My Irish Ancestry Wishlist

Do you have an "Irish ancestry wishlist"? Maybe you have realised some of those wishes already - such as walk the same farm that your ancestors farmed in Ireland during the 1800s. In this letter, our readers share some of the wishes on their list.

Now Reading:

My Irish Ancestry Wishlist

A few weeks back, I sent a Letter from Ireland out to all of our subscribers around the word and asked “Which of these do you want more than anything?” I then gave a list of hopes, wishes and dreams that our readers have been sending to me over the last two years.

As I said in the Letter:

“One of the benefits of my “job” is that I get so many interesting stories, pictures and weather reports (!) from all around the world every week. Butyou see, I am a bit slow. It took me a while to realise something. It took me a while to realise what our readers of Irish ancestry wanted more than anything.

Maybe this will be true for you also?”

I then listed out the six categories of wish – from the simple to the difficult, from the factual to the emotional – and asked people to reply to me with their own answers.

And reply to me they did! In the hundreds.

Kerry Bog Museum

In the Kerry Bog Village

But, before I share some of those replies, it might be useful to go through the six categories of Irish Ancestry wishes, hopes and dreams. They were:

  1. I wonder if my surname is Irish?
  2. I wonder where in Ireland the name comes from.
  3. I would like to uncover as many dates and documentary evidence of my ancestors comings and goings!
  4. I would love to know which townland/village my ancestor lived and worked.
  5. I would love to walk through the old homestead and see the sights that my ancestor enjoyed.
  6. I would love to know if I have any living relatives in Ireland – and maybe connect with them.

Any of these on your “list”?


A View from Claddagh to Galway Quay

And Now For The Replies – Irish Ancestry Wishes.

The answers were very straight-forward in terms of simple numbers. Most of our (highly educated) Letter readers already knew the following:

  • I wonder if my surname is Irish?
  • I wonder where in Ireland the name comes from.

About 50% of our readers still had holes in their family tree – paperwork and brickwalls. So they:

  • Would like to uncover as many dates and documentary evidence of my ancestors comings and goings!

The winners by a big margin were the following questions – the questions that OVER 90% of all our readers would love to know an answer to:

  • I would love to know which townland/village my ancestor lived and worked.
  • I would love to walk through the old homestead and see the sights that my ancestor enjoyed.
  • I would love to know if I have any living relatives in Ireland – and maybe connect with them.

Many of the replies I received then explained a lot more to go along with those answers. So, for the rest of this post, I’m going to let those heartfelt words speak for themselves. Be sure and add your own comments and answers at the end of this post!

Kerry Cottage

An Old Homestead in the Kerry Mountains.

Patricia said:

“What would I like most?  I would like to know specifically where my ancestors from Ireland lived.  To be able to see the village or neighborhood, to know the churches where they were married and baptized.  I would LOVE to actually meet an Irish relative, but not much chance I will ever be able to travel to Ireland from the States.  Still, wonderful if I could email with family…”

Meg shared her answers, and then fired a question back at me:

“Having stayed in the country of your ancestors, do you know the stories of your great grandparents, Mike?  Your interest in genealogy probably means you do, but do you think the average Irish person is as interested in their ancestry as the average Irish-American?

Thank you so much for being a ‘living connection’ to Ireland for me!”

Michael replied:

Number six really struck a chord with me. My grandfather who has passed was from parents who were both of Irish descent. If there is not anything I could ask for more, that would be to visit and meet more of my family in Ireland who decided to stay, move back, or who were told they were to go back.”

Blasket Islands

An old Cottage on the Blasket Islands, County Kerry.

Stacie said:

 “Of course, I would love to get the answers to all 6, but my focus at the moment is #4 – where did they come from. I have had the joy of visiting Ireland twice and always feel at home there.”

Julie shared:

“The only thing I would like is to some day walk the streets of Ballyhaunis Ireland, the town where grandma and grandpa were born and raised.”

Anns view:

“I keep saying “as soon as I make a connection I’ll get to Ireland one way or another.”

Sherry gave us:

“I could answer yes to all these questions! But of all these, I would love to know if I’ve any kin folks still alive in Ireland, I would absolutely love to meet them! One of my dreams is to do so. See where they live, walk the path my ancestors has walked. Learn all I can about them, and know I have loved ones there and keep in touch with them. Have them to come see me here. This is my number one dream. Thank you for listening to my dreams.”


The Good People of Clonakilty, County Cork.

As for Evelyn:

“The only thing pulling at my heart strings was knowing that I do have relatives in Ireland … somewhere … but not knowing who and where they are.  We plan to return to Ireland in 2016, and I hope to be able to find my Irish family before we visit.  Meeting them would be the most wonderful dream come true.”

Fran shared:

“Mike, I would like to find out which town my closest ancestor was raised in, where the homestead was and to find out if there are any distant relatives still living in Ireland. That would be the ultimate discovery for either my husband or myself. To walk where they walked and see what they saw would be amazing!”

