In recent years, there has been a rapid and noticeable increase in the number of people who are trying to find out more about their roots. This sudden fascination has much to do with the popularity of TV shows that specialise in discovering the true facts about the ancestry of well-known celebrities as well as relatively unknown members of the general public.
Access to information is far easier nowadays thanks to the Internet, of course, but not everything is available online. In order to feed their curiosity, many men and women have journeyed around the world in order to see where they came from, and perhaps to try and discover a few more little nuggets of interest while on their travels.
For many millions of people from nations such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, there is one country above all that they choose to go to. Ireland has been welcoming tourists for a great many years, but in recent times there has been a vast increase in the number of people who come to the Emerald Isle primarily as part of a voyage of discovery.
There’s a little green in all of us
In 2006, it was estimated that around 36 million Americans (around 12% of the population) claim Irish heritage, so it’s perhaps not a surprise that so many of them come to Ireland these days. At one time, Boston and New York City in particular had extremely large Irish communities, as a result of mass migration over a prolonged period.
Whether your heritage lies in the heart of industrial Dublin or a tiny hamlet in County Wicklow, if you want to find out more you can do so online and of course by asking older family members. If you’re planning to visit Ireland in order to see it in the flesh, be sure to take a trip to the Irish National Library in Dublin. As well as a host of historic records, they also have genealogy advisers who will be able to help you.
It perhaps goes without saying that Ireland has altered greatly over the centuries, like most countries of course, but in some aspects it has barely altered. Many older buildings still remain, the streets tend to follow the same routes they did when only horses used them, and in many towns and villages several old customs still remain.
The best advice for anyone who plans to check out their roots in Ireland is to hire a car and be prepared to do some hard work on the research. It’s worth remembering as well, however, that it’s a stunningly beautiful country, so don’t let it pass you by. Make sure you set aside plenty of time to take in the unique sights and sounds of this delightful nation.
David Showell is from the UK and is planning to visit Ireland soon.