Posted by Kristen Hyde on January 9, 2019 in AncestryDNA

When we launched Ancestry’s detailed genetic regions in March last year we knew it was a major step in the journey for us to empower customer journeys of self-discovery. Back then we were proud to have the granularity in our database to be able to detect 13 distinct genetic regions in Ireland, helping tell the story of Irish migration throughout the world.

Now, 18 months and 10 million DNA tests later, we are now even prouder to offer 92 distinct regions in Ireland. We now have the capability to break the Irish population down by province, county and in some cases, parish!

Our DNA science team has made this possible by combining Ancestry’s unique DNA network of over 10 million customers and over 80 million family trees. Remember this is neither the beginning nor the end of the journey – the more DNA samples that are added and family trees that are built the greater the granularity that will become available.

New regions reveal new insights into Irish migration

The granularity of these new regions is already prompting us to research further into Irish history to match some of our new regions to known migrations and where we can point to new ones. Some notable examples include migrations from Clifden and Connemara to county Cork in the late 1800s. Movement from Leinster to the US and Australia in the early 1900s and, of course, migrations during the famine from the west coast in the 1850s.

A key feature of the history of Irish migration that we see confirmed through these new views is that migration from Ireland happened in distinct waves.

• In the early 1800s it was primarily Presbyterian flax farmers from Ulster seeking new opportunities in Pennsylvania. This was driven by the Penal Laws in Ireland which affected Presbyterians just as much as Catholics.

• Post Famine in the 1850s we see a major spike in migration from Connacht and Munster to the east coast of the United States and Canada. Greater granularity in DNA communities in these regions (and Donegal) today is a direct result of how hard hit these regions were by the famine in the 1840s.

• Whilst there was post-famine migration in Leinster too, it is in the early 1900s that the population of the province begins to migrate at scale. Most of these travelled for economic opportunities to the United States and Australia.

• A key feature for all these migrations is that by leveraging our historical records and DNA database we see secondary migrations within North America.

These show that after the initial waves settle on the East Coast, their descendants begin the American dream by moving to new towns being established in the interior.

Seeing more detail in personal results

Looking at my own results, I have seen an evolution from Eastern Ulster (this was quite a large region in the old algorithm – stretching from Antrim to Wicklow) as my primary origin region to South East Leinster. It is a great relief to a proud Leinster supporter to say that my province is in my DNA, but it also more accurately reflects the birth locations in my family tree.

Using Ancestry’s matching algorithm coupled with new regions, I have been able to knock through a long-standing brickwall in my family tree by leveraging a fourth cousin match (from a Member in the US) with strong links to the Wicklow, Carlow, and Wexford community.

We’re proud to announce these new regions are now available for all of our AncestryDNA users. Log in to your AncestryDNA account today to view your updated results.

Interested in taking an Ancestry test? Discover your unique story by ordering your DNA kit online at

This blog post was written by Dave Rooney, Director of International Analytics for Ancestry IE.



    • Amy

      It’s the same no matter where you take the test. From your “DNA Results Summary” page, click on “Discover Your DNA Story. ” You should see the gray map from the first image, with the “Ethnicity Estimate” white box listing your Irish regions.

      I’m looking at my Irish mom, and she’s still only showing Munster. Disappointing, as she also has Ulster Scot ancestry from Donegal.

  1. Bill Gawne

    The new ethnicity estimate correctly shows my lineage from the West Beara Peninsula (my mother’s mother’s people) but it completely misses my lineage from southern county Carlow (my mother’s father’s people.) I know I have 2nd cousins in the database who share that lineage with me, so I’m wondering what’s going on. (I match with them as 2nd cousins, so it’s not a matter of lacking the matching DNA.)

  2. Alec van Helsdingen

    Still have zero genetic communities/subregions/migrations. Being half Dutch I would expect to get the “Netherlands” GC quite easily, but I don’t even have that. The GCs were a major reason why I tested with AncestryDNA, so I am disappointed to still have none. Are there any advancements planned for GCs in Britain and Netherlands/Germany?

  3. Sara

    My second highest result is in Ireland, though sadly there is still no further breakdown for me yet either. Is there a wait to have this applied to all accounts?

    • Kathleen

      Ditto here, Sara. My mother is Scots-Irish and we know through DNA that at least her father’s family has been in Ireland for yonks, but I get no breakdown.

  4. Frank Hayes

    Kristen, Your blog post suggests that Ancestry is now able to distinguish between 92 different genetic communities. We have no paper trail to Ireland yet (thus no Irish Roots in our family tree – yet, just speculation). But Ancestry dna results do show 4% Ireland & Scotland & 49% England, Wales & NW Europe (which includes England, Scotland & Wales) & other test sites suggest as much as 25% Irish. My question is: Is it possible to pinpoint (and see on a map) which of Ancestry’s 92 distinct Ireland genetic communities we might belong to even though we don’t yet know whether our Hayes side comes from Ireland, England or Scotland? Our contacts with DNA matches to date been not been fruitful. Thank you. Frank Hayes

  5. Lesley Cowing

    My DNA estimate has not changed still just 28% Irish/Scottish and 72% English others seem to have had a more detailed breakdown but I do not.

