The Phoenix

Friday, March 17, 2006

Irish (Off)Spring

Earlier this year, Dublin scientists came to a startling conclusion: 3 million men of Irish descendance all over the world can trace their genes back to ONE man, Niall Noigiallach. Niall of the Nine Hostages, as he's also called, was a powerful Irish king in the 5th century. Imagine this: nearly 1 in 12 Irish men is related to this manwhore of a king!

The research was conducted by Laoise Moore at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics at Trinity. Ms Moore, tested the Y chromosome that is passed only paternally, from fathers to sons. She examined DNA samples from 800 males across Ireland.

The results were published in the American Journal of Human Genetics. Her findings: the highest concentration of related males were in north-west Ireland, where one in five males had the same Y chromosome. Fellow Trinity researcher, Dr. Dan Bradley, then consulted genealogical experts who provided an updated list of people with surnames that are genealogically linked to the last known relative of the "Ui Neill" family, which means "descendants of Niall."

The results showed the contemporary group of men had the same chromosome as those in the original sample, proving a link between them and the Niall descendants.

"The frequency [of the Y chromosome] was significantly higher in that genealogical group than any other group we tested," said Dr Bradley, whose surname is also linked to the medieval warlord. Other modern surnames tracing their ancestry to Niall include Gallagher, Boyle, O'Donnell, O'Reilly, O' Rourke and O'Doherty. O'Brother, lucky charms indeed!

To confirm, the scientists used special techniques to age the Y chromosome. This is done by tracking how many mutations had occurred in the genetic material over time. The number of mutations was consistent with chromosomes that would date back to the last known living relative of Niall.

Who was this Niall Noigiallach? (Pronouncing that last name produces a lot of flying spittle, by the way). He was the fourth and youngest son of an Irish High King and an enslaved daughter of the British King. He sired 12 sons, and all of them became powerful kings as well. He's often called Niall of the Nine Hostages because he took nine hostages: 5 Irish provinces and one from the Saxons, Britons, Scots, and French during his raids. On one of these raids, Naill captured who was to be the future St. Patrick. St. Patrick eventually escaped back to Britain, but returned Ireland and was central to it's conversion to Christianity.

While scientists were uncovering just how vast Niall's genetic reach had become, they were reminded of the recent research done concerning Ghengis Kahn (pictured right). Kahn was the 13 century conquerer of Asia, and it was found that more than 16 million men are descendants of this warlord. What's up with all these people TODAY tracing their genes back to these powerful individuals?

"It's another link between profligacy and power," Dr Bradley said. "We're the first generation on the planet where if you're successful you don't [always] have more children."

So all you people of Irish blood, have a great weekend celebrating your culture, your heritage, and the strong possibility that you're all related to an Irish stud known as "Hard as Niall."


35 Comments:

Blogger KC said...

I've read about this guy in the news. It's so cool that they can do that kind of tracing. Think of the way it could change geneology! People who swear they are descended from someone famous may now have a way to prove it. Or someone else could disprove it for them. I love this.

3/17/2006 9:56 AM  
Blogger Perplexio said...

Now that's what I call a spreading of one's seed.

But the question remains-- Was Semen Semenov somehow descended from either Niall Noigiallach or from Genghis Khan?

3/17/2006 10:00 AM  
Blogger angel, jr. said...

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!
So does this mean there is some inbreeding going on over there?

3/17/2006 10:07 AM  
Blogger Eve said...

OMG, it's like one big scary incestuous celebration?! Another excuse to get hammered... ;)

3/17/2006 10:26 AM  
Blogger Denny Shane said...

Grandpop Niall really did get around now didn't he? lol

3/17/2006 11:18 AM  
Anonymous delmer said...

My 12-year old just did a big research project on Genghis Kahn. Somehow he missed the 16M descendants thing.

3/17/2006 11:22 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

KC, It's pretty amazing how people can trace it back. I've traced my ancestors to Spanish Conquestadors.

Perplexio, Good question. Semen Semenov probably has 20 kids right now.

Angel, That's what I'm asking myself.

NWG, Getting drunk is probably what started all that inbreeding.

Denny, He did have 12 sons. That's recorded. He probably had a ton more children than what historians know for sure.

Delmer, Scientists estimate 8% of Asian males share that Y chromosome...tracing it back to Khan himself.

3/17/2006 11:25 AM  
Blogger LostInTX said...

Ha- Man-whore... :)

3/17/2006 11:38 AM  
Anonymous marie b. said...

My ancestry is Viking and native Irish (being actually born in Ireland and all), so my brother's could probably trace their way back to him themselves.

Explains the way that they behave!

3/17/2006 12:05 PM  
Blogger AnonymousCoworker said...

Does this mean I can tell people I'm hung like an Irish king?

3/17/2006 12:33 PM  
Blogger TNChick said...

Imagine his child support! LOL

Im not Irish, that I know of.... but I don't know much LOL

3/17/2006 1:24 PM  
Blogger Leon said...

Manwhore? Please. That man is my hero! Besides, he was a king. He could have his pick of any of the fair damsels of the land.

3/17/2006 1:31 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

Just stopped by to join in the St. Paddy's Day fun but where's the green beer!?! :o)

3/17/2006 1:38 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Wow, very interesting post! I alway enjoy reading your blog.

3/17/2006 2:26 PM  
Blogger PDD said...

That explains their drinking problem.

