KISS ME I’M IRISH! WAIT. WHAT? I’M IRISH?!

I’m Danish.  I’ve always been Danish, I’ll always be Danish, I look Danish, speak 4  Danish words and part of my general knowledge includes knowing that Viggo Mortensen and 1980’s supermodel Helena Christensen are Danish.  So.  Clearly.  Danish.  The only problem is, as it turns out … I’m Irish.  IRISH.

A year ago I got my mother and myself one of those DNA tests for Christmas to find out if we were Jewish.  There’s a long kept secret in our family and no one knows what it is.  Based on a name change, some rather sketchy word of mouth rumours and a generations-ago nose job, several of us thought this secret was that we were Jewish.

That’s the sort of thing people used to have to keep secret in order to stay alive, so those kinds of secrets are taken quite seriously and they tend to stay secret long past the need for it.

So when I sent in my spit to be analyzed I was fully prepared and excited to embrace my new Jewessness. L’chaim!   Most of my high school friends were Jewish so I know the customs, I’ve been to plenty of Shabbat dinners and have the whole back of throat “Ch” sound in Challah and Chanukah down pat.  Jewish. That’s me!  And Danish of course, but that’s from my father’s side and we all know he was 100% Danish, making me 50% Danish as evidenced in my ability to make Klejner, Danish Christmas cookies.  It was the other 50% that we were all unsure about.

The test results came back and as soon as I checked whether or not I was likely to die from some rare and incurable disease (I’m not) I barely glanced at my ancestry other than to see if we were indeed Jewish. We were not.  Booooo.  I don’t give a care, I’m still going to eat latkes. Then a few weeks ago for some reason I went back in and looked at some of the DNA results more closely.

The things they predicted about me based only on my DNA were impressive.  They had no pictures, no history, no nothin’, other than my dancing little chromosomes passed down from generation to generation.

For instance, I am more likely, according to my DNA, to be a sprinter rather than a distance runner.  Pfttt. No kidding.   I’m basically Hussein Bolt.  Everybody knows that.

I am likely to have blond hair.

I am likely to have blue eyes.

I am likely to have straighter than average hair.

I’m likely to have wet ear wax.  ( ???!!! Ew!!!!! )

I am likely to consume more coffee than the average person.

And … I have an average sensitivity to the odour of sweat.

Allllll true.

After a quick look once again at my ancestry to double confirm my Challah obsession is not the result of DNA and I’d go back to browsing Facebook.  I clicked on my circle of ancestry that tells you what percentage of you is from what country and … I had to do a double take.  According to the percentages … I was … I was Irish.

It’s entirely possible I’m not reading this thing right, but it’s looking like I’m more British & Irish than anything else.  Which is making me feel a bit off kilter.

What with me being Danish and all.

 

I never knew much about my maternal ancestry.  When I was growing up whenever I asked my mother what nationality her side of the family was she’d always answer with “I don’t know … we’re just Canadian. Now go play with your potato. ”  This gave me the slight hope that by “Canadian” she meant that we had a long ancestral history going back to the First Nations.  Like maybe we were Micmac. Or Metis.  Which, wouldn’t explain my love of Challah but would explain my love of beaded suede.

But according to my mother’s side of DNA I wasn’t First Nations, I was 29.3% British and Irish.  This whole maternal Irish thing has since been confirmed by my Uncles Conor, Seamus and Padraig.  You’d think one of them would have mentioned something about our being Irish it at one of our monthly Irish Stew and Soda bread dinners over the years.

Just kidding. Kind of.  It has been confirmed through other more “ancestry interested” relatives that my mother’s side of the family is indeed Irish.  How she never knew that, I have no idea.  Maybe she was thrown by the fact that none of us were born with Irish accents.

I wish I understood these DNA results a little more than I do, but from the look of it … yeah … Kiss me.  I’m Irish?

Since I’m relatively new to this whole Irish thing feel free to make any recommendations on this, my first St. Paddy’s day as an Irish person.  See?  I’ve even learned that it’s “St. Paddy’s”, not St. Patty’s.

