Sunday, 29 November 2020

Ancient Irish DNA (or lack of)

'Do you share DNA with any of the four ancient Irish samples on GEDmatch?' asked Margaret O'Brien of Data Mining DNA recently.1
Unlikely, I thought, given they lived four or five thousand years ago and I don't even share DNA with some known third cousins. But wouldn't it be fun to investigate!

GEDmatch is a 'free' third-party DNA site, where people who have tested with various testing companies can upload their results and compare them to each other. The results for the four ancient Irish people have also been uploaded, so it's easy to run the comparisons.

Ballynahatty Woman
DNA analysis on the bones of a Neolithic woman discovered in Ballynahatty, near Belfast, Co. Down, reveals that genetically she most resembles modern people from Spain and Sardinia - not Ireland. It is estimated this woman lived here over 5,000 years ago. Her ancestors originated in the Near East. I didn't expect to have any real matching segments with Ballynahatty Woman, so the normal minimum threshold level of 7cM was reduced to a just 3cM, so there might be something to see. And, here are the results:-

I have four matching segments greater than 3cM with Ballynahatty Woman, the largest being only 4.7 cM. Segments this small are notoriously unreliable, meaning they are most likely identical by chance. And it's a total coincidence I share any DNA with Ballynahatty Woman.

As you can see, neither my mother nor father share these matching segments with her, and I inherited ALL my DNA from them. Granted, like me, my mother shares a 3.1cM segment on chromosome 2, but her match is towards the end of the chromosome, and mine is near the beginning.

Obviously I received a bit of this, and a bit of that, which in total just happened to create these small matches. After all, we both have human DNA. But it's pure chance!

The Rathlin Island Men

DNA analysis on the bones of three Early Bronze Age men, discovered in a cist burial on Rathlin Island, off the Co. Antrim coast, reveals they shared the genetic ancestors of modern-day Irish people. Their ancestors hailed from the Pontic Steppe on the northern shores of the Black Sea. It is estimated these guys lived about 4,000 years ago.

There is perhaps a greater chance of finding legitimate matching segments with the Rathlin Island crew. Such segments would be small, and match solely IF they are prevalent among the Irish population today. So...

Perhaps I do share an ancient connection with Rathlin Man 1. I have no matching segments exceeding 3cM with Rathlin Man 2 (F999802) or Rathlin Man 3 (F999801), maybe because their genomes were not sequenced to high coverage. But, I have seven matching segments exceeding 3cM with Rathlin Man 1, and the largest segment is a whole 6cM. Tiny!

But look, my 4cM matching segment on Chromosome 4 was probably passed down to me by my mother. It would take a whole lot more work to investigate this any further, so I'm just going to take it as gospel, and say I'm related to Rathlin Man 1, haha!!! 😉  None of the other segments were inherited from either of my parents, rendering them truly false matches - pure coincidences - identical by chance, once again.

What do we really learn from these tiny matching segments? We learn not to rely on such tiny segments as genealogical proof, that's what!

But, isn't it mind-blowing to think we can compare our DNA with the DNA of those who walked the shores of Ireland two and three thousand years before Christ was born.

1. Margaret O'Brien, 'Do You Share Ancient Irish DNA? Find out with GEDmatch', 2020, Data Mining DNA.
2. Lara Cassidy, et al, 'Neolithic and Bronze Age migration to Ireland and establishment of the insular Atlantic genome', 2015, PNAS.

Sunday, 22 November 2020

A little research victory, with the help of an angel

This week, I received a copy of my great-great-great-grandmother’s death certificate. Jane Byrne died in Brooklyn, New York on 28 December 1901. A few years ago, I found a transcription of this death certificate. It revealed the names of Jane’s parents, William and Hannah Daly. Not wishing to rely on a transcription for this key information, I ‘needed’ to see a copy of the original certificate!

Jane (Daly) Byrne’s connection to my grandmother

Except it proved way too difficult to obtain from the New York authorities. And, having confirmed the name of Jane's parents with records back in Dublin, I reluctantly gave up on ever seeing the actual death certificate. Now, the document is said to be freely available at a Family History Centre (FHC) run by the Mormon Church. Only there is no FHC near me, at least not one that is seemingly ever manned.

Cue the ‘Parking-Lot Angels’ (they’d be called ‘Car-Park Angels’ in Ireland).

Blogging pal, Marian from ‘Climbing my Family Tree', introduced them, recounting how they helped her obtain a relative’s death certificate. Marian gave me the name of the Facebook group, New York City Genealogy, where the angel volunteers hang out, and explained they go to the 'parking lot' of their local FHC where they download records over wifi. Remember, the FHCs are all currently closed, due to Covid.

