Every Irish person has an average of 14,000 cousins according to genealogy experts ancestry.com.
Let’s see, there’s Tommy, Kevin, Sean, Mikey, Paul, Peter, Mary, Sarah, Claire, Joanne, Lizzy… you get the picture.
The study by Ancestry traced back Irish roots for up to 200 years, and found that each one of us shares thousands of relatives based on the number of genetic eight or closer cousins we have based on one common ancestor.
More than 5,300 Irish people had their DNA examined as part of the study.
Ireland has a long history of emigration, and that has seen the number of distant relatives we share run into the thousands.
The research found that people from Ulster had the most amount of cousins, an average of 17,558.
This higher number is likely to be influenced by the plantations in Ulster in the 1600s, with British settlers coming in to the area and increasing the gene pool.
People from the province of Munster had the average 14,000 distant cousins, while Leinster folk averaged 13,700.
Connacht people have the ‘smallest’ extended family with an average of 13,500 cousins.
Ancestry’s Russel James credits the discovery of DNA by Irish American scientist Dr James Watson as the key to learning about our family history.
James said: “That scientific discovery and the key milestone forever changed our understanding of the code that makes us who we are.
“We’ve come a long way since the double helix was discovered in 1953 and the fact that we’re now able to use that pioneering science in our own homes to enrich our lives and make new connections with relatives we never knew existed is remarkable.”
He added that Irish people should reach out to some of their distant relatives: “It might be that striking up a relationship with even a few cousins could end up being a life-changing experience – and it all starts with your DNA.”
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