I’m basically the most Irish person ever born who for some reason has an above average command of cooking Danish Christmas cookies.

94 Comments

  1. Rod from Calgary says:

    Karen O’Bertelsen…sounds good to me! 🙂

  2. Mark says:

    If you’re enough lucky to be Irish…
    You’re lucky enough!

    Slainte!

  3. TucsonPatty says:

    You never know…Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

  4. Mark says:

    Happy St. Patty’s Day!

  5. You know what happens now that this is out, right? The Irish Rovers show up at your house, tie you to a chair and don’t let you go until you can sing their entire oeuvre by heart. Start preparing now. Green alligators and long necked geese…..

  6. Renee says:

    Must be why yer my besty rrrr 😉

  7. KJ says:

    I’m not Jewish either but i’m gonna eat latkes anyway too 🙂

  8. Suel Anglin, the Anglo-Saxon says:

    Dear Karen,

    Do not despair! As a fellow pale, blue/grey eyed, Anglo-Irish, light-haired descendant, you have many layers of genetic material to explore. Keep in mind that a lot of Vikings made it to Ireland and many of them were from Denmark. Just look at that handsome Danish royal family. You’d fit right in.

    • Karen says:

      Well my dad was 100% Danish (both parents from Denmark) so I’m a bit confused as to how I’m not 50% Danish! I must say I feel very Viking at heart. 😉 ~ karen!

      • Suel says:

        I’m for sure not an expert, but I have cousins who come close. Since our family has a rare name, its been easier to match ancestors to specific locations in the UK and Ireland, but it isn’t exact.

        While the underlying science is exact, these profiles are comparing your data to other folks in their system. The information these folks provide isn’t always objective.

        Although, it wasn’t easy then, a lot of our ancestors moved around and they left a trail of DNA everywhere they went. Unless your ancestors were from a very isolated group, its hard to pinpoint exactly where everyone started out. Long story short, we’re all mutts. 😉 If your grandparents were both from Denmark, then you’re still 50% Danish.

        • Megs says:

          Some is based on other persons in a system. But mostly its based out of older data models meant to represent populations in different places about 500 years ago before documented mass migrations. Like you said, our ancestors were moving around all over the place, but at least sometime before 1550 they tended to stay more in place.

          Genetic identity is therefore interesting but not relevant. Again, like you said, if Karen’s parents were both from Denmark, she sure as heck is 50 percent Danish regardless!

  9. Laurie says:

    Having ones DNA done is really an eye opener. Can I ask who you used for your test? I had one done with ancestry.com and I was disappointed at how general it was. I’m 5% Irish. I didn’t even know I was that much. I must say Guinness is my fave beer.

    • Lynne A Burns says:

      I did the 23&Me test….. Very very informative. They give you all 12k pages of how your DNA breakdown…. With a bit more online research you can find sites that you upload all of that info to for even more information… Like your health related items

  10. Deb says:

    Do you have a long upper lip? That is the real proof you are Irish .

  11. Lynn says:

    Have to agree the Dane Vikings have left their mark all over Britain, Ireland and Scotland just to name a few. As for go play with the potato that I have heard before ( as I have Scottish/ Irish ancestry myself). Scot via Ireland great great great grandfather. Which makes it impossible to get info 😐 Most early records in Ireland having been destroyed. 😟 Have to say welcome to the clan Karen. 🍀

  12. Jennie Lee says:

    Your DNA shock was much like mine. I thought I was Scots/Irish/English/Dutch/German/Cherokee. Nope. No Cherokee. 98% European. “Iberian Peninsula”? I always felt Irish. Well, I am-14% Irish. But I’m 16% Scandinavian, and I hadn’t a clue. Except I love watching “Vikings”. (And “Outlander”)

    • LuAnn says:

      Hi 5 Jennie Lee on OUTLANDER! If you haven’t already, read the books OUTLANDER is based upon. You won’t regret it!
      LuAnn

      • Melissa says:

        I just heard about this book (and series) last night. The books seem so… BIG. And there are so many… but if you say I won’t regret it, then… I’ll definitely have to explore the first book.