Brigid voiced a frustration that many have:

“I am most interested in # 3 and #4.   I wish Irish records were better on the website.  Good luck with all your travels in Ireland.”

Dunquin Pier

Carina Walks down for the Dunquin Ferry , County Kerry.

Mary gave us:

“That’s an easy answer for me! #5 and #6…I would love to walk through the old homestead, if it still exists; but even more than that I’d love to know if I have any living relatives in Ireland and be able to connect with them.  Although there are loads of Foleys (in County Waterford particularly), our particular “brick wall” seems to spring up when trying to determine if any of “our” Foley family remained in Ireland long enough to have children and grandchildren who might still reside there.  ‘Twould be a dream come true to be able to get an answer to that question!”

And I could fill this page up with answers that would keep you here for some time.

I guess this has been a learning exercise for Carina and myself – we take so much for granted as we live in Ireland. But, the message came through loud and clear from all of our wonderful readers. From now on, our focus is to help you bring your Irish Ancestry to life – be here on the blog, over in the Green Room or in the weekly letter from Ireland!

What about you? What are your answers to these very personal questions?

Slán for now, Mike.

  • michael lloyd says:

    would love to see these places and also find out moore about my O’Brien and Lloyd family trees its so hard to find out anything

    • Mike says:

      Next weeks Member of the month focuses on an O’Brien Michael. Mike.

      • Dennis O'Neil says:

        Read the article on the O’Briens from the Skull area ,great article. Although my ancestors are O’Neil’s or Neill’s from the Skull, Skiboreen area, I felt the article brought out what the felling for those areas feels like. I am working on the O”Neil’s from that area and was wondering if your father may have any further information. Jerimiah O’Neil was my GGgrandfather married to Honorah Barry (O’Neil). Any help or guidance would be greatly appreciated. Also Mike I am having trouble getting into the Green Room. I followed the directions but am unable to sign in, please help.

      • Nancy Kelly-Bushly says:

        Mike, I am from Kelly, O’Kelly, O’Cellaeigh. The Manees, Menees, which was changes from McNeese and MacNessa. I have been working so hard on the people, however my Irish Map from the 100’s of clans show my Kelly name everywhere. My family left in the Flight of the Wild Geese. At least by dates of showing up in America at about the same time as this event. Also one of the heads of this fight with the English was William Boy O’Kelly. He is not in my tree. What do you know of this event in Irish History?
        From a grateful 78% Irish DNA, Nancy. (BTW) my first name was given by my daddy. He fought in WW2. Almost lost his leg due to a motor found. He promised if he had a daughter he would name her for where his leg was saved. Nancy France. My father was stunnorn, true to his word once given, loved to laugh. Had Black hair, and dark skin. He said he was Black Irish. He was so happy to have his 1st child at 33, me, his Nancy with Auburn hair.

  • Jack Coffey says:

    Mike, I did not have a chance to reply to the questions when you sent them out, however the replies you received are similar to mine with #4 & particularly # 6 my top two. Trying to find present day relatives has led me to do a lot of yDNA testing in Cork. Jack.

  • Sandra Yould says:

    I would love to find out if I have any living relatives in Ireland. My great grandfather, Thomas Scott Wilkinson was a pianist and piano tuner who died in the western Queensland bush while walking between towns. He came from a very musical family of Wilkinsons in Dublin in the 1800s. Theyoperated a music academy from 50 Lower Baggot St, Dublin at one time. Members of the family played the organ, piano and conducted at performances, as well. I don’t know if they originated from Dublin – the furthest back I can prove is Thomas Wilkinson who married Frances Rawson in 1800. He operated taverns, for example: Carteret’s Head in 1820, Anchor in 1835, Protobello from about 1843. When he died Frances ran the hotel until she moved to Victoria, Australia with one of her sons, and his family.

  • john j. nee says:

    Mike beautiful pic.s their is a spooky scene, of 16 abandoned stoned homes with a road going down the middle of them on .FEENISH ISLE. [ CARNA ]— CONNEMARA with a very large sand bar to walk out to it .at low tide keep up the excellent, informative, wonderful web site & work. a grateful IRISH yank GOD BLESS!

    • Mike says:

      Thanks John – and don’t forget about Inishnee near Roundstone – probably named after your family. Mike.

  • Patti Daly says:

    I love reading your letters. I didn’t get a chance to reply to your questions but I am happy I can answer # 6! I do have relatives still in Ireland and just got the address of one recently and plan on getting a note out to her this week. Myself, I always wonder if our relatives left over in Ireland and Great Britain wonder about us as much as we wonder about them.

  • Can U suggest a genealogist who is familiar with the Cork area ,so we can trace R ancestors this way ? One that isn’t tooo expensive , since we R retired & on a fixed income . Thx ! Sooo appreciated ! jh

  • Melanie says:

    So lovely to hear everyone’s wish list! I, too, would love to know all of those things (1 – 6) on the universal wish list 🙂 However, I would most like to know if I, too, have living relatives still in Ireland, and would LOVE to one day visit the towns/counties in which my ancestors lived. My main surname/family interests are Magee, Dowling, Conway, and Kennedy. It would be so exciting to learn more about them!

