The theory goes that we all have seven doppelgängers living across the globe but most of us will never meet our ‘twins’.
But one woman, who launched a project with her friends called Twin Strangers to see if she could find her closest lookalike within 28 days, was left amazed to discover three women who look exactly like her.
After first meeting lookalike Karen Branigan – and staging a photoshoot that went viral – 26-year-old Niamh Geaney, a student and TV presenter from Dublin, Ireland, found two more.
She discovered Luisa Guizzardi in Italy and then more recently she amazingly found Irene Adams, who also hails from Ireland. So are these women – who look eerily similar – at all related?
Niamh decided to find out by taking a DNA test with her most recent doppelgänger, Irene, to find out.
Niamh Geaney, 26, right, who launched a project with her friends called Twin Strangers to see who could find their closest lookalike within 28 days, recently found her third doppelgänger, Irene Adams, left, also 26. The duo decided to take a DNA test to determine whether they really were at all related
A few weeks ago Niamh and her latest doppelganger Irene took swabs of their saliva and sent them off to a lab to be tested.
They tested the DNA to discover whether Niamh and Irene are sisters, half-sisters and – most interestingly – whether they are related up to 20,000 years ago.
The first test looked at whether they are sisters, with a probability of 0.0006 per cent and odds of 150,000/1.
The next test assessed whether they are half-sisters, with a probability is 1.1 per cent and odds of 93/1.
The final test – a lineage test – assessed whether they are related anywhere up to 20,000 years ago – with results showing they are not related at all.
Niamh decided to find out by taking a DNA test with her most recent doppelgänger, Irene, to find out if they share both parents, one parent or are related through their ancestors 20,000 years back
The first test looked at whether they are sisters, with a probability of 0.0006 per cent and odds of 150,000/1
The next assessed whether they are half-sisters, with a probability is 1.1 per cent and odds of 93/1
Explaining the results, Niamh said: ‘The results are reported as “statistical likelihood” or chances/odds.
‘So while they can’t say 100 per cent (you never can with DNA on account of the randomness of nature), the statistical likelihood is calculated based on the genetic markers that you share (Niamh and Irene, or Niamh and any other member of the population, we will all share some markers because they’re present in all members of the population).’
Speaking about meeting Niamh, Irene, 26, said: ‘I was out shopping and a girl from school who I hadn’t talked to in years was telling me about this “Doppelganger girl” all over YouTube that was my twin. I hadn’t heard about the project so I went home and out of curiosity looked it up.
‘I then received a Facebook friend request from Niamh and a funny message about how she thought we looked alike. I was intrigued so decided to meet up with her.’
Niamh travelled to Irene’s house in Sligo in the West Coast of Ireland and when the pair saw each other for the first time, they couldn’t believe the uncanny similarities.
The final test – a lineage test – assessed whether they are related anywhere up to 20,000 years ago – with results showing they are not related at all
Niamh, right, has discovered yet another lookalike in the form of Irene Adams, also 26, who lives in her home country of Ireland
Niamh, right, travelled to Irene’s house and when the pair saw each other for the first time, they couldn’t believe the uncanny similarities
The pair are seen in a video they released meeting Irene’s, right, blood sister, Aoife, left, who looks less like her than Niamh does
Niamh said: ‘Aside from the facial and physical similarity (the way our eyes crinkle when we smile, the way our nose crinkles, the way our hair is the exact same colour etc) we both actually move the same way.
‘We are both extremely enthusiastic about things (overusing the words ‘mental’ and ‘amazing’ on every occasion) and both share the same sarcastic sense of humour. We have a similar adventurous approach to life we could be sisters!’
The pair are seen in a video they released meeting Irene’s blood sister, Aoife, who looks less like her than Niamh does.
Niamh, 26, left, found her first doppelgänger through social media after setting herself the challenge of finding her ‘twin stranger’. She then found the second one in the form of Luisa Guizzardi, right, who lives in Genoa, Italy
Niamh, left, with her first ‘twin stranger’ Karen Branigan (right). The pair were photographed together and the shoot went viral with people shocked at how similar the unrelated duo look
Irene said: ‘Aoife encouraged me to go for it and was genuinely amazed at the resemblance between myself and Niamh. It was surreal when we all met up and Aoife was the first to say that Niamh and I looked more like sisters than myself and Aoife.
‘I’d say more people have told me I look like Niamh in the past few weeks than have told me I look like my sister over the past 26 years!’.
Niamh said meeting her doppelgängers is becoming quite a thrill.