  13. Nancy says:

    I want to do this!! A black man I work with turned out to be 28% Croatian and other African stuff. He is pale, we joke about the Massa on the plantation. I guess this doesn’t sound very PC.
    Anyway, it sounds so interesting. I am just afraid I will come up 100% Alzheimers and have to decide when to go kayaking in my chest waders.

  14. Lyn says:

    My first husband, who was Estonian, would have had an explanation for that 0.2% Finnish on your father’s side. He said that the Finns & Estos (basically the same cultural-genetic group) used to go and, well, visit, the lands of the Swedes, Norwegians and Danes when their fellas were off pillaging & looting and etc., in other countries (like England where I think half of my ancestors are from). They would liberate some of the goodies from previous raids, and leave a little of themselves, so to speak.

  15. Suzanne Herbruck says:

    I think perhaps all this genetic testing is very suspect, trash?
    Dachshunds come back being Great Pyrenees? Probably not. Snort.

  16. Sherry in Alaska says:

    Life is just full of little surprises. Welcome to the clan!
    I bought myself one of those kits (Ancestry) for Christmas and somehow have not used it yet. I guess I better spit in the tube and get it over with.
    Dad’s pop came from Ireland. And his mom was from Norway so I’ve always assumed that was pretty solid. But now I’m wondering how much Irish ’cause there was a lot of interchange with England……. Mom’s side I have no idea about but I believe probably Germany and surrounds might be a good guess…… No proof other than I like sausage. But then I hate sauerkraut………? So not conclusive.
    Who knew a DNA test would be so gross as to tell you that you likely have wet earwax?
    ???!!! Ew!!!!!
    Is nothing sacred?
    Happy March 17th, 2017.

  17. Lez says:

    Very interesting Karen! I’m thinking you should get your sister to test hers, coming from the same parents, (I’m assuming), & to compare results. As that would maybe give more conclusive results.
    The results should, in theory, be almost identical.
    Would be good to read the feed back, should you decide to do this highly scientific research!
    Happy St. Paddy’s day to you! Have a Guinness or 3! 🙂

    • whitequeen96 says:

      I’ve read (maybe at Ancestry.com) that it’s good to get your siblings tested as well, as something in your family’s past may show up in them that doesn’t show up in you. Like that visitor from China or something.

    • Mary says:

      Actually, you can both inherit different DNA from your parents. So one of you might have more Danish and another might be more Irish. It’s actually really interesting. I did mine at both companies and used the information to find my birth parents (I was adopted). I also found three half siblings.

  18. Tine Lisberg says:

    I’m Danish and I have blond hair and brown eyes. My mom I Dutch and have brown eyes and my dad I Danish and had clear light blue eyes.
    I always thought that my brown eyes came from a Spanish soldier that -under the Spanish war- was hiding in the house of one of my female ancestors.
    My sister told me that, when I was little – and I found that soooo romantic.
    THAT’S NOT TRUE.
    My brown eyes comes from…..wailt…… POLEN!!
    WHAT – POLEN??…not funny….
    I found out, that my great granddad was from Polen. Now I have to live with that! 😉

    • Lauren from Winnipeg says:

      I’m confused. Is there something wrong with being from Poland? I’m assuming you are referring to Poland when you write Polen?

      • Megs says:

        Polen is Poland in many Scandinavian countries…

      • Tine Lisberg says:

        No no, there i absolutely nothing wrong with Poland, but as a young girl I felt, that Spain sounded exiting and exotic. Spain is one of the warm Countries where we go to on holidays – summerromance, dark hot men and soo… ;o)

    • Elaine says:

      Where’s Polen??

