When Ireland and Scotland meet in their opening World Cup clash in Yokohama on Sunday fortnight it will be an entirely family affair — at least according to experts in human genetics at Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and the University of Edinburgh.
The first comprehensive genomic analysis of Scotland has established particularly strong links between Scotland’s south-west, the Hebrides, and clusters of Irish ancestry.
The study compared the genomes of ancient Gaels buried in Iceland to today’s genetic diversity of Britain and Ireland and found that these ancient settlers in Iceland shared the greatest genetic affinity with those on the Western Isles of Scotland and the North-West of Ireland.
They also found that Donegal is the most genetically isolated region of Ireland.
So is a Jock a Paddy or is a Paddy a Jock? That question that will be entirely academic in Yokohama on September 22.
The findings are an apt reminder too, at a moment of deepening division, of our shared past and ancestry with the peoples of these islands and of other European regions.