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The Irish Travellers are a population with a history of nomadism; consanguineous unions are common and they are socially isolated from the surrounding, ‘settled’ Irish people.
Low-resolution genetic analysis suggests a common Irish origin between the settled and the Traveller populations.
Individual clusters are indicated by colour and shape.
Individual Irish Travellers are indicated with black bordered shapes, with cluster shown in Legend.
However, the extent of autozygosity within the population has yet to be quantified; as a result it is unknown how homozygous the population is compared to other, better-studied, isolated European populations.
Previous work into the genetics of the Irish Traveller population has been conducted on datasets of relatively low genetic resolution.
Using a sample of 50 Irish Travellers, 143 European Roma, 2232 settled Irish, 2039 British and 6255 European or world-wide individuals, we demonstrate evidence for population substructure within the Irish Traveller population, and estimate a time of divergence before the Great Famine of 1845–1852.Having identified distinct genetic groups of Irish Travellers, we investigated the correlation with Irish Traveller sociolinguistic features, specifically Shelta dialect, and Rathkeale residence (Fig. The majority of the Gammon speakers were members of clusters Traveller 1 and 2. The majority of clusters Traveller 3 and 4 consisted of Cant speakers, where all but one individual, for whom language identity is unknown, of Traveller 4 were Cant speakers.We found that only clusters Traveller 1 and 2 contain any Rathkeale Travellers, where 4 out of 5 individuals in Traveller 2 are Rathkeale Travellers.Small, isolated and endogamous populations such as the Travellers are also more prone to the effects of genetic drift.The isolation and consanguinity have in turn led to an increased prevalence of recessive diseases observed in the Traveller population relative to the settled Irish.