  19. Jennie Lee says:

    LuAnn sent me a reply that’s not showing up here, for some strange reason. But when it comes to “Outlander”, LuAnn, dinna fash ye; I’ve read them all. 🙂

  20. Jane Whiteman-Turl says:

    So if it says you are 29.3% British Irish why have you decided you are Irish and not British? There was a lot of ‘British’ action in Canada – way way way back and you are part of the Commonwealth and all that – maybe because I am English (British) that I am more drawn to the idea of Britishness. But then there is such a mix in Britain of Celts (Irish and Scots) and Vikings and Angles and Jutes and even some Roman – apparently people used to paint themselves blue and run about brandishing swords – which I feel I should not be keen on but find oddly comforting. Not only that there are the Welsh too (Celts too I think) – so could it not have said British Celtish – then you could pick from four possibilities English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish……….. Each of them have a Saint and a special day – you could have 4 days of celebration as well as all the Canadian ones……… Maybe you could even consider New Zealand and Australia we had some action going on over there too – I am NEVER getting a DNA test I would be too confused. I am too confused by yours …. Happy Paddys Day – remember to wear green and drink Guinness – perhaps not Welsh you’d have to wear a leek on St Davids day……..

  21. Grammy says:

    Sorry you’re not Jewish, but at least now you know. At least you got a little from the Balkans, so there’s that.

    My husband and I are waiting for our ancestry DNA tests to be completed, and we’re hoping for some interesting results. We both have many relatives who are obnoxious bigots, so we’re hoping we find out we’ve got a bunch of stuff, like African, Arab, Asian, Mexican, Jewish, Native American, etc. so we can tell our siblings they need to do some re-thinking. It’s highly likely we’re both mostly English/Irish, but we’ll be really disappointed if we don’t come up with something more exotic.

  22. Thandi says:

    Ooooo now you’ve put a bee in my bonnet. Which organisation did you get to test your DNA? I definitely have to do this.

  23. Jules McShera says:

    Top o’ the mornin’ to ya and happy Guinness day!

  24. Jenny W says:

    My Mom was always told by her Father that they were Scottish – End of story.
    Then, years ago a relative published a book about her Family Tree, and it turns out she was Irish too. Apparently, it was not as cool to be Irish way back in “The Day”, as it is now. Many Irish immigrants came over poor and starving and would take just about any job to feed their families, and were often looked down upon. So much so, that my Husband’s Mother’s Irish side, dropped the Mc from their SurName.
    But they were scrappy, hard workers who carved good lives for themselves in North America, and their traditions and culture are now celebrated all over. Party-on, Cousin 🙂

    • SusanR says:

      Actually, even in Ireland, the O, Mc and Mac were dropped for awhile and were out of fashion, then they got picked up again in later years. I just yesterday found that out in an online Webinar about Irish genealogy presented by a well-known genealogist in Dublin. Fascinating Webinar. So when searching Irish databases, she recommended search without the O, Mc and Mac as one of the searches done, as well as with, and to keep in mind it might have been dropped when searching things like church baptismal and marriage records images on Irish genealogy sites. Another fascinating tidbit was if you come across a civil birth record that shows the child born later than a baptismal record you also found, use the date on the baptismal record if the family is Roman Catholic. There was a fine for reporting births over 3 months after the fact, and Ireland being rural, sometimes it took longer to get to the registration district office to record the birth, so the parents would fudge the birth date for the civil record to avoid the fine for late reporting of a birth. The “especially Roman Catholic” was because they usually had the baby baptized as soon as possible after birth, so closer to the actual birth date.

  25. Leisa says:

    If it makes you feel any better, Viggo was born in New York, so he’s probably Irish too! 🙃

  26. marilyn meagher says:

    I’m waiting for my results. I’m sure there will be a large percentage of Irish in me too!!

  27. Maggie Van Sickle says:

    I feel for u Karen only having a potato to play with as a child but such is life now go put on your beaded Leather vest and have a piece of challah or some pickled herring as you make your Irish stew and soda bread. Happy St Paddy’s day

  28. Sheryl says:

    Just frickin’ hilarious, as usual.

