Top Tips For Visiting Ireland & Tracing Your Ancestors

A recent article in the online publication of by writer Catherine Shannon  Ballam covers in great detail how you can get into the nitty gritty of tracing your Irish ancestors while actually visiting Ireland.


Packed with lots of useful information such as the importance of how to understand the actual historic records of civil registrations of births, marriages and deaths. Another and often overlooked important method is to reach out to relatives who may have heard stories from their eldery family members as this source can unearth previously unrecorded locations or names that would otherwise remain lost.

Of course the article also states how the web is now a wonderful resource to help you plan your ancestor search while in Ireland with government records from both the Rep. of Ireland and Northern Ireland now accessible online.

And then when actually in Ireland, the writer covers the importance of local churches and graveyards but also local county libraries as these can hold a wealth of information not as easily accessible at a national level.

So if you are planning your trip to Ireland and really want to make the most of the journey by tracing your Irish roots then read the article in full here:

Image Courtesy of Catherine Shannon Ballman/

The Irish Clan Names On USA Declaration of Independence

The website recently published an insightful article on the names of the Irish men whose signatures featured on USA Declaration of Independence.

With names such as Lynch, Carroll and Taylor the article profiles those of Irish descent who defiantly signed their names on this historic document with the article stating:

“Among the citizens who signed what could have been a death warrant, were at least eight Irish Americans, three born in Ireland.”

This makes for a very interesting read on these figures and the writer, Brendan Patrick Keane proudly & rightly states:

“My love of country, the United States, and of my heritage (Irish) converge in that document because I acknowledge the Irish who risked their lives to sign it.”

Read the article in full here:

Irish Surnames Can Be Confusing

irish SurnamesThere’s more than meets the eye when you embark on a study of Irish names. To fully understand the why, you have to immerse yourself into the history of Ireland and become familiar with some historical events.

Most people have heard of the Vikings, those fearsome Norse seafarers, who traded and raided their way across Europe from their Scandinavian homelands. Although the Vikings were only a tiny part of Irish history they did influence and spawn a number of Irish Surnames. MacAuliffe is as Irish as they come but its origins come from Vikings – MacAuliffe means (son of Olaf). The most well known Irish name of Norse origin has to be “Doyle”. Doyle is an anglicized version of the Irish Surname of Ó Dubhghaill, (“son of the dark (or evil) foreigner”). The Vikings were generally described in this manner and not a popular people in Ireland. Some academics argue that this surname refers to one particular Viking who was King of Idrone, in present day County Carlow, around 851 AD – a Viking by the name of DubhGilla (again meaning dark foreigner). There can be several origins to an Irish Surname and one has to look at the history and location of the time. It’s worth noting that the Vikings mainly settle in coastal areas of Ireland. In those areas you will find a larger percentages of people with Scandinavian traits such as eye and hair color.

It was in the 12th Century that the Norman Invasions in Ireland started and many changes were about to take place. Up to the 12th Century most Irish surnames were patronymic, being taking from the names of their ancestors. The Normans introduced surnames from place names, occupations and colors. The most notable names stated with Fitz, such as Fitzgerald, as well as names with the prefix “De” such as De Burgo more commonly known nowadays as “Burke”.

The next big event in Irish surnames came with the attempted murder of the Gaelic language and culture by the British imperialists. Here’s where it starts to get confusing for those tracing their Irish Roots with many new spellings for the same name. Some Irish surnames were forced to take an English Language version to appease the British oppressors. Let me give take the example of two brothers. Cuneen means rabbit in the old Gaelic Language. So one brother may keep this name in the old tradition. However say the second brother has to go work in Dublin and to appease the British would have to change his name to Mr. Rabbit. From here two families spring, the rabbit family and the Cuneen clan. They are both brothers but with different surnames.