I joined the Facebook group and provided the information requested, and the very next day I received a copy of Jane Byrne’s death certificate. Simples!

The death certificate confirmed the details given in the transcription. In addition, the cause of death showed Jane got Pleurisy, which led to Pneumonia, which caused heart failure nine months later.

I am so grateful to these volunteer angels for their help!

Now, I wonder if records can be accessed from the car-park at the FHC opposite Glasnevin Cemetery, in Dublin, even if no one ever works there. Anyone?

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Patrick Hynes: my great-great-granduncle, or not?

Pat Hynes, named as the son of John Hynes and Margaret Hayes, died in Victoria, Australia, in 1885. My third-great-grandparents were John Hynes and Margaret Hayes. The question is, was Patrick their son?

BDM Victoria, Australia, Death 4067/1885, Pat Hynes

My third-great-grandparents married in Limerick city, Ireland, in February 1826, and had a daughter Bridget (my ancestor) baptised there in July 1830, followed by a son John in June 1833, and a son Edmond in August 1835. In addition, although their baptism records have not been found, they had a daughter Catherine, born about 1837, and a more recently discovered daughter Mary Ann, born about 1829.

Given Patrick was said to have been 51 years old when he died, so born about 1834, he'd fit right in. Unfortunately, his 'obituary' in a local newspaper did not contain any information regarding his origins. It merely provided the date and cause of his death, and the time of his funeral.
HYNES-On 1st June [1885], Patrick Hynes, near Linton, of hydatids [tapeworms, according to Google]. Funeral Wednesday, 2 o'clock. 
In a case taken at the Ballarat Circuit Court, Patrick Hynes came across as an unpleasant character, certainly not someone who'd make a happy addition to the family tree. It seems, he stabbed a young bullock in the chest with a hay knife, so savagely it had to be put down. He acted either out of malice borne against his brother-in-law, one Patrick Maloney, or in annoyance at finding the steer in his farmyard. Who does that to a defenseless animal?

Argus, 18 April 1866, p. 5

The fore-mentioned brother-in-law, Patrick Maloney, or Moloney as he was more commonly called, married Hanora Kearn[s] in 1863. Hanora was presumably a sister of Mary Kearns, Patrick's wife. They lived near each other at Lucky Womans, in Happy Valley (though it seems it was anything but 'happy'!), a small post town in county Grenville, about 100 miles north-east of Melbourne.

Showing Patrick Hynes + Pat Moloney, near neighbours, in Argyle parish,
Co. Grenville (1889, Dept. of Mines, Melbourne)

Patrick Hynes and Mary Kearns, members of the Catholic church, married in the Presbytery at Ballarat, Victoria, on 21 January 1857. Both gave their birthplace as Co. Clare, Ireland, and not Limerick city. Patrick was a bachelor, 25 years old (so born about 1831), and worked as a miner. His father John was said to have been a farmer.

Co. Clare - now that's not the showstopper. Clare and Limerick are adjacent counties. There are already noted DNA connections between my Hynes ancestors and a Hynes family from Broadford, Co. Clare, going back as far as the 1820s.

BUT, by all accounts my third-great-grandfather was a carpenter, while Patrick's father was a farmer. A carpenter might easily pick up sticks and move county, but an Irish farmer has a particular affinity to his land. He wouldn't move county willy-nilly, now in Co. Clare, now in Limerick city. You'd completely understand if you've ever watched the movie, The Field?

My third cousin Phyllis, a whiz-kid on, built a 'dummy' tree for Patrick Hynes and his family. He appears in over 30 other online family trees on Ancestry, where there is an unproven suggestion he was from Caher, Co. Clare, 15 miles north of Broadford and 40 miles north of Limerick city.

Most notably though, not one known descendant of my third-great-grandparents, including three people in my generation and three people in my Aunt's generation, share DNA with the owner of any of these 30+ family trees - certainly an unlikely outcome for proposed 4th cousins, give or take.

There was no mention of a second 'John Hynes & Margaret Hayes' couple in the Catholic Parish Registers held at the National Library, and indexed by Findmypast. However, there must have been two couples sporting these same names, both of child-bearing age and both living in Munster at the same time. Agreed, this is not the most radical idea out there, but it's something to be borne in mind, nonetheless.

1. Death index, Pat Hynes, 4067/1885, Victoria BDM
2.Marriage register and baptism registers, St Mary's Cathedral, Limerick city, accessed Findmypast.
3. Ballarat Star, 9 Jun 1885, p. 2; Argus, 18 Apr 1866, p. 5; accessed Trove.
4. Marriage index, Moloney-Kearn, 392/1863, Vixctoria BDM.
5. 'Parish of Argyle, County of Grenville', Geologically surveyed by F.M. Krause, Melbourne Dept. of Mines, 29 July, 1889, accessedTrove.
6. Copy marriage register, Hynes-Kernes, 494/1857, Victoria BDM.