Describing how she felt before her meeting with Irene, she said: ‘You never lose that excitement mixed with nerves before coming face-to-face with your lookalike, it’s just as nerve-racking as the first time! All these questions run through your mind: ‘Will she look like me?’, ‘Will she think I look like her?’, ‘What is she like?’, ‘Is she nice?’.
In video that she released in June, Niamh, left, journeys to Italy, to meet Luisa, right, who contacted her via her website, twinstrangers.com
‘Not only do we look the same, but we have the same soul,’ says Italian Luisa , right, who says the duo are ‘just like soulmates’
When the women met, Luisa, left, and Niamh, right, excitedly compared characteristics and facial features
‘Then on meeting her you feel amazement, wonder and awe take over, along with an overwhelming desire to ask her a million and one questions (to see if she’s like you in other ways!).’
In June, Niamh had journeyed to Genoa, Italy, to meet her second lookalike Luisa Guizzardi, who is around the same age and contacted her via her website, twinstrangers.com.
‘I had this crazy idea to fly and meet her,’ explains Niamh, who also met Luisa’s friends and family and filmed the encounter in a video.
On meeting Niamh, even Luisa’s mother said she struggled to tell the difference.
‘From a distance, I thought you were Luisa,’ she said before wiping away tears.
‘Not only do we look the same, but we have the same soul,’ said Luisa, who works in a hotel. ‘Like soulmates.’
Niamh added: ‘I really do think I have another friend for life and god help me if I find my seven because they’re never going to get rid of me.’
Niamh, right, gives Luisa a makeover as they prepare for a photoshoot together
The resemblance between Niamh and Luisa isn’t quite as uncanny as that between Niamh and the first doppelganger, Karen Branigan, who she found in April.
After their first meeting she said: ‘I was ridiculously nervous about how I would react to meeting someone who looks like me.
‘For the duration of our encounter I pretty much stared at her. I couldn’t get over her face.
‘And some of the expressions she would pull I would think to myself or say aloud, “Oh my God that’s my face”. I can’t remember the number of times I said “this is so freaky”. It was truly amazing.
‘I would say Karen is the shyer of the two of us,’ she said.
‘But then you have to remember this was an even more surreal experience for her than it was for me. I’m the weirdo that contacted Karen and asked her to meet me.’
Karen, who is currently in between jobs, has five sisters and a brother. Meanwhile, Niamh has two sisters, and both girls agree that none of their siblings look anywhere near as similar to them as they do to one another.
Since meeting, the pair – who are both single – say they’ve been chatting on Facebook ‘constantly’.
Now Niamh is helping others meet their lookalikes with her project, set up with her friends Harry and Terence, by adding photos to their website. Facial recognition is then used to try and find a match.
‘There is a huge human curiosity element to it,’ she said. ‘Can you imagine how surreal it would be to meet someone who looked exactly like you?’
The project had originally been a Facebook page but is now a website in its own right to respond to the worldwide demand.
Niamh said: ‘Our Facebook page (which now has over 360,000 followers) simply couldn’t cope with the demand, so we decided to set up the site so that people could search for and connect with their own lookalikes from all over the world.
The resemblance between Niamh and Luisa isn’t quite as uncanny as that between her and her first doppelganger, Karen Branigan, right, who she found in April
Karen (right) turned out to be a fellow Ireland native who lived just an hour down the road from Niamh (left), making it easy for the pair to meet in real life and take some eerily twin-like photos together
Niamh said it was surreal to meet Karen saying: ‘Some of the expressions she would pull I would think to myself or say aloud, ‘Oh my God that’s my face”
‘We now have over three quarters of a million users on the site and Twin Strangers are connecting through it every day. It’s been an amazing journey so far and we don’t really know where it’s going to end!’
Niamh said it is ‘surreal’ to meet women who look just like her and she plans to continue searching till she find seven lookalikes.
She said: ‘I started this journey following the theory that we all have seven doppelgangers. To get a step closer to making that theory fact is wonderful thing, but it’s not all about that:
‘I’ve discovered three amazing women who I never knew existed and I’ve had the chance to see whether our lives differ or align. Finding out if they’re similar or dissimilar to me as a person is what’s fascinating.’
She said she intends to stay friends with Irene, Luisa and Karen and hopes to find more of her lookalikes so she can welcome them into their ‘Niamh family’.
Of her quest, she said: ‘Since my search I have found three so I do think it’s definitely possible to find seven if one is committed enough to a search. It would be the most amazing thing, not to mention creepy, freaky, crazy to find all seven!’