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Poulnabrone, Ireland



Poulnabrone, Ireland - History

Ardgroom Stone Circle, County Cork,
Ireland
Nigel Borrington

Ardgroom Stone Circle, County Cork, Ireland

The Ardgroomon stone circle is located on the Beautiful Beara Peninsula, county cork. It has to be one of the most magical of all the Irish stone circle, it also has the best of locations and views, sitting about the Atlantic ocean. There is something so exciting and mysterious about visiting a stone circle. The Ardgroomon circle is located in an area were there is an abundance of these historic sites, as well as wedge tombs, ring forts, boulder burials and fulachta fiadhs.

As well as being used for the Solar Spring and summer Equinox’s along with the Summer and Winter Solstice, many of these stone circles would also log the Movement of the Moon, Planets and Stars as during the year they changed their positions along the horizon. The standing stones in a stone circle would have in combination with a feature on local hill sides, have been lined up with astronomical objects(Sun, moon, planets and Stars). This would have given an almost daily measurement for months of the year.

The reason that ancient peoples needed to log the movement of the heavens was mainly for practical reasons such as farming, they needed to know when to sow seeds, bring cattle down from the mountains and bring in the crops, also they needed to know how long their store of food had to last before the new growing season started, no imports in those days.

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1 Bunratty Castle

Found in the village of Bunratty County Clare, between Limerick City and the town of Ennis, Bunratty Castle is a 15th-century tower house. There have been three other structures on this site before the construction of the current castle. The first structure was a settlement set up by Norsemen. King Henry III of England was responsible for the building of a motte and bailey castle. Thomas De Clare built the first stone structure on the site and this was occupied between 1278 and 1318. While De Clare was away in England, in 1284, the castle was attacked and destroyed. In 1287, De Clare had the castle rebuilt and this version stood until it was attacked again in 1318. In the same year, De Clare and his son were killed in battle.

The present structure was built in 1425 by the MacNamara family. The O'Briens, Munster's most powerful clan, seized control of the castle around 1500. During the Confederate Wars (between 1641 and 1653), Rear-Admiral Penn, whose son William would go on to found the province of Pennsylvania, was in control of the castle before surrendering to the Irish Confederates and being allowed to sail to Kinsale. Bunratty Castle was then past down through the O'Brien family before it was sold to the Studdert family around 1720. When the Studdert family left the estate, to move to the nearby, more modern, 'Bunratty House', the castle fell into disrepair. In 1956 the 7th Viscount Gort and the Office of Public Works restored the castle and in 1960 it was opened to the public. Today the castle and its folk park can be visited for a small fee.


Newgrange: First-Degree Incest in Ireland’s Ancient Ruling Class

Newgrange just doesn’t stop boggling our minds! Science boffins at Trinity College Dublin have examined ancient Irish genomes found in an Irish passage tomb. And they have discovered that the Irish dynastic elite, like their Egyptian counterparts, were inbreeding to keep their royal lines pure. Ew.

Newgrange as seen on a misty morning. Credit: Ken Williams, shadowsandstone.com

> The genome of an adult male from the heart of the world famous Newgrange passage tomb points to first-degree incest, implying dynasty and echoing local place-name folklore first recorded in Medieval times.

> Far-flung kinship ties between Newgrange and passage tomb cemeteries in the west (Carrowkeel and Carrowmore, Co. Sligo) indicate an elite social stratum was widespread.

> Before megalith builders arrived en masse, Ireland was home to a small hunter-gatherer population, whose genomes speak of long-term isolation from Britain and Europe.

> The earliest case of Down Syndrome was discovered in a male infant from the famous Poulnabrone portal tomb.

Archaeologists and geneticists, led by those from Trinity College Dublin, have shed new light on the earliest periods of Ireland’s human history.

Among their incredible findings is the discovery that the genome of an adult male buried in the heart of the Newgrange passage tomb points to first-degree incest, implying he was among a ruling social elite akin to the similarly inbred Inca god-kings and Egyptian pharaohs.

Older than the pyramids, Newgrange passage tomb in Ireland is world famous for its annual solar alignment where the winter solstice sunrise illuminates its sacred inner chamber in a golden blast of light. However, little is known about who was interred in the heart of this imposing 200,000 tonne monument or of the Neolithic society which built it over 5,000 years ago.

The survey of ancient Irish genomes, published in leading international journal, Nature, suggests a man who had been buried in this chamber belonged to a dynastic elite. The research, led by the research team from Trinity, was carried out in collaboration with colleagues from University College London, National University of Ireland Galway, University College Cork, University of Cambridge, Queen’s University Belfast, and Institute of Technology Sligo.

Newgrange gold hoard – this is evidence of what the dynastic elite were wearing.

“I’d never seen anything like it,” said Dr Lara Cassidy, Trinity, first author of the paper. “We all inherit two copies of the genome, one from our mother and one from our father well, this individual’s copies were extremely similar, a tell-tale sign of close inbreeding. In fact, our analyses allowed us to confirm that his parents were first-degree relatives.”

