Family History, Science and Irishness

by | Jun 12, 2018 | DNA, DNA and health, Family HIstory live | 0 comments

A Double-Helix History live event at the Irish World Heritage Centre, Manchester, part of the Manchester Histories Festival, 9 June 2018

DHH took over the Irish World Heritage Centre on Saturday morning for an event bringing together a range of expert speakers to consider genetics and history in relation to Irishness.

It was great to have discussions from family historians, health charities and DNA experts. The audience was very lively and interested in issues relating to family history, Irishness, genetics and health.

Leslie Turner from the Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society began the day. Her introductory talk showed how family history works and in particular the numerous types of investigation that it entails. She showed us her own family tree and discussed the ways in which she approached researching her roots.

Debbie Kennett, the renowned DNA genealogy expert, gave a talk entitled ‘The genetic genealogy revolution: how DNA testing is transforming family history research’. Debbie’s talk covered a lot of ground, introducing some of the key ideas associated with genetics and family history. She also raised some concerns about the usefulness of such tests, and about data privacy. In questions she talked about her own roots and Irishness. Debbie’s really useful and interesting slides are here: In particular we should be interested in Debbie’s slide about the surge in use of DNA tests:

David Head, the CEO of Haemochromatosis UK, spoke about what his organisation calls the ‘Celtic curse’. Haemochromatosis occurs in humans due to a mutation in a gene largely found in people of Irish descent. This mutation, once useful, leads to a build up of iron in the blood. You can find out more at

Note: supported by Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland and partnered with the Irish Diaspora Foundation, part funded by and the AHRC. Thanks to the IWHC and to Julie Mullaney.




Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *