Walking with Ancestors: A Genealogist's Tale in Ireland by Wendy Citron, PLCGS

What began as an Emerald Isle adventure trip quickly became a genealogical research expedition which unfolded into a profound exploration of my ancestral roots. My travels took me to many parts of the country, including Dublin where I had the pleasure to meet well-known Irish genealogist, Claire Bradley. But I must admit that among the highlights was the breathtaking landscapes of West Cork and County Kerry. I hiked through the scenic beauty of Great Blasket Island, the Aran Islands, and the Dingle Peninsula, immersing myself in the rugged charm of the Irish coast.

Wendy and Claire meeting at the National Library in Dublin

However, my journey to Ireland became so much more than a vacation—it was a soul-stirring exploration of my family's history and a deep dive into the roots of my own identity. The lush landscapes of County Wicklow welcomed me with open arms.  It was here in the “Garden of Ireland,” with its stunning natural beauty, that my genealogical research deepened and every step felt like a connection to generations past, as if the land itself whispered my ancestors’ stories.

One of the most poignant moments was standing at the doorway of Old Clonmore Church, where my third great-grandparents, Stephen Dolan and Bridget Byrne, exchanged vows in 1831. Their lives were a testament to resilience, enduring English oppression and the hardships of the Great Famine before leaving Ireland in search of a better life. The fields where they once toiled, still known as "Dolan's Field" despite the fact that the family homestead is long gone, echoes their untold stories, reminding me of the struggles and triumphs that shaped my family's journey.

Wendy standing at the doorway of Old Clonmore Church

My genealogical delvings led me to unexpected treasures, like The Dying Cow — a pub steeped in history and the camaraderie of shared ancestry. Over pints of Guinness, conversations with Lil Dolan and her son Aemon unveiled a shared lineage stretching back centuries. Discovering that our surname likely originated from a common ancestor in this tiny town felt like we were unraveling a mystery that bound us together across time.

The warmth of the Irish people was a constant throughout my journey. Locals eagerly shared tales of their own family histories, adding layers of richness and depth to my own research. A chance meeting with Joe Dolan, another distant relative, blossomed into a collaboration that brought our shared heritage into sharper focus. Together, we combed through documents, piecing together the puzzle of our lineage and finding echoes of our ancestors in the records.

As I stood on the hallowed ground of my forebears, the phrase "Welcome Home" took on a deeper meaning. It wasn't just a greeting; it was an acknowledgment of the ties that bind us to our past and shape our present. This journey wasn't just about uncovering names and dates — it was about embracing the legacy that lives within me, feeling the heartbeat of my heritage, and forging connections that span generations. Ireland, with its landscapes, history, and people, became a canvas where my family's story unfolded, reminding me of the power and beauty of genealogical exploration.

Thank you, Wendy, for sharing the story of finding your ancestors and relatives and how much your trip has meant to you. 

Journey into the rich history of Ireland while uncovering your Irish roots. Under the direction of Professional Genealogist, Claire Bradley, M.A. you will explore the many available records which hold the keys to your family research. The records examined include Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

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