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Posted by on Jan 19, 2010

My DNA Journey: From National Geographic to Donegal

Last year roughly at this time, I participated in the The Genographic Project at the National Geographic. It was a project designed to “chart new knowledge about the migratory history of the human species by using sophisticated laboratory and computer analysis of DNA contributed by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world.”

It is a five year project and all participants (at least in certain developed nations with the economical means) were expected to purchase a kit to test their DNA. Basically, you swab the inside of your mouth, seal a tube, and mail it in. Easy as that.

The one I took was a male specific test. Results identify the ethnic and geographic origin of the paternal line. Not to bore you with science, but it included a balanced panel of twelve Y-chromosome Short Tandem Repeat, STR, markers. It is used to affirm or disprove a genealogical connection on the direct paternal line. When another person shows identical results within our database, you are contacted (if you opt in). Just in case, you thought I was smart, I took most of the last paragraph from the company that offers the test.

The screenshots above will show how my genetic markers made their way from Africa towards Spain and Ireland. In layman’s terms, awesome.

Granted, there were privacy concerns and the general consensus of Hollywood that all DNA testing leads to cloning (and eventual Gallagher zombies, perhaps?), but I soldiered on in the name of science. This was all a year ago.

This past year, I stumbled across a website dedicated to Gallaghers the world over and saw an entry for the Gallagher Geneaology Project and was intrigued if only to know that Gallaghers were capable of organizing anything. This way led on to way and I realized that the test I had submitted to National Geographic could perform double duty for the Gallagher Geneaology Project as well.

Long story short, I submitted my test to this project. It was accepted and put against the database of thousands of other Gallaghers who also submitted to the project. My results were further cross-checked against the entire database to see if I had exact matches outsie my family name. The results were fascinating as all 98 of the exact matches (12 point-not absolutely definitive, but close) did not share my family name.

Another set of 12 marker matches with a genetic distance of 1 (not as strong a match as the 98 mentioned before, but still quite strong) were produced and those were all Gallaghers. I have no idea what to make of any of this, but I am absoltuely hooked on geneaology now.

If interested, give a look at Family Tree DNA, the organization that provides the test, the database, and the research.

Below is a chart from the Gallagher Clan site showing the breakdown on Gallagher households in Irish countries from 1848-1864 (post famine). Donegal it is, then. Endlessly fascinating.

13
31
21
6
22
44
56
2
109
1900
25
41
17
215
41
9
21
3
8
262
31
4
29
17
627
47
13
28
84
254
4
228
11
48
10
12
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3 Comments

  1. Youve stolen my name Michael lol

  2. Michael – and did you happen to match up with any Quinn’s in Donegal? In particular, in the area around Ballintra, Greaghs, Laghy (among a few more.) I’m related to a lot of Gallaghers in that area, and definitely every Quinn who lives there now, and in the past!

    Would love to hear from you and we could compare our DNA’s!

    • Hello there Patricia!

      This is why I love blogs; random connections with like-minded (and apparently like-chromosomed) people! There is indeed a Quinn on there (as well as a Quinn-Conroy), although I am not sure where they are from (only email address provided). Patricia, that is so nice of you to tell me all of this; a real boon for people like me on the other side of the Atlantic with very little idea as to genealogy. So, you are saying that the Quinn and Gallagher family are quite well related? That is interesting as my exact DNA matches weren’t with any Gallaghers (they were the next step of matches, not exact). Fascinating. So intrigued. You know, I have never been up to Donegal (only Galway, Dublin, etc.) so it looks like I now have a reason to go.

      You want to carry on the conversation a bit? Would love to learn more. Have you tried the DNA test? Very easy and all on the up and up. If you want, contact me at gallagher.michaelsean@gmail.com and we can continue this conversation. Was actually hoping to make it to one of the Gallagher events (http://www.gallagherclan.org/future_events.aspx) at some point. So, Quinn, eh? Thanks Patricia!

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