View Full Version : Upcoming paper on the Irish Travelers

09-09-16, 15:41
Genomic insights into the population structure and history of the Irish Travellers. E.H. Gilbert et al


Aims: The Irish Travellers are a population with a history of nomadism. Consanguineous unions are common, and as a population they are socially and genetically isolated from the surrounding, “settled” Irish population. A previous low-resolution genetic analysis suggested a common Irish origin between the settled and the Traveller populations. What is not known, however, is the extent of population structure within the Irish Traveller population, the time of divergence from the general Irish population, and the extent of autozygosity.

Methods: We recruited Irish Travellers from across Ireland and the UK. To be included a participant had to have had at least three grandparents with a surname associated with the Irish Travellers. DNA was extracted from saliva samples, and genotypes were generated using the Illumina OmniExpress SNP genotyping platform. With this data, we investigated population structure using fineStructure, quantified the levels of autozygosity with PLINK, and estimated a time of divergence using a method based on Identity by Descent (IBD) segment identification.

Results: We merged, cleaned, and analysed data from 42 Irish Travellers, 2232 settled Irish, 2039 British, 143 Roma Gypsies, and 931 individuals from 57 world-wide populations. We confirm an Irish origin for the Irish Travellers, demonstrate evidence for population substructure within the population, confirm high levels of autozygosity consistent with a consanguineous population, and for the first time provide estimates for a date of divergence between the Irish Travellers and settled Irish."

Just more confirmation they're not related to gypsies.

This is somewhat analogous to the situation with the Melungeons in the U.S., although in that case people in the past who belonged to that group must have deliberately tried to muddy the waters about their ancestry in order to hide their descent from African men.

Interesting how such a group could form, though, and stay homogeneous.

Doesn't Gabriel Byrne supposedly have Traveler ancestry?