Member - ISOGG, GOONS, IGRS, GSI
Day Job - psychiatrist, pharmaceutical physician, & part-time actor
Night Job - Project Administrator for iCARA, Spearin Surname Project, & Irish mitochondrial DNA project
My Dad has been "doing the family tree" on and off since I was a teenager. I remember him having long conversations with my granny on Sunday afternoons when we used to visit her in Clontarf. I think we still have the roll of engineering graph paper on which he drew his first version of the tree. It's up in the attic somewhere. I joined the fray about 8 years ago and quickly became addicted. I've been an avid genealogist ever since.
What about your involvement with genetic genealogy?
I first tested in 2008 and have since used DNA to trace one line of my family (the Spierin line) back to the 1600's in Limerick. I've also set up the iCARA project to help people with Irish surnames in the Caribbean find their Irish ancestral homeland and even distant cousins living in Ireland today. I'm also co-administrator of the Ireland mitochondrial DNA project. I spoke on DNA last year at Back to Our Past and since then at the National Library of Ireland (Dublin), The National Archives in Kew (London), and various regional and local meetings.
So what will you be talking about?
I have two presentations at this years conference. Many people are interested in doing a DNA test but are not sure what tests are available or what the difference is between the various tests, so my first presentation is entitled "What DNA test is best for you?" and I will give a detailed description of the 3 main types of DNA test. I will cover what each test will tell you, and equally as important, what each test won't tell you. That way you can decide for yourself which test might be best to help answer the questions you have relating to your own family tree research.
The presentation will cover how the Y-DNA test can tell you about your deep ancestry, and connect you with relatives, on your direct MALE line (your father's father's father's line). I'll also discuss how Y-DNA is particularly useful for surname projects (because like the surname, the Y-DNA is passed down from father to son in a direct male line). Similarly, I'll discuss how the mitochondrial DNA test can inform you about your deep ancestry, and connect you with relatives, on your direct FEMALE line (your mother's mother's mother's line). Lastly, I will talk about the autosomal DNA test and how it can help you connect with more recent cousins (on all your ancestral lines) who share a common ancestor with you in the last 200 years or so. All of the tests will be illustrated with examples, mainly from Irish projects.
The second presentation is called "Autosomal DNA, Adoptees, and finding long lost Irish relatives". This talk will focus almost exclusively on autosomal DNA and how to use it to find long lost cousins. I've used it in my own family tree to find second cousins of my father's who live in Australia. We wouldn't have been able to establish this link without the DNA test. I'll also be explaining a step-by-step approach to assessing your "matches" on the autosomal DNA test and how to narrow down the number of potential candidates for the common ancestor that you share with each match. In this regard, the adoption community in the US have developed some amazing tools to help with this process and I will be looking at the successes they have had reuniting adoptees with their biological families and how the methodology can be applied to ordinary family tree research (with a particular focus on its potential usefulness from an Irish perspective).
Where can people get more information about you or your topic?
For more information just click on the links below:
- The ISOGG wiki is a great place to get general information about DNA testing
- The Spearin Surname Project
- iCARA (Irish Caribbean Ancestry - Reconnecting through DNA)
- DNAandFamilyTreeResearch.blogspot.co.uk - my blog for assisting people to understand what to do next once they have a match with someone else on their DNA (this is a work in progress).
You can download a pdf version of Maurice's slides on autosomal DNA by clicking here ...
And watch a video of his presentation below.
The lectures were sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy).