Over 70 million people across the globe are of Irish heritage including approximately 12% of Americans. In addition to gorgeous beaches, pints of Guinness, fairies and folklore, ancestry is what drives tourism to Ireland.
And, you know what, there are actually resources there specifically designed to assist families with filling gaps in family trees and unearthing ancestral anecdotes. This makes Ireland one of the hottest multigenerational trip destinations on the planet.
If you’d like to take a family heritage trip to Ireland, here’s how other families are doing it.
Finding Irish Ancestors Starts At Home
The process starts at home by polling family members organizing what you already know. Then, turn to the internet for clues by Googling names and searching obituaries. Browsing sites like ancestry.com or irishgenealogy.ie, an Irish government sponsored site with official records.
People warn that this can be a labor-intensive process involving lots of dead ends, late nights, reading and clicking. Those who persevere though are likely to be rewarded.
Design A Heritage Trip
At this point, people typically go one of two ways. Some love the thrill of visiting genealogy centers and doing research themselves. Every single county in Ireland has a genealogy center staffed with experts though a number of them also have millions of records online to search prior to arriving. There are two major centers in Dublin alone, which are excellent places to start for people who arrive with limited information.
Others prefer to hire an expert in Ireland to do the research prior to arrival, enabling the family to immediately begin touring their ancestral area armed with information.
Arrival In Ireland
Walking in the steps of ancestors in addition to touring other famous sites and indulging in hearty Irish fare is perhaps the most rewarding part of the journey. It’s not unusual to be able to visit the same churches or even homes that your ancestors frequented or even their grave site. Plus, you can hire a local historian who can add even more color as you tour.
But, research is part of the itinerary, the most important things to know about an ancestor are:
- Approximate date of birth
- Parish or county of origin in Ireland
- Religious denomination
- Names of ancestor’s parents
- Name of ancestor’s spouse
- Date and place of marriage
If a skeleton or two falls out of the closet, you’re not alone. And, if you can’t unearth specific details, it’s still possible to gain an understanding of what life might have been like for them by visiting a number of Ireland’s museums. A very helpful document by Discover Ireland that outlines more in regard to finding ancestors in Ireland is here.
Multigenerational Travel Tips
Genealogy research can become addictive especially with limited time on the ground. Don’t let it overwhelm the trip. Just remember that when traveling with three generations, it’s critical to create a well-balanced itinerary where everyone is able to do something that appeals to them. Discuss expectations in advance and involve the entire family in trip planning.
Have you taken a heritage trip? What did you learn?