A Brief Rabbit Chase Down the DNA Trail

 

I’ve done several talks on subjects that interests me, like Melungeons and DNA testing, so I thought I’d share some of my basic thoughts on the subject of DNA testing.

People ask me what the best DNA tests are. It depends on what you’re looking for. If it’s ethnicity, I don’t recommend AncestryDNA. They missed mine by a mile, BUT they do excellent work at connecting you to relatives and helping you find the “missing” links in your family tree.

23andMe does a better job with ethnicity, but still, they’re not the best. I also didn’t think the health reports were worth what I paid for them. And the probability thing is hit and miss. I mean really…they missed the mark on about half of mine. So, that’s kind of like a true/false guessing game. I recommend them for ethnicity above AncestryDNA. But Ancestry is excellent for family finding. I haven’t tested with the other big name ones.

I DID test with DNA Consultants and I love how they treated me, like I was a real client, not just another number. I love how they looked at human migration patterns and combined DNA data with historically documented movements of people around the planet. I love how they sent me a long report that did not give estimations of percentages, but rather outlined exactly what markers they found in my DNA. It was a much more complete picture. However, they do not link you to relatives and you can’t download the raw data to a third party calculator.

I do reccomend GEDmatch if you’ve tested with one of the prominently advertised companies like Ancestry or 23andMe. GEDmatch has a bunch of different algorithms that lets you search for precise things in your DNA, like Jewish markers or ancient DNA from Beringia. The various algorithms allow you to get a more complete picture of your make up.

Here’s a little powerpoint I’ve put together talking about DNA Testing. It’s still a work in progress and I’m sure it has some flaws and kinks of its own, but still, it might be helpful to some people. Oh, and I haven’t forgotten the Irish. I’m still going to post more.

Popular DNA Tests

Looking at Ireland, part 1…her genetics

 

Matt (23)DOWNEY-LIFE-LESSONS

I have always heard that red hair, fair skin and blue eyes were “Scottish” and “Irish” traits, but experience has taught me differently. It is funny how we develop an idea of a people based on a stereo-type and yes, while those traits are more common among Scotch-Irish, they are not always indicative of Scotch-Irish ancestry, but this article isn’t actually about red hair. It’s about the Irish. The more I learn about Ireland, her people and her history, the more fascinated I become. Ireland plays a HUGE role in the making of modern America. So, over the next few blog posts, I’d like to talk about the Irish in early America and about genetics and just whatever else pops up in my little studies.

As of 2018, scientists and historians are beginning to see a different picture of the origins of Irish people than what most of us have been led to believe, or at least, in my neck of the woods. I live in Appalachia. I grew up being told that everybody was Scotch-Irish and I grew up with a notion of what that looked like. My notions weren’t entirely correct. It is true that the people of modern Ireland share a definite genetic link with the people of Scotland and Wales, and to a smaller degree, the English (British) but what sets them apart? Is it their origins? Some tiny trace of an ancient ancestry? What about the people of ancient Ireland, who were they? Where did they come from? What about the deep ancestry of the Irish?

Up until last year, all the research that I had read, said that the Irish were Celts and that they had migrated there from Central Europe way back when (like around 500 years before Christ or something like that). These were the people that the Greeks called Keltoi. But researchers at Trinity University in Dublin and at Queens University have found that there were at least two migrations to Ireland in the past few thousand years. Findings from the analysis of the remains 5,200 year-old Irish woman suggests she was more like modern-day Spaniards and Sardinians, and her DNA indicated that her ancestors came from the Middle East long before that.

Other remains from about 4,000 years ago reveal that early Irish also shared genetic ties to the people of Eastern Europe, specifically, the Steppes of Russia and the Ukraine. These 4,000 year-old remains also show a link to modern day Scotch, Irish and Welsch, meaning that modern day Irish, Scotch and Welsh are all linked to these 4,000 year-old ancestors from Eastern Europe.

Now let’s look at what Irish Origin stories tell us about their history.  One of the oldest pieces of Irish literature, Leabhar Gabhla, says the first people in Ireland were a small dark-skinned people called the Fir Bolg, followed by the Tuatha de Danaan. Then the ancient books tells about Milesians, soldiers from Spain who were said to be the sons of Mil. Recent studies of Spanish and Irish male haplogroups actually seem to bear this out in that the paternal haplogroup R1b finds its highest concentration in Western Ireland and Northern Spain, in particular, Basque Country. So, the Irish share some relation to the Basque. I find that, well, kind of cool. Keep in mind that the sea was the easiest mode of transportation back in those days and some people, like the Basque, were accomplished sailors. The land was covered in forests and mountain ranges were hard to navigate. So, people built their settlements on the coasts and traveled the shores of Europe to get from place to place. Towns were built on the coasts and along the rivers so that it was easier to trade and to travel and people did travel–a lot more than you might think!

Research from last year (2018) leads geneticists to think that the Irish are closely related to the people of Brittany (NW France) and Western Norway. And again, of course, they share most of their DNA to the peoples, of Scotland, Wales and England. But while other parts of Europe have become far more integrated, Ireland’s geographical location has helped keep the Irish gene-pool more constant. The same genes have been passed down for thousands of years now. Ireland has the highest level of R1b male haplogroups, followed by the Basque.

