Monday, 8 April 2019

My DNA Story ... My Irish Roots Are Deep!

This week my blog post is a little different.  Instead of telling the story of one of my ancestors, I'm going to talk about my own DNA story.

When I began my family tree research journey back in 2010, I had very little to go on.  I mean very little!

I had the names of my parents and their birthplaces. I had a few of the names of my maternal and paternal aunts and uncles, along with my maternal and paternal grandparents ... 21 names in total, all born in Australia, and that was about it!!  The only other thing I had in my favour was my strong desire to find out much, much more.

Part of the family tree - going back 6 generations
It has become a passion of mine, and I have made considerable headway into piecing together many of the branches of the family tree.  Admittedly, the tree is a bit lopsided at present, and there are some rather stunted branches!

In the years since I first started my research, I began to notice a definite trend in the story of my ancestors.

It seemed that so many of my immigrant forebears came from Ireland.  They were part of the Irish diaspora. The deeper I dug, the stronger my attachment to that country grew.

Uncovering such a deep ancestral connection helped me understand an experience I had many years ago.

Photos taken during our 2005 trip

I distinctly remember the feeling that overpowered me on my very first trip to Ireland in 2005, long before I began researching my family tree.   At that stage I knew almost nothing about the history of my family.  I barely knew anything about the history of my own mother and father, let alone any of the people that came before them.

My husband and I drove off the ferry that had carried us across from Wales, and as soon as we stopped driving and set foot on Irish ground, both of us got a little emotional.

It felt like we had come home after being away for an endless amount of time.  Neither of us could explain why we felt that way, as we were both unaware back then of just how deeply our Irish heritage went.  It was a profound experience, and it's become more and more meaningful over the course of the last five years as we've visited Ireland three times in that period.

After our last trip to Ireland, I felt the need to order a DNA kit just to quell my curiousity.  I knew my Irish heritage was deep and strong, but I still wasn't quite prepared for the results!  My DNA ethnicity map looks like this:

97%   Central Ireland & Ulster, Ireland.       3%   Southern England.

An overwhelming number of my ancestors appear to have come from the North Leinster and East Connacht area of Central Ireland, as well as

the South Downs and North Louth area of Ulster, in Ireland.

A teeny tiny smattering of my ancestors came from Southern England.

I am very proud to say I'm Australian, born and bred, but alongside that, I am so very proud to have such a strong bond with Ireland.  It's in my DNA.

It was that provided me with the opportunity to learn so much about my family tree, and enabled me to find family in Ireland.  I've now made connections with a number of second cousins, walked lanes that my ancestors walked before they left their home forever, and stayed in homes on ancestral family farms.

I have 1,786 people on my family tree - maternal and paternal branches.  As I said, I started with 21, so now I have a much more interesting picture of my family.

On the Irish side of my heritage, I've been able to trace back various Irish ancestors to the mid to late 1700s, including ...

Benjamin Conner and his wife Sabina
Patrick Hickey and his wife Mary Price
Sheedagh McNamara and his wife Ellen Hogan
Patrick Farley and his wife Nancy Smith
Michael Cusack and his wife Mary Green
David Burke and his wife Mary Whelan
Thomas Crotty and his wife Brigid Wyse
Patrick O'Donnell and his wife Margaret Rafter

and I've traced a couple of other Irish ancestors back to the early 1800s, including ...

Patrick Downey/Muldowney and his wife Elizabeth Reynolds
Thomas Farrell and his wife Anne Conoly
Patrick Muckian and his wife Sarah McCann
Richard Joy and Eleanor Knox

On the English side of my heritage, the fartherest I've traced an ancestor is way back to the birth of a man named John Kelsham in Kent, around the year 1454.  He was my 14th great grandfather! 

Of course many of my more recent ancestors were immigrants to Australia ... hence the place of my birth.  It was either the generation of my great or 2x great grandparents who made the trip to the southern hemisphere to begin a new life.  Their stories all tell of the most amazing, determined, courageous and tenacious individuals; working-class, poor immigrants who ended up being unsung pioneers in various areas of New South Wales and Queensland.

An interesting fact:  On my maternal side, it was the generation of my great grandparents who all immigrated to Australia, between 1883 and 1888.  On my paternal side however, it was the generation of great great grandparents who all immigrated, between 1839 and 1849.  Strange, how that worked out!

I've already posted each of their stories, so I've linked these posts to their names in case anyone is interested in having a further read.

These are all my maternal great grandparents who immigrated:
Edmond O'Donnell
Bridget Burke
Owen McCane (Muckian)
Margaret Farrell

These are all my immigrant paternal great great grandparents:
William Connors/Conners
Ellen Hickey
Adolphus Hukins
Mary Ann Farley
Henry Johnson Brown
Caroline Penelope Browning
Patrick Cusack  (convict)
Eliza Exton

I'm joining Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2019 project / challenge.

The prompt for Week 15 of 2019 is 'DNA'.

You can join by blogging or posting on social media with the tag #52Ancestors.

Check out this FB page:  Amy Johnson Crow


  1. Congratulations! Your blog has been included in INTERESTING BLOGS at FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
    Thank you, Chris


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