Matings of this type (e.g. brother-sister unions) are a near universal taboo for entwined cultural and biological reasons. The only confirmed social acceptances of first-degree incest are found among the elites – typically within a deified royal family. By breaking the rules, the elite separates itself from the general population, intensifying hierarchy and legitimising power. Public ritual and extravagant monumental architecture often co-occur with dynastic incest, to achieve the same ends.

“Here the auspicious location of the male skeletal remains is matched by the unprecedented nature of his ancient genome,” said Professor of Population Genetics at Trinity, Dan Bradley. “The prestige of the burial makes this very likely a socially sanctioned union and speaks of a hierarchy so extreme that the only partners worthy of the elite were family members.”

The team also unearthed a web of distant familial relations between this man and other individuals from sites of the passage tomb tradition across the country, including the mega-cemeteries of Carrowmore and Carrowkeel in Co. Sligo.

Carrowmore megalithic cemetery is the largest cemetery of megalithic tombs in Ireland and is also among the country’s oldest, with monuments around five thousand years old. Older than the Pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge. ©Nicole Buckler

“It seems what we have here is a powerful extended kin-group, who had access to elite burial sites in many regions of the island for at least half a millennium,” added Dr Cassidy.

Remarkably, a local myth resonates with these results and the Newgrange solar phenomenon. First recorded in the 11th century AD, four millennia after construction, the story tells of a builder-king who restarted the daily solar cycle by sleeping with his sister. The Middle Irish place name for the neighbouring Dowth passage tomb, Fertae Chuile, is based on this lore and can be translated as ‘Hill of Sin’.

“Given the world-famous solstice alignments of Brú na Bóinne, the magical solar manipulations in this myth already had scholars questioning how long an oral tradition could survive,” said Dr Ros Ó Maoldúin, an archaeologist on the study. “To now discover a potential prehistoric precedent for the incestuous aspect is extraordinary.”

The genome survey stretched over two millennia and unearthed other unexpected results. Within the oldest known burial structure on the island, Poulnabrone portal tomb, the earliest yet diagnosed case of Down Syndrome was discovered in a male infant who was buried there five and a half thousand years ago. Isotope analyses of this infant showed a dietary signature of breastfeeding. In combination, this provides an indication that visible difference was not a barrier to prestige burial in the deep past.

Additionally, the analyses showed that the monument builders were early farmers who migrated to Ireland and replaced the hunter-gatherers who preceded them. However, this replacement was not absolute a single western Irish individual was found to have an Irish hunter-gatherer in his recent family tree, pointing toward a swamping of the earlier population rather than an extermination.

Poulnabrone dolmen…. a portal tomb… dating back to the Neolithic period,

4200 BC and 2900 BC. Buried underneath are 22 adults and six children. In the Bronze Age, around 1700 BC, a newborn baby was buried in the portico, just outside the entrance. ©Nicole Buckler


Ireland’s Origin Story & The Tuatha de Dannan

Ireland has no clear “origin story,” though the Book of Invasions details the comings and goings of many people. An important one to highlight are the quasi-mythical Tuatha de Dannan. They are the Sidhe (pronounced “shee”) – mystical fairy-like people who supposedly inhabited Ireland prior to the arrival of the Celts (the Milesians).

The Tuatha de Dannan are credited with naming Ireland. Sending three of their goddesses Banba, Fodla and Ériu to meet with the incoming Celts, they named their new lands after Ériu, later becoming Éirinn and eventually – Eireann.

The unified Celtic people as we know them today were once multiple tribes spread all over Europe. The tribe supposed to have arrived here first around 500BC were the Milesians. It’s hard to tell whether the Celts came to invade or gradually assimilate – one thing is for sure, they truly left their mark and brought with them a dominant culture & expert use of Iron that would stand to them in battle.

See below for some of the most intriguing monuments from Neolithic, Bronze & Iron Age Ireland.

Newgrange & Bru na Boyne

The biggest and most famous of Ireland’s Neolithic monuments, Newgrange is 5,2000 year old located in the heart of the ancient Boyne Valley. The huge tomb contains a 19-metre-long passage to three chambers. Abandoned and used as a quarry for hundreds of years, archeologists have painstakingly researched and reconstructed the ancient tomb.

Carrowkeel & Carrowmore – Sligo

Over a dozen ancient cairns are huddled atop a series of small, eerie mountains in Sligo. Far less famous than Newgrange – and requiring a bit more of a trek to get here – three of of Carrowkeel’s cairns are open. With a bit of a squeeze, you can duck into two of rhese ancient cairns. Sligo is a hotspot of ancient archeology – find many more Neolithic sites in this area.

