Entering the world of genetic genealogy can be overwhelming for many people and it can be difficult to collaborate with others across all the various tools. In today’s “How I Solved It” guest blog post, Patricia Greber (My Genealogy Life) shows us how she uses DNA tools at Ancestry to help her chase genealogy gold by finding a town in Ireland to pursue her research. Here are some tips she shares for using that site:



Can DNA Help You Strike Genealogy Gold?

Striking gold for me, means finding a location in Ireland where my family lived. I have oodles of Irish ancestry, it is something I am very proud of, but it is truly tricky research. Paper trails have been researched for years but the link back to the Emerald Isle has been broken on almost every Irish branch of my tree. I am always on the hunt for the pot of gold at the end of my genealogy rainbow. Will DNA be the tool to get me there?


Think of it like this, each one your DNA matches, each cousin, each relative is a colour in my genealogy rainbow.

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 8.26.22 AM

Mapping my Chromosome at DNA Painter is very rainbowish!


If I can figure out the connection with my DNA matches I will ride my rainbow all the way to that proverbial pot of gold.

Until recently, resources for genealogists were the paper trails, census, b//m/d, etc. When we exhausted these searches, what did we do? Usually, we would take a break and mull over what our next step would be. There just wasn’t a lot of options when the paper trail ran out. Now we can turn to DNA, which may be able to get us over this hurdle. How? Because once we start finding each other through our DNA matches and exchanging information, sharing our family trees the treasure may be revealed!


How Will DNA Help?

Ok, so you connect with a match at Ancestry, but your trees don’t match, now what? Well, there is the obvious things you can and likely do, send messages back and forth asking about surnames and locations, sometimes you get lucky but often it can go nowhere.  Here is something I that have been doing that has helped me to get further with my DNA matches.

What to do?

It’s simple, invite your Ancestry matches to be a ‘viewer’ of your DNA. Literally, a brick wall fell down because of doing that. Now, I am not saying go out and do this with all your Ancestry matches, be selective. Do this with people you are working with on your family tree, your relative, or a DNA match that you have been in contact with and are comfortable with. You also have the option to remove people from being a viewer of your DNA.

Why Would You?

Simply put, Ancestry is not always telling you the whole truth about your ‘Shared Matches’. It’s not really a lie, it’s just not the whole truth. For instance, if my Mom has a new DNA match at Ancestry, one of the first things I do is look at the ‘shared matches’ and check to see if her first paternal cousin there. If not maybe this isn’t a paternal match. Right?


When I view her cousin’s account low and behold the match is there. That’s right, the new DNA match does connect on her paternal branch. I wouldn’t know this though if I couldn’t view her cousin’s matches. (Obviously, I need a Chromosome browser and more research to confirm, but this is generally speaking when quickly sorting DNA matches).

Now, ideally Ancestry would let me know when my mother and her cousin are both matching someone, but that’s not happening. And it is these smaller segments that Ancestry is not reporting that can hold the biggest clues.

Search for Surnames

I have been working with DNA matches on my mother’s McMahon – McNamara family line. In my mom’s account at Ancestry, the surname McInerney keeps popping up on the trees of some of her matches. I looked at matches in common with these McInerneys and none of mom’s known relatives were there. With that name in mind, I switched accounts to her cousin (which I am added as a viewer) and did a search for the McInerney surname. Guess what? They were there! Some of the same people that match my mother match her cousin! BUT that’s not all, her cousin also has people with this surname show up that are not on my mother’s list.

Hmmm, seems interesting, checked another cousin, same deal.

What Now?

The next step is to reach out to the matches, send a message, see if you can find the link. Find out if they are on Gedmatch. Some are, some aren’t but are willing to upload, some just say no. You have to work with what you got. Gedmatch is great, but the truth is not all these matches will upload to Gedmatch. What to do?…read on.

How we worked around this is by inviting each other as viewers on our Ancestry accounts. And yesterday I received an email from one of the people working towards the pot of gold, the first line says it all –


By sharing as viewers on their Ancestry accounts these McInerney family members were now able to see how their family were linked.

We still have yet to discover how my family fits in, but it appears that my Margaret McNamara’s sister married a McInerney back in Clare, Ireland. We are talking about people born in the 1800s…and as far as we know there is no paper record to be found for this early time period. Simply put WE NEED DNA to find these links.

I doubt I would have even noticed the McInerney name if I had not had the ability to look at my mother’s cousins’ account to see if the match was there as well.

I would like to encourage you to collaborate with our DNA matches, allow matches to share viewing, keep an eye out for surnames and have fun. This is the discovery part that genealogists love. Build your rainbow and keep your eye out for clues, it may lead you to your genealogy gold.

How to add someone to view your DNA,

Step 1.   start on your homepage on your DNAScreen_Shot_2018-03-05_at_6_45_29_AM

Step 2.  Add their username or email address


Step 3.  There is no step 3, you are already done! Your match just has to accept!



You can read Patricia’s original post at https://mygenealogylife.ca/2018/03/10/can-dna-help-you-strike-genealogy-gold/

If you have ideas or stories to share in our “How I Solved It” series, please let us know!

Patricia Greber
Patricia has been doing genealogy research for over 20 years and blogs about many of the research resources that's she's discovered. Her research is primarily in the in Canada but has traced ancestors back to Scotland, Ireland and England. Patricia is currently the Vice President of the Grande Prairie Branch of the Alberta Genealogical Society and enjoys analyzing her DNA matches. She encourages people to look her up on GEDmatch.com using her kit number T509873. Visit Patricia's Website