iCARA  irish caribbean ancestry - reconnecting through dna


What is iCARA?

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Background to the project

The roots of this project go back to the 1600's - a turbulent time in Irish history. The rebellion of Hugh O'Neill came to an end followed by the Flight of the Earls in 1607. A policy of banishment of military prisoners was introduced, and so began the exodus of the Wild Geese. The Plantation of Ulster got underway but was interrupted by the Catholic Rebellion of 1641 with its much publicised atrocities. Cromwell's invasion and subsequent subjugation of the Irish resulted in the death or disappearance of half a million people and a precipitous drop in the population of about 40%, a much greater fall than that seen during and immediately after The Great Famine (1845-1848).

Against this backdrop, many Irish people left for the Caribbean. In the early 1600's, some were Wild Geese, some were captured soldiers sent as slaves, and others sold themselves as indentured servants into conditions which were no better than slavery. And they went to places like St Kitts, Antigua and Montserrat (where in the 1630's, up to 70% of the white population was Irish). But between 1652 and 1657, Cromwell's armies rounded up tens of thousands of Irish men, women and children, drove them to Cork and across to Bristol, and then shipped them off to work as slaves on the sugar plantations of Barbados and the New American Colonies. Estimates of the number of Irish enslaved vary from 50,000 to 130,000, representing anywhere between 4% and 15% of the then total population.

However, the descendants of these Irish exiles are very much alive today, and this is reflected in the plethora of Irish Surnames in the Caribbean, as well as the celebration of Irish culture in places like Montserrat, the only country outside of Ireland to celebrate St Patrick's Day as a National Holiday.

This possibility of reconnecting people in the Caribbean with their cousins in Ireland has served as the inspiration for the formation of the iCARA project ... Irish Caribbean Ancestry - Reconnecting through DNA.

The three cornerstones of iCARA are Reconnection, Reunion, and Restoration. Reconnection involves reconnecting with both the Ancestral Homeland in Ireland as well as with distant cousins alive today both in Ireland and in the wider Irish diaspora. Reunion involves reuniting with genetic cousins, but also with the local community in Ireland from whence the common ancestor came. And Restoration is an ongoing activity that aims to help build strong ties between people and communities in Ireland and the Caribbean.

Maurice Gleeson

May 2013

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iCARA and the Spearin Surname Project at http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~spearin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Information and data obtained from iCARA and the Spearin Surname Project must be attributed to the project as outlined in the Creative Commons License. Please notify administrator when using data for public or private research. 

Last update: May 2013

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