Am I Irish?

Do you live in the United States? If so, do you know where your ancestors lived prior to migrating to the United States? I live in a community where a large portion of the population can trace their ancestry back to Germany. These immigrant ancestors migrated to the U.S. between about 1860 and 1920. While everyone might pretend to be Irish today, most of my neighbors likely don’t have any Irish ancestry.

When asked where my ancestors came from, I will often jokingly respond, Kentucky. That’s because several of my lines become brick walls in Kentucky. While I haven’t sought out immigration records, I do know some of the country origins for a few of my ancestors.

  • Germany — Briles line traces back to the Germanna colony when Conrad Broyles, his brother and parents arrived in 1717.
  • England — Many of my New England lines trace back to early Massachusetts. My Hammond line likely goes back to Thomas Hammond who was born and married in England but died in Massachusetts.
  • Dutch — While I was aware that my Ostrander line was likely Dutch, it is only recently that I found that thru my Harris line, I have several lines going back to the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam
  • Scottish — I’m fairly certain that my Crawford line and several other lines go back to Scotland. However, these are the lines that are currently stuck in Kentucky

So do I have any Irish ancestry? Possibly. My Ralston line may be my Irish connection. According to Find a Grave, David Franklin Ralston was born in Ireland.

So, what does my DNA tell me? Am I Irish? According to my current Ancestry DNA, nope, I don’ have any Irish ancestry.

I’m fortunate to have also tested my brothers and my mother. These tests provide slightly different ethnicity results.

Brother 1
Brother 2

So, brother1 has a tiny bit of Irish ancestry and my mother has slightly more Irish ancestry. My mother’s Irish results are surprising since the RALSTON line is on my dad’s side of the tree. Also surprising is the fact that my mother’s results only show 10% Germanic Europe while brother1 shows 12% and I show 26%. This is surprising because my mother’s father was a Briles (my known German ancestry).

For me, these varying ethnicity results indicate that I might have a little Irish in me. However, when I see these varying results, I see data that reinforces the fact that my tree is deeply American. I see data that supports the concept of the melting pot.

Below are posts that I’ve written in the past about my Irish (or lack of Irish) ancestry.

Where’s My Irish?

Are you Irish? Do you have any Irish ancestors in your tree? Although I haven’t proven a connection to Ireland, I have a few lines that hint at originating in Ireland.

However, when I look at my recent ethnicity on the DNA tests I manage, the Irish is hard to find.


Brother #1

Brother #2

And – finally some Irish in my mother’s test.

Even though I think I might have Irish roots on both sides of my tree, those roots are at least 6 or 7 generations back. Thus, it is understandable that finding IRISH in my DNA would be difficult.

How about you? Can you find your Irish?

Deeply American

Did you test your DNA at Ancestry? If so, have you checked the newly updated ethnicity results? For some, these results might provide clues for further research.

For me, they are basically useless. When others have asked me about my ethnicity, I sometimes jokingly reply that I’m American. When asked for clarification, I explain that my family has been in what becomes the United States for a very long time. I often also stated that I didn’t know most of my immigrant ancestors. Prior to today, I could identify three likely immigrant ancestors.

  • David Ralston – immigrated in 1803
  • Phillip Andre Mentzer — immigrated prior to1800
  • Conrad Broils – immigrated in 1717

If asked where my ancestors were from, I often responded with Kentucky. Kentucky is where several of my brick walls end. If pushed to identify countries, I would have responded, England, Scotland, possibly Ireland, Germany and Scandinavia. Since I hadn’t actually identified my immigrant ancestors, I was just guessing. To eliminate some of this guesswork, I decided to try and identify my immigrant ancestors.

To do this, I used the ability of RootsMagic to interface with the FamilySearch tree. Using the FamilySearch tree as a guide, I added ancestors starting about generation 9 and working back to the immigrant ancestor. Since I use color coding in my tree to identify various lines, I decided to color code my immigrants with the color teal. Most of these immigrant ancestors are in generations 12 thru generation 16.

I realize that I have a LOT of research ahead of me to add sourcing for all of the ancestors I just added to my tree. However, the process has helped me learn a lot about my tree.

  • Many of my lines trace back to Middlesex county, Massachusetts
  • I have quite a few ancestors going back to New Amsterdam

Unfortunately, the Ahnentafel that I had hoped to share is over 50 pages long and thus way too long to share in a blog post. Even though I likely will never print that report, my work to identify these potential ancestors will help me as I continue researching my family history.

Using the Ahnentafel, I decided to count the countries of origin for my immigrant ancestors. Although prone to error, this tally does show that my ethnicity should be predominantly English.

GenerationCountry# from Country

The tally continues thru generations 13, 14 and 15 with over 100 more immigrant ancestors from England. Thus it makes sense when my ‘DNA STORY’ on Ancestry indicates a large percentage for English ethnicity.

My brother’s DNA stories:

My mother’s DNA story is a little different. The large block of German DNA would be her father’s line that does go back to Germany.

At this point, I can’t explain the Swedish DNA. However, there are several lines, including my Thompson line, that are stuck in (you guessed it) Kentucky.

Even though my ahnentafel and my DNA story indicate that I have deep English roots, I still contend that I have a deeply American tree.

Irish Roots?

Growing up, I wore green on St. Patty’s day. However, my family did not celebrate being Irish on that day. That’s likely because those Irish roots are buried deep in our tree.

Looking at FamilySearch’s seven generation fan chart showing country of birth, my tree is mostly blue. In other words the vast majority of my ancestors thru 6 and 7 generations were born in the United States. Even my Harding line that has two generations born in Canada has roots in New York.

David Ralston is my only 4th great grandparent born in Ireland.

If I go back a generation and look at my dad’s tree, a few more possible Irish lines appear.

However, my mom’s side of the tree only shows one possible Irish line.

So does my DNA support me having any Irish roots. Even though the way Ancestry determines ethnicity has been modified over the past 5 years, my DNA story does not indicate I have much Irish. It does, however, indicate fairly strong Scottish roots.

Since I have also had my brothers and my mother tested, I also can access their DNA stories to check for Irish ethnicity.

Brother 1 (March 2021)
Brother 2 (March 2021)
Mother (March2021)

Even though my ethnicity results don’t indicate I’m Irish, I’m going to claim that I’m a tad-bit Irish based on the ethnicity results of my brothers.

However, when others ask about my heritage, my response varies based on my mood at the time. Sometimes, I’m Kansan. If I’ve been doing a lot of Crawford research in Kentucky, then I often respond that I’m from Kentucky. Other times, I respond that I’m colonial American.

But every St. Patrick’s day, I celebrate my ‘just a little bit’ Irish roots.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day