  6. Robert Varley

    I can see the detailed region boxes in the “Other regions tested” section but despite 14% Irish & Scottish (should be higher?) my maternal Grandmother & all her ancestors that I can trace being from Ulster there is “No connection”. Looking specifically at Tyrone & Armagh, but
    Perhaps the algorithm requires a tweak or two still? I also have lots of 4th cousin matches that link via Ireland. You did at least break down my UK block to include Devon & Cornwall – my maternal Grandfather.

    • Carrie

      January 16, 2019 at 10:20 am
      A lot of Irish went to Scotland and it could be possible that they had the Irish DNA and married into the same type of DNA .?

  7. Carrie

    Just wondering if it is worth getting this if it is only going to tell me that I am Irish English and Europe which I know already

  8. Carrie

    A lot of Irish went to Scotland and it could be possible that they had the Irish DNA and married into the same type of DNA .?

  9. Ruth

    Dad is approx 60% Irish, yet my results say that I’m 50%. Also my mother’s family are from the Pennines. Mine says Midlands. And yes they are my parents! This is just irritating.
    23andMe results are pretty spot on.

  10. Debra Croft

    I’ve waited ages for updates on Irish data but unfortunately no regions specified for me yet. Both my paternal great-grandmothers were 100% Irish with archives and paper trails
    confirming their parents and grandparents came from Mayo, Roscommon, Louth, Waterford, Laois and Tipperary. Hopefully I’ll see something soon.

  11. Sally Hale

    Was so excited to see this update, but unfortunately non for me either. Would 30% Ireland and Scotland be too low to apply these regional updates?

  12. Marie Ball

    Very impressed by my Irish areas. I knew my maternal grandmother had two Irish parents from County Down but it’s only recently I’ve discovered it’s likely the Breens actually came from Louth rather than Down like the McIlherons. Ancestry has given me South Down and North Louth, so it’s spot on. (Not quite so impressed by being told I am from the North and the Midlands in England. I am certainly from the North, but otherwise Norfolk, nowhere in the Midlands.)

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  16. Janice Nelson Cole

    In common with many of your other users, I still have no specific reference to the location of my Irish ancestors despite the launch of your DNA regions in Ireland. How recent does the DNA link have to be before the algorithm you use is able to detect a region?

  17. Thomas J Moeller

    I agree with Lesliy Cowing, in that I see Irish in my ethnicity results, no do not see any breakdown into those 80 specific regions of Ireland. In my results, I am 57% Ireland & Scotland and also some Saint Lawrence River French Settlers.

  18. Mary McAuliffe

    Please do not forget New Orleans LA as a port of entry for post famine Irish. New Orleans is a port city and a Catholic city. Liverpool was the main port used if the Irish were coming directly to New Orleans. Most of the famine Irish did go to East Coast ports but not all of them; New Orleans had a large Irish population after the famine.

  19. Sandra McDevitt

    My DNA results do not have any breakdown as to regions in Ireland. Anyone know how I can contact Ancestry about this? Have checked the ancestry site but the support center is useless.

    • Alec van Helsdingen

      It’s quite normal to have no subregions. The DNA and family tree evidence has to be very strong before they assign you to a subregion. If you are only partially Irish, then your DNA may be too “dilute” for Ancestry to tell precisely where in Ireland your ancestors came from.

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  21. Trevor

    Is there the same level of granulation within populations in UK? I have got no issue identifying location of maternal Irish ancestors to Mayo. My problem is my paternal line: I think it is English or Welsh(because of my surname) but I have no names, birthplaces for any ancestor. My grandfather died in the War, he gave his D.O.B on the 1939 Registar but there’s no matching record on the GRO.
    It has proved impossible to identify him through a records search as mine is a very common surname, and any possibles can’t be verified because of lack of a corroborating fact.
    Do you think a DNA test might unmask where my paternal family are from with any degree of accuracy?

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  24. JMB

    Mine is just showing 50% Ireland a great big ring (or rather oval) around the whole of Ireland.

    I am still dubious because I am a mix of Lancashire and Yorkshire on my paternal side though I have two Great Great Grandmothers on that side who are probably Irish.

    My maternal side is all Welsh. So I still think Ancestry have not distinguished well between Welsh and Irish (and perhaps the “Celtic” traces in the North of England).


  25. Kathleen croston

    Ancestry shows I am 55%irish scotch they have shown me irish provences but no towns or cities ,it does say ive scotch in my dna but shown no area,s in scotland and on my paternal side I cant go further in ireland for my great great grandad patrick neill 1823 came to manchester between 1850 -61 before that block wall .

  26. maryse nadon

    am Canadian French from Quebec and I received my DNA result informing me that I am 29% from Ireland and Scotland and 4% from Great Britain. Why I have not in my result the detailed regions of Ireland, like Donegal county and others. I have only my percentage. I would like to know which region I am from. And why, I have no matches with Europe while I am 100% European, I only have matches in Canada and the USA. I am trying to understand. Thank you

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  28. Alexa Mia

    Utilizing Ancestry’s coordinating calculation combined with new locales, I have had the option to thump through a long-standing brick wall in my family tree by utilizing a fourth cousin coordinate (from a Member in the US) with solid connects to the Wicklow, Carlow, and Wexford people group.Cheap Essay Writing Service

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