Sunday, 25 October 2020

My first published genealogy article !

My article on the Baron Talbots of Malahide has been published in The Irish Genealogist.
The Talbots were one of my chosen families and the subject of considerable genealogy research, as I worked to obtain a Certificate in Genealogy/Family History, with the well-respected genealogist, Sean Murphy, at University College Dublin. The Talbot's family tree could be traced back to the twelfth-century Norman invasion of Ireland. Plus, the family’s place in Irish society ensured they featured far more prominently in genealogical sources than their tenants, my small-farmer ancestors.

The article is primarily a genealogical and heraldic account of the Talbot family, Lords of Malahide, through the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, together with an examination of their Norman origins. It also looks at the family’s relationship with their tenants in Malahide, Co. Dublin, over the centuries and thus encompasses elements of local and social history.

And, as I opened the package containing my copy of The Irish Genealogist, which arrived in my letter box this week, there it was, my name and research listed on the cover page of the journal. How exciting!

The Irish Genealogist is the publication of the Irish Genealogical Research Society (IGRS), issued annually since 1937, and renowned for its scholarly contribution to the field of Irish genealogy.

In the 2020 edition, my work is included. What a great honour!

If you are not a member of the IGRS, and would like to read my article, let me know and I'll happily email a copy to you.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Brian Mitchell's New Pocket Guide to Irish Genealogy

The Genealogical Publishing Company recently sent me a free copy of Brian Mitchell’s NEW Pocket Guide to Irish Genealogy, to independently review.
This handbook is divided into three easy-to-read sections.

The first section includes an outline of Irish history and genealogy for those beginning their Irish research, as well as information on how to get started from overseas, and the first steps a researcher should take.

The second section covers Irish record sources. Here, Mitchell examines how to make the best use of his seven ‘major' record sources, which he claims enable all researchers trace their roots back six or seven generations, on most lines. My ancestor scorecard supports this, to an extent, though it must be admitted, despite nearly ten years dedicated research, the names of only 9 of my 64 ancestors in the seventh generation have been identified.

Still, the majority of people born in Ireland during the 19th century and late 18th century, are bound to be found mentioned in these seven sources:
  • Civil registers of births, marriages and deaths
  • Parish registers of baptisms, marriages and burials
  • Gravestone inscriptions
  • Wills
  • The 1901 and 1911 census returns
  • Griffith’s Valuation
  • Tithe Applotment books.

Next, Mitchell examines a wealth of ‘other' record sources, including the pre-1901 census fragments, newspapers, directories, school registers, 17th and 18th-century census substitutes, plantation and settlement records, military records, workhouse records, memorials of deeds, and estate records. These sources should enable most researchers to fill in gaps and build a much more complete picture of their ancestors' lives.

The worked examples provided liberally throughout the section are especially valuable for anyone beginning their Irish research. They often illustrate how to construct two and three generational family trees, from the information contained in the record being examined.

Essentially, in the current COVID-19 situation, directions on how to access digital copies of the records online are provided.

The sources and worked examples reflect a distinct Northern Ireland flavour, an acknowledged bias perhaps, and probably irrelevant to a beginner, who might easily apply the principles involved to their own research. However, the more experienced researcher, whose ancestors are not from Ulster, may find themselves at a relative disadvantage. For example, the non-denominational burial registers in Dublin, which often prove indispensable in tracing Dublin city lineages back that extra generation, are not mentioned in this guide. But should the bemoaned gaps in my pedigree ever take my research to Northern Ireland, Mitchell's local knowledge might come in very handy indeed.

The final section generously shares the 'insights and strategies' Mitchell garnered over many years working as a genealogist in Ireland. It appears as a mishmash of unrelated ideas, yet a knowledge of each topic is often crucial to successfully tracing Irish roots. Subjects covered include Irish place-names and administrative divisions, the origin of Irish surnames, Irish passenger lists, an introduction to genetic genealogy, and a list of sources for tracing Scots-Irish ancestors. To conclude, Mitchell sets out two case studies demonstrating how to apply everything in practice - one that works backwards from a man who died during the First World War, and another that traces the origins of a Scots-Irish family who emigrated to the US in the 1700s.

With nearly 40 years’ experience as an Irish genealogist, Brian Mitchell is already the author of several notable Irish genealogy reference books. He currently heads up RootsIreland's Genealogy Centre in Co. Derry, Northern Ireland. This handbook is ideal for newcomers to Irish genealogy, providing them with everything they need to know, but its 122 pages, crammed full of expert knowledge and experience, will almost certainly contain something for everyone.