Poulnabrone Wedge Tomb – Burren


The lunar-like barren landscape of the Burren is a hotbed of Neolithic sites. The most famous is Poulnabrone Dolman, a huge portal tomb, located amidst the exposed limstone landscape. Of the 172 dolmens in Ireland, the Poulnabrone Dolman is the most photographed. Poulnabrone tomb dates back to at least 3,800 BC, and was used as a burial site.

Cavehill Promontory Fort – Belfast

Moving away from the Neolithic Age, there are many Iron Age promontory forts. Little is left of these forts to the untrained eye, but the upside is that they are generally located high up with a great panoramic view. The fort at Cavehill Park just outside Belfast offers amazing views over Belfast and they nearby magical landscape.

“I am Patrick, yes a sinner and indeed untaught yet I am established here in Ireland where I profess myself bishop. I am certain in my heart that ‘all that I am’, I have received from God…

I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.”


Irish DNA map reveals history's imprint

In their sample of the Irish population, the researchers identified 10 genetic groupings - clusters - that roughly mirror ancient boundaries.

The results also suggest the Vikings had a greater impact on the Irish gene pool than previously supposed.

A team of Irish, British and American researchers analysed data from 194 Irish individuals with four generations of ancestry tied to specific regions on the island.

This allowed the scientists to work out the population structure that existed prior to the increased movement of people in recent decades.

Co-author Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri, from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, told BBC News that the differences between the different Irish groups were "really subtle".

He told BBC News: "We're only picking them up now because, first of all, the data sets are getting really big." The other reason, he said, was because of "really clever analytical approaches to pick out these very slight differences that generate the clusters".

The study builds on a similar one for Britain, which was published in 2015.

Recent studies of DNA from ancient remains suggest that, broadly-speaking, the Irish genetic landscape was established by the Bronze Age, when migrants from mainland Europe - probably belonging to the Beaker archaeological culture - had settled on the island.

It's possible that these Bronze Age people also spoke Celtic languages, though we cannot know this for sure.

The latest paper highlights more recent population-shaping events in Irish history. The locations of the 10 clusters identified in the Irish population seemed to reflect either the borders of the four Irish provinces - Ulster, Leinster, Munster and Connacht - or historical kingdoms.

For example, the researchers found that Munster divided into northern and southern genetic clusters. These appear to coincide with the boundaries of the Dál Cais and the Eóganacht - rival kingdoms established in medieval times.

But it might also be influenced by geography - specifically the mountains which carve up the landscape in this region.

"The likelihood is that it's a combination of these things - a little bit of geography combined with wars or rivalry generates kinship in each distinct area. And it's those subtle features that we're able to extract today," said Dr Cavalleri.

Of the 10 clusters, seven were found to be of "Gaelic" Irish origin and three of mixed Irish and British ancestry. All of the mixed clusters were located in Northern Ireland.

The geographical location of these three groupings, along with estimates of when the population mixing occurred - the 17th to 18th Centuries - led the researchers to surmise that this was related to the Ulster Plantation, when English and Scottish Protestants settled in Ireland.

The detection of Norwegian-like ancestry in Irish samples probably reflects migrations during the Viking era. While this component is relatively small (a maximum of 20%) compared to the native Irish background, the researchers were surprised to find it at higher levels in the Irish than in the Welsh and English (though at lower levels than those found in the Orkneys, with their traditional ties to Scandinavia).

However, Dr Cavalleri said it was possible the high levels of Norwegian ancestry in the Irish might be confounded if substantial amounts of Irish DNA had found its way to Norway over time: "Perhaps people the Vikings brought back," he speculated.

This could have the effect of reducing genetic differences between the two populations and making it seem as if the amount of Viking ancestry in Ireland is greater than it is.


Twolfgcd's Blog (Galen Dalrymple)

Another shot from Ireland in 2002 today. This is a picture of the Poulnabrone Dolmen. Poulnabrone Dolmen (Poll na mBrón in Irish meaning “hole of sorrows”) is a portal tomb in the Burren, County Clare, Ireland, that dates back to the Neolithic period somewhere between 4200 BC and 2900 BC. Surrounded by a field of Karst limestone where neither crops nor brush could grow because of the shallow soil, this tomb is one of the most visited sites in County Clare.

The dolmen consists of a twelve-foot, thin, slab-like, tabular capstone supported by two slender portal stones, which lift the capstone 6 feet from the ground, creating a chamber in a 30 foot low cairn. The cairnhelped stabilize the tomb chamber, and would have been no higher during the Neolithic times. The entrance faces north and is crossed by a low sill stone.

Excavations done around 1985 showed that between 16 and 22 adults and 6 children were buried under the monument. Personal items buried with the dead included a polished stone axe, a bone pendant, quartz crystals, weapons and pottery. In the Bronze Age, around 1700BC, a newborn baby was buried in the portico, just outside the entrance. With its dominating presence on the limestone landscape of the Burren, the tomb was likely a centre for ceremony and ritual until well into the Celtic period or it may have served as a territorial marker in the Neolithic landscape.

