Home again: a Canadian family’s journey to Ireland

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Jim Hagarty & Síne

Thanks to the power of the Ireland.com community forum, Jim Hagarty and his family were able to share their inspiring story about coming home to Ireland

Jim at Malin Head, County Donegal
Jim at Malin Head, County Donegal

Jim Hagarty and his fiancée Síne arrived in Ireland on June 21 2018 to visit the family’s ancestral home in Conna, County Cork. On that same day, Jim’s father passed away from cancer.

A couple of hours after we landed, I decided to lay my hand to the earth to form a tactile connection with the land of my ancestors and it was around this time that my father’s heart failed.

Jim Hagarty

His father insisted he travel, since he himself never had the chance to visit his ancestral home. And so began an emotional homage to his father, expressed in this beautiful video of their uplifting journey around the island of Ireland.

Hagarty homestead, Conna, County Cork
Hagarty homestead, Conna, County Cork

The Hagartys' roots run deep here, stretching back to famine times, when their ancestors left Ireland for a better life and settled in Canada, never to return. It was Jim's uncle who sparked an interest in seeking out the family's Irish connections. He discovered the original family homestead in Conna, County Cork – six months before it was due to be demolished.

Visiting our family homestead was a highly emotional experience for me. I was filled with awe and a sense of belonging walking into the house for the first time.

Jim Hagarty

It's believed that when the Hagartys' ancestors came down from their native Donegal to fight in The Battle of Kinsale in 1601, some were killed. Those who survived settled in Conna.

When the Hegartys met with the current landowners and told them about the connection, they generously decided that the house would remain standing. Now, it is visited almost every year by a host of descendants making the pilgrimage from Canada.

Achill Island, County Mayo
Achill Island, County Mayo

After visiting Conna, Jim, Síne and her father, Fergus, journeyed around the rest of the island. One of the highlights was a trip to County Donegal – where the Hagartys had originated from – and the Inishowen Peninsula.

This was the place where parts of Star Wars: The Last Jedi was filmed. Jim had actually worked on that movie, with a visual effects company in Canada. The group explored the area, including heading to Farren’s Bar on Malin Head – a place visited by many of the cast and crew during filming.

Our trip to Achill Island was a very unique camping experience for me. It ranks as the most beautiful place I have ever been in my life. It’s impossible not to think you have been transported to another world.

Jim Hagarty

Another highlight was the group’s camping experience on Achill Island in County Mayo. From the aquamarine waters of Keem Bay to the haunting ruins of the Deserted Village at Slievemore, this wild isle certainly captured their hearts.

Conna, County Cork
Conna, County Cork

It’s stories like Jim’s that remind us how wonderful our Ireland community forum is. People at home and across the world have a place to share their stories.

On my first trip to Ireland I found more than just beautiful scenery, exquisite architecture, and the echoes of my past – I found my home.

Jim Hagarty

If you’re seeking advice, inspiration and a place to connect with others to share their love of Ireland. Join the conversation here.

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