Confused yet? Sure we’re only just getting started. Lets keep with the example above. Mr. Rabbit may decide to move back to his home and revert to a version of his Irish Name, calling himself Mr. Cunneen to his Irish friends but on official documents calling himself Mr. Rabbit. In the past there were fewer documents to fill out and even less signatures required. Say Mr. Rabbit was allowed to own some property and needed to sign a deed. How might he sign that deed? Will he add an extra “t” to Rabbit now becoming Mr. Rabbitt! Lets take this to another level, every family has a black sheep, and the blacksheep of the Rabbit family now writes his name Mr. Rabbitte, adding an extra “e” just for the fun of it.

The more documents that were needed to be signed, when settling in foreign lands such as American, Australia and Canada, the more spelling variations that started to occur.

I hope this article has shed some light into the confusing nature of Irish Surnames.

Irish Battles That Shaped Our Clan’s History

Do you know your Battle of Kinsale from your Battle of Clontarf? Do you know your Battle of the Boyne from your Battle of Arklow?

Many historic and history-shaping battles were fought on the island of Ireland down through the centuries and each one went on to shape the history of our Irish clan.

View the map (click to enlarge) below to find out where these historic events occurred such as the Battle of Kinsale, Battle of Arklow, Battle of Yellow Ford, Battle of Benburb, Battle of Aughrim, Battle of The Boyne & of course the iconic Battle of Clontarf.

map of irish battlefields

Wexford Heritage Trail To Encompass Irish Clan Sites

Wexford History Irish Clan Trail

Wexford History Irish Clan Trail

A new history driving trail in Wexford has been launched which will cover some important sites of Irish clan heritage in the region such as:

  • Enniscorthy Castle
  • Duncannon Fort
  • Tintern Abbey
  • Ballyhack Castle
  • Johnstown Castle
  • The Kennedy Homestead
  • Father Murphy Centre
  • Dunbrody Abbey
  • Irish National Heritage Park
  • Vinegar Hill Battlefield
  • Dunbrody Famine Ship
  • National 1798 Rebellion Centre

…and many more historic attractions that are of interest to those wishing to connect to and to find out more about their Irish clan and the influence our ancestors have had on the history and heritage of this particular part of Ireland.

For more information read this article in the Irish Times or visit:

Visiting The Life Of Our Ancestors In Ireland

Interesting article from The Irish Times on an experimental archaeology project being undertaken by UCD students to show how our ancestors lived in Ancient Ireland.

How many of us would survive in similar structures & with similar diets today?

From website:

“Constructing the life as lived by our ancient forebears

Have you ever tried digging a hole with a stick? Or chopping down a tree with a stone axe? How about living on porridge for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a month? Reading about the way people lived in Stone Age and Mesolithic (10000-5000 BC) times gives only a very limited understanding of how things were in the distant past. Actually recreating everyday life introduces a sense of empathy and other dimensions which paint a far more detailed picture: the essence of experimental archaeology.

Let’s begin with a clarification. Experimental archaeology should not be confused with reconstruction. Those involved don’t dress up as cavemen and women for the sake of an audience. They are using certain tools and techniques common in different time periods to try and learn more about the variables which affected hunter gatherer life while also exposing some of the misunderstandings that have become accepted truths.

The University College Dublin experimental archaeology department is currently building a Mesolithic structure based on the only surviving example on this island: Mount Sandel in Co Derry, which dates from 7800 BC.

“Our structure will be six metres in diameter with a number of timber posts going up and forming an apex – not unlike a teepee – but bigger in scale,” explains Dr Graeme Warren of UCD’s school of archaeology. “Smaller hazel sticks will also be stuck in the ground to support it and we will then weave hazel like a basket around. We’ll leave one area as an entrance and have a turf covering on the lower half and possibly thatch on the top half.

Wild boar
“We could also use animal skins to cover it. It would be easier now to get them than it would have been in the Mesolithic period as the fauna was quite restricted. The biggest animals they would have had were wild boar but seal skin and even salmon skin might have been used back then.”

Structures like this, which can be found across Europe, question much of the conventional wisdom of the life of the hunter-gatherer. “People assume they were very mobile and didn’t have many possessions but we’re building a six metre diameter house that will be seven metres high and there’s evidence to suggest structures like these may have housed up to five or six generations of the same clan in their time.”

