The Irish Have Much More Viking DNA Than Previously Thought, Genetic Study Reveals

Irish people’s DNA was previously thought to be very homogeneous, but new research suggests they may have much more genetic influence from other groups.

Experts believe that a majority of Irish people have Celtic roots; however, a study published on Thursday found they may also have a great deal of influence from the Vikings, Anglo-Normans, and British.

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Scientists from Trinity College Dublin analyzed genetic material from about 1,000 Irish people and more than 6,000 people from Britain and mainland Europe. When their genes were compared, the researchers found at least 23 genetic clusters which represent groups of people from Ireland and Britain with similar genetic heritage. The clusters were primarily seen in western parts of Ireland. There were some clusters in the eastern part of the country too, but it’s believed that historic migration impacted the modern Irish genome and erased genetic divisions.

As the Vikings invaded the country during the 8th century, it appears they left a lasting influence on people’s genetic makeup, according to the research published in the journal PLOS Genetics.

“We can’t say for certain exactly how much Viking is in modern Irish people, but we can say that it was found among people from all different parts of the island, signifying a compelling connection among the population as a whole,” Russell McLaughlin, study author and an assistant genetics professor at Trinity College Dublin, told The Times, a British newspaper.

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While the research adds more knowledge to how migrations and invasions impacted the population, it’ll perhaps be the most beneficial in terms of understanding the complexities of medical conditions that have genetic links.

“Understanding this fine-grained population structure is crucially important for ongoing and future studies of rare genetic variation in health and disease,” Ross Byrne, lead author and a PhD student at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics at TCD, said in a statement.

Although the Vikings legacy may be small, it's certainly noticeable, Byrne told The Irish Times.

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