There’s been a ton of buzz for the last few months about Ancestry.com’s new DNA testing, which maps your ethnicity and matches your tree to others who have taken the test. I, of course, signed up right away. I’ve always wanted to try DNA testing, but have never been able to justify the cost. Ancestry’s $100 seemed like a pretty good deal to me, so why not?
The test was pretty simple: spit into a tube, discover where your family lived 1,000 years ago. I sent it away with romantic daydreams of getting something back that I wasn’t expecting, Middle Eastern, Scandinavian. (A lot of people who have taken the test have been shocked to receive a high percentage of Scandinavian DNA when none of their documented ancestors have been Scandinavian. It ends up that those ancestors thousands of years ago were Vikings who settled in their conquered lands. Pretty cool, right?) Mostly, though, I was hoping for confirmation of the random Jewish and Cuban heritage that’s snuck into my Irish Catholic lines.
Well, the results are in:
I wasn’t really expecting my results to look so… heterogeneous, but then when I thought about it, it made total sense. Of my great great grandparents, only 3 out of the 16 weren’t from Ireland or England. If the DNA test is tracing my ethnicity back 1,000 years, think of all the Irish and English people there are in my tree in comparison to the Cuban and German! If we’re looking at percentages, they’d basically be almost nonexistent. My DNA results absolutely show that.
Ancestry.com explained that the 7% Uncertain meant that those bits of DNA were too small to determine their origin. That could change with time once their DNA pool gets larger, but I’m pretty confident that’s the German and Cuban genes making an appearance. Although, who knows, maybe there’s a secret lurking in that 7% that I’m not anticipating?
Overall, I’m really glad I took the test. My family has always celebrated our Irish heritage and while I didn’t think I could feel any closer to my long ago homeland, the results of my DNA test gave me a sense of pride I wasn’t necessarily expecting, but perhaps should have anticipated.
In 2008, I was lucky enough to visit Ireland. I remember standing on the bank of some lake in the Wicklow Mountains and thinking about how my ancestors might have stood in the same spot hundreds (and now I know, thousands) of years ago and how cool that was. In America, our history is brief. The places I visit now in my every day life were only fixtures in my family tree for 200 years, maybe 300, but nothing so grand as to span the length of millennia. The tour guide on our bus in Ireland told me I looked exactly like her niece and I remember thinking that she looked like my aunts (soft features, round face, light complexion, thin hair). Now I’m better able to understand why.