    Many thanks,

  • Nan Kennedy says:

    The history and background you’re presenting in Letter from Ireland are great for putting ancestors’ lives in context. I’d also love to see a list of sources – city directories for Dublin, church and town records, that sort of thing. Ancestry and the Mormons are helpful – but I’m hoping someone actually living in Ireland might know of smaller, more obscure sources – not necessarily on line (one can always write a letter!).

  • Laura McGinley says:

    I enjoyed reading the comments from readers. I would like to know if I have relatives in Ireland. On one trip to Ireland I met some O’Byrnes in Malin Beg (my grandfather’s hometown) who later sent me a picture of my Dad’s brother that was sent from Mississippi. I corresponded with the O’Byrne s for years, but lost touch with them. I feel that they were relatives since I have found my grandmother’s name was Burns and because of the photo. I never could find out the connection. Would like t o find them again.

  • Lorene Finn says:

    I wish I had enough information to do 2-6 on your list. My DNA shows that I am 57% Irish, I know both my grandparents on my mother’s side, came from Ireland, My grandfather was from Donegal, but my grandmother, I don’t know.
    Unfortunately I don’t know anything about my grandmother’s family other than she came from Ireland. I have her marriage which took place in Boston, MA and gives her parents as Thomas and Bridget McDonough. Since my mother’s parents both died when my mother was just a young girl she wasn’t able to share any stories with me except she thought her mother came from Galway.
    So I guess as far as your Wish List goes, I’d like to start with #2, where in Ireland do you find McDonough.

    • Mike says:

      Thanks Lorene – McDonagh started in Sligo, but spread all over the counties of Connaught. Mike.

    • Lezlee Freeman says:

      Hi Lorene , I also have McDonough grandparents and great-grandparents. Sometimes their name is spelled McDonagh in the records that you find in Ireland (marriage etc ) . Most of my family came from the area around Clifden and Roundstone , they did not come to the States until the 1880’s . When looking for my roots I found that the area of Boston was full of McDonoughs and my grandfather’s name was also Thomas so I understand what you face. I got a ton of info by sending for my grandparents death record from thee state where they passed. It gave me my great grandparents names and where they came from in Ireland . Also as a surprise my great grands maiden name so don’t stop looking at records in your state. Good Luck to a fellow McDonough

  • Russell L. Reid says:

    I would love to find The area and homes of the Reid’s. My G G Grandfather name was John B. Reid born 1793 in Virginia U S A . I cannot find his parents but our census show parents were fro Ireland and Scotland. Any suggestions?

    • Mike says:

      Thats a tough one without specialist help for that time period Russell, not many records. Mike.

    • Sandy LaFerriere says:

      What a great list of wishes. I guess they all apply to me too. May I say one thing? To any of you good people who aren’t sure that you belong…….You most certainly do. You are Irish. You have that deep rooted desire to go home, or to at least learn more about Home and family. Thank you Mike and Carina for being the bridge that takes us Home every Sunday. It means the world to so many of us.
      Slan, Sandy Kennedy laFerriere
      Maine, USA

  • Colette Little says:

    I would love to know the answers of #3 thru #6. I have some brick walls in my research of my Prittie ancestry and so northern County Tipperary would be my first stop in my research of this name. I have a couple other names of Howey and Hayes but have less information on them as Ancestry and the Internet is limited. Thank you for all the great information you have shared and love to hear about all your road trips around Ireland. Colette

  • Andi Rigney Murray says:

    I’d love to do all six–have met living relatives already!–but I’d like to turn to one of my great-grandmother’s side–she was Mary Anne Nolan, listed from Cork like so many, yet we think she just sailed from there. With all these ancestors, I’d like to make a trip of number six. Still wondering whether Rigney is Norman or not–my Irish frien here in the States insists it couldn’t be Irish!

  • Connie says:

    I, too, would love to be in touch with any relatives still in Kerry – Bakers and Griffins. Most of the males emigrated, and I have not been able to document marriages for the girls who did not.
    I hope to visit in October.

  • Leah says:

    I hope I can find some relatives still in Ireland – I think I’m close to finding some! The thing I find so amazing is that we Irish and Irish-Americans feel such a strong connection with Ireland and family, more, it seems than other nationalities. As an O’Callaghan/Linane, I felt a strong connection to Ireland, even as a child. Just as I suspected, when I got to Ireland for the first time, I felt at home. Our roots run deep!

    • Christine says:

      I am in the uk, my father was OCallaghan and my mothers side is Brennan. I have found it almost impossible to go further back than my gt grandparents mid 1800s. I have been to Ireland to do some research and found several addresses that still existed of f amily homes. Even our Irish family still living there dont seem to know much. Good luck with your search.

