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Family dynamics

27th Sep 2019

I took a Heritage DNA test and it revealed something that I wasn’t expecting

Melissa Carton

A few weeks ago I ordered a DNA test online.

It was from the website My Heritage and helps to pinpoint exactly where a person’s genetic makeup comes from.

Now don’t get me wrong I was fully expecting to get a huge percentage Irish as my result but I wanted to see if anything else popped up that I wasn’t expecting and it actually did.

I recorded a video of myself just before I took the test and I felt that the results would have some Irish, probably a bit of English and aside from that maybe another European country, possibly France as some of my relatives were originally from there.

Well, a couple of weeks after sending my results off to the lab I got them back and most was how I figured it would be.

Over 90 per cent Irish, Scottish and Welsh with a bit of English thrown in. There was another ingredient in my genetic mix though and it wasn’t French like I was expecting at all.

Here are my results;

Yep, I’m 1.1 per cent Middle Eastern.

While at first glance I was taken aback by these results it actually did answer questions about my great-great-grandmother that even my own grandmother wasn’t sure about.

I was told by my aunt in the past that there was Jewish heritage on my mother’s paternal line but for results to appear in these tests, even just one per cent, you need to have a big chunk of that certain type of DNA. This would mean that I would need to have had Jewish heritage from more than one distant source.

This is where my mother’s maternal great-grandmother comes in. My grandmother never got to meet her own grandmother as she tragically died in her sleep at quite a young age. My grandmother only knew of her grandmother and any family she had through stories but through those stories, my grandmother began to sense that her grandmother may have been an immigrant to Ireland.

She particularly believed that she was a Jewish immigrant. She could never find records on her grandmother through the census office from before she was married to confirm any of these beliefs but these results would suggest that she was right.

Seeing the results made me wish that I had taken one of these tests while my grandmother was still alive or even ordered one for her to take so she could have learned more about a grandmother she never met.

My aunt has family records going back generations from marriage certs, army records and family trees but this branch of the family was always a blind spot with information being patchy at best.

I still don’t know the full story about my great-great-grandmother but maybe I’ll be able to find more details about her life down the line.

My husband’s parents both took these DNA tests meaning he now knows everything that makes up his genes which like myself is mostly Irish, Scottish and English, but where I have Middle Eastern he has a tiny bit of Norse.

To be honest, if you showed people our results without saying whose was whose they would probably guess that given my pale skin and fair colouring I had the Norse and with his tanned complexion and dark hair he had the Middle Eastern but it just goes to show you that you can never judge a book by its cover.



I’m really glad I took the test and was able to find out a little about myself that I hadn’t previously known.

It’s also great to be able to let my children know where the different parts of their families come from and the heritage that they have.

One thing I will say about these tests is that they won’t bring up everything. As mentioned above you need to have quite a concentrated piece of one type of DNA for it to show up. My family have records of ancestors who emigrated from different countries but with each generation this DNA becomes diluted.

For example, the French DNA may show up if my mother were to take this type of test because it comes from her father’s family and she would have a larger strain of it than I would as half my DNA is my father’s. She would probably get a higher percentage of Middle Eastern than I did too.

I wish that the DNA could be broken down further and show me my Irish, Scottish and Welsh results separately. I know some people who took these tests from a different company and they were even able to trace back where in Ireland their DNA was from.

Since showing my results to some of my friends I’ve had several of them order kits for themselves to see if there is anything in their own family history that they were not aware of and I’m excited to see what they get back.