In 1891 Sir Robert Matheson issued a special report on surnames, which identified Ryan as the 8th most common surname in Ireland, and in North Tipperary it is extremely common, making it very difficult to identify one Ryan family from another, with so many Michaels, Patricks, Marys and Bridgets. So much so that the Irish invented a system of nicknames to help identify the different families.
|Chart of Ryan Nicknames (see at North Tipperary Heritage Centre)|
So I was surprised a few weeks ago to see a new close DNA match on 23andMe, with a Thomas Ryan whose profile identified that he had both Ryan (Herd) and Ryan (Honesty) ancestry. We corresponded, and confirmed that Tom is a grandson of Patrick Ryan (Honesty) and Bridget Ryan (Herd), making us 2nd cousins once removed. Tom and I share 44 cM of DMA across 5 segments.
The following week, I noticed a new DNA relative on Ancestry, who turned out to be Tom's niece, Paula Crooks, who is my 3rd cousin. Paula and I share 96 cM of DNA across 6 segments, which is more than I share with her uncle (one of the vagaries of DNA inheritance patterns).
It is amazing that DNA testing has allowed us to confirm our relationship, when just a few weeks ago we were not even aware of each others existence.