      • Manon McLellan says:


        My mother’s side was Brennan also! It’s now Aubry – it’s a long story! 🙂

        Because of the quality of records here in Canada, we were able to trace our ancestry back to the mid-1600’s, up until the first Irishman landed in what is now Canada. Before that, nobody has found anything.

        You may want to expand your search, as I am trying to do. When Cromwell reconquered Ireland after a short rule by Catholics supporting English Royalists (civil war of 1641), those Catholics were severely punished – they were stripped of their lands and relocated, and those lands burned causing famines, some were killed or sent to the West Indies as indentured servants on sugar cane plantations. Once the indenture period was over, a popular place to go to was Montserrat, an island close to Barcelona, Spain, also known as “Emerald Isle of the Carribean” in part because of the number of Irish ancestry. When the English Monarchy was reinstated they tried to compensate the Catholics, but it didn’t sit well with the Catholics that they weren’t getting their land back so before too long Ireland was at war again… Some fled to France and/or England to join in the battle against the Protestants.

        There are some good reads, on those hellions, the “Brennan’s”, who owned a lot of land, and their reaction to those lands being confiscated – burning buildings, etc.

        The point here is that you may want to look at Ireland’s history to give you clues as to other places ‘your’ Brennan’s could have gone to…


  • Darlene Hebert says:

    I would love 3-4-5-6, the problem is how to plan a genealogy trip and not know where to find the answers. My names are all common, Kennedy, Berry, Melville, Connell, Newman, Hamilton and Hughes, were does one begin?
    Some say Cork, some Tyrone, Northern Ireland, Irish Free State, others nothing. Maybe because theirs lives were so hard and once they got to Canada, or the US, they didn’t want to be reminded of their homeland.
    I can’t wait to come to Ireland, the connection is so strong, I see pictures like the ones above, it feels like I’ve a hole in my heart, this part of me is missing and needs to be filled.

  • Rosemary says:

    I too am interested in knowing if I have a connection to Ireland. My husband’s great grandmother (Graney) was from the Waterford area…We know that she worked at the glass factory there. My great grandmother came to New York via the Canadian connection . She was a Meenahan not sure of the spelling as here in New York we have various ways of spelling and saying the name. She came WOP as worked as a domestic in upstate New York until she married an Oliver Hector. I really don’t know where to start my journey.
    I love your letters and look forward to reading them every Sunday morning over tea a soda bread. Thank you for the “little bit of Ireland” you bring us every week.

  • Rosemary says:

    I too am interested in knowing if I have a connection to Ireland. My husband’s great grandmother (Graney) was from the Waterford area…We know that she worked at the glass factory there. My great grandmother came to New York via the Canadian connection . She was a Meenahan not sure of the spelling as here in New York we have various ways of spelling and saying the name. She came WOP as worked as a domestic in upstate New York until she married an Oliver Hector. I really don’t know where to start my journey.
    I love your letters and look forward to reading them every Sunday morning over tea a soda bread. Thank you for the “little bit of Ireland” you bring us every week.

  • Nancy Ireland says:

    Loved reading this letter with all the pictures of the cottages and the answers that you printed. I guess our wish is like all the others, answers to all 6 questions. To see the place the Ireland and Wells ancestors lived and if there are any still remaining there! What a feast of joy to find family you didnt know of and be able to connect with them and maybe learn more of the history of your origins!! Mike and Carina, its a fabulous thing you are doing with this site. Gods Blessings to you both!!

  • Gail "Gibson" Pabst says:

    Hello Mike,
    I really enjoyed reading this weeks Letter From Ireland. So many of the questions people posed would be the same ones I would ask. I would love to be able to add more information to my family tree on especially from the branches pertaining to my relatives from Ireland and Scotland.
    My DREAM would be an extended vacation to visit Ireland and Scotland. To see the villages/town/cities my ancestors lived, where they were raised, churches they attended, and were they worked. To be able to walk today where they once walked; the sights, the sounds, the food, the music, and so much more.
    I’ll never be able to do that because of our finances and doubt things will change/improve enough in the future do so. So, I enjoy receiving the weekly Letters From Ireland in their entirety from top to bottom and often read them more than once. I enjoy all the photographs posted on Facebook of the Emerald Isle, it’s nice to see the homeland of my relatives.
    Keep doing what you do because I know there must be many others as myself who long to go home to Ireland. Thank you for helping me with all the information you provide. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

    Gail “Gibson” Pabst

  • Melanie Hofsiss says:

    I have so enjoyed reading our weekly walk thru Ireland. My wish list is much the same as most of the others. Where was my GGGreat grandfather from, are any of the family still in Ireland, and anything else I could find out. I told you when I first signed on for your letter, I only know that my ancestor walked 2 days to get to Derry to get on the ship for America. So I have an area sort of to look at. My mother told me that she remembers going with her grandfather to send money “home for the family still there. ” Mom was born in 1936 and did live with her mother at her parents home in Toledo,Ohio. I have written several relatives here but no one seems to remember much about it. I have also heard that my grandmother’s grandfather told her we”Culbertsons” were part of the Gregory clan. One of my mother’s aunts said she thinks there are Neely’s still in Ireland that we are related to. I also wonder if the Irish families are as interested in us as are we Americans are about the Irish part of our heritage. I have always felt like Ireland has a pull on my heartstrings. It is my fondest wish that I might one day walk on the home soil of Ireland. But I am enjoying the glimpses I receive through your words and the pictures you include. This small amount will have to suffice me until the next Walk on the next Sunday.

