Trip of a Lifetime
I have been doing genealogy for 36 years and have always been fascinated with my Irish great-grandparents. I had more knowledge about my great-grandfather, but my great-grandmother was an enigma about whom I wanted to know more. I spent 3 years preceding my trip to Ireland pinning down the townland of her birth and as much as I could about her family. When it was time for my trip, I contacted My Ireland Heritage, which I found quite accidentally online while I was doing research. It was appealing to me to have someone in Ireland, who could trace genealogy, knew the historical context, would do advance reconnaissance, and do the driving.
Sean and his team are nothing short of amazing. From my first submission of information, Sean telephoned to discuss and review my expectations and what his company could offer. Aisling emailed frequently, and Sean sent email updates of his research progress. Following his reconnaissance trips to both locations, he sent very exciting emails hinting upon his finds. By the time I arrived 14 days into a total 16-day trip [England and Ireland], I knew this was going to be the highlight of my trip. Sean’s enthusiasm, knowledge, and energy are palpable. The drive time flew by. On the way to County Mayo, Sean took time to point out some historical context, including a landlord’s manor house, and a famine museum. Our ultimate destination Day 1 was County Mayo and the church where my great-grandfather was baptized, locating his original 1860 baptismal record. We found headstones in several cemeteries with family names.
Sean had found two relatives, who still lived on the farm that had been in the family since 1842. They helped fill in details I would never have learned on my own. A distant relative had visited them in 1987, and had written an account of his trip. I realized as I stood on the ground where my great-grandfather was raised, I was reliving the exact description written about the family homestead in that 1987 letter.
On Day 2, we drove to Northern Ireland. We met with another descendant of my great-grandmother’s family in Cookstown. This gentleman was as avid about genealogy as I was and we shared information over his dining table for two hours. He accompanied us to visit churches, cemeteries, and the farm that had been in their family further back than we were even able to find records for. That land is also still owned by the family.
Although I approached the trip recognizing I may not get to meet with other descendants, and whatever we found if it was limited, would simply be the best we could do, in fact, it could not have been more perfect. To meet with descendants, to walk on the family farm, and look at the remains of the houses where they lived, and the churches where they worshipped, was a priceless and perfect trip experience. Adding to that was Sean’s enthusiasm for the work he does, and making each client’s travel experience as memorable as possible. I could never have located the people and places on this trip on my own. The parting gifts from Sean and his family were so thoughtful, meaningful, and well-chosen. This was truly a trip of a lifetime!
Sometimes folk spend many years doing their research only to find that cracking the destroyed records in Ireland are very hard indeed. Like in Marcia’s case allowing her to see the fruition of her research was a dream come true for the Team at My Ireland Heritage also. Once you meet those family members In Ireland they can fill in a gap that has been in your Heart a long time.