This presentation was originally given as part of Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2019.
When people research their Irish family history and ancestry, their surname is probably the most important part of their identity. Surnames are inherited from father to son, and certain Irish (Gaelic) surnames can be traced back to ancestors who lived more than a thousand year ago. This makes Irish surnames unique in the world, and they are therefore also important for DNA research worldwide. This research can take us even further back in time – perhaps even into the ‘mythological’ past before the coming of Christianity when Irish tribes dominated the island.
As a student in the Netherlands, I became interested in medieval Irish history, and ended up studying in Cork and Dublin, where I did my PhD. I published Early Irish kingship and succession in 2000, and later became a lecturer at the Celtic Dept. at the University of Utrecht. Since 2007 I’m keeper of manuscripts at the Utrecht University Library.