Summary of Study Results - Fall 2002
Summary of Second Round Results - April 2003
April 10, 2003
New advances in understanding the human genetic code have opened a number of exciting possibilities for genealogists and the Fitzpatrick Mac Giolla Padraig Clan. For the first time, it is possible to trace family relationships not only through written records, but also through genetic analysis. While physical documentation of relationships often does not exist or can be altered or destroyed, the DNA each individual carries in their genes is a unique chemical signature established at his conception, which cannot be changed with time. Every person carries a unique genetic code that is theirs alone, derived from the unique codes of their parents, which, in turn, they derived from their parents, and so on back in time. Genealogists can now use what is known as molecular genealogy to analyze this code and determine family connections which otherwise would be impossible to
establish. This is causing a revolution in genealogy, in that family connections which in the past could not be verified because of a lack of documentation, can now be established through DNA analysis. There are many genetic markers with which every individual can be linked to their ancestors or to other living individuals. For example, male lineage can be established through DNA carried on the Y-chromosome that a son inherits from his father. Also, both sons and daughters can be linked to their female ancestors through mitochondrial DNA, which exists outside the cell nucleus, and which is inherited intact through the female line. Through DNA analysis, it can be determined not only if two individuals are related, but also in which generation.
Such DNA analysis has been applied to forensic science in the last ten years to identify the remains of historical figures, or to document the identity of an individual. For example, DNA analysis was used to identify the remains of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family, through blood samples vsupplied by Prince Philip, since the Prince was related to the Russian royal family through his mother. In another case, Anna Anderson, who claimed to be the Tsar's youngest daughter Anastasia, was proved to be a fraud when DNA analysis proved she was really a Polish factory worker. In more routine cases, DNA analysis has been used to prove paternity, and to identify victims of violent crimes. These technique are now being applied to genealogy to establish links between geographically disperse populations, and to pinpoint the origin of certain ethnic groups. There are molecular genealogy projects underway at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Salt Lake City, and through the Royal Irish Academy, through collaboration of several institutions in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The BYU study, in particular, has the aim of establishing a library based on DNA analysis parallel to its well known Family History Center, based on written documentation.
The Great Famine caused a mass exodus from Ireland, dispersing the Irish population all over the globe. After a century and a half, it is only natural that connections between branches of the same family who live far from each other have been lost in time, making it very difficult for the Irish genealogist to reconstruct his family tree. This is unfortunately true for the Fitzpatricks. Although the Fitzpatricks were once one of the most powerful families in Ireland, we are now scattered throughout Ireland, the U.S., Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of the world. Adding to the difficulty is the duplication of names. A genealogist searching for a John Fitzpatrick might easily find ten, but without further information, it is impossible to establish which, if any, is the right one.
As evidenced by the Fitzpatrick Clan 2000 Gathering in Portlaoise, Ireland, in July 2000, there are many undocumented branches of the Fitzpatrick family tree. To link these branches to the established noble lineage, as well as to fill the gaps in the nobility itself, we propose to enter the BYU molecular genealogy study. We are interested in finding as many Fitzpatricks as possible to participate. This will require the donation of a small amount of blood, and the submission of a pedigree chart of at least four generations, preferably more. We hope the outcome will be a more comprehensive picture of how we Fitzpatricks are related, which will also indicate where the members of the Clan emigrated over time. An added bonus for those Fitzpatricks who live elsewhere will be a chance to establish roots in Ireland, an otherwise difficult task.
If you would like to become a volunteer for our project, please contact
Dr Colleen Fitzpatrick PhD at CFitzp@aol.com
For more information on the BYU program, please visit the BYU website at
since 5 November 2003
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