Global Limerick DNA Project
Limerick families and their genetic journeys across the globe
Following on from the very successful ‘Gathering’ event, when the world’s Irish diaspora assembled in Ireland to celebrate their Irish ancestry, Global Limerick, IARC (Irish Ancestry Research Centre) and Limerick Museum have joined forces to create a new project run by Dr. Cathy Swift, Mary Immaculate College.
Entitled Global Limerick DNA, the aim of this project is to bring together the historical and genealogical research already collated by the many Limerick experts in these areas, and to examine them in the context of the latest discoveries in Y-chromosome DNA. The objective is to research the genetic history of Limerick families and communities both here and abroad.
According to Dr. Cathy Swift, MIC, our ancestry is written in our DNA as well as in our landscape, our histories and most importantly, in our family surnames. Many people do not know that the Whites and Brownes possess two of the oldest surnames in Ireland; that O’Connells were leaders in west Limerick before the Vikings founded the city; or that Sextons and Arthurs claim to be related to Brian Boru. Or that, if Irish culture wasn’t founded by wandering adventurers travelling to seek their fortune, Minister Jimmy Deenihan might have had a playing career east of the Deel! Traditionally, Irish historians have examined claims such as these, but could not definitively agree or disagree. The latest techniques in DNA analysis, according to Dr. Swift, provide an opportunity to investigate family ancestries in detail. These techniques enable us to discover information not only about those relatives who share a common surname, but also the lost stories of relatives whose surnames have fallen off the family tree; people forced to emigrate because of the Famine or through economic necessity and whose ties with Ireland were broken.
Many such people are now, in the twenty-first century, seeking to re-claim that ancestry, but for some the oral histories have been lost and the relevant documentary records do not exist. DNA tests can be taken but without access to the DNA profile of Limerick people and Limerick communities, past and present, those tests may not yield the desired result.
As part of Heritage Week 2015, a public talk will take place in Mary Immaculate College on Thursday 27th August at 7.30 p.m. in Room T-1-16 (Tara Building) entitled The Global Limerick DNA Project, delivered by Dr. Cathy Swift. Join Minister for the Irish Diaspora, Minister Jimmy Deenihan T.D., and others as they learn how to research the genetic and historical ancestry of their family surname while exploring the adventures of Limerick people across the globe. This event is free and all are welcome.
Further information on Limerick Heritage Week available here.