Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Giants In Ireland

An article in the Irish Times a last week revealed that some of those Irish tall tales of Irish giants might actually have been true! Here is Ronan McGrevy's story, published in the January 7, 2011 edition. By the way, it's easy to read all the news from Ireland. Just read the Irish Times online at www.irishtimes.com

Fri, Jan 07, 2011

THE PREVALENCE of giants in Irish mythology may have a genetic basis which exists to this day, researchers claim. DNA extracted from the bones of Charles Byrne, who billed himself as the world’s tallest man in the 18th century, shows a common ancestry with five Northern Irish families who have a similar genetic condition.

The condition could be traced back to a common ancestor who lived about 1,500 years ago, but lead researcher Dr Marta Korbonits said the genetic window could be anything between 400 and 3,700 years ago. She said she was struck by the prevalence of giants in Irish mythology which features the likes of Fionn Mac Cumhail, mythical creator of the Giants Causeway.

“It was folklore up to now, but we have identified the gene that has caused the gigantism that has been going around Ireland for at least 1,500 years. There might be a grain of truth in the folklore,” she said.

One of those who shared the genetic mutation with Byrne is Tyrone man Brendan Holland who is 6ft 9ins tall and visited what may be his ancestor’s skeletal remains in the Hunterian Museum in London yesterday. Byrne was 7ft 7ins tall when he died aged 22 in 1783.

Museum director Dr Sam Alberti said: “This work vividly demonstrates the rich potential of historical human remains to advance our understanding of rare conditions and to benefit contemporary communities.”

Researchers have isolated a common gene mutation which causes a pituitary adenoma, a condition which can lead to gigantism. The results have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr Korbonits, a professor of endocrinology and metabolism at Barts Hospital in London and an expert in gigantism, said she operated on a hunch when a Northern Ireland family which had the gene mutation came to her in 2008. She said the research had potential benefits for those at risk of the condition which caused Byrne to grow so tall.

© 2011 The Irish Times

Goodbye to RootsTelevision

Megan Smolenyak has announced that RootsTelevision.com will be closing as of March 10, 2011.
In her letter, she explained that Roots TV was an attempt to fill a void on genealogy programming--a void that no longer exists.

Genealogy is finally going mainstream. Some of you are probably already watching Faces of America on PBS and The Generations Project on BYU. And many, I'm sure, have heard of the imminent launch on NBC of Who Do You Think You Are? (a series I'm proud to be affiliated with, and for which, I wrote the companion book).

The non-genealogical world is finally waking up to the long overlooked potential of what we roots-sleuths do on a daily basis, as you can read in this article: Roots TV Becomes New Branch of Reality TV

I'm honored to have had the opportunity to fill this void for more than three years.I hope that you have enjoyed the hundreds of high quality videos that RootsTelevision.com has produced or selected. From the viewing numbers and kind comments, I know that many of you have. It's been a privilege to give the genealogical community this resource, but this seems the appropriate time to move on.

We'll be featuring some of RTV's most popular videos during our final days, so please come on over and enjoy them. Thank you for your viewership and friendship. Og and I will miss you!

Megan Smolenyak2

Kelly Clan Reunion

OK, all you Kellys, wouldn't you love to be in County Clare this May? Here is the perfect reason to start packing. County Clare is the location for the 2011 Kelly Clan Gathering. The reunion will take place on the weekend of May 20 - 21st, 2011 at the Bellbridge Hotel at Spanish Point, Co. Clare. The Kelly Clan Association invites all members and nonmembers wishing to learn more about the “Kellys” and their experience, to attend.This event takes place every two years. Check their website for more details.