Saturday, 19 August 2017

Third great-grandparents, confirmed with DNA

Just last April, I mentioned the new approach I was taking to our genetic genealogy research. I started to trace forward the descendants of known ancestral relatives, hoping to discover the names of their children and grandchildren, such that they might become more recognisable among our lists of DNA matches. 

Many of our matches, who for the most part live in the U.S. or Australia, have not managed to trace their origins back to a specific place in Ireland, making it next to impossible to connect our family trees. So, I also hoped this new tactic might help bridge that gap too. 

Beginning with Andrew Byrne - my second great-granduncle, born in Athgarvan, Co. Kildare in 1855 - I followed him and his family to Chicago, Illinois, in the late 1880s. There, I located the marriage of his daughter, Anna Mae Byrne, to James Ellsworth Coughlin, in 1909, and then the marriage of their daughter, Luella Coughlin, in 1933. I wrote about the family here

Astonishingly, my new approach has worked already. I’m now in contact with a descendant of Andrew Byrne, in America. How’s that for instant success!

Last month, Anna Mae’s great-granddaughter found my blog about her family and got in touch. Happily, I could introduce her to the names of her third great-grandparents, in Ireland. And, identify where exactly they once lived. They were Andrew Byrne and Anne Clinch, from Athgarvan, in Co. Kildare, and my third great-grandparents too.

My new-found cousin mentioned she’d tested her DNA with several testing companies, bar the one we had used – Murphy’s law! But, I took the opportunity to upload Dad’s DNA results to MyHeritage, one of the companies she had tested with, to see if we matched. And, it was confirmed, our match was well within the expected parameters for third cousins, once removed.

Our lineage back to Andrew and Anne (Clinch) Byrne has been established once again, this time in blood. And, I’ve gained a new fourth cousin in the process. It doesn’t get better than that! 

Hopefully, that's just the start of our genetic genealogy success. 

January 2018: DNA helps solve another small genealogy mystery, and I pick up the trail of Andrew Burn’s sister, Anne Rogers, who also made her home in Chicago, here.

© Black Raven Genealogy


  1. Dara, this is wonderful. I'm really happy for you, a DNA genealogy dream come true.

    1. Thank you Marian, hopefully it's just the start of my DNA discoveries.

  2. Is My Heritage the main company that is used by the people in Ireland and Europe in general. I have tested with Ancestry and downloaded it also to GEDMATCH? Perhaps I should use My Heritage too, I have a tree there but did not renew it since I have retired.

    1. Not at all, Claudia, if anything FTDNA was the company of choice in Ireland and the UK, Ancestry did not sell their kits here until last year. I merely uploaded my FTDNA results to MyHeritage, for free.

    2. Thank you Dara, I will see about uploading to FTDNA.

  3. Marvelous! I hope you & your cousins enjoy exchanging information!

  4. Your story is very encouraging!


I look forward to reading your comments, even more especially if you're related to someone mentioned in this post.

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