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.


  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!


  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. Karen says:

    Ha! What the hell Renee! I’m supposed to be Danish! Maybe I’m reading this thing wrong, lol. ~ k!

  9. 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.

  10. 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 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.

  11. Deb says:

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

  12. 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!

  13. 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. 🍀

  14. 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”)

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. Suzanne Herbruck says:

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

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. 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! 🙂

  22. 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.
    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! 😉

  23. 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. 🙂

  24. 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……..

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. Jacquie says:

    Paddy, never never never Patty 🙂

  28. Jacquie says:

    That box is supposed to be a smiley face to show that I was being friendly, not a St Paddy’s Day nazi (another smiley face, just to be sure)

  29. Jules McShera says:

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

  30. 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 🙂

  31. Leisa says:

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

  32. marilyn meagher says:

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

  33. 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

  34. Sheryl says:

    Just frickin’ hilarious, as usual.

  35. 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 .

  36. 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!

  37. 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.

  38. 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!

  39. 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!!

  40. 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.

  41. Marie Anne says:

    just want to say you’re awesome 🙂

  42. Karen says:

    I know! All of a sudden emoticons don’t show in my comments. I’m going to have to look into it! ~ karen

  43. 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 !

  44. 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!

  45. Susan says:

    Because it’s St Paddy’s Day, silly! You can’t be British on St Patrick’s Day.

  46. Teri says:

    The first smiley showed up in my comments section.
    Top o’ the morning to everyone. Those who are Irish and those poor souls who wish they were.

  47. 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!

  48. Brandy says:

    Melissa, You will NOT regret it 🙂 The books are most excellent!!!!

  49. 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!

  50. Gayle M says:

    Darn spellchecker! Northwestern chromosomes!

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