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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The key to Ireland: Genealogists seek out their Irish roots

Welcome to the 11th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. This edition will take us on a tour through Ireland and, perhaps even more importantly, through the research processes of a number of genealogists who are working to trace their roots back to specific counties and villages in Ireland. My hope is that through reading the stories of the discoveries of others, we would all be inspired to continue our efforts toward discovering the specific details of our Irish heritage.

A special feature of this edition is the interactive map created by Thomas MacEntee of Destination Austin Family. He has embedded links to each of our contributors' ancestral counties and/or villages within a Google Maps map of Ireland. Use the map below right now to find an area of Ireland that interests you, or come back to the map after you've read through the carnival's submissions for a visual summary of this edition.

My Key to Ireland Map
11th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture

View Larger Map

If you have trouble viewing this interactive map here for some reason, you can use this direct link to the carnival's My Key to Ireland map on the Google Maps website.

Special thanks to Thomas for creating this map. If you want to know how he did it, visit Thomas' article at the Facebook Bootcamp for Genea-Bloggers blog entitled Google Maps and Carnival Posts. Two of this edition's contributors, Donna and Julie, have also written about similar ways to use Google Maps.

Now, for the stories of our carnival's contributors... Enjoy your tour of Ireland!

Brian of Ancestors at Rest has written us a chronicle detailing the story of the discovery of his roots in Ireland. It is quite a page-turner of a blog story. In The Search for My Irish Roots, Part 1 (The Beginning) Brian tells the story of how he is surprised to learn that his family was Irish. Part 2 (We're Irish???) explains how thirty years of "flailing around" searching for the Irish origins of his Massey family finally begin to pay off. Part 3 (Then I got lucky) is about his discovery of his immigrant ancestor's origins in County Wicklow and the story of a very generous fellow researcher he meets online. In Part 4 (Sometimes you don't find the next clue, it finds you) Brian finds more clues pointing him to the village of his immigrant ancestor, but has no definitive evidence yet. In Brian's final installment of this series, Part 5 (The kindness of strangers), he explains what finally answered his questions. One of my favorite parts of his story is his explanation of his joy as a genealogist at finally learning the info that he had been seeking for so long: "I was so happy. For about 10 minutes. Then like a true genealogist I started to think about what I still did not know, and I realized my search will never be over..." You'll surely relate to this wonderful progression of stories as Brian shares his search for Irish roots. You might also enjoy visiting his genealogy website on which he includes an Ireland page with many helpful links.

Professional genealogist Donna Moughty can be found at Donna's Genealogy Blog. Her article My First Trip to Ireland details the story of she and her daughter's visit to Ireland and search for Moughty family records. In humorous fashion, she tells of her struggles with getting acquainted with Ireland, driving roundabouts, and spending two hours to get a "reader card" only to learn that she would not be able to find the records she was looking for at the National Library of Ireland but would have to go elsewhere. Her story is a reminder to all of us that we must "do our homework" before we can have success in Irish genealogy. It is also a reminder that details are important: the village she thought her family hailed from was only six miles away from the correct village (Aughnaboy in County Westmeath), but was actually in a different civil parish, registration district, and barony. Visit Donna's blog for encouragement in your search and for some Irish genealogy links to assist you in your efforts.

Geniaus shared the story of how a priest and a post office clerk in the tiny Irish villages of Ballyfoyle and Muckalee in County Kilkenny were able to give her access to family records and also directions to her ancestral home. Read My Key to Ireland to learn her story and view a photo of the home that is still in the family after over two-hundred years, complete with a table made by her great-great-grandfather.

Olive Tree Genealogy Blog is one of the online homes of Lorine McGinnis Schulze. In her article Carnival of Irish Heritage: My Key to Ireland, Lorine describes her quest for her McGinnis family and how she narrowed down her ancestral village to Katesbridge in County Down thanks to her brother's DNA test and the handwriting on the back of a family photograph. For more details on Lorine's Irish family tree, you might also enjoy reading Tracking the Elusive Fanny Downey McGinnis.