There is no question that there is a link between Ireland and Spain. There are those who believe that Spain and Portugal were once inhabited by Celtiberians (Celtic+Iberian)who spoke a Celtic language that is now extinct. They believe that these extinct Iberian Celts simply traveled the Atlantic seaboard, bringing their culture and language to what is now France and the British Isles. Of course, it’s not been proven, but the link between Irish and Spanish DNA does lend some credibility to the idea.

So, to recap, Spain and Ireland share a prominent male haplogroup, indicating that at some point in the distant past, Spanish men came to Ireland and had offsprings with native Irish women (perhaps they had migrated from Scotland after the last Ice Age). Later came the travelers from Eastern Europe. Then, later the Celts from Central Europe, introducing their DNA into the mix. At some point, there was a Viking invasion, introducing Scandavain ancestry into some parts of Ireland. Then came the English. Today, the Irish share more ancestry with the rest of the British Isles than anywhere else. Spain and Portugal underwent Moorish occupation and have a hefty dose of North-African/Middle Eastern admixture.

So, the next time I hear someone say, “Oh, he/she looks Irish.” I will respond with and “What exactly does that mean?”

In my next post I hope to discuss a brief overview of Irish history prior to the Spanish, French and English invasion of America.

https://www.thefamouspeople.com/ireland.php

Happy New Year–Randomly Flowing Thoughts from Me to You

I think this may be the first time I have EVER actually written a blog post on New Year’s Day and I’m not about to make a resolution that I will write a post every day, but I am making one to just be me. I made a resolution last year and I tried very hard to keep it all year. My resolution was to love radically. It’s not easy to love radically and some days I fell short of the goal, still each day, I’d start all over again and I am still doing that. I don’t plan to stop. I do plan to love those who persecute me and speak harshly about me. I plan to love them by just accepting that they are the way they are and it’s not my job to fix them or even change their minds about anything, especially me.

I’m not sure what loving radically involves but I have learned that only when I am in tune with my truest self, and accepting of that self, can I look at others and just accept them for who they are and not feel the need to change them. It has been a hard lesson for me over the years but I’ve come to understand that there will always be someone who misreads my motives, misunderstands my motifs and misinterprets my meanings. I understand that there will always be those who mistrust me without a true cause, who villanize me to validate their own actions and warn their kids about the “wicked witch up the road.” Bottom line, as a dear friend tells me, “Everybody has enemies.”

There is no way on earth to make everybody happy because we live in a world of fearful people who are always afraid of losing something. We live in a world where no matter how hard you try or how good you treat others, someone is going to be offended, someone is going to accuse you of ulterior motives, of arrogance, of….just fill in the blank.

So, how do we love radically in a world where being rude and selfish is the norm?  I think loving radically doesn’t always involve an onslaught of mushiness or warm-fuzzies but a simple acceptance without judgment. We may not ever be a person that the offended will want to speak to kindly or for that matter, at all, or even smile at, but we don’t have to hold bitterness in our hearts against them and we have to realize that there comes a time when it really isn’t about us. Everybody has their own battles to fight and their own roads to walk. So, I am going to walk mine with a thankful heart and let my light shine the best I can. Some may see me as a beacon of light, love and kindness, and others may not. It’s okay. I accept that. I think that’s what love and forgiveness are all about, letting go. I love me and I am thankful for my life on earth. If others have issues with me, I’ll try to avoid getting in their field of vision as much as possible, but I won’t stop being the person I’m meant to be. I’m wonderfully weird and creatively created and this year, in addition to loving radically, I’m going to be the most ME I can possibly be.

 

The “Divinity” of Writing Fiction

Found this little entry in my journal from 2011. Just thought I’d share it.

April 8, 2011

As an author, I am the divine entity to the characters in my story. I exist outside of “time” as they know it because I exist outside the pages of the manuscript that I have written. The characters in my novels are bound to the “timeline” as it is contained between the covers of the book, the beginning and the end. To them all the events they experience are past, present, or future but to me, the creator, they happen simultaneously. I am present, all at once, in every event I’ve created in the story, regardless of where it happens on the timeline as my characters know it in the universe that I created. I don’t have to jump backward or forward in the story, because I’m already there. My characters exist in the story I have written, but they also continue existing in me even when they leave the pages of the novel (get killed off, move away, etc.) All characters that I create remain alive in me, the author. As the author, I have no random events in my story. Everything that happens has a purpose. Sometimes my purpose is to cause growth in a character or characters. Sometimes it is to help open one character’s eyes to the nature or doings of another character. Sometimes it is to propel the plot.

Know Me

 

14390860_10208194658723180_2202102595313510686_n(painting is a watercolor I did long ago)

 

When you understand wind

where she blows

why she blows

how she blows

 

when you understand flowers

their need for light

why they stretch

 

when you understand earth

when she moves

why she moves

how she moves

 

when you understand

the ways of bats

why they must hang

 

when you understand water

where she flows

why she flows

how she flows

 

the methods of spiders

what makes them spin

their appetite for flies

 

when you understand colors

where they are

what they are

why they are

 

the flight

of hummingbirds

how they alone fly backwards

 

when you understand fire

how it is

what it is

why it is

 

the feel of cool grass

on bare feet

 

when you understand spirit songs

of the ancestors

how they call

raise me

from simplicity

to simplicity

to oneness

 

then

you begin

to know me.