  • johanna fahey hogan says:

    like your other readers I would love to know if I still have relatives in Ireland and to know exactly where my ancestors lived and to walk in their steps.I cannot find any inf. in Ireland or in the green room on the faheys.

    • Mike says:

      Hi Johanna – thanks for sharing – very important to ask specific questions for your search in general and in the Green Room. Mike.

  • Eleanor Johnson says:

    Both my grandparents were born in Ireland. William Gallagher from Donegal and Kathleen Byrnes from Cork. My hope and dream is to one day to visit Ireland. l would love answers to 4& 5. L have been passing the letters from Ireland to my kinfolk here in Canada and they enjoy reading it as much as l do. Where l live now we have a gentlemen of Irish parentage who lived in Cork and he just came back from a visit there to see his mother.

  • Georgia says:

    I feel very blessed and my soul is celebrating. My father and I went to Ireland 6 times together, starting in 1966, soon after both of my grandparents passed away. At the time we had the information for a relative or two, and the location of the ancestral houses for both of them (a mile away from each other). I have now been to Ireland about a dozen times, and I feel so blessed to be greeted by many relatives over the years with the saying “Welcome! How long are you home for?” I have spent many hours getting information from other relatives for my family trees on both grandparents’ sides of my family. Not only did we visit the ancestral homes, but we visited the farm my grandfather sold in 1922 before he left for the last time. Now I feel everything will soon come full circle as I have the opportunity to purchase my grandfather’s ancestral home at a ‘family price’ as the land is soon to be sold. I want to keep it available for all in the family in the future and have to figure out how to do that. Mike, any input on how to legally do this? I can post a picture if Mike can tell me how to do that????? 🙂 I love the little cottage that has been in our family for centuries.

  • Peg Finnigan says:

    Thanks for your letters Mike! I so look forward to them every week. In fact, I
    have saved all of them! Keep up the good work.
    Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you and Carina.

  • Ann Ahern Hanson says:

    My husband and I travelled to Ireland in March 2013 and visited Whitegate, Cork, my grandfather’s home . My grandfather, Patrick Joseph Ahern, lived there until 1899 when he immigrated to the United States and stayed with his Uncle Bartholomew Barry and family until he was of age. His Uncle Bartholomew Barry immigrated to the United States in about the 1880s or a little later.

    I met so many people in Whitegate — even the family that purchased my Great Uncle Ned’s home after his passing. An elderly gentleman invited us into his home and went over my genealogy and provided information to me for further searches. He even took us to cemetery where Uncle Ned, his sister Mary, mother, Mary Barry, and father, Edmond Ahern are buried. We were able to visit the site of the Church my grandfather attended (even though a newer Church was built in the 1970s in the same location, St. Erasmus). There were many others who provided information to us; however, that occurred on my return to the United States when I became a member of the Whitegate Facebook page. I provided a photo of my Dad and his Uncle Ned and so many people who responded to the picture stated it brought back so many fond memories. One response was from Uncle Ned’s neighbor’s daughter who even remembered my Dad visiting in 1979.

    We hope to return in 2016 and will again visit Whitegate and hopefully meet up with those who helped us during our 2013 trip or who responded on Facebook and provided the personal information I would never have found in conducting my research.

    There are two other families we will begin researching — Mary, my great-grandmother’s family, the Barrys, and my grandfather Patrick Joseph Ahern’s wife, Elizabeth Otis, whose maternal family are the Healy’s.

    In addition to this, the most important search after my return from Ireland was on Ancestry trying to look up my grandfather’s brother John Ahern’s family in Australia. John Ahern’s granddaughter and I connected on Ancestry when I was searching for her grandfather’s family. Not only have we been communicating but we met in September 2014 when she and her husband traveled to the United States.

    My husband and I both looking back at our trip , my searches on Ancestry, and on Facebook provided us with so many “God winks” that now I have documented all of this in my genealogy papers for future generations of Aherns!

  • Ashton Leigh Ashberry says:

    How lovely it would be to have actual Irish relatives still living. My Irish heritage is so distant and watered down. However I’ve always had a fascination and love for all things Irish. I think that’s becasue the people of Ireland generaly have the same hospitality and kindness that I, being from Texas, try to exhibit. Ireland is the only place outside of the states that I have to visit. Good luck to everyone searching for relatives and a huge thank you to Mike and Carina for publishing such lovely stories. Best wishes.

    – Ashton

  • Shelley Gauna says:

    I so enjoy receiving your letter each Sunday. As with the others, I would love to find out where my Dillon family came from in Ireland. I hope to have solved this mystery before my husband and I come to Ireland in two years.