Not new to genealogy, but new to the search for the Irish roots in her family, Cindy of Everything's Relative found the 1911 British Census records (newly placed online) were a help in tracing her ancestors back to their Irish birthplaces in counties Fermanagh and Mayo, and the town of Drogheda in County Louth. Visit Where in the world is Drogheda? for a glimpse at Cindy's discoveries about her 3rd-great-grandparents using the census and the Family Search website.

Kathy Brady-Blake of Kathy's Genealogy Blog has many branches of her family with Irish roots. In My Keys to Ireland she details how she discovered her Bestick, McSorley, Whelan, Markey and Brady family origins in Counties Kilkenny, Longford, Meath, Tyrone and possibly Mayo, and the steps she has taken to confirm these findings with evidence. I especially liked the description one of Kathy's cousins gave to her regarding the ancestral village of her Whelan branch: "County Meath near the River Boyne, five miles from the sea." Wouldn't it be fun to go hunt down that little village?

The Educated Genealogist Sheri Fenley tells us the story of her 3rd-great-grandfather and her search for he and his wife's origins in Ireland at Daniel Derondo Delaney and My Key to Ireland. She discovered that they hailed from County Kerry and County Cork. Interestingly enough, after searching elsewhere for the information, Sheri finally found that Daniel's birth and marriage data were already residing in her files, and were written in Daniel's own handwriting! Read Sheri's article for the story of how she found her family's ancestral village of Buttevant, County Cork. You'll also enjoy the saga of Daniel's shortlived career as a Union soldier.

Since Colleen Degnan Johnson's heritage is almost purely Irish, she has much to talk about when it comes to Irish roots. In My Keys to Ireland at CMJ Office Blog she writes about her Degnan, Galvin, Finnegan/Finegan, Clune and Donahue ancestors from Counties Longford, Cork, Clare, Monaghan and Mayo. Close to her heart is the childhood home of her grandmother, which Colleen was able to visit, just down the road from the cliffs of Moher and Lahinch in Clouna, Russa and Cullenagh. A tip from Colleen for discovering clues to your family's ancestral homes in Ireland: she highly recommends ship and naturalization records. They have played a large role in her research.

Kathryn Kahumoku resides online at the blog entitled For My Ancestors. Kathryn's father was born and raised in County Leitrim and only emigrated after his daughter was born, so Kathryn had much verbal family history to get her started on her quest for her ancestors. In her article My Key to Ireland, she details the counties and parishes where she has found records for her ancestors, including the parishes of Aughavas and Cloone-Clonmaicne in County Leitrim (her Kiernan family), and the parishes of Abbeyleix, Aghaboe, Durrow and Mountmellick in County Laois (Nolan, Muldowney, Horan and Connor families). You'll enjoy viewing the maps that Kathryn has created highlighting the location of each of her families' parishes. Kathryn reminds us not to forget reading local histories. She made a fascinating discovery about her grandfather and his brother (and their time as prisoners in 1921) by reading one such book. Kathryn thinks that she has exhausted all the records available to her (without making a trip to Dublin, that is) and is hoping for more records to be made available online or through her local Family History Library. While you're visiting For My Ancestors, check out Kathryn's list of online Irish resources on her links page.

As is appropriate for a Graveyard Rabbit, M. Diane Rogers has told the story of her ancestors using photos and information about a gravemarker on her blog The Graveyard Rabbit of British Columbia, Canada. Diane began her search for Irish roots after a trip to Ireland where she and her mother made "an obligatory wave to the family roots" without much knowledge about them. Once back home she began her research into her Irwin and Moffat families and eventually found roots in County Cavan, instead of County Armagh, which she had originally thought in error. Visit Irwin and Moffat: County Cavan for Diane's story about her search for Irish roots and her discovery of the grave of James and Mary Jane Moffatt Irwin in Neepawa, Manitoba, Canada. Diane's tip for Irish researchers: "Always look for collateral relatives, especially brothers and sisters of your direct ancestors."

