Ireland is known to be a destination for genealogical research.Â Especially for Americans.Â It makes sense considering the millions of Irish who made the move to the US during the 19th century.
Until recently, I had never considered any sort of Irish heritage to be mine.Â I stuck to the Swedish side. It was easier that way.Â But on my recent trip to Ireland, I found myself sitting in the home of a small parish pastor looking at church records from the 1850s in an attempt to trace my ancestors in Ireland.
An incredible experience.Â Even if it was all for naught.Â My grandfather, my mother, and I based our search on a copy of an old marriage record.Â It was an old copy. A difficult-to-read copy. So we attempted to decipher the 150 year old handwriting and made our best bet.
Off we went to a small Presbyterian church.Â We though we struck gold when we found a gravestone with my grandfatherâ€™s last name. Clearly, we were in the right place.Â But the dates didnâ€™t really match up.Â The first names of the deceased didnâ€™t really match up.Â And so we kept searching.
Which is how we ended up in the home of that small parish pastor in Tullyallen, Northern Ireland.Â It is also how we ended up leafing through several books of church records finding nothing at all.Â We walked away empty handed.Â Kind of.
We learned quite a bit about the genealogical process.Â We learned about the different types of churches.Â We even learned what tully meant (which was helpful considering the number of place names using tully).Â We learned that it never hurts to ask, because suddenly you might have a meeting with the parish pastor.Â Most of all, we learned just how hospitable, just how helpful, just how friendly, people could be when out searching for family.
You canâ€™t plan for hospitality when traveling in Europe. When picking those European destinations, nothing is guaranteed.Â But if you do find yourself visiting Europe in search of old family history, enjoy the whole process.Â Even if you donâ€™t find exactly what youâ€™re looking for.Â You might still end up with a memory that becomes a part of your own family history.
If you are looking for family in Northern Ireland, start here: The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.