Thursday, 29 January 2015

AncestryDNA arrives in Ireland and the UK

My AncestryDNA kit, pre-dribble
AncestryDNA has today officially launched its genetic family history DNA test on this side of the Atlantic. Having launched in the US more than two years ago, it is now available in Ireland and the UK, and will launch to other international countries later this year. It has more than 700,000 people in its database at this point.

The company is a subsidiary of Ancestry, the world's largest online genealogy research, and uses advanced DNA technology to reveal genetic ethnicity. Its test examines a person's entire genome at over 700,000 genetic locations, and allows you to 'discover distant relatives you never knew you had, as well as revealing your ethnic mix from the past 500-1000 years or more.'

The size of the international (so far, about 99% American) database will be of benefit to those of Irish heritage in both Ireland and the UK as it will allow us to connect with the descendants of our emigrant ancestors. The company predicts that the vast majority of Irish and UK customers will connect with 3rd or 4th cousins immediately. As well as furthering our own research, taking the test has the added potential to help Irish-American family historians pinpoint their ancestor's place of origin in Ireland, which is so often the biggest challenge in their research.

I shall let the official press release tell you more: 'The AncestryDNA test uses microarray-based autosomal DNA testing, which surveys a person’s entire genome at over 700,000 locations via a simple saliva sample. Analysis of the DNA data provides a prediction of the locations of ancestors from 26 separate world-wide populations including Great Britain and Ireland, Europe, Scandinavia, Asia and South and North Africa.

'In contrast to Y-chromosome or mitochondrial DNA tests, which only test one line of your family and generally provide information about ancestry several thousand years ago, the AncestryDNA autosomal test targets the last few hundred or thousand years. This enables people to learn more about their more immediate family history.

'AncestryDNA can also help people identify relationships with unknown relatives through a list of possible DNA member matches. These results are a great starting point for additional research, collaboration, or to help people expand their family trees.

'Ancestry subscribers in the UK and Ireland will also have the opportunity to use new online interface tools to link their DNA results with their existing family trees and research. With millions of family trees online at Ancestry, more people than ever before will now be able to connect with new relatives and share their results.'

Costing £99 plus shipping, AncestryDNA kits are dispatched within six days of an order, with the test results taking from 6-8 weeks to be delivered. Tests are available for purchase at

Ancestry kindly sent me a complimentary kit, which arrived in a neat and well-designed box yesterday (see pic of contents above).

Now, I've already had Y-DNA and Family Finder tests done, both through Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), and both requiring only that I swab my mouth for 60 seconds.

The AncestryDNA test is different, but hardly onerous. You can't eat, drink, smoke or chew gum (!) for half an hour before the test, so I decided it was a 'first thing in the morning' task. According to the instructions, you have to spit saliva into the sample tube. Now, I'm a girl, so I don't spit (I remember two of my brothers trying to teach me how to spit when I was about seven... I failed), but I can dribble. Especially when my porridge is overdue. So I dribbled away for a few minutes until I'd provided the required amount, then followed the rest of the instructions and packaged up the sample for its return journey.

It's on its way. It will be interesting to see how the test results from AncestryDNA compare with the FTDNA results.