THE Vikings may be invited back to Ireland for the Gathering next year -- but it seems many of them never left.
A team of scientists is to carry out DNA sampling on families in Galway, Limerick, Wexford and Tulsk in Roscommon in a bid to prove a link between the country's oldest families and the Vikings.
"Our primary focus is Wexford, Limerick and Galway, and the Tulsk people are our control group. We're hoping Vikings didn't make it that far," said Dr Catherine Swift, of Mary Immaculate College which is leading the research.
Scientists from the Limerick college will be joined by a team from the University of Leicester to carry out the sampling.
The project is looking for volunteers aged 18 or over from a list of established Viking names. The survey is only targeting men, as it is primarily interested in Y chromosomes.
"One side of the study is the theory that DNA doesn't mutate very much between father and son so it's easy to identify Vikings because the DNA has been handed down directly from father to son," said Dr Swift.
The DNA testing involves a simple cheek swab.
The team also hopes to examine the extent to which the Vikings in different parts of the country intermarried with the native Irish.
"There are Broders in Limerick and Brodericks in Galway. Both are Viking names and we want to know if they are related or not," said Dr Swift.
"Irish surnames have very clear ethnic diversity, whether they are Norse, Norman, English or Irish. We hope to see if the Vikings who settled in Ireland are directly from Norway or if they came via England or Normandy," she added.
The team hopes to incorporate the results into The Gathering celebrations next year.
The samples will be taken between October 20--22.
For more information see www.leicestersurnamesproject.org.uk or contact firstname.lastname@example.org