People often say that when they start exploring their Irish history, they would love to find some intriguing characters. Not a villain exactly but just let’s say, a colourful character, which adds a bit of ‘colour’ to your Irish family tree book. I love to find heroines in my Irish family history and indeed, I discovered I come from a long line of strong women in both my maternal and paternal Irish ancestry.
I knew I was related to the Irish author Colm Toibín from my Whelan maternal line in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford. I wasn’t aware of any other famous ancestors until last year when I was watching an episode of the TV programme ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ which featured the British TV presenter Emma Willis. I noted at the time that one of her ancestors was also one of mine. Although I was curious to see where the connection was, I was busy with other stuff and put it on the back burner.
I finally picked it up again last week and thankfully managed to join the dots as to how our Irish genealogy was connected. The upshot is that Michael Kirwan, the famous sculptor, is my 3x great grandfather and her 4x great grandfather. The handy thing about famous people is that a lot is written about them in newspaper clippings so I had a field day going through his life.
I will write a blog post about Michael shortly and to show you that you can’t just rely on Irish Civil records like Birth, Marriage, Death and Irish Census records. There are lots of other pieces of information out there and I think we have got a bit lazy / comfortable relying on just online records. Imagine being a genealogist / family historian 50 years ago. They would have had to traipse around towns, villages, record offices, parish churches to find the records they needed. We have been spoilt of late with the internet but please don’t forget that there is a world of other information out there.
So have you found any interesting characters in your Irish Family History?