What is the possibility of my heritage being Scottish, if my DNA is 48% Welsh?


Assuming it’s actually possible to separate Welsh DNA from Scottish or English DNA – not to mention Irish DNA – then … it’s hard to be sure.

The difficulty lies largely in determining the number of other nations – sovereign, non-sovereign, dependency, federation, territory (disputed or not). The usual figure of 193 regards the UK as one country, not 4. There’s a second figure of 250, which includes dependencies, but that still considers the UK as a single country, not 4.

So I’ll go with 300, which I freely agree is an under-estimate. Wales being one of the 300, if we subtract that we’re left with 299 other countries. Scotland is one option amongst that 299. The probability that the remaining 52% of your heritage is Scottish is therefore

p(Scottish)=1/(300–1), or 0.003.

You’re welcome!


My mom has dark brown/black hair, olive skin tone, with crystal blue eyes, and she’s mainly of Scottish descent. I feel like that is relatively rare. Is it?

You must not get out much.

Black hair and light-coloured eyes are extremely common in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. It’s the so-called “Celtic” phenotype, or Pierce Brosnan gene[1][2]. Skin is usually very pale, but freckles or darker skin are also common – think Pierce Brosnan (Irish), Sean Connery (Scottish), or Tom Jones (Welsh).

Oh, I just noticed you said “mainly of Scottish descent”, rather than “is Scottish”. And “mom”. That means she’s American, right? So basically, her genes could come from anywhere – even England…

Cheddar Man. Only a hop, skip and a jump from Wales, Cheddar is – but it’s definitely England.


[1] Researchers identify genomic variant associated with sun sensitivity, freckles

[2] Scientists discover the ‘Pierce Brosnan gene’

Why do Irish People have curly hair?


There’s a big difference between curly hair and Afro hair. The cross-sectional shape of the hair, the thickness of the hair shaft, the porosity and number of scales, and the length are all different. On top of that, Afro hair exhibits torsion, where individual hairs will curl back along themselves. There are big variations in both Afro and curly hair, but on the foregoing variables, they are opposites rather than similar.


Why was Clark Gable so dark even though he had Irish parents?

Clark Gable had dark hair and pale blue eyes.
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The only thing that could have made him MORE Irish-looking is skin the colour of a day-old corpse.

Some typical Irish chappies:

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Cillian Murphy
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Liam Cunningham (with typical Irish skin colour)

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Michael McElhatton

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Pierce Brosnan

Seriously – dark hair, blue eyes, fluorescent-white skin is the Irish stereotype. It’s the Celtic stereotype. It’s even called the “Pierce Brosnan gene”.

We do have more redheads than most countries, but redheads are still rare – only about 10% of the population.


Are all Irish people part English, Welsh and Scottish?

I’m not sure how anyone would know, barring a nationwide genealogical search. Even then, records only go back so far.

My feeling is that the religious differences between the Irish and interlopers could have preserved Irish DNA, with a few provisos:

  1. The original interlopers, the Normans, were Catholic and intermarried with the Irish – particularly in Leinster and Munster.
  2. Ulster was the last holdout of the Gaelic way of life, but
    1. Ulster had strong links with Scotland anyway, and
    2. it is possible that some Irish people continued to attend the churches taken over by the planters, for want of an alternative – effectively converting to Protestantism. Quite a few clearly Irish surnames are found amongst Protestant families in Northern Ireland – O’Neill, Hanlon, Doherty, Conneelly, Devenny, etc.
  3. During the Penal Laws era, there were benefits to converting to Anglicanism (i.e., you were no longer subject to the Penal Laws), and some did convert (see surnames above).
  4. There’s always been some degree of intermarriage, even during Penal times – particularly amongst the wealthier classes.

However, Irish DNA is not hugely different to British DNA, or for that matter European DNA generally. I’ve written an answer with links to mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA findings that might be of interest. Recent DNA research on Irish travellers demonstrates that they are a distinct ethnic group within Ireland, having split from the general population in the 1500s or 1600s. This might provide a sample of (relatively) ‘pure’ Irish DNA against which other UK and Irish samples may be compared, but I don’t know if anyone has tried so far.

What are the genetic origins of eastern Irish?

I read many studies that day Irish people aren’t celts, or are from Spain, or eastern Irish are Scandinavian etc… my Irish family member has blonde hair and blue eyes and is from northeastern Ireland(and possibly west Scotland), so what are there genetic origins?

We are a mongrel horde.

Remember that Ireland is the most westerly reach of (central) Europe, and an island. Migratory prehistoric tribes from as far away as the Indian subcontinent travelled westward. For some of these, Ireland was where they had to stop. And it wasn’t just the central European groups who got to Ireland – they were joined by other migratory groups from southern and northern Europe.

More recently, Ireland was one of the last places in Europe where one could practice one’s religion free from persecution (yes, really). So we also have everything from first-millenium Egyptian Copts to French Huguenots, which possibly included Spanish Conversos (Moors or Jews, forced to convert to Christianity but continuing to practice their own faiths in secret).

Add to that Vikings, Welsh pirates, Scottish gallowglasses, Normans, the British, survivors of the Armada, and Vietnamese boat-people in my own childhood, and you’ve got quite the melting pot.

There’s some interesting information if you look up mitochondrial (maternal) DNA [mtDNA] and (paternal) Y-Chromosome [Y-DNA] studies.

  • mtDNA Haplogroup H (aka Helena, arising 25,000 years ago in the modern Middle East) is dominant in Ireland, with some Haplogroup U5 (aka Ursula) which predates the Celtic influx and may be part of the original populators of Europe at the end of the last Ice Age.
  • Y-DNA Haplogroup R1b (aka Oisin) is dominant throughout western Europe, and may have originated around the Black Sea, also entering Europe at the end of the last Ice Age. It’s also common in Central Africa. Subclade R1b1a1a2 contains 82% of Irish males (i.e., 82% of Irish males are descended from one man, who had the original R1b1a1a2 Y-chromosome mutation), as well as 10% of Namibian males. R1b1a1a2 got around!