Monday, May 20, 2013

My Irish Eyes Are Smiling

     As a member of the Irish community, half Irish on my father's side, I have always wanted to travel to the homeland. A few family members and myself have started our own family traditions of traveling together every couple of years. Whether it is locally, throughout our country, or over years, we enjoy traveling together and experiencing different cultures. We started our travels as a family over 7 years ago when I planned our first trip to Italy. I had done a bunch of research searching the web and government offices over there searching for family members still living. To our surprise I found our second and third cousins still living in our maternal grandmothers hometown.

     Anyways, this post is about our Irish side. A rich and resourceful culture, I grew up knowing I was Irish. Every Sunday morning we went to my fathers parents house after church for a big breakfast. My grandmother would talk about the large Irish breakfasts. Her house had Irish memorabilia from the old country. Pictures of family members, old cottages, and the homeland sat upon her walls. We never knew a lot about our Irish ancestors. We knew that grandma and grandpa were Irish. That their parents were Irish and that their parents came from Ireland. But we were not sure to exactly where or if we still had any connections there. So began my search for that side of the family. It didn't take me long to find out that searching Irish records was going to be much harder than searching our Italian records. First, most records were not kept. If they were they were lost during the famine or destroyed. Second, being Catholic, records were especially hard to keep, as they were not recorded because of their religious connections. Finally, records there are not kept in courthouses or government offices as they were in Italy. They are kept in churches, which brought me back to the Catholic thing. After over a year of searching I had almost given up. Finally, low and behold I came across a marriage record of my great great grandparents. The certificate luckily stated a village and church. No parents though. I contacted the priest of the church who surprisingly wrote back and was willing to meet with me and give us a copy of the marriage certificate. So our planning began.

     We determined to do at least 10-11 days traveling the entire country. No trip is complete unless you can spend at least a week seeing all you possible can fit in. We booked our plan tickets and our first and last nights hostel stay. The rest was all a mystery, as we like to leave the trip open to wherever we land.
      We spent the first two days in Dublin getting our feet wet. We walked around the big city taking in our first breaths of Irish air. We then hopped in a rental car and headed north towards Northern Ireland and the Giant's Causeway. We then headed south towards Strokestown in Roscommon where one set of our great great grandparents were from. Cross over towards Galway, Cliff's of Moher, down towards Blarney and back to Dublin again. We spent the entire 10-11 days traveling almost the entire country. A whirlwind of Irish spirit along the emerald scenery. A wonderful green and pleasant country I will never forget. Below are some of the shots I took while on our trip. I highly recommend anyone traveling to the country. The people were the friendliest anyone could encounter. The hospitality of the Irish was much more than expected. They felt like family and in fact some may have been.
My first beer in Ireland at The Brazen Head
Yes we went to the touristy Temple Bar
The Kilmainham Jail
Very interesting place

Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin 

Our hostel room.
Me driving for the first time on the other side of the road
Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland
Strokestown in Roscommon. (Where one set of our great great parents were from)

Manor house in Strokestown

The church where our great great grandparents were married

Myself and cousin in Hanely's Pub in Strokestown
(We met some possible cousins while there that night) 

Cliffs of Moher

Clonalis House. (The last ancestry home of the O'Connor clan. Supposed our family)
Blarney Castle

Kiss the Blarney Stone for the gift of gab

Muskerry Arms O'Connors in Blarney (great food and great spirits)

Sitting in the park writing in my journal in Blarney
Amazing Dublin Coddle
Amazing lamb and mint pesto in Blarney
(will attempt to recreate this some day soon)

Fish and Chips

  Irish Stew
Our great great grandparents marriage certificate from Strokestown Roscommon
Edward Gormley and Nora Regan
     An amazing trip of a lifetime stepping foot on the homeland of one half of my great heritage.  Something I am so proud of and cannot wait to do it again.


  1. So, I thought I'd be a busybody and come over to your blog to have a look! Love your "bachelor" style recipes, as you rightly say, it's different from what's out there. Have enjoyed looking at all these photos Paul, and I think it's amazing that you've got a copy of your great grandparents' marriage certificate! 1846, wow!

    1. Thank you so much Azlin Bloor. I am glad you checked out my different posts. Besides that certificate I also have some of my grandparents naturalization papers from when they immigrated to the USA. I too enjoy your posts. Thanks again.

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