Activity Breaks > Ancestry Seekers B&Bs > Tracing our Roots in Ireland
Finding our Past
Michael Kelly from Chicago, USA tells of his search for Irish Roots
My decision to visit Ireland was deeply rooted in the past – my family’s past, that is. Growing up in New York City, I often heard stories about the ‘old country’ from my grandmother Mary Walsh. Her reality as a girl on a Co. Westmeath farm was very different than my urban childhood and always fascinated me.
Curious about Heritage
Grandma Mary passed away more than 40 years ago and as time has gone by, my curiosity about my Irish heritage has only grown. When I retired three years ago, I began to devote my free time to learning about genealogy and digging up as much information as possible on my family.
When I convinced my wife Sarah to join me on an adventure in Ireland, we decided staying with locals who would share their knowledge of the area – and maybe even my ancestors – would be the best bet. Little did I know just what was waiting for me in the Co. Westmeath B&B we had reserved.
While the bed and breakfast owners were not Walshes themselves, they had plenty of information to share on the local Walshes. They pointed us in the direction of the cemetery and archives, and even arranged for us to meet their friend Michael Walsh, a local history buff.
Finding our Family
We played the six-degrees of separation game and discovered that Michael’s grandfather and my grandmother were first cousins. That was overwhelming enough, but it got even better; Michael, who has lived in the area his whole life, took us over to the home where Grandma Mary grew up so we could see it with our own eyes – which I have to say were filled with tears.
It only lasted a week, but it’s a vacation Sarah and I won’t soon forget and we owe it all to our B&B hosts. They have made my dream a reality and we can’t wait to return to Co. Westmeath and dig up more family roots next year.
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