Here’s how we were told the burials took place: the bodies would be placed on the top slab until the flesh had been eaten away by birds or decayed, at which time the bones would be taken off the “lid” and placed inside the structure where they would be at least partially burned.

It’s cool to see something this old…something that pre-dated many of the pyramids!

Poulnabrone Dolmen, the Burren, Ireland

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The history of Ireland and the Irish language - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

The history of Ireland and the Irish language. We start in the . A burial monument ('dolmen') near Poulnabrone. The history of Ireland and the Irish language . &ndash PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Irish history.  

Irish history spans some 6000 years of occupation dating back to Megalithic times, when the Celts arrived here from mainland Europe. Impressive burial mounds such as Newgrange , ringforts and dolmens like those at Poulnabrone and Craggaunowen in County Clareਊre attributed to those tribes of hunter gatherers.  The Celts were then followed by successive waves of invaders including the Vikings, Normans, English and even the Spanish, the French never quite made it even though a line of Martello towers were built to defend Ireland from just such an invasion. We finally achieved independence from England in 1916 for 26 of Ireland's counties while 6 in (Northern Ireland) still remain part of Britain. The commercial foundations of Dublin were laid by the Vikings (Dublinia) followed by the Normans who built impressive strongholds such as Trim castle where the epic movie 'Braveheart' was filmed. Please excuse the 2,000 bare-bottomed extras recruited from the Curragh Army Camp in County Kildare for that same movie.

Other castles in Irish history range from large fortified towers with impressive keeps such as Bunratty Castle in County Clare, to smaller ones like Thoor Ballylee, in County Galway, former home of the poet and playwright Willaim Butler Yeats. Grand country houses like Tullynallyਊnd Birr were castle-ated with fairy tale parapets and towers during the reiqn of Queen Victoria. Many of these big houses and castles on vast estates were given to (often) absentee English landlords in return for military duty. As a result, many of these were ransacked and burned down during the 'troubles'. Others were saved and restored privately or are now under the management of Office of Public Works or the auspices of the Irish Georgian society and so have survived to tell the tale. There are hundreds of castles all over the country, many in ruins that you can explore for yourself, just be careful !

The 10 Best Castles in Ireland are.

You can stay in quiet a few posh castles like well known Ashford or Dromoland Castles? Ballynahinch is much more atmospheric (it was once owned by an Indian maharajah) the 5 star Solis Lough Eske in Donegal or the delightful family run since 1940 Ballinalacken Castle in County Clare. Or you can go to a medieval banquet, throughout the summer in Dunguaire, Knappogue or Bunratty Castles. You can even rent a whole castle to yourself if you like, for a small kings ransom ?


Ancient Ireland – the land of Tara and Knowth and the passage tombs of New Grange. Land of legend, romance, and perchance of King Arthur, or at least some ancient king who became Arthur in legend.

The island of Ireland, today Ireland and Northern Ireland, was a destination location, it seems, the westernmost island in the British Isles, and therefore the western shore of Europe. Anyone who sailed further west had better have weeks of food, water, and a great deal of good luck.

But who settled Ireland, when, and where did they come from? How many times was Ireland settled, and did the new settlers simply mingle with those already in residence, or did they displace the original settlers? Oral history recorded in the most ancient texts speaks of waves of settlement and conquest.

According to two papers, discussed below, which analyze ancient DNA, there were two horizon events that changed life dramatically in Europe, the arrival of agriculture about 3750 BC, or about 5770 years ago, and the arrival of metallurgy about 2300 BC, or 4320 years ago.

The people who lived in Ireland originally are classified as the Mesolithic people, generally referred to as hunter-gatherers. The second wave was known as Neolithic or the people who arrived as farmers. The third wave heralded the arrival of the Bronze Age when humans began to work with metals.

Our answers about Irish settlers come from the skeletons of the people who lived in Ireland at one time and whose bones remain in various types of burials and tombs.

The first remains to be processed with high coverage whole genome sequencing were those of 3 males whose remains were found in a cist burial on volcanic Rathlin Island, located in the channel between Ireland and Scotland.

In 795, Rathlin had the dubious honor of being the first target of Viking raiding and pillaging.

Rathlin Island is but a spit of land, with a total population of about 150 people, 4 miles east to west and 2.5 miles north to south. Conflict on the island didn’t stop there, with the Campbell and McDonald clan, among others, having bloody clashes on this tiny piece of land, with losers being tossed from the cliffs.

The island is believed to have been settled during the Mesolithic period, according to O’Sullivan in Maritime Ireland, An Archaeology of Coastal Communities (2007). The original language of Rathlin was Gaelic. Having been a half-way point between Ireland and Scotland, it’s believed that Rathlin served as an important cog in the Dalriada diaspora with Dalriada people taking their language, through Rathlin, into Scotland from about 300 AD, or 1700 years ago.