Sharing wonderful portraits of her great-great-grandparents that many of us will envy, Paula Ausmus Moore tells about the Irish roots in her family tree at her blog A Passage in Time. With family hailing from Counties Cork (her Kirwin line) and Roscommon (her Noonan family - or is it Noon?), Paula plans to continue her search for the origins of her Irish ancestors who immigrated to Chicago, Illinois in the mid-19th-century. Read more at Paula's My Key to Ireland.

Julie Cahill Tarr has found two of her family ancestral counties in Ireland (Kilkenny and Tipperary), but still has more work to do to find specific locations. Read Finding My Irish Roots at GenBlog for details about how Julie found those counties and her plans for further Irish research.

In My Key to Ireland: Unlocking Family Mysteries Thomas MacEntee of Destination Austin Family introduces us to the area in Ireland where cousins tell him that his family hails from: County Monaghan. Like many of us, he has more research to do in order to get further details about his family. Read Thomas' blog for an introduction to the McEntee/MacEntee surname and his family's Irish roots.

Bill West of West in New England writes out his detailed plans to search for information about his two great-grandfathers with probable Irish heritage. Using city employment records, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority records, and Boston Archdiocese Archives records he hopes to find the keys to "open the door" to his Irish roots. Visit Bill's article: My Keys to Ireland.

Jessica Oswalt of Jessica's Genejournal describes her discovery of a Scottish birth certificate that gave information about the previous generations' birthplaces in Ballymena, County Antrim. On her blog she explains her plans to seek out information about her Scotch-Irish great-grandfather's family at My Scotch-Irish Ancestors: My Key To Ireland?.

I've shared my personal discovery of my great-great-grandfather's birth in County Tipperary on my blog A light that shines again. After celebrating my Irish heritage for as long as I can remember, it was a happy moment to finally be able to pinpoint Tipperary as the place of my ancestral roots. At In search of Irish roots: A long and winding road I explain what finally led me to Patrick Tierney's birthplace and list the other branches of the family that need my attention before I can make that long-awaited trip to Ireland.

I hope you've enjoyed this edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture and that it has inspired you to dig further into your own Irish roots. Ireland is not a large country, but it can seem daunting to the son or daughter of an immigrant (particularly several generations down) who desperately wants to find their ancestral village but whose research is at a standstill in Canadian, American or Australian records.

For help with getting started finding your own Irish roots, you might enjoy Getting to the roots of your Irish family tree, Part 1 here at Small-leaved Shamrock. This first installment focuses on finding the county of your ancestors in Ireland. The second part, Getting to the roots of your Irish family tree, Part 2, focuses on searching for more specific information: villages, parishes and townlands in Ireland. You might also benefit from a refresher course in Irish geography. Visit Irish Geography 101 over at A light that shines again for a little review (or an introduction if you're new to research within the Emerald Isle).

Join us for the parade!

No matter how your Irish research is going (or even if you have no Irish roots to speak of), please plan to join us for the upcoming 12th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. This will be our 2nd annual St. Patrick's Day parade edition and if last year's is any indication, it will be loads of fun. Come one, come all - Irish roots or not! All you need is an appreciation of Ireland and its culture. Read details at the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture blog: Join us for a St. Patrick's Day online parade!

Image thanks to kaboodle.


M. Diane Rogers said...

Great Carnival! and I love the map. Thanks, Thomas.
See you all on St Patrick's Day!

Anonymous said...


What a great carnival! I love the map, too.


Bill West said...

Wow, what great job, Lisa putting this together, and Thomas' map is
fantastic! Looking forward to the Parade!


Megan Cole said...

Great find! I am from Newfoundland and my family is the Cole Family from County Waterford... I am just getting into all of this. Fun stuff.

I wanted to tell you about a new site online called arcalife - it's a whole life experience site for genealogy search, creating family tree, inviting family members is easy, importing photos and videos easily from other networks online.

A colleague of mine, Paul Taylor, built it - he's originally from England but now lives in Canada - I am helping him spread the word about arcalife.

Would be great if you wanted to check it out and let arcalife know what you think - or pass it on to your fans to try it out as well!

Cheers, wish I could hit up the carnival!

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!


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