I left this as a comment on Denny's blog. I think it's appropriate to repeat, especially here:

Apparently my last name was the name aristocrats held in Rome circa gladiator. Does this mean I can't drink green beer anymore while sitting back and eating peanuts and enjoying a good bar brawl in a low-grade bar?

Will Zeus cross the border and murder me?

3/17/2006 2:31 PM  
Blogger :P fuzzbox said...

That guy must have had nearly as many women as Gene Simmons.

3/17/2006 3:32 PM  
Blogger Perplexio said...

... or Wilt Chamberlain.

3/17/2006 3:45 PM  
Blogger Grafs said...

Wow this is totally awesome. Rumor has it that there are a BUNCH of asians related somehow to Genghis Khan. He had a double Y chromosome, making him very track-able.

3/17/2006 4:45 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

8% of Asian males have that Y-chromosome...at least 16 million Asian guys can trace it back to Ghengis Khan.

3/17/2006 5:19 PM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

My maiden name is Bradley. I will have to tell my dad & brother about this Naill warlord.
I've also got quite a bit of Indian in me. My great-grandmother was a squaw. No kidding. Her picture is very cool looking. Maybe I'm a desendant of Pocohantas.

Green beer for everyone!!

Happy weekend!!

3/17/2006 11:11 PM  
Blogger Ben Heller said...

Am I one of the only people in this world who doesn't have Irish heritage ? Guess I'll never make President

After all, they all claim to have Irish blood.

3/17/2006 11:37 PM  
Blogger Rocky said...

Thanks for the Irish history lesson. Who had time for hostages when he was so busy in the sack? Maybe he was a multi-tasker.

3/18/2006 4:52 AM  
Blogger Curare_Z said...

***I thought that the way they were tracing back was through the X chromosome, via the mother's mitochondrial DNA since there is less mutation in that over time. At least, I believe this is how they are trying to show the links between what we consider to be different races now.***

Ok. Off my high horse. I don't think I have any Irish blood either Ben...but who knows?!

3/18/2006 7:19 AM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

I guess you could say that Niall and Genghis Khan, unlike George Washington, really WERE the fathers of their countries.

-- david

3/18/2006 9:47 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

JD, you sound like you're a Heinz Ketchup of all kinds of genes. It's interesting stuff.

Ben, being Irish is the least worrisome claim many of our presidents have made.

Rocky, big time multi-tasker!

Curare, Ok, men carry one X and one Y chromosome. Females have two X chromosomes. Unlike the 22 pairs of non-sex chromosomes each human has, there is almost no opportunity for the Y chromosome to swap or share its DNA with another chromosome.

So all the information in a man's Y chromosome is passed intact to his son.

David, it seems you're correct. It's interesting that several hundred years ago, powerful kings made sure to carry the bloodline through the following generations - I don't think they realized just how far their genese would go.

3/18/2006 10:51 AM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

We are indeed a hodge-podge. My brother is a redhead and I'm fairskinned. We have several first cousins that are brown skinned and have thick, dark hair. We don't even look like we belong in the same family.

3/18/2006 12:33 PM  
Blogger DaBich said...

Wow, that's wild....one man responsible for so many Micks!

3/18/2006 4:40 PM  
Anonymous delmer said...

I like to clear up my mistakes in the forum in which they were made. So with your permission ...

Earlier today I said to my oldest, "Haydn, did you know that 16 million ..."

"16 million people can claim to be descendants of Genghis Kahn," he finished.

So he knew. I thought I should give him his props. He isn't a reader of this blog ... but somehow, apologizing here sets the universe right.

3/18/2006 8:50 PM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

I talked to my dad today and told him about your post. He said that indeed, his ancestry is from ireland. He's got some Niall in him, I'm sure!

3/18/2006 11:57 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

JD, genetics is so interesting. Although you can make guesses as to how your kids will turn out, you just never know. And kids will change as well. In fact, when a baby is first born, they have a strong resemblance to their fathers usually. Scientists believe this is a carryover from early man...it is so the father is assured the child is his, and he will stay to help.

dabich, it really is wild. Each of his 12 sons became kings, and each had a ton of offspring as well. I do wonder how many women are related to Niall.

delmer, all is right with the balance of the force now.

3/19/2006 8:55 AM  
Blogger Fated said...

Holy crap! Assuming he only had 12 sons kind of makes you think. I read that the average amount of children women had in feudal times was 9. Even if you imagine only half were male imagine how many decendants each family has. Kind of makes you wonder who your neighbors are :P

Love how St. Patrick still made it in there :)

3/19/2006 10:56 AM  
Blogger Sherri said...

Oh, wow. I'm an O'Rourke, and, I've heard my dad talking about this before. We are 'supposed' to be royalty. LOL

It's so weird to see you writing about it.

3/19/2006 2:32 PM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

OK, I just need to point out something. It sounds like a man with 12 kids is having more sex than usual, but I figure it's the opposite. Given that most women are "uncomfortable" when they're pregnant and the first 3 months of having a newborn are rather hellish; Niall had to deal with living with a pregnant woman and a newborn for 12 years of his life!No wonder he found the time for raids and expanding his territory.

3/19/2006 4:03 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

just dropped in again to invite you to stop by my place tomorrow for the launch of MONDAY MEME!

3/19/2006 7:45 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

OOPS! forgot to mention that i always value your expertise opinion. :-)

3/19/2006 7:46 PM  

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