Exploring Your Irish Ancestry

My father was born in San Francisco two years after my grandparents arrived from Ireland and he grew up in an all Irish neighborhood. Yet I never thought of him as being Irish. He was part of a generation that wanted to be American and assimilate.

It wasn’t until I went to Ireland for the first time and saw my father everywhere that I realized how Irish he really had been and how many Irish traits he passed on to me; the wry sense of humor, the keen sense of irony, the kindness and generosity, the tendancy to come at everything indirectly and the ability to hold a grudge.

I also inherited my father’s love of story and poetry as well as a interest in learning. I have been back many times, stayed in cousins in County Kilkenny and County Mayo, and fallen in love with the place and the people.

Whenever I’m in Ireland I can feel the presence of the ancestors in the land. Especially in the West, in County Mayo where my grandfather came from a deep sense of connection came to me as I visited the place where he had been born. In reclaiming my Irish heritage I feel I have helped in healing my lineage.

There are hundred million people of Irish ancestry living outside Ireland mostly in the U.S. and Australia. Yet in the Irish language there is no word for emigrant. The closest word for leaving the homeland is exile. The songs about Irish who had to leave are filled with a haunting sense of lament. The Irish, who are actually the indigenous people of the island, are said to have an almost umbilical connection to the land. If you have any Irish blood I think you might be interested in exploring your roots and learning about the rich, complex history of the Ireland.

You don’t have actually go to Ireland to learn more about your ancestors. You can learn a lot on line. The Mormon Church maintains a comprehensive geneaology database that is free and not church related at www.familysearch.org. Also most libraries subscribe to online databases that do charge a fee like www.ancestry.com. If your ancestors came through Ellis Island you can find out what ship they sailed on and where it came from at www.ellisisland.org.

Consider joining me on a Journey to the West of Ireland. For more information on the next trip visit http://creativitygoeswild.com/west-of-ireland/

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