The first Irish remains whose DNA was sequenced at the whole genome level are from those three men and a much earlier Neolithic woman.

  • Three men from a cist burial in Rathlin Island, Co. Antrim (2026-1534 BC) with associated food vessel pottery.
  • A Neolithic woman (3343-3030 BC) from Ballynahatty, County, Down, south of Belfast, found in an early megalithic passage-like grave

Megalithic tomb at the centre of the Giant’s Ring in Ballynahatty, Ireland, photo by robertpaulyoung – [1], CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3221494

The males reflect genetic components of the Yamnaya, early Bronze Age herders from the Pontic Steppe, along with an equal level of Caucasus admixture.

The threshold between the Neolithic and Bronze Age fell at about 3750 BC in western Europe and Ireland, right between these two burials.

Even Earlier Burials

In 2020, Cassidy et al sequenced another 44 individuals from Irish passage grave burials ranging in age from 4793 to 2910 BC, or about 3000 to 7000 years ago. All of the men are members of haplogroup I, except two who are Y haplogroup H.

The Rathlin males, all haplogroup R1b, combined with evidence provided by later genetic analysis of passage grave remains point decisively towards a population replacement – with haplogroup R males replacing the previous inhabitants of both Europe and the British Isles.

In far western Ireland, haplogroup R and subgroups reach nearly 100% today.

I would encourage you to read the two papers, linked below, along with supplemental information. They are absolutely fascinating and include surprises involving both the history between Ireland and continental Europe, along with the relationships between the people buried at Newgrange.

Not only that, but the oral history regarding an elite sibling relationship involving the sun was passed down through millenia and seems to be corroborated by the genetics revealed today.

The most recent 2020 paper includes extensive archaeological context revolving around passage graves and megalithic tombs. When I visited New Grange in 2017, above, I was told that genetic analysis was underway on remains from several ancient burials.

I’m incredibly grateful that Dr. Dan Bradley’s ancient DNA lab at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics in Dublin, which I was also privileged to visit, was not only working on these historical treasures but that they were successful in obtaining high-quality results for Y DNA, autosomal and mitochondrial.

Dr. Dan Bradley in his ancient DNA lab in Dublin.

Take a look at these fascinating papers and then, see if you match any of the ancient samples.

Neolithic and Bronze Age migration to Ireland and establishment of the insular Atlantic genome by Cassidy et al 2016

This paper included the Ballynahatty female and the three Rathlin Island males.

Significance

Modern Europe has been shaped by two episodes in prehistory, the advent of agriculture and later metallurgy. These innovations brought not only massive cultural change but also, in certain parts of the continent, a change in genetic structure. The manner in which these transitions affected the islands of Ireland and Britain on the northwestern edge of the continent remains the subject of debate. The first ancient whole genomes from Ireland, including two at high coverage, demonstrate that large-scale genetic shifts accompanied both transitions. We also observe a strong signal of continuity between modern-day Irish populations and the Bronze Age individuals, one of whom is a carrier for the C282Y hemochromatosis mutation, which has its highest frequencies in Ireland today.

The Neolithic and Bronze Age transitions were profound cultural shifts catalyzed in parts of Europe by migrations, first of early farmers from the Near East and then Bronze Age herders from the Pontic Steppe. However, a decades-long, unresolved controversy is whether population change or cultural adoption occurred at the Atlantic edge, within the British Isles. We address this issue by using the first whole genome data from prehistoric Irish individuals. A Neolithic woman (3343–3020 cal BC) from a megalithic burial (10.3× coverage) possessed a genome of predominantly Near Eastern origin. She had some hunter–gatherer ancestry but belonged to a population of large effective size, suggesting a substantial influx of early farmers to the island. Three Bronze Age individuals from Rathlin Island (2026–1534 cal BC), including one high coverage (10.5×) genome, showed substantial Steppe genetic heritage indicating that the European population upheavals of the third millennium manifested all of the way from southern Siberia to the western ocean. This turnover invites the possibility of accompanying introduction of Indo-European, perhaps early Celtic, language. Irish Bronze Age haplotypic similarity is strongest within modern Irish, Scottish, and Welsh populations, and several important genetic variants that today show maximal or very high frequencies in Ireland appear at this horizon. These include those coding for lactase persistence, blue eye color, Y chromosome R1b haplotypes, and the hemochromatosis C282Y allele to our knowledge, the first detection of a known Mendelian disease variant in prehistory. These findings together suggest the establishment of central attributes of the Irish genome 4,000 y ago.

A Dynastic elite in monumental Neolithic society by Cassidy et al, 2020

Poulnabrone Dolmen, County Clare, where disarticulated remains of 35 individuals have been excavated and two, approximately 5500-6000 years old, have resulting haplogroups.

This second article includes a great deal of archaeological and burial information which includes caves, reefs, cist burials, boulder chambers, peat bogs, dry-stone walls, portal tombs (think Stonehenge style structures), megalithic tombs such as the Giant’s Ring, court tombs, and passage tombs, including Newgrange.