In fact, in parts of the Pacific North West, archeologists have found evidence of huge halls from Mesolithic times and communities with up to 1,000 people living in the vicinity.

Talking shop is the easy part in all this. UCD undergraduates, postgraduates and doctorate researchers are all giving up their time to work on building this structure – and several more down the road – using traditional techniques, such as digging with a sharp stick.

PhD student Niamh Kelly, 25, has found it somewhat easier than expected. “It’s obviously no shovel and spade but it’s not too bad. I was also involved in chopping down trees with stone axes. We worked in groups and these took about 40 minutes each.”

View the article in full on

Ireland calls the diaspora home – NBCs take on The Gathering Ireland

US news media giant NBC features a wonderful piece on The Gathering from Helen O’Neill where she covers the importance of this initiative to both Ireland itself but more importantly to the Irish diaspora.


“The tall ships looked majestic as they sailed into the bay — replicas of the masted, rigged vessels that once transported millions of emigrants from these shores.

The ships had departed from Liverpool, England, three days earlier, carrying descendants of Irish emigrants in a reverse voyage billed as an opportunity to “Sail Home to Your Roots.” A crowd on the docks cheered as they entered Dublin port and the crew unfurled a giant green banner with the words, “Welcome to Our Gathering.”

The May voyage was just one event among thousands taking place throughout Ireland, part of an ambitious yearlong tourism drive to boost the country’s battered economy by luring its diaspora home.”

Billed as The Gathering, the initiative is really multiple gatherings, large and small, ranging from the cultural and historic to the sporting, the quirky and the poignant.

Highlights include flagship events like a July 21 Riverdance extravaganza, in which 2,013 master dancers are expected to kick up their heels along the banks of Dublin’s River Liffey and attempt to break the world record for step-dancing. The last record was set in Nashville with 632 dancers in 2011.

Popular annual cultural events such as the Galway Arts Festival, the Cork Jazz Festival and the Dingle Tradfest are all incorporating “gathering” programs, as are big sporting events. Choral gatherings are huge. It seems like every little village or town is hosting a gathering and inviting choirs from Europe and the U.S. to join them.

There are busking gatherings and blacksmith gatherings, scientist gatherings and even an “Evil Eye” spiritual gathering in Donegal in August.

There are quirky gatherings to raise money for charity — for example the redhead convention in Cork in August. And bog-snorkeling, sheaf-tossing and welly-throwing (Wellington rubber boots) gatherings.

The goal, tourism officials say, is to tap into the estimated 70 million people who claim Irish descent worldwide and bring at least 350,000 additional tourists home.

From around the world, they are heeding the call.”

View the article in full at:

O’Sullivan Clan Gathering Tour: July 2013


O'Sullivan Clan Gathering Tour - West Cork, Ireland

O'Sullivan Clan Gathering Tour - West Cork, Ireland

The O’Sullivan Clan Gathering Tour (Wed 10th – Fri 12th July 2013) will welcome home the global O’Sullivans allowing them to reconnect with the clan’s spiritual homeland of the Beara Peninsula in beautiful West Cork.


The O’Sullivan Clan Gathering Tour is open to everyone and looks forward to welcoming you to the O’Sullivan’s spiritual homeland of the Beara Peninsula in beautiful West Cork (check out The O’Sullivan Clan Gathering on Facebook to see who’s planning to attend!).

Experience three days of O’Sullivan Clan Tours with a specialist O’Sullivan Clan Guide who is from the West Cork area and is of O’Sullivan heritage himself.
The O’Sullivan Clan Gathering Tour is open to everyone and includes:
This gathering tour will be a unique experience not to be missed for anyone of O’Sullivan heritage BOOK NOW by emailing:
Accommodation is available at the award-winning Glengarriff Park Hotel & transfers to Glengarriff can be arranged in advance.

The Gathering – You’re Invited!


