Where do the modern Irish come from

Who are the Irish? DNA atlas shows the country's genetics

There has been ample evidence that Vikings were in Ireland, including ruins, artifacts, and Norwegian family names. But the Atlas provided the very first DNA evidence of the intermingling of the Irish and the famous traders and seafarers. The genetic signatures that emerged in Ireland are most similar to those found on the north and west coasts of Norway, where the Vikings were most active.

The team also compared the modern genetic data with two ancient genomes from Ireland. One was from a person who lived near Belfast about 5,000 years ago during the Neolithic. The other belongs to a person who lived on Rathlin Island in the late Bronze Age, sometime between 2000 and 1500 BC. The scientists hoped to find a genetic similarity or relationship between the Bronze Age genome and the modern inhabitants of the same region. That was not the case, however. The ancient genomes were mainly used as a nice reference to highlight the differences between the modern groups.

DNA atlas helps researchers, doctors and patients

The ability to link genetic information to geographic origin helps researchers design studies that examine how and why a person or group of people may be affected by certain genetic diseases. It is not enough just to know that someone is Irish. Researchers may also find it useful to know that his DNA was shaped by a unique genetic subset from a specific part of Ulster.

Gallery: Ireland and its castles and palaces