24 September 2010


     I do love hearing from fellow researchers who find their ancestors in unconventional ways. Their stories confirm my belief that the most successful Irish researchers are the ones who think creatively and who "hit the streets" as a detective would do. Stories of chance meetings leading to ancestral discoveries seem miraculous to some genealogists, but they are every-day occurrences for us Irish family historians!
     Des White, a start-up professional researcher who is also a family historian with Co. Cork roots, has one such story. I am going to reprint his own words, as he tells a story much better than I can!
     "County places are great; drop a few names, ask a few questions, answer loads more--and bingo, everyone knows everyone! I went to a florist to get some flowers for the family grave near Clonakilty and told the lovely shop lady what the flowers were for. She said she knew a probable relative of ours close by and would mention it to him.  Took that with a pinch of salt and left the flowers plus my name and mobile on the grave on the Saturday evening . . . Amazing, on the Monday, got a call from [Cousin P]. He'd gotten the word from the florist, zoomed up to the grave & seen my note. So, we ended up meeting on the Wednesday back in Clonakilty, for a chat and to swap some family tales. . .  Definitely related! Our great grandparents, Thomas & Julia, are the link between us.
     "[Cousin P] also put me right about the Barrys in our past (Julia's people).  And thanks to a bar owner in Rosscarbery, I discovered one descendant owns a Bed and Breakfast (B&B) place in their original area near Rosscarbery. I took a 6 km walk out the road to have a look (and me with a possible cruciate ligament gone in one knee) in lovely sunshine, nice countryside. It's an imprssive B&B--the De Barra (Barry in Irish) Lodge."
     Des's tale is a "teachable moment." It illustrates the importance that personal connections have in Irish culture and society. Our ancestors brought this strong sense of community and family with them when they emigrated to the USA. Sadly, as the generations have passed and the climb up the social and economic ladders has supplanted other values, our personal family connections have suffered. But the explosion of interest in Irish family research in the USA has had the wonderful effect of renewing family and personal ties.
     Seems, from Des's story, that it might also have an effect on our knees!
     Thanks, Des, for allowing me to use your story. Hopefully, it will inspire some of us couch potatoes to get out and CONNECT in person!