Learning of your Irish heritage is so much more than simply being able to authentically say, “Kiss me, I’m Irish!” It’s about learning of a country – a country rich with history, tradition, and customs that are uniquely special. It’s about embracing an ancestry that is likely full of hard work and complex stories that demonstrate a strong spirit and pride in family heritage.
Laura Henderson recently learned that she is part Irish. “Through the help of Ancestry.com and FindAGrave.com,” shared Laura, “I have traced my grandfather’s side of the family back to my 24th great-grandfather who was born around 1150.” Laura spent hours studying the history of her ancestors and learned that, though they were originally from Hertfordshire, England, her 24th great-grandfather was the first to arrive in Ireland, and from there, his son was born in Dublin in 1180.
“For the next 550 years,” she said, “my ancestors lived and died in Ireland before my 8th great-grandfather came to America in 1701 and died in Virginia in 1730.”
We all want to know where we came from, but for those who discover Irish roots, it becomes a deep longing to know more.
If you suspect that you’re Irish, obviously the best test is going to be a DNA test from Ancestry.com. For $99, a simple saliva swab can reveal what percentage of ethnicity your DNA is made of. For many, this is a simple way of finding out the background without spending hours poring over historical records and documents, trying to trace long-dead relatives and where they may have lived. Laura considers the research to be half the fun, but says if you want a simple answer without the details, the DNA test is the quickest way to get the answer.
When you learn about your Irish heritage, another aspect of this newfound knowledge is sharing it with the rest of the family! “When I learned my family roots extended all the way to Ireland, I went to Facebook to share the news, and several distant cousins were as excited as I was,” said Laura. “No one knew there was an Irish heritage and it was exciting to share the details of my discovery.”
The next thing about learning you have Irish roots is to actually learn what region of Ireland your family is from. Laura shared, “My research shows my ancestors lived in Dublin and Kilkenny. It’s been an interesting lesson in history to study these two cities. For instance, the question of why my 24th great-grandfather left England to begin with is answered through my homework on Dublin’s history. The Anglo-Normans took over Dublin in the 1170s, and many Welsh and English people came to the city during that time period. This was due to a political overtaking via the King of England, and it coincides with what I know of my ancestors through other historical research.”
To learn about Irish roots is an exciting thing. Beyond the history of the country, Ireland is known for the beauty of its emerald green countryside; beer drinkers get excited about Guinness; the country has influenced literature; and Celtic music is awesome. Ireland gave us U2 and the Riverdance. And for the sports fans – rugby, soccer (or to the true Irish, football), and horse racing.
If you suspect you’re Irish, or know you are take the time to delve into your family history and learn why it’s with such pride that the Irish declare you should kiss them – after all, they are the next best thing to the Blarney stone!