Viking legacy in Galway to be studiedOctober 5, 2012 - 7:15am
By DERMOT KEYS
Vikings may be more commonly associated with the “rape and pillage” reputation they have acquired over the years but a new DNA study is set to examine their long term impact on Galway.
A team of scientists from the Mary Immaculate College in Limerick and the University of Leiceister are looking for specific Galway families to undergo DNA tests in order to discover the genetic and social legacy of the Vikings in the area. The project is looking for volunteers aged 18 or over from a list of established Galway surnames to undergo DNA testing in Kelly’s Bar in Galway on October 21.
The study will reveal whether Galway’s medieval families are genetically linked to Normans or to Vikings, and it will investigate the extent to which the Vikings intermarried with the native population. One of the reasons for choosing people with traditional Galway surnames for the test is the extent to which internal migration has affected the Irish population in recent centuries.
Dr Catherine Swift of Mary Immaculate College revealed that they chose a selection of roughly 80 Galway families using medieval records and documents to try and find people with long term links to the city.
“If they have a surname like Fahey, Kelly or Broderick – these are all Galway names and so if they have been there for three generations or more you are pretty sure that they are from Galway.”
The DNA testing involves a simple cheek swab and volunteers will subsequently receive a free sample of their Y Chromosome results, which are normally quite expensive to obtain. Y Chromosomes are transferred through the male side, as is the familial name, which is why the volunteers must be male.
“Surnames are generally passed down from father to son and so is the Y Chromosome. The hope is that in the Irish context you can do the DNA and the historical investigation. The Irish records from the medieval period are far better than they are in other parts of Europe and the Irish had a particular interest in genealogy as well. That makes Ireland ideal for this project.
“A lot of archaeologists are saying that there were Vikings up and down the west coast. So there is a big question. Just because we don’t have a record of Vikings in Galway doesn’t mean they weren’t here.”
The information gathered in the study will be treated with the strictest confidence and any published information will remain anonymous.
Among the surnames eligible for the test are Broderick, Browne, Burke, Carr, Casey, Clancy, Collins, Donnellan, Lally, Lee, Moran, Morris, Murray, Naughton,, O’Flaherty, Regan, Tighe, Tully and Walsh.
For more on this story and to view the full list of surnames, see the Galway City Tribune.