  • Rita Koechowski says:

    Thank you, Michael, for everything you do for us, including those of us who have not taken the time to respond. There are so many good intentions but life always seems to get in the way. Thanks to you I know the answers to 1 & 2 but mostly would like answers to the last three. Would be happy with any information but if I had my hearts wish I’d like to learn about my 2xGreat Grandfather’s two little girls who perished on the voyage over to Nova Scotia. When visiting the Dunbrody and hearing of the hardships they went through it was more than heart-wrenching. It truly made things much more real to me. I’ll be back in May and hopefully will find more answers at that time.

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for sharing Rita – better late than never! That is sad alright. May is a wonderful time to the year to visit. Mike.

  • Beth says:

    Thanks Mike! I always enjoy your newsletter and this is a great article. Sorry that I missed answering your initial email questions. I choose # 3, 5, and 6 for my County Down ancestors (Adair, Jamison, Little, Martin). I’m fairly confident that they were Ulster-Scots. It’s difficult to find any documentation for them prior to 1830, and my direct line left for the US in 1856. Most of the records I’ve found are from Dromore, which looks like a wonderful town and it would be grand to visit and meet family! In trying to find living relatives, I actually had an article published in the Dromore Leader, complete with my 2nd great grandmother’s picture. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any responses.

    wishing everyone great success and happiness!

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for sharing Beth – feel free to email me a copy of that article! Mike.

    • mary curran says:

      mike… i was just looking dow nthe comments . when i saw beths comments from 16 march 2015 im from banbridge 30 miles from her ancestor ii am also doing research i thought i would tell her what i have done i have had great help with . … put in adaircodownnorthern irelandinto google there are 111 adairs reg in the banbridge area and 29 in lisburn they would be in either town

      • mary curran says:

        she can email me ihave another web site and a adair is doing research on when get it i dont have it wrote down i emai it to her

  • Jackie Kiley says:

    Thanks as always Mike – well put together and an enjoyable read. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you:) I know my last know ancestor, Maurice Kiely, came from Ireland about 1800 to Nova Scotia. I would love to be able to walk the path he traveled and stand at the quay where he boarded the ship to leave. I’d love to be out on the water and visualize the view back to Ireland that he saw for that last time as he decided to make a new home in Canada. And, since I’m wishing, I’d love to know why he left and who he left behind:) Slainte, Jackie (51% Irish DNA)

  • Patricia (Leonard) Pia says:

    Hi Mike,
    Just love your letters. Ihave an interesting story to tell.My Brother and sister-in-law
    Edward and Marilyn Leonard started a Ireland Tour over 35 years ago..This tour
    continued every year until Marilyn’s death. I then assumed her place and my
    Brother and I continued the tour until 5 years ago when my Sister Barbara Burnett
    Leonard took over the reigns. We continue the tours through “Enchanted Ireland Tours” and our wonderful Guide and friend Sean Fenton. We now have the
    distinction of being the longest continuous Tour in the Histry of Ireland.
    I have been there 25 times and feel it is my second home.Our Paternal relatives
    were from Cloheen and names were Leonard and Kelly. They emigrated to Rondout N.Y. and were married there. Proud to be Irish /Anerican
    Happy St, Patricks Day
    Patricia Leonard Pia

    • Mike says:

      Great story Patricia – thank you for sharing – you are going to have to share more about the trip sometime! I guess you will start again when you finish the first time. Mike.

  • Patricia (Leonard) Pia says:

    sorry I misspelled Clogheen in Tipperary.

  • Mary Ellen Nee says:

    Hello Mike,

    I would also be interested in items #3 through 6. I’ve been to Ireland 3 times on tours and every time I’ve been there I felt like I was coming home. I hope to someday be able visit the town of my grandmother and Great Grandparents. According to the 1901 & 1911 census they lived house# 11 in Carna but there are no street names so I wouldn’t know where to go. I would also love to find where they are buried , I can’t find it in any of my searches.

  • Kathleen says:

    My aplogozies again: for some reason I seem to stay at least one week behind everyone else. I never mean to, but life keeps bumping things in front of my personal desires.
    Mike and Carina have long sympathized with the brick wall that is the Dunleavy family research. My father’s paternal side has been deeply researched, likewise both sides of my mother’s family. And then there is my Nana: I only know enough information to drive me crazy! Of the 6 points I guess I most long for an additional item: to know that I belong. I know that the Duneavy name is Irish, I know what it means, and I know that my grandmother was born and raised in Ballina. There the mystery begins.
    What is so sad, for me, personally, is the vagueness that envelopes her family seems to be a pattern. Her father has been rumored to have been a coachman, and a laborer. With little to know information – despite a lot of searching – I begin to wonder if maybe my family were not desireable folks. Were they thieves? Did they endanger neighbors by things that they did? The bulk of the family didn’t leave until 1888, a considerably long time past the dreaded Famine Years.. how did they survive? When they left they traveled not from Ballina, but far south, Cohb to America. Was it because money had been sent for this family of now 5 that made travel cheaper from there? What happened to the older members of her family that I cannot confirm left for America? Why do they seem to just vaporize to America? Why don’t I belong?
    I know that records from the 19th century are abysmal but my head says that a family of 12 people could not just vaporize; not all of her siblings immigrated to America, what happened to the rest?
    To know the information I have is nice, but to get no farther back then her: I can’t even learn when or where her parents were born, makes the feeling of not belonging profound.
    I think most I would like to belong.

