It felt like I was a liar.
All my life I had been telling people I was half German, possibly more. After all, my mother’s family and ancestors were all German for hundreds of years, and there was also German on my father’s side of the family. The other side of my family was mainly English and French. When my DNA results came back, however, I only had trace amounts of DNA from Great Britain. Furthermore, only 19 percent of my DNA was considered Western European, and that included France, Austria, Northern Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands as well as Germany.
The biggest surprise was that my DNA was 34 percent Irish. While I may have come across a few Irish ancestors during my genealogy searches, my brush with the land of Eire was minimal. Now my DNA results told me I was 34 percent Irish. How could that be?
The other day I came upon a fascinating article about the origins of the Irish people. As a distinct group, their origins are ancient. More many years the it was believe that the original settlers of the Celtic nations may have come from the Keltoi people who lived north of Greece in Central Europe. The Greeks considered them barbarians, which might explain away my moodiness and bad table manners when I was a child. New research, however, suggests that the Irish people are more closely related to the Basque people of northern Spain. The Basques are also closely related to the original settlers of Scotland. These ancient ancestors lived in Ireland, Wales and Scotland for thousands of years before intermixing with people in Great Britain and West Europe, both distinct groups of people whom are different from the Irish.
I found a photo of my great grandmother, Mae Burdge Miller, and her twin daughters Elizabeth and Winifred. Mae’s heritage was heavily Scots and probably Irish, now that I know more about my DNA. I think I look more like my Scandinavian ancestors.
You can read more about the fascinating subject of Irish ancestry here.