Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Meanwhile, on the
Other Side of the World . . .


With all the angst over Irish immigrants in America who all seem to claim the same name, we need to remember I've been chasing a DNA match who, through his Cullinane ancestor, shared only twenty six centiMorgans of maternal Falvey DNA in common with my husband. While an amount that size puts them right in line to claim a relationship of fourth cousin—an excellent position to help guide us to the parents of my husband's second great-grandmother, Johanna Falvey—it could just as well be a sign of a lesser relationship. For that, plus the lack of helpful documentation from the other side of the Atlantic, we will move on to another DNA connection in our pursuit of those Falvey roots in County Kerry, Ireland.

For this move, though, we finally have to bid adieu to our American matches and move halfway around the world to those matches who currently live in either Australia or New Zealand.

We'll start first with an Ancestry DNA match who shares thirty five centiMorgans with my husband—all contained in one solitary segment of genetic material. While that may seem like a small amount, keep in mind that, other than known cousins from my family's immediate line, this match is actually the closest of all Falvey matches I've found so far. It's just that I wanted to begin the search with those candidates for whom place names and genealogical records are more familiar and accessible. Now, we launch into the deep unknown.

A match sharing thirty five centiMorgans in common could be a relationship as close as third cousin—at least on paper. A match like that would mean the most recent common ancestor would be a second great-grandparent. We already know that can't be possible, because the tree I've drawn up already includes all descendants of Johanna Falvey and John Kelly, my husband's second great grandparents—of whom all either immigrated to or were born in the United States. This DNA match, apparently, has a family tree mentioning place names in both New Zealand and Australia.

The key point about this DNA match's family line is that the original immigrant ancestor from the Falvey line arrived in New Zealand some time before the 1890 birth of her daughter. That ancestor arrived in New Zealand from somewhere in Ireland. At best, because of what I know of our family's Johanna Falvey, we have learned that Johanna had at least one sibling who did travel from Ireland to settle in New Zealand. If that is how close this relationship is, we are talking about a most recent common ancestor for this DNA match who would have been Johanna's parent. With that third great-grandparent connection, the closest we could calculate the relationship would be at the level of fourth cousin.

That number, of course, is quite possible, according to the charts provided at the DNA Painter website, but at a much lower probability—fifteen percent, to be specific, as opposed to thirty percent. Of course, among the other probabilities, there are half relationships and cousin-removed options in the mix, as well. Those can only be counted for sure, once we do a side by side comparison of the two families' pedigree charts.

And that's the rub. The tree posted online by this DNA match contains few references to actual documentation, but to properly draw conclusions as to relationship, we need to ascertain that the line of descent from that Falvey ancestor is adequately supported. However, it is quite one thing to research family lines for adequate documentation in a country one is thoroughly familiar with; it means far slower progress when approaching a research project in a country one has never even visited. 

Translation: steep learning curve, here we come!


  1. New Zealand wow it will be interesting to hear what you find in their records:)


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