    • Mary (Foley) Hurst says:

      I sympathize with you, Kathleen. That “vagueness” seems to be a bit of an Irish trait. But as for “belonging”, never fear! One can’t be Irish (or of Irish ancestry at the very least) and not “belong”. 🙂

  • Mary (Foley) Hurst says:

    How nice to see my answer to your question listed in the article above. I feel like a “published” author now. 🙂 And if there are ANY Foleys out there that might be part of my family…or maybe even want to pretend they are…I’d love to hear from them. 😉
    Thanks so much for all the work you put into this, Mike. And to Carina for her help as well!

    • Mary Ellen Nee says:

      Mary (Foley) Hurst,

      My grandmother’s name was Mary Ellen Foley. When I look up the 1901 & 1911 census it’s listed as Folan.

      Mary Ellen Nee

  • Susan says:

    I would love to be able to find out more about my Family from Ireland, if I still might have relations there, (they would be distant now, but I don’t care)
    I would also like to know more about where they came from. My unrealistic dream would be to visit the place where they were born and raised before they came to Australia. One can dream!!
    More Irish information available on would be wonderful,,,,,
    Cheers Susan

  • Cailin says:

    I would LOVE to know more specifically where my Hayes ancestors lived and to see it. I have a trip to Ireland planned with my dad this summer. My grandpa was so proud that he was full blooded Irish, he could trace both sides straight back to the Emerald Island. He died in 2012 without ever getting to go ‘home’ but my dad and I are happy to take up the torch. We can trace back to the last ancestor to be born in Ireland and then we get stuck. I can say for certain that John Hayes was born in County Tipperary in 1800 and married Catherine Boyle, also born in Tipperary, in 1830. It seems for me to get unstuck I need to find WHERE in Tipperary John Hayes was born.

  • virginia says:

    I would like to find more records on the Irish who came to South America , and to Argentina .
    to find where my Mac Grath ancestors lived. Thank you

  • Cindy Brannaka says:

    I would love to come to Ireland and find and meet relatives. I have not been able to find any as of yet. My ancestors came here in 1772, long before the famine, and I am pretty sure that they came from Northern Ireland as they (I) am protestant and I am pretty sure that I have tracked them to County Londonderry, Aghadowey through a letter that they brought with them from (presumably) their minister and a kind historian or librarian has found that a minister by that name was in that parish at the time. That is all I have. The family name was King, and I have found a few Kings, but I can find no link between them and my ancestors. Bur all in all, I would love to just visit and get a feel for the whole country as the pictures are BEAUTIFUL!

  • Valerie D'Aguanno says:

    I can’t believe I found this site by accident. Don’t let the last name fool you. I am Irish. Here is what I know. I have an ancestor Emily Collins (1828-1916). Her parents were John H. Collins and Elizabeth Cook. I have no dates for them. I believe they were in Ireland. Emily married Arnest Fash. Both Emily and Arnest lived in the U.S. (New York/Long Island area). Another Irish ancestor was John Elliot (1835-1889). He married Charlotte Burnett (1847-1907). Charlotte’s parents were William (b. 1820) and Elizabeth (b. 1830), but I don’t know where they lived. Charlotte and John lived in the U.S. (NY/Long Island area). The next Irish ancestor was Catherine Maloney (10/12/1884 born Ireland to 1/12/1941). She married Robert Washington Stears (7/12/1874-11/28/1940). Catherine’s parents were Patrick Maloney and Catherine Nolan (both born in Ireland). Family talk says that Catherine came from the Tipperary area. These ancestors are from my mother’s side of the family from both her father’s side (Maloney, Nolan) and her mother’s side (Fash, Elliott, Collins, Burnett). The sides came together when my grandmother, Ruth Fash, married William Van Brunt Stears. Based on these Irish names, what towns am I from?

    • Mike says:

      Hi Valerie – be sure and join up our Letter from Ireland – thats where we answer questions like that! Mike.

  • Colleen McCarthy Sanborn says:

    My family surnames are:

    McCarthy (spelled McCarty while in Ireland)
    McCauley (county Antrim)
    Gribbin (county Antrim)

    I am most interested in the Gribbin family line. No idea why.

    Great website …Thanks!