As Ireland gets ready for The Gathering 2013, we’re calling on all people of Irish heritage to answer the call of their Irish Clan.

70 million people worldwide claim Irish descent and because not all of them can make it to Ireland for 2013 those holding their own Gathering (anywhere in the world) to celebrate the heritage of their Irish Clan are invited to:

In conjunction with the Irish government’s tourism initiative, The Gathering 2013, we’re on a mission to discover what clan gatherings are being planned by people of Irish descent all around the globe.

In 2013, The Gathering is expected to attract an additional 325,000 people to Ireland with events and festivals already taking place throughout the island.

Events include individual clan gatherings, genealogical projects, and outreach initiatives targeting people of Irish descent who have either left Ireland or are linked to the country

via connections within their family tree (such as the The Great Irish Clan Gathering which has already connected over 90,000 people). are now seeking submissions from people of Irish heritage who are preparing to visit (or hold an event in) Ireland in 2013 in order to encourage and promote any gatherings or projects that are being arranged.

Whether you’re actually attending a large Irish Clan Gathering in Ireland (or anywhere in the world) or visiting your relations for a small family reunion; we’ll help promote your event – you can find out what Gatherings are taking place across the globe right here on the Great Irish Clan Gathering Forum!



Over the coming months we’ll be keeping you updated with some exciting announcements and exclusive special offers direct from your Irish Clan.

With so much planned for this global celebration of the Irish Clan, you can expect to find a whole host of features including how members of your clan are connecting and celebrating their Irish heritage via The Gathering 2013.
So stay tuned for what promises to be a wonderful celebration of the global Irish community!

Kelly Clan rejoice at the return of Ned Kelly remains

Recent news from Melbourne, Australia brought great joy to Kelly Clan members around the globe with the update that the remains of the outlaw/folk hero Ned Kelly will be returned to his descendants for burial.

The Irish Independent Newspaper, Dublin, Ireland reports that:

THE headless remains of the Ned Kelly are to be returned to his descendants for a family burial 132 years after the infamous Australian outlaw and folk hero was executed.

Australia’s Victoria state government on Wednesday said it had issued a new exhumation licence for Kelly ‘s remains, meaning a property developer behind the Pentridge Prison site where he was buried will be forced to hand over the skeleton.

The developer of the site in Melbourne wanted to use Kelly’s remains for a museum or memorial.
“The Kelly family will now make arrangements for Ned’s final burial,” said Ellen Hollow, the great grand-daughter of Kelly’s sister Kate Kelly.

Considered by some to be a cold-blooded killer, Kelly was also seen as a folk hero and symbol of Irish-Australian defiance against the British authorities.

After murdering three policemen, he was captured in Victoria state in 1880 and hanged at Old Melbourne Gaol in November of the same year. But his body went missing after it was thrown into a mass grave.

The bodies in the grave were transferred from the jail to Pentridge Prison in 1929 and then exhumed again in 2009. His remains were formally identified last year, minus the skull which remains missing.

“We appeal to the person who has the skull in their possession to return it,” said Ms Hollow in a family statement.
Believed to have been born in 1854 or 1855, Kelly became an outlaw two years before he was hanged, taking on corrupt police and greedy land barons.

He survived a shootout with police in 1878 that saw him, his brother Dan, and friends Joe Byrne and Steve Hart slapped with a bounty of 8,000 pounds – the largest reward ever offered in the British Empire at the time – for anyone who found them.

Over the next 18 months the Kelly Gang held up country towns and robbed their banks, becoming folk heroes to the masses.
In a final gun battle at Glenrowan, three gang members died and Kelly, dressed in home-made plate metal armour and helmet, was wounded and arrested.

The Kelly gang exploits have been the subject of numerous films and television series.

Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger played the lead role in the 1970 movie “Ned Kelly “, while Heath Ledger starred as the bandit in a 2003 remake.

Kelly has also been the inspiration for many books, most notably Peter Carey’s novel “True History of the Kelly Gang”, which won the 2001 Booker Prize.