The nature and distribution of political power in Europe during the Neolithic era remains poorly understood 1 . During this period, many societies began to invest heavily in building monuments, which suggests an increase in social organization. The scale and sophistication of megalithic architecture along the Atlantic seaboard, culminating in the great passage tomb complexes, is particularly impressive 2 . Although co-operative ideology has often been emphasized as a driver of megalith construction 1 , the human expenditure required to erect the largest monuments has led some researchers to emphasize hierarchy 3 —of which the most extreme case is a small elite marshalling the labour of the masses. Here we present evidence that a social stratum of this type was established during the Neolithic period in Ireland. We sampled 44 whole genomes, among which we identify the adult son of a first-degree incestuous union from remains that were discovered within the most elaborate recess of the Newgrange passage tomb. Socially sanctioned matings of this nature are very rare, and are documented almost exclusively among politico-religious elites 4 —specifically within polygynous and patrilineal royal families that are headed by god-kings 5,6 . We identify relatives of this individual within two other major complexes of passage tombs 150 km to the west of Newgrange, as well as dietary differences and fine-scale haplotypic structure (which is unprecedented in resolution for a prehistoric population) between passage tomb samples and the larger dataset, which together imply hierarchy. This elite emerged against a backdrop of rapid maritime colonization that displaced a unique Mesolithic isolate population, although we also detected rare Irish hunter-gatherer introgression within the Neolithic population.

Y DNA Analysis at FamilyTreeDNA

Fortunately, the minimum coverage threshold for the Bradley lab was 30X, meaning 30 scanned reads. Of the 37 males sequenced, the lab was able to assign a Y DNA haplogroup to 36.

Family Tree DNA downloaded the BAM files and Michael Sager analyzed the Y DNA. The results split about 8 Y DNA lines, resulting in a total of 16 different haplogroup assignments. There are a couple more that may split with additional tests.

Cassidy et al report that the Y DNA results in several geographic locations, using the ISOGG tree (2018) for haplogroup assignment, although in some cases, I did find some inconsistencies in their haplogroup and SNP names. I would recommend reading the paper in full for the context, including the supplementary information, and not simply extracting the SNP information, because the context is robust as is their analysis.

If your family hails from the Emerald Isle, chances are very good that these people represent your ancestral lines, one way or another – even if you don’t match them exactly. The events they witnessed were experienced by your ancestors too. There appears to have been a vibrant, diverse community, or communities, based on the burials and history revealed.

Of course, we all want to know if our Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA haplogroups, or that of our family members matches any of these ancient samples.

Thank you to Michael Sager, phylogeneticist, and Goran Runfeldt, head of R&D at Family Tree DNA for making this information available. Without their generosity, we would never know that an ancient sample actually split branches of the tree, nor could we see if we match.

Do You Match?

I explained, in this article, here, step-by-step, how to determine if your Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA matches these ancient samples.

If you only have a predicted or base haplogroup, you can certainly see if your haplogroup is upstream of any of these ancient men. However, you’ll receive the best results if you have taken the detailed Big Y-700 test, or for the mitochondrial DNA lines, the full sequence test. You can upgrade or order those tests, here. (Sale started today.)

Sample: Rathlin1 / RM127 (Cassidy et al. 2016)
Sex: Male
Location: Glebe, Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland
Age: Early Bronze Age 2026-1885 cal BC
Y-DNA: R-DF21
mtDNA: U5a1b1e

Sample: Rathlin2 / RSK1 (Cassidy et al. 2016)
Sex: Male
Location: Glebe, Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland
Age: Early Bronze Age 2024-1741 cal BC
Y-DNA: R-DF21
mtDNA: U5b2a2

Sample: Rathlin3 / RSK2 (Cassidy et al. 2016)
Sex: Male
Location: Glebe, Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland
Age: Early Bronze Age 1736-1534 cal BC
Y-DNA: R-L21
mtDNA: J2b1a

Sample: Ballynahatty / BA64 (Cassidy et al. 2016)
Sex: Female
Location: Ballynahatty, Down, Northern Ireland
Age: Middle to Late Neolithic 3343-3020 cal BC
mtDNA: HV0-T195C!

The above 4 samples were from the original 2016 paper, with the additional samples from 2020 added below

Sample: Ashleypark3 / ASH3 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Ashleypark, Tipperary, Ireland
Age: Early-Middle Neolithic 3712-3539 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT344600
FTDNA Comment: Ashleypark3, Parknabinnia186, Parknabinnia2031, Parknabinnia672, Parknabinnia675, Parknabinnia768 and Poulnabrone06 split the I2-L1286 (S21204+/L1286-) branch. These samples, along with SBj (Gunther 2018), I1763 (Mathieson 2018), Ajv54 (Malmström 2019) and Ajv52, Ajv58 and Ajv70 (Skoglund 2012) form the branch I-FT344596. All Cassidy samples form an additional branch downstream, I-FT344600. There is further evidence that SBj, Ajv58 and Ajv52 might form an additional branch, sibling to I-FT344600
mtDNA: T2c1d1

Sample: Killuragh6 / KGH6 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Killuragh, Limerick, Ireland
Age: Mesolithic 4793-4608 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-V4921
FTDNA Comment: Joins ancient samples Loschbour, Motala12, Motala3 (Lazaridis 2015) and Steigen (Gunther 2018) at I2-V4921
mtDNA: U5b2a

Loschbour Man is from present-day Luxembourg, Motala is from Sweden and Steigen is from Norway.