  • Judy Monahan says:

    I’d love to know where my Irish ancestors lived in Co. Monaghan. The research I have been able to find out that all McEnaney’s have one common ancestor but not where we lived. My GGGrandfather, Bernard McEnaney and my GGGrandmother Mary Ward made the journey to Canada in the 1840’s, (or there about). I don’t know when they left Ireland or which port of entry they landed at. I have since found out that four McEnaney brothers came to North America and three stayed in the U.S. and, I guess, one came to Canada. Other than that I don’t have any idea….. Thank you Judy Monahan

  • Dave McLaughlin says:

    I have been able to track my great grandfather back to Ireland, I have his name and his wife name and can only go back to him. I would like to find out his father and mother’s name and their history. Any ideas how I can do that. His name was Michael McLaughlin born 1795- 1842 and was married to Mary McLaughlin born 1797. Anyone have information they would like to share?

  • James Barrett says:

    A recent surprise occurred after getting back my DNA information from 23nMe. My Y-DNA places me in haplogroup R1b1b2a1a2f2, meaning that at some point in the past a son was sired by a member of the Ui Neill family and was raised as a Barrett. This illegitimate son begins my branch of the Barrett Tree, meaning of course that I am Barrett in name only and am more genetically related to Gaelic then Norman. This event/mutation could have happened anywhere but the largest percentages / concentrations are in Mayo/Connaught and this is where the Barony of Tirawley is situated. This Barony was held for long stretches by members of the Barrett Clan. Local link might be O’Conor. Being a polygynous society, the siring of off spring was related to power and prestige. The study done at Trinity College found that one O’Neill dynasty chieftains who died in 1423 had 18 sons with nearly a dozen women and claimed 59 grandsons! So anyone with Y-DNA done with this mutation, that KNOWS HIS FAMILY HISTORY IN IRELAND. Please reply.
    Thanks You,
    James Barrett

  • Ken Turner says:


    After reading through so many of these messages I feel very lucky. I have been to Ireland 3 times, I have met with 10 direct Turner relatives in Castleconnell and County Clare, I have been to the actual property where my grandfather Turner grew up, and I have been to two local cemeteries where I found a number of relatives. I had a lot of help from the Catholic Church in Castleconnell, Co. Limerick. With that I has opened up so many doors for me that I am having a hard time finding as my Great Grandmother’s maiden name was Ellen O’Brien, daughter of Michael O’Brien. I am stuck when I try to go further with the O’Brien’s as there are so many and the name Michael is so common.

    I also have Edward Kiely from Co. Waterford. Sill searching in that area as he left Ireland for Australia when he was young and then settled in California.

    Thanks for your site.
    Ken Turner

  • maureen hendrick says:

    Miuld appreciate info of my ancestry. My grandfather was John Alexis Brady born in Liverpool whose father came to Liverpool around time of run up to potato famine I presume. Family originate from New County Louth. MAUREEN

  • Mary says:

    I have been stuck for months on the same three people. I wish I could not only trace my lineage to Ireland, but come to where they lived, and find out if they had anything to do with the Titanic, since I have been obsessed since childhood, and want to know if I have a personal connection with Harland and Wolff, and the beautiful ship!

  • I would love to be able to see where my G.G.G. Grand father and grand mother John Donaghy also Margaret, dont know her maiden name. The father and mother of myG.G. G. grand father also G. G. G.Grand mother Noble and Anne (Duff) of in Ireland. They are the parents of my G. Grand parents of John Alexander Donaghy also my great grandmother Mary Marshall. Who are the parents of my Grandfather. William George Harvey Donaghy. married to my Grandmother Minnie Anna Cleary. They are the parents of my Father Howard Harvey Donaghy married to my mother Melba Christine Bunnell. They had 10 children. 6 girls then 4 sons. My name is Alice Mona Donaghy. My Dad was born in Concord Vt. My Mom was born inCanaan Vt. Wim. Geo. Harvey Donaghy was born in Inverness Que. Canada. Minnie Anna Cleary Donaghy was born in Colebrook N.H. John Alexander Donaghy was born in Canada, Mary Marshall Donaghy born ? Noble Donaghy and wife Anne Duff Donaghy was born in Ireland. John Donaghy and wife Margaret maiden name? was born in Ireland. Me Alice Mona Donaghy Sausville was born in Concord Vt. I am the third child of Howard Harvey and Melba Christine (Bunnell) Donaghy Sr. If the family where ever you are need my other 5 sisters 4 brothers names. write me at P. O. Box 294 St. Johnsbury Center, Vt. 05863 Alice Mona Donaghy Sausville

  • […] Since then, many of our Argentinian readers have sent me photographs of a small village called Foxford in County Mayo. I notice that a visit to Foxford is often on their Irish Ancestry Wishlist (Go here to see what is on other people’s Irish Ancestry Wishlist). […]

  • […] so much for your comments and feedback on last week’s Letter – where I asked you about Your Irish Ancestry Wishlist. Would you believe I am still going through all the answers and getting back to some people! I […]

  • Harry Paige says:

    I would love to know where my G-Grandmother came from. I was told by my Aunt she was born in Ireland after the famine and raised in Scotland. She has the surname Greene. I would love to walk the paths in the town she was born in and have a long conversation with a distant relative .