I got my DNA results! I have an idea that for many people that do these DNA tests, it is exciting and disappointing at the same time. Exciting to see the truth and humbling to see the truth. Exciting to have some ethnicities validated and disappointing to realize that maybe we all really are a little bit of a lot of things and no one is as ‘pure’ as they think they are. That’s how I felt. That’s how my husband felt. We are told from our family that we are one thing, two things, maybe three things, and to see that many of us are a mix up of different ethnic regions due to migrations and the rise and fall of civilizations is surprising. Its exciting to feel you have a tiny little window into the past, little clues that tell a great story that you can only imagine and speculate. For my family in particular, it answered some questions and mysteries about my own heritage.
My mother was a blond haired blue eyed girl who grew up in Westfield, NJ, Her mother was born and raised in Australia. She was of Irish, Scottish, and Welsh descent. Her family emigrated to Australia from Ireland during the potato famine. My mother’s father was from Jersey City. He grew up in a foster family and fought in the battle of Guadalcanal during WW2. While he was stationed in the South Pacific, he traveled to Australia and met my grandmother. They knew each other for three weeks and fell in love. He went back to the war, and she jumped on a ship headed to America. All I knew about my grandfathers biological parents was that his mother’s name was Irish. It was speculated that his father was of Jewish descent but I don’t know if anyone knew for sure. Based on this information, I had thought my mother was 75% Irish/Celtic and 25% unknown.
My father was born in Nablus, Palestine. He left the occupation with his family when he was 4 and they went to Jordan. His family settled in Saudi Arabia which is where my father grew up. My father finished high school early at 16 and came to America for college. His family later settled in Jordan which is where I would grow up visiting them. My father’s mother and father both have Turkish ancestry.
My parents met in college and they had me, along with four other children. According to ancestry.com, the inherited percentages of ethnicities can vary between siblings.
So definitely surprising to say the least. I had assumed I was half Irish half Arab. When you look over your DNA results you don’t realize how they are going to break up the different regions. I was a little discouraged to see only 16% Middle Eastern at first but if you add the Caucasus (Turkey) and North Africa, that brings me up to about 36%. I feel very cool to claim North Africa as part of my heritage. The remainder of my dad’s inherited DNA is probably Southern European or Iberian. I was also surprised to see such a high percentage of European Jewish, but that must explain my grandfather’s biological father. It had always been speculation to me and now it was proven on paper. The connection to Connacht Ireland verifies my grandmother’s lineage to Ireland during the potato famine. I imagine that maybe my grandfather’s mother was from Ulster, Ireland settling on the east coast of America. I did not expect to see such high percentages of Southern European or the Iberian peninsula. Finally, the wild card factor for me was Finnish/Northwest Russia. I learned that Finnish is actually a separate ethnicity from Scandinavian (which my husband had) and I feel a little special to have that as a part of my DNA.
Following are the official Ancestry.com descriptions for each of the regions that were present in my DNA:
Primarily located in: Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Israel
Primarily located in: Italy, Greece
Primarily located in: Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Yemen,
United Arab Emirates (UAE), Lebanon, Israel
Primarily located in: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey
Primarily located in: England, Scotland, Wales
Primarily located in: Spain, Portugal
Primarily located in: Ireland, Wales, Scotland
Your DNA shows that you have ancestry from Ireland/Scotland/Wales and
Great Britain and links you to these specific regions:
*Connacht, Ireland: Life was difficult for the Connacht Irish at the
turn of the nineteenth century. As the population grew, land became
scarce, and families who couldn’t afford their rent were evicted from
their homes with little notice. During the Great Potato Famine, many
Connacht Irish died or fled home to escape poverty and starvation. The
poorest made the short hop to Liverpool and Manchester, while others
traveled to America’s East Coast settling in cities like New York and
Boston, which became havens for these Irish immigrants.
*Ulster, Ireland: In the late 1700s the population of Ulster was
growing, land was scarce, and rents were high. Many immigrated to
America, joining relatives in Pennsylvania and the Carolinas, for an
easier life. As poverty and unemployment continued throughout the
1800s, others left for Canada to work in construction and the lumber
trade. Crop failures motivated even more people to flee to Belfast or
Great Britain looking for food and work. Thousands more joined
established Irish communities in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and
Chicago building canals and railroads.
Primarily located in: Morocco, Western Sahara, Algeria, Libya
Primarily located in: Finland, Russia (northwest)
Primarily located in: Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands,
Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein
Primarily located in: India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka
I think the lesson in these DNA tests for everyone is that we are all a little bit of everything. It is rare to be exclusively one or a few ethnicites. The history of humans on earth spans thousands of years and is rife with conflicting and conquering civilizations and masses of people migrating and mixing. It is a humbling experience meant to bring us all a little bit closer. I encourage you to get your DNA tested!