Using DNA for family research

Using DNA for Family Research By Ann Marie Coghlan AGI Affiliate ISOGG Ireland

Talk given at the #GGI17 DNA Conference Dublin on 20th October 2017

Me and my DNA

• 85% of my family research completed with traditional research

• DNA goal was to test maternal female line – a brick wall. In February 2013 at ‘WDYTYA Live’ was advised to try the new ‘familyfinder’ for more results.

• Few known matches so decided to find a method of contacting other researchers. In July 2013 set
up ‘Cork-Ireland’ Project and the DNA Corcaigh group on facebook.
• Joined ISOGG. Attended #GGI13 Dublin.

• Local contact (South East Ireland) for FTDNA kits and testing
• 2016 Took on the McGrath Clan Project for Ceann Fine, and The Gathering DNA event
• 2016 Admin for Nagle Surname Project
• #GGI16 Presentation on DNA and Family History Societies.

• atDNA & mtDNA tested with FTDNA , ANCESTRY , Living DNA. Kit In Gedmatch.

Some Benefits of DNA Research
Knowledge and Skills

 Confirms my family research

 Finds the gaps in my Tree

 Helps me with ‘brick wall’

 Ability to research when there is
little or no documentation

 Finding descendants of
emigrants ancestors

• Researching female lines
Introduces me to new researchers

I use new data sets in other

I learn new research skills e.g.

 Focussed research builds my

Do I need a Family Tree ?

#GGI17 DNA for Family Research. Ann Marie Coghlan ISOGG

Tests 1. Paternal Descent DNA Y-DNA

What does it do ?

• Tests the Father to Son inheritance on Y Chromosome
• Places you on the ‘Adam’
Family Tree
• Men only
What does it cost and where can I get it?

• Between $169 and $359
• Further testing has
separate unit costs

• Family Tree DNA
• Old database is held by
Ancestry US
What can I do with the results?

• Follows your surname and/or male line
• Upload to Surname or
Clan database
• Fine tune your results.
Join your Haplogroup and specialist Projects
• Chart your male line back
to Ancient History.
• Upload to via

Tests 2. Autosomal DNA atDNA

What does it do ?

• Potential results on all ancestral lines to
7th generation.
What does it cost and
where can I get it?

• Between 60e – 130e depending on provider

• FTDNA Familyfinder,
Ancestry, 2,3&Me.
What can I do with
the results?

• Single matching , group matching

• Triangulation and
other tools available
• Upload raw data to other providers for more matches

with Female descent X-DNA

What does it do ?

• Gives results on the X Chromosome descent.
• Blended inheritance
– Men have
mother’s X, Women
have XX from both parents.
What does it cost and
where can I get it?

• Free!
• FTDNA and Ancestry atDNA results and when you upload to
What can I do with
the results?

• Determine X inheritance on special tree format.
• Use to confirm unknown atDNA matches and family lines.

Tests 3. Maternal Descent mtDNA
Mitochondrial DNA

What does it do ?

• Tests the direct inheritance from the Mother’s Mothers Line.
• Places you on the Migration Family Tree (Daughters of Eve)

• For Men and Women.
What does it cost and
where can I get it?

• Between $79 and $199

• Family Tree DNA
What can I do with the

• Community Research and
Cluster group research
• Join your Haplogroup
• Plot your family migration back to Ancient History
• Upload to via FTDNA

Identity and Privacy

NPE and genetic inheritance

Active participation

Stamina and Patience

Relying on others research


Set Research Goals and choose the kit for best fit.

Formulate research questions to use the kit’s database as a Research

Review the current Family Tree especially post 1850. Find the gaps.

Ask around, find out who else has tested.

Family Testing
• To establish or confirm a family line or family of origin, use your tree to
locate living descendants of the line for testing.
• Use the results to find mutual matches in your database for more


• To build up a genetic profile of a group, surname or location. Formulate the research parameters and locate testees who fit them.
• The Ideal Candidate has a comprehensive tree with a confirmed location.
• ‘Sticky Kits’

Be Strategic , clarify research goals.
Review the current version of the Tree and locate gaps.
Decide what personal information to attach to the kit.
Make a list of questions for your goals.

Make contact with relevant networks and consider setting up your own.
Treat the results as a repository not an information source.
Contact matches and answer their messages too.

Keep an open mind!

Thank you for listening and Good Luck !


• Genetic Genealogy Ireland blog

• Genetic Genealogy Ireland on

• Family Tree DNA and Projects

• Clans of Ireland
• Cork-Ireland Duo Geographical project and Skibbgirl Cork DNA

• Facebook’s Cork DNA Groups

• McGrath Clan project

• Guild of One Name Studies
• Nagle Surname Project

McGrath DNA Project

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