates can fly all over the place.

    1. I have to admit, I was really surprised when I got those results, because it is a fairly high percentage. Ever since learning that my grandfather was informally adopted by his father, I have suspected the biological father as the source of the Irish ancestry. I'm still looking for him!


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