Using DNA to expand your tree
I have taken a few DNA tests over the last number of years. One reason being that I lost my mother as a child and my father in my 20s and, coupled with not having any siblings, DNA tests have help me to reconstruct the family trees of my parents.
I check my DNA matches quite regularly and I recently discovered a close match. Looking at their family tree, I could see that our grandmothers in Galway were sisters. It’s always a good idea to contact matches but sometimes they may not reply - some people take tests to find out their ethnicity, or because they are curious to see the results without being interested in family history, and others take them for health reasons.
My match took the test out of curiosity so it was lovely when she replied. She told me that she lives in Canada and after a few emails we started exchanging photos. She sent me one photo of a lady whom her mother told her was her great grandmother but she couldn’t remember which side of her family this lady came from. I contacted my 100 year old aunt, through my cousin, who immediately said ‘Grandma’ when she saw the photo. Both my newly found cousin and myself were thrilled that we had identified our mutual great grandmother.
DNA can give you so much more than a genetic match, and I now have a photo of my great grandmother! It is always a good idea to add a basic tree to your DNA - e.g. one of your direct ancestors and, as shown, can help to contact your matches and reply to queries when they contact you. You never know what it may throw up!
Photo: Mary Callinan, the mutual great-grandmother of Maura Flood and Maura Good*
Photo: Maura Good with husband and children*
Photo: Maura Good with husband, children and grandchildren*
*Photos used by kind permission of Maura Good
By Maura Flood
By Caitlin Bain