Our recent family history tour of Ireland was a great success. We visited the townlands and old cottages for the Sweeney, Horan, and Brennan ancestors. We knew where we were going with the Sweeney part of the trip. The Brennan day was pot luck and we struck gold. The Horan day was fantastic thanks to Gerry Clarke of Ballinafad, co. Sligo. More about the Sweeney and Brennan days in another blog entry. Here’s the Horan story …
After my August visit to Ireland I blogged about the nice people we met in Ballinafad. Subsequently, Gerry was searching the Internet for recent mentions of Ballinafad and came across my blog. He then did a direct tweet to me saying he wished we could have met when I was there. Turns out the person I mentioned in my blog was a groomsman in his wedding and his wife was from my grandfather’s parish in Leitrim. I responded to the tweet with an email to Gerry and the connection was made!
Building up to the trip, Gerry and I exchanged emails about my family history. He talked to people in the village and was able to find my grandmother’s cottage in Ballaghboy as well as information about people in my family tree. When we arrived, he graciously spent several hours with us. We met his family and a neighbor who remembered some of my relatives. He and his daughter showed us the cottage, which is now a storage house owned by the Irish Forestry Service. Gerry also brought us to see two of our 2nd cousins. It gets better – turns out we might be distant cousins as there is a common family name in both of our family trees!
It really is a small world and a world where people go out of their way to help a stranger with no prospect of personal gain. Thank you Gerry Clarke, and the social media that connected us.