Australia, America, Canada, Britain, France... even Barbados and Argentina: Ireland’s connections spread themselves generously across the globe. In Ireland’s Family History Year, the ancestral tree is ripe for shaking
The Gathering Ireland 2013 is pretty unique when it comes to festivals. It lasts an entire year, the invite is worldwide and the events cover all manner of interests from Red Hair Conventions to Left Handed get-togethers.
It does have a core, though, and that core is the Diaspora.
From Ireland with love
That 70 million people on earth claim some ancestral link to Ireland is no accident. A bitter famine in the 19th century, an eventful history and a culture of travel founded on people such as St Brendan – who is said to have found the New World from a tiny port in Dingle even before Columbus – have seen threads of Ireland reach around the globe.
The Gathering Ireland is a chance for that 70 million to investigate, connect and celebrate their link to the island their ancestors left.
Pick a county, town, village in Ireland and in 2013 you will find a family gathering there. In fact, you’ll find a lot more than one. The number of clan gatherings in Ireland is spilling into the hundreds, causing the seams of the calendar to burst under the strain.
Gallaghers in Donegal, O’Neills in Tyrone and Armagh, Ryans in Carlow, and Farleys in Cork – with each gathering, you’re coming closer to your origins.
Along with families being reunited and even found, the ancestral thread weaving through The Gathering Ireland is strong.
Ever heard of the ‘Morpeth Roll’? Signed on the departure of Lord Morpeth from Ireland, this is an informal pre-famine census bearing approximately 150,000 names from across Ireland. In 2013, it’s not only being digitalised, but it’s going on tour. Catch up with it in places such as Belfast, Kilkenny, Derryane or Clonmel.
At County Kildare’s National Stud, a genealogy expert will be on hand to offer priceless insights into ancestral research while Dublin's National Library, a veritable nirvana of family history, will be holding various genealogy lectures and courses during 2013.
What other moment could so deserve the name Family History Year?
The tree of life
No one who has done it would describe tracing their family tree as easy. But talk to people who have been on that journey, and they’ll quickly tell you how rewarding, absorbing and meaningful it has been.
The elation of finding that right birth document; the Sherlock Holmes moment when you cracked how the family name changed; or seeing the signature of someone who, until then, existed only in anecdotes. Historian, Turtle Bunbury, says of genealogy:
“It is the greatest jigsaw ever made. It’s deeply indulgent and utterly fascinating and it gets bigger, and juicier, every time you find a new piece.”
“It can be done!”
Throughout the process of tracing your ancestry in Ireland, you will need help, tips and support. You might even require reassurance that “It can be done!”.
When it comes those moments, we have you covered.
Help at hand
The Facebook page “Discover Your Ireland Family” is a space for sharing ideas, tips, news and stories. It is a place for anyone whose family tree leads to Ireland but doesn’t know where to start the search.
Along with quirky tales and essential insights, one day each month the page will be hosted by someone expert in tracing family history in Ireland. Curious folks will be able to ask questions, confirm queries and hear some inside insights into best practice for using Ireland’s genealogy resources.