  29. jaine kunst says:

    I’m Irish and I remember my mother saying “pogue ma hoin” to my dad once. He said it was gaelic for “kiss my ass.” That’s all I’ve got .

    • SueB says:

      So the Irish group the Pogues are the asses? I like that.

      Also is Karen’s 0.2% unassigned neanderthal? Some uncool people might feel that’s a bit insulting but they live on, to a greater or lesser extent, in all of us.

  30. Katharyn Rouse says:

    Appreciation of good Irish Whiskey and knowing to always let the head settle on a pint of Guiness, will take you a long way!

  31. Chris White says:

    I am proud to have “Heinz 57” ancestry. My ancestors were kicked out of all the best countries in Europe (we had an affinity for choosing the ‘wrong’ political party or the ‘wrong’ religion in times of conflict). Most of these folks landed in what would become the United States… and then got kicked out of there during the American Revolution. Such a long, proud tradition of picking the losing side – I now use this hereditary power to destroy NHL teams that I cheer for during the playoffs.

  32. ronda says:

    My Dad’s side is northern German, with some Polish in there at some point, according to family lore. And Mom’s side is northern English, with some Scots on the maternal side (at least I think so, based on Grandma’s maiden name) and rumour has it the paternal side came to England with William the Conqueror. Now THAT would be interesting to see if it were true!

  33. Patsy Lortie says:

    Oh Karen, some of the best people come from Ireland as my grandfather used to tell me. Likely you will live to be 100, drinking, etc, etc. etc…
    So, Happy St. Paddy’s Day from one Irishwoman (95%) to another. You must go to Ireland, it will solidify your roots, and bring you home!
    The other 5% of my heritage is split between Welsh, British/Irish, and Swiss French…. Canadian!!
    Raise a glass and celebrate! OR sing, ‘kick up your heels’ today!!

  34. Linda from Illinois says:

    I had one of those DNA test done through MyHeritage. I got a sheet with a good zillion different ethnic markers but I had to figure out my own pie chart. From my name we come from Germany but it still considered European. Thought we were 100% German, turns out we are not. I think everyone in the world is a Heinz 57, be what you want to be, enjoy what you want. It’s all good anyway. Happy Saint Paddy’s day !

  35. Mary W says:

    What does “phasing” mean? It sounds like a funny notation and I laughed when I read it since it is on this blog, but have no clue what it really means. It might not be a funny tidbit added for grins but it worked that way. I am always proud to me a follower when I read your posts!

  36. Katie C. says:

    My family had a similar result!

    My mother and her siblings grew up thinking they were 50% Italian because their paternal grandparents came to America from Italy. However, my uncle recently did a DNA test and discovered that they are <0.1% Italian!

  37. Gayle M says:

    Well, Karen… As I see it, you can be very much Danish, if you choose. While there is no percentage specifically assigned as Danish, all that Scandinavian and Broadly Northwestern European adds up to over 48%. I guess on all those long cold Scandinavian nights there was a lot more than spooning going on across the entire Northwestern European front, co-mingling lots of squiggly Nguyen chromosomes! Broadly European does include some English and Irish, but is mostly comprised of fair haired light eyed Scandinavians.

    BUT, don’t let that stop you from being Irish! What better excuse for a party in March!

  38. Barb says:

    You just never know… Apparently you could have also discovered that there were some ‘half’ (shhhh don’t tell anyone) siblings somewhere.

    I read somewhere that the gift of DNA to a couple brought out some ‘interesting’ new family member and then a consequent divorce. Now imagine that?!

  39. Ev Wilcox says:

    I have wanted to be Scots since I read all the Outlander books (Re: Jaime!). My sister had her spit analyzed and we are Scots/Irish. Yay! Now I just need to go back in time and get to Jaime before Claire does! I knew the Irish connection before now, but I am choosing to focus on the Scots side. Do really really like Guinness though…. So Happy St. Patricks Day to you, Karen.
    Making a corned beef dinner tomorrow-how ’bout you?

