So, are you Irish? Tree Tracer helps discover your roots
By Sue Reames
The genealogy “bug” can begin with discovery of grandma’s treasures kept in a dusty shoebox, a scrawled list of generations of grandparents or traditional family stories shared at reunions. Sometimes it is all of those things. For Debora Downard of Tree Tracer Genealogy, the shoebox contained a pair of her grandmother’s gloves, trinkets and postcards. She also had a verified family tree revealing emigration from Switzerland. After gathering family stories, Downard was able to visit her ancestral homeland of Walenstadt, Switzerland where she says she feels totally at peace.
With St. Patrick’s Day at hand, Downard had advice for readers who want to research their Irish heritage. “Gather all the ancestral stories of your family and details of where they believe they originated. Stories passed through families often have no basis in fact.” She adds that if there is evidence of Irish ancestry, a visit to Kansas City’s Irish Center at 19 West Linwood may prove helpful. The Center houses local Irish family records and hosts programs of interest to the Irish of Kansas City.
Downard recommends extensive research before considering a trip to Ireland to research family heritage. “Travel with as much information as possible about your Irish ancestry, especially names and locations. Know where in Ireland to begin your research.” She suggests myirelandheritage.com for help with an Irish genealogy tour.
Downard is a professional genealogy researcher who utilizes and recommends a number of internet sites. (See below.) You may be surprised to learn that many of Ireland’s census records have been lost or destroyed through the centuries. Be prepared for hard work and frustration during your search. If the task becomes too challenging, turn to experts such as Dewnard at Tree Tracer Genealogy and Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence.
Undergo genetic testing if you haven’t a clue about your ancestry. An internet search for DNA tests provides several options, including Ancestry.com and 23andme. You may be surprised by the results. My family’s oral history assured me I was at least 50 percent Irish. My DNA reveals I am Scandinavian. I face lots of research to uphold family folklore.
Downard and I unanimously agree: if you are Irish, it’s time to celebrate. If not Irish…well, celebrate anyway. Éirinn go Brách!
Are you ready to research your Irish ancestors? Some of the websites that follow may require a fee for use, but they all look promising.
Irishtimes.com – an Irish newspaper offering current Irish culture
Don’t forget to check out the Irish Cultural Center in KC
For help arranging a research trip to Ireland, contact myirelandheritage.com