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  • Writer's pictureSinead Mackintosh

St Patrick's Day Special!

St Patrick’s Day! A good excuse to wear green and go partying! I have always heard that more people say that they are Irish than there are actual Irish people, which is an interesting thought. I am actually (partly) Irish, my paternal grandmother (seen in the photo) was born in Cork, Ireland in 1920. So, I decided to do some research about the Irish genetic history and found some cool information.

A DNA study conducted on over 500 Irish people revealed an interesting “DNA atlas” that traces the history of their ancestry. The map dates back over 3000 years to the Bronze Age and covers things such as genetic disease prevalence and how certain gene pools are distributed. Genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis and celiac are more common in Irish people than other European populations. Researchers found four distinct gene pools that fall into the four ancient kingdoms: Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. There Ulster gene pool is very different to the rest and is most likely due to the 1600s Ulster Plantation settlements implemented by the English monarchy! They also discovered evidence Norse Vikings and Irish having had children together.

Understanding the genetic makeup of a population can help scientists work out why some diseases are more common in certain groups and how that disease evolved. This is also why it helps to know what ancestry you have, because recessive genetic diseases could be more common in your ancestral family tree and you are unaware. There are companies offering ancestral DNA testing, but it is important to remember that your DNA is very personal information, and you do not know what the companies may do with that information. Rather be safe and do some research and talk to a genetic counsellor.

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Mar 18, 2019

Great article thanks Sinead. Such a lovely pic too. Keep up the great work- we are all very proud of you

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