  40. Paula says:

    I love ancestry/DNA stuff! From my results, I found a second cousin and we have since been corresponding regularly and it is almost creepy how similar we are. Our grandmothers were sisters.
    I was born in England and my maternal grandfather was Irish and my results didn’t yield any surprises. My test was simply geographical, I did not do any health related queries.
    Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all my Irish cousins and that includes you, too Karen.

  41. Kathy says:

    Funny you don’t look Irish, so how interesting is that hunk of info. Seems people did a lot of fleeing or simply traveling given the means of transportation available. What with St. Patrick’s Day and Irish poems I thought being Irish was just great (both parents) so it was sad to learn of the harsh times in America. Irish Need Not Apply signs were common but usually as a herd we move on to picking on another group. And now people will rub elbows with Irish people again. I don’t have red hair but I like my green eyes. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

  42. Shannon Turgeon says:

    I’m like you. I thought for sure we were Jewish from Poland. Turns out I’m mostly British and Irish. ha! With a name like Shannon, I should have known!! 🙂

    Which company did you use? The one I used didnt break down into maternal and paternal sides, which I’d specifically like to know.

  43. Debbie says:

    It’s a bit late to help you out with today, just wear green and DRINK. 😉 And get going girl – NOW – it’s past 12pm!

    I’ll give you just one other tip, since there’s no shortage of them here….prepare to have Fairytale of New York become your absolutely favourite Christmas carol. If you haven’t heard it before, it’s pretty terrific, and regularly gets voted #1 Christmas Carol in the UK.

    Slainte!

  44. Madeleine says:

    If you check it out, though, who did those Danes invade???? Right! Us poor English and Irish. the Vikings hit Dublin. So you can be Danish and English AND Irish. I’d like to get this done. What kit was it?
    I’m of English heritage with the name Judson in our ancestry–so son of a Jute???

  45. Leslie Zuroski says:

    I learned a few things on my vacation in Ireland; 1. They don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s day, 2. The proper response to “The top of the morning to you” is “And the rest of the day to yourself!” 3. They love the old John Wayne movie, ‘The Quiet Man’, so much that it is played on tv on holidays and everyone gathers around and watches together. Kind of like it used to be here before VCRs when ‘The Wizard of Oz’ or Ed Sullivan would come on.

  46. Meredith says:

    I was always told I was half German and half Irish. Turns out most of my ancestors probably came from England and Wales. Where does the DNA info end up? Do you have the only copy or is it stored somewhere? I would love to have it done but am afraid of if it would end up in the Cloud somewhere and could be shared or hacked to use against me in the future…..say for denying healthcare coverage for a pre-existing condition I was unaware of that my damn DNA spells out. Did guess I’m a U.S. citizen by my healthcare paranoia?

    • Safetydog says:

      My husband just asked where the vials of spit end up, and could that info be used to steal an identity somehow. Also paranoid Americans.

  47. Safetydog says:

    This is so cool. Both of my parents always said they were English-Irish-Scottish-French-German. However, I was adopted as an infant, and could be anything! Although, I do look just like my adoptive parents. Anyway, I am very tempted to have my DNA analyzed, in hopes of receiving some exotic and very specific result.

  48. Kelli says:

    I’m Danish too, but in my fam, we weren’t 100% on that so we always said we were “Scandihoovian.” So I’m Danish (Scandinavian)…and Bohemian (Bohunk)…and German…and IRISH!

    Hey, Erin go braless! Happy super white people from Ireland wearing green day! ☘️ 😜 🍀

  49. Liz says:

    You’ve been dissolutioned! weird feeling. I wonder what I am? As I am “sure” I’m 50% dutch. Where did you get it tested?

  50. Melony says:

    I bought DNA test for my daughter,(didn’t know her father?) on Ancestory. I could not get through all the people without bumping into my side. I did a test to differeniate and it turns out that I am all English, Britan, Westminster, Downtown Abbey. She has some Norway, Germany, Irish and of course Great Britan,

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