Gathering the Mayo genes with National Geographic

On Sunday June 23 the people of Mayo will have an opportunity to explore their roots and to discover the diverse paths which successive waves of wanderers, migrants, invaders, and explorers have followed to reach their home here on the edge of the wild Atlantic.

National Geographic’s Genographic Project, a multi-year global research initiative that uses DNA to map the history of human migration, is working with citizens of County Mayo to help answer fundamental questions about where we originated and how we came to populate the earth.

Mayo County Council’s Enterprise and Investment Unit, together with National Geographic will host a public event at the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life on Sunday afternoon, June 23. The highlight of the event will be a public DNA cheek swab, where 100 volunteers from around the county will have the opportunity to trace their family history as far back as 2,000 generations. Their ancient ancestry will be revealed through this genographic project, a study that has involved more than 600,000 people in 130 countries across the planet. In just two weeks time it will be Ireland’s turn to feature in the research limelight.

Genographic project scientists have travelled the globe to collaborate with tens of thousands of indigenous people, whose genetics are particularly significant in determining the path of human civilisation. This will be the first time the genographic project has visited Ireland for a sampling event of this kind. The 100 volunteers will be encouraged to contribute their DNA to genographic project research to help the project gain a genetic snapshot of the Irish population.

Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Cyril Burke, commented on the project: “This is a unique opportunity for the people of Mayo to get involved in a project which will educate us on the migratory history of our county. By participating in this worldwide research we have an opportunity to learn a great deal about where the people of Mayo came from and the routes which they took to get to this very special place.”

A select group of diverse Mayo residents has already participated in this important research ahead of the National Geographic visit, and their results will be revealed at the swab event in Turlough. Some of these residents are well known to us in Mayo, including An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister of State Michael Ring, Cora Staunton, Gavin Duffy, Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin, Paul Claffey, Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council Cllr Cyril Burke, and Commodore Mark Mellett among others.

Gathering the Mayo Genes is one of the flagship events of 2013 and Mayo people everywhere are invited along to the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life on Sunday, June 23, to be part of this truly historic occasion.

The details of this and all other events in the county are covered on This website reaches out to and links with Mayo Diaspora worldwide and will continue to be a platform linking Mayo communities both here and around the world.

To learn more about the genographic project, visit


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