Genetics may affirm Irish nobility claims

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A survey by geneticist Daniel Bradley finds about 2 percent of men who say they have the blood of early Irish kings are telling the truth.

Bradley and colleagues at Trinity College in Dublin found 20 percent of men in northwestern Ireland carry a distinctive genetic signature on their Y chromosomes, possibly inherited from Niall of the Nine Hostages -- a 5th century A.D. king who some historians have regarded as more myth than fact, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Bradley says about 1-in-50 New Yorkers of European origin carry the genetic signature linked with Niall and northwestern Ireland. He said he reached that conclusion after surveying the Y chromosomes in a genetic database that included New Yorkers.

About 400,000 New York City residents say they are of Irish ancestry, according to a 2004 Census Bureau survey, the Times said.

The report appears in the January issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics.

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