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Dublin: 11 °C Tuesday 7 July, 2020

Irish DNA atlas project launched

A new project by the Genealogical Society of Ireland and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland aims to explore human genetic variation in the Irish population.

Image: Gerald Herbert/AP/Press Association Images

ARE YOU TYPICALLY Irish? A new project has been unveiled by the Genealogical Society of Ireland and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, who are working together to find out more about the Irish population.

The two have launched an all-Ireland project to create a collection of DNA samples from individuals of Irish origin, which will be used to explore human genetic variation in the Irish population.

There are two strands to the project – one on genealogy and one on genetics.

Director of Archival Services, Séamus O’Reilly FGSI will coordinate the collection of genalogical data, while Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri of the RCSI will direct all the scientific aspects.

Dr Cavalleri, a senior scientist of the Royal College of Surgeons, has worked as scientific consultant on the TV programmes The Blood of the Irish and The Blood of the Travellers.

The joint project will compile an Irish DNA Atlas through the  collection of birth briefs and DNA samples “to investigate the diversity of the Irish genome”, which the organisations describe as “a valuable, yet largely unexplored, resource of the Irish nation”.

They say this project “will provide valuable information on the migration and settlement patterns across the island of Ireland which will assist historians and archaeologists”.

It could also identify genetic risk factors for disease which in turn could improve future medical treatments.

The project aims to recruit individuals representing each of the 32 counties of Ireland, who will be given a saliva collection kit, a brief questionnaire as well as a chart on their pedigree.

All of their eight great-grandparents should come from the same general area so that their DNA represents that particular region of Ireland.

Participants, who are not paid for taking part, will not receive any results from the study – unless something is uncovered that might be of importance to their health.

To find out more, you are invited to email

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