Sample: Parknabinnia186 / PB186 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3518-3355 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT344600
FTDNA Comment: See Ashleypark3
mtDNA: X2b-T226C

Sample: Parknabinnia2031 / PB2031 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3632-3374 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT344600
FTDNA Comment: See Ashleypark3
mtDNA: K1a2b

Sample: Parknabinnia672 / PB672 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3626-3196 cal BC 3639-3384 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT344600
FTDNA Comment: See Ashleypark3
mtDNA: T2c1d-T152C!

Sample: Parknabinnia675 / PB675 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3263-2910 cal BC 3632-3372 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT344600
FTDNA Comment: See Ashleypark3
mtDNA: H1

Sample: Parknabinnia768 / PB768 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3642-3375 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT344600
FTDNA Comment: See Ashleypark3
mtDNA: H4a1a1

Sample: Poulnabrone06 / PN06 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3635-3376 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT344600
FTDNA Comment: See Ashleypark3
mtDNA: H

Sample: Sramore62 / SRA62 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Sramore, Leitrim, Ireland
Age: Mesolithic 4226-3963 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-S2519
FTDNA Comment: Split the I2-S2519 branch. Pushes Cheddar man and SUC009 down to I-S2497. Other relevant pre-L38s include I2977 (I-Y63727) and R11, I5401, I4971, I4915 I4607 (I-S2599)
mtDNA: U5a2d

This branch is ancestral to Cheddar Man who dates from about 9000 years ago and was found in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England. S2497 has 141 subbranches.

Sample: Annagh1 / ANN1 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Annagh, Limerick, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3638-3137 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3712
FTDNA Comment: One of 15 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: K1a-T195C!

Men from Germany and Ireland are also found on this branch which hosts 47 subbranches.

Sample: Annagh2 / ANN2 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Annagh, Limerick, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3705-3379 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3712
FTDNA Comment: One of 15 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: H4a1a1

Along with men from Germany and Ireland, and 47 subbranches.

Sample: Ardcroney2 / ARD2 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Ardcrony, Tipperary, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3624-3367 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT354500
FTDNA Comment: Ardcroney2 and Parknabinnia443 split the I2-Y13518 branch and form a branch together (I-FT354500). Additional ancient samples residing on I-Y13518 include I2637, I2979, I6759, and Kelco cave
mtDNA: J2b1a

Kelco Cave is in Yorkshire, England.

Sample: Ashleypark1 / ASH1 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Ashleypark, Tipperary, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3641-3381 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3712
FTDNA Comment: One of 15 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: K2a9

Sample: Baunogenasraid72 / BG72 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Baunogenasraid, Carlow, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3635-3377 cal BC
Y-DNA: H-FT362000
FTDNA Comment: Baunogenasraid72 and Jerpoint14 split the H-SK1180 branch and form branch together (H-FT362000). Several other additional ancient samples belong to this branch as well including FLR001, FLR002, FLR004, GRG022, GRG041 (Rivollat 2020), and BUCH2 (Brunel 2020)
mtDNA: K1a4a1

Y haplogroup H is hen’s-teeth rare.

Sample: Carrowkeel531 / CAK531 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Carrowkeel, Sligo, Ireland
Age: Late Neolithic 2881-2625 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT380380
FTDNA Comment: Joins ancient sample prs013 (Sánchez-Quinto 2019)
mtDNA: H1

Sample: Carrowkeel532 / CAK532 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Carrowkeel, Sligo, Ireland
Age: Late Neolithic 3014-2891 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: J1c3

One current sample from Portugal.

Sample: Carrowkeel534 / CAK534 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Carrowkeel, Sligo, Ireland
Age: Neolithic None
Y-DNA: I-M284
mtDNA: X2b4

This branch has several subclades as well as people from Ireland, Scotland, England, British Isles, Germany, France, Denmark, Northern Ireland and Norway.

Sample: Carrowkeel68 / CAK68 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Carrowkeel, Sligo, Ireland
Age: Late Neolithic 2833-2469 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: H

Sample: Cohaw448 / CH448 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Cohaw, Cavan, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3652-3384 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-L1498
mtDNA: H1

This branch has 129 subbranches and men from England, Ireland, UK, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Norway, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Sample: Glennamong1007 / GNM1007 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Glennamong, Mayo, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3507-3106 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3713
FTDNA Comment: Joins VK280
mtDNA: K1a-T195C!

