D.N.A. = Do Not Ask

Along with many people I was skeptical that DNA analysis can help the man in the street to find new relatives or trace ancestors, especially as claimed by the TV program that has an absurd little man sitting in a box and sending 'celebs' across the world to meet their DNA matches*. However, I allowed myself to be persuaded into getting mine done and the day that my results came through from Ancestry.com, everything changed! There on my computer screen was a long list of DNA matches, several very strong and within a day I was in contact with a previously unknown and large branch of the Farrell family, members of which live in the USA. Furthermore I had almost certainly found an uncle who had not been heard of since he emigrated from Ireland to the USA nearly 150 years ago! (See 'UNCLE JOHN')

(*NOTE: 'Matches' involve 3 different types of people, namely (1) Enthusiastic Ancestry.com users with large public trees, always ready to cooperate in research. (2) Users with private trees who prefer not to communicate, and (3) People who have used Ancestry to obtain their DNAs but do not have trees and seemingly have no further interest.)

I well remember an occasion when my mother, Betty, who for many years operated as a spare time, semi-professional genealogist, told us about one of her American clients, who was very keen to trace her roots on our side of the Atlantic. Mother obliged her with a great amount of research. for which she received her expenses, sending off reports as she progressed with the lady's family tree. One day mother found some records which suggested that one of the ancestors had African origins. She sent off a report, together with her latest invoice, but never heard from her client again.

The 'UNCLE JOHN' story similarly might disappoint his descendants, because they will always have hoped that he was a good man and that he had a happy life following his disappearance. Indeed it would seem that things turned out quite well for him, but the probable existence of another large branch of Farrells spread across the USA might be upsetting for some. Or intriguing!

The moral of this commentary is that anyone proceeding to indulge in DNA matching, must be prepared for surprises, not all of them nice! Either don't ask, or be prepared to accept unpleasant facts with equanimity. A youtube video provides examples, some of which must have been quite shocking for the 'seekers after truth'!

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