Find Out if You’ve Got Irish Roots

The debate about Montserrat’s Irishness usually reaches a fever pitch by St Patrick’s Day annually. Now you have a chance to find out if there is any Irish in your blood.

Joanna Fennell talks to a client about the process.

Joanna Cicely Fennell MAGI, an Irish researcher at Ancestry Progeaneologists Dublin office is currently on island conducting free DNA tests and compiling family trees.
Fennell said she became intrigued by Montserrat after researching a client’s family lineage almost 3 years ago.

“At that point, I didn’t know much about Montserrat except that it had a volcano,” she said. “So many of the surnames I encountered during my research were Irish and I became determined to find out more about the island’s unique history.”

On Monday, the researcher held a free DNA testing drive and was kept quite busy with Montserratians young and old who want to know the truth of their lineage. The test involves filling a tube with saliva which is then preserved and packaged for shipping.

The DNA test is done with saliva not blood.

Participants can expect to receive their results in approximately six weeks. Each person has to set up a free online account with Ancestry to receive the results.
The results are in two parts. The first, shows the genetic breakdown of each person. The researcher said she is quite excited to see the results of the residents as they will provide fascinating insight into the extensive migration patterns of Caribbean people. The second result reveals people across the globe who you have genetic match with or as she calls it your genetic cousins. You can then choose whether you want to connect with them to find out more of your familial connections.

The researcher is also working with each person to help them build their family tree. She has visited local cemeteries to look at grave stones and to gather more information on people from the past.

“Researching Montserrat is not unlike researching 19th century Ireland, where the destruction of census records, in particular, poses a challenge to the researcher. Both islands began a system of civil registration in the early 1860s (almost 30 years after England and Wales), and hence rely heavily on surviving parish records for family history research. Studying memorial inscriptions can be very useful in bridging the gaps faced in both Montserrat and Ireland.”

Want to learn more about the DNA testing? Contact Joanna at


Shaking up the tube with the sample and a preservative. It will be shipped to the US for testing.

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