Branch has 42 subbranches and men from Ireland, England, Scotland, France, and Germany. I wrote about VK280, a Viking skeleton from Denmark, here.

Sample: Glennamong1076 / GNM1076 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Glennamong, Mayo, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3364-2940 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: H1c

Sample: MillinBay6 / MB6 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Millin Bay (Keentagh Td.), Down, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3495-3040 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-L1193
FTDNA Comment: One of 6 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: J1c3

Branch has 51 subbranches and men from Ireland and England.

Sample: Jerpoint14 / JP14 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Jerpoint West, Kilkenny, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3694-3369 cal BC
Y-DNA: H-FT362000
FTDNA Comment: Baunogenasraid72 and Jerpoint14 split the H-SK1180 branch and form branch together (H-FT362000). Several other additional ancient samples belong to this branch as well including FLR001, FLR002, FLR004, GRG022, GRG041 (Rivollat 2020), and BUCH2 (Brunel 2020)
mtDNA: T2c1d1

Sample: Newgrange10 / NG10 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Newgrange, Main Chamber, Meath, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3338-3028 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: U5b1-T16189C!-T16192C!

Sample: Parknabinnia1327 / PB1327 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3631-3353 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3712
FTDNA Comment: One of 15 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: T2b3

Sample: Parknabinnia443 / PB443 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3636-3378 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT354500
FTDNA Comment: Ardcroney2 and Parknabinnia443 split the I2-Y13518 branch and form a branch together (I-FT354500). Additional ancient samples residing on I-Y13518 include I2637, I2979, I6759, and Kelco_cave
mtDNA: K1b1a1

Sample: Parknabinnia581 / PB581 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3631-3362 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-L1193
FTDNA Comment: One of 6 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: T2b

Sample: Poulnabrone02 / PN02 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Early-Middle Neolithic 3704-3522 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3712
FTDNA Comment: One of 15 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: U5b1c1

Sample: Poulnabrone03 / PN03 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3635-3376 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: K1a1

Sample: Poulnabrone04 / PN04 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Early Neolithic 3944-3665 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: H1-T16189C!

Sample: Poulnabrone05 / PN05 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Early Neolithic 3941-3661 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-L1193
FTDNA Comment: One of 6 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: K1a-T195C!

Sample: Poulnabrone07 / PN07 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3629-3371 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-FT370113
FTDNA Comment: Forms a branch with Raschoille_1 (Brace 2019) and I3041 (Olalde 2018). Other relevant ancient samples are Carsington_Pasture_1, I3134, I7638 at I-BY166411, and Coldrum_1 and I2660 at I-BY168618. These 8 ancients all group with two modern men, 1 from Ireland and 1 of unknown origins.
mtDNA: U5b1c

Sample: Poulnabrone107 / PN107 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Early Neolithic 3926-3666 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: U4a2f

Sample: Poulnabrone112 / PN112 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Early-Middle Neolithic 3696-3535 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: U5b2b

Sample: Poulnabrone12 / PN12 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3621-3198 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-Y3709
FTDNA Comment: One of 12 ancient samples currently on this branch
mtDNA: H

Sample: Poulnabrone13 / PN13 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Male
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Early-Middle Neolithic 3704-3536 cal BC
Y-DNA: I-S2639
mtDNA: V

Sample: Carrowkeel530 / CAK530 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Female
Location: Carrowkeel, Sligo, Ireland
Age: Late Neolithic 2883-2634 cal BC
mtDNA: W5b

Sample: Carrowkeel533 / CAK533 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Female
Location: Carrowkeel, Sligo, Ireland
Age: Late Neolithic 3085-2904 cal BC
mtDNA: H

Sample: NewgrangeZ1 / NGZ1 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Female
Location: Site Z, Newgrange, Meath, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3320-2922 cal BC
mtDNA: X2b-T226C

Sample: Parknabinnia1794 / PB1794 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Female
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3647-3377 cal BC
mtDNA: J1c6

Sample: Parknabinnia357 / PB357 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Female
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Early-Middle Neolithic 3640-3381 cal BC 3774-3642 cal BC
mtDNA: U8b1b

Sample: Parknabinnia754 / PB754 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Female
Location: Parknabinnia, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3617-3138 cal BC
mtDNA: U5b2a3

Sample: Poulnabrone10_113 / PN113 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Female
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Early Neolithic 3940-3703 cal BC
mtDNA: H4a1a1a

Sample: Poulnabrone16 / PN16 (Cassidy et al. 2020)
Sex: Female
Location: Poulnabrone, Clare, Ireland
Age: Middle Neolithic 3633-3374 cal BC
mtDNA: K1b1a1

So, how about it? Do you match?

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Watch the video: Dowth Megalithic Tomb, Bru na Boinne, Ireland (January 2022).