Sunday, 4 October 2020

Signature Silhouette #10 ~ Francis Byrne

For many of my ancestors, we have no photographs, no treasured heirlooms, not even a funeral card to remember them by. But of those who could read and write, a few left their signatures behind. They often signed historical census returns, for example, copies of which still survive. Their signature may be all that remains of them today. So, it's my intention to feature a Signature Silhouette for one ancestor, here, until they are all are preserved.

Here's one for my maternal great-great-grandfather, Francis Byrne:-

Francis Byrne (c.1853-1912)

Idea courtesy of Cathy Meder-Dempsey at Opening Doors in Brick Walls.

Source of signature: 1911 Census of Ireland, Francis Byrne household, Jane Place Lower, North Dock, Dublin,The National Archives of Ireland.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Cousins connect ~ Mary Anne (Hynes) Rodoreda

Genealogy research is mainly a solitary pursuit, yet it is often at its most rewarding when cousins connect and work together to reunite two long-separated branches of a family. And this week, my 'new' 4th cousin Tom, and my unwavering research buddy and 3rd cousin Phyllis, both sent me their research results vis-à-vis Mary Anne (Hynes) Rodoreda, my recently rediscovered second-great-grandaunt.

Tom, who lives in Western Australia, visited the archives in Perth and obtained a certified copy of Mary Anne Hynes and Jerome Rodoreda's marriage certificate, as well as a certified copy of Mary Anne's death certificate. He also found the announcement of Mary Anne's death in a contemporary newspaper, not currently available online.

The certificate of their marriage on 14 January 1856 is especially informative, providing details not found in the church record of the event. It confirms Mary Anne was a milliner prior to the marriage. Presumably, she was an employee somewhere, as there is no sign of her advertising her wares in the newspapers of the day.

Her address was shown as 'Perth'—just Perth—with no street name mentioned. This rules out any further research on where exactly she may have worked. Can you imagine how small Perth must have been then, if a 'full address' was deemed unnecessary.

Excerpt from marriage certificate, Mary Anne Hynes, 1856

Note: the names Hynes and Hines were often used interchangeably, before spellings were standardised.

The best bit concerns Mary Anne's father, John Hynes, described as a carpenter by occupation. This agrees exactly with other records showing my third-great-grandfather's occupation. When his wife Margaret Hynes died in 1884, her death certificate gave her occupation as 'widow of a carpenter', while the register of her burial said she 'had been the wife of a carpenter'. So this is the final piece of the jigsaw confirming without a doubt Mary Anne's parent's, John and Margaret (HAYES) Hynes, were indeed my third-great-grandparents.

According to her death certificate, Mary Anne died of 'cancer' on 5 November 1881. Again, her address was listed as 'Perth'. We know from the Rate Books in 1880, the Rodoreda family lived at 12 Howick Street, Perth, in a four-roomed cottage, shop and bake house.

Mary Anne died young, aged 48 per her death certificate, though she may have been closer to 53 years old. She didn't have an easy death either, poor woman. How did cancer patients in the nineteenth century cope with the pain, without the benefit of modern medicines?

RODOREDA—Of your charity pray for the repose of the soul of Mary Ann, the beloved wife of J. Rodoreda, who departed this life on the 5th November, after a long and painful illness, fortified by the rites of Holy Church—R.I.P.

Then, the facsimile copy of the civil marriage registers, which Phyllis ordered last July, arrived on the 'slow-boat from Australia'. These copies are barely legible in places, but they do eliminate the possibility of transcription errors in the typed-up certified copies. Plus, they are worth it just to see the signatures of Jerome and Mary Anne.

1. Certificate of marriage, Rodoreda-Hines, 910J/1856, no. 00047031035, issued 9 September 2020, Registry of births, deaths and marriages, Perth, Western Australia.
2. Certificate of death, Mary Ann Rodoreda, 11236T/1882, no. 00047030907, issued 9 September 2020, Registry of births, deaths and marriages, Perth, Western Australia
3. Jerome Rodoreda, 1880, 'Perth, Western Australia, Australia, Rate Books, 1880-1946', database with images, accessed
4. Death notice Mary Ann Rodoreda, The West Australian Catholic Record, 17 November 1881, p. 4.
5. Uncertified copy of original marriage record, Rodoreda-Hines, 1856, Registry of births, deaths and marriages, Perth, Western Australia.
6. Uncertified copy of original death record, Mary Ann Rodoreda, 1882, Registry of births, deaths and marriages, Perth, Western Australia.

Further articles about Mary Anne (Hynes) Rodoreda:-