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Visiting the homes of your ancestors

Ballymaginaghy, County Down - What remains of the house where Bridget King was born in 1889

I’m back and still recuperating from my three weeks in Ireland (in more ways than one)! During the last week in Belfast, I picked up some bug (not COVID) that had me coughing so badly it was hard to catch my breath. I did go to the emergency room one night, but everything checked out fine…blood, EKG, chest x-ray. I got a prescription for a cough medicine with codeine (and discovered this is over-the-counter in Ireland) and with a decongestant got things under control. I’m still tired, but at the other symptoms have eased. Other than that, it was a great trip.

During the trip, I kept you updated on the activities of the group and a number of people spent time after the research portion going out to where their ancestors lived. I’ve heard back from some of them and thought I’d share some of their experiences.

Pati was on the Dublin Trip…

"After the research week with you in Dublin I headed out to Clifden in County Galway. My ancestors (family name Cribbins) lived in the townlands of Knockbaun and Gortrummagh.
The first morning at my B&B I mentioned to the host that I was related to his family, Simon Cribbins who left the area in 1860. He mentioned that a Joey Cribbins had just passed away. And that he had 2 brothers who pre-deceased him: Thomas and Richard. Well, my Simon had a brother named Thomas, his father was named Richard and there were Josephs aplenty.
I got on my laptop and found the funeral home memorial page for Joey. I learned from it that he also had a brother named Simon. Okay, looks like we might be related! I will be back in Dublin at the end of my trip and can do some digging at the GRO.
Coincidentally, I found the old Catholic graveyard in Clifden and discovered a recent memorial built in honor of those who died in the pandemic. A hawthorn tree was planted near it, surrounded by a protective wire cage. There were paper tags tied to the cage with the names of the deceased, filled out no doubt by friends or loved ones. The second one I looked at was for Joey Cribbins. Goosebumps."

I hope Pati had an extra DNA test with her for those Cribbins!

Diann who was with me in both Dublin and Belfast has some suggestions for those traveling around Ireland. She and Sherry, along with their husbands originally planned to go in different directions and meet up at the airport in Dublin the night before their flight however a threatened transit strike in Northern Ireland and some health considerations changed their plans. (The strike never actually materialized.)

"We are back on American soil. As you know Paul and I had to reroute our extended stay in Ireland and stay with Sherry and Bob because of some health concerns. Bob had the foresight to book limo drivers for long trips to off the beaten track Ireland. Recommendations if people need to extend their stay, pre-book a car service. We have since learned that the Republic has fewer drivers and local drivers want cash. Make certain that you have extra cash with you on your trip, don’t forget your ATM card. Some small towns don’t have taxi drivers. A good mobile phone is essential. I used an Irish Sim card on an old mobile phone but I was not able to upload apps on my iPhone because it was an iPhone 6. Forget the two step verification on your email accounts if you are traveling out of the country. My back up verification were two American phone numbers which I had no access to retrieve. Most transactions appear to be done through mobile phones. Make sure you are comfortable with features of your phone. Know how you can get money back to Ireland, if you are stuck. Travel with good friends for extra support and a safety net. Dublin airport had unusually long queues for getting through security. At least 4 hours standing in lines. At least 90 people missed an American Airlines flight back to North Carolina because for long lines. We took our antigen test at airport but other travelers tried to find testing in Dublin and could not find them. They got their tests at the airport. I wanted a hard copy of the results. The hotel printed my antigen test results for me. Maldron Hotel was very obliging for printing. They have a shuttle to the terminals, but cannot drive you to your testing site."

Diann has some excellent feedback here in terms of logistics. Planning for your extended journey is important. Train service can take you to some of the major cities, but after that, it will be local bus or taxi service. To learn more about traveling to some of the remote areas, check in with local Facebook groups or IrelandXO.

Make sure you check with your bank, credit card company or other financial institution regarding your credit cards. I had my credit cards upgraded to "tap" cards and I have to say that I “tapped” my way through three weeks in Ireland, using very little cash. Again, I was only in Dublin and Belfast on this trip, and the only time I used cash was for taxi’s that weren’t accepting credit cards. That may not be the case when you are out and about in the rural areas. I agree with Diann’s comment about two step verification. I had a similar problem when I went to book the bus from Belfast to Dublin, online. My credit card company asked for a verification and only gave me the option of text (not email) and like Diann, I didn’t have access to my text and there was no option to change to my Irish phone number. I will definitely be checking with my credit card company for a work around to this.

Like Diann and Sherry, I spent my last night at an airport hotel, taking the shuttle to and from the airport. I ended up getting my COVID test in Belfast before I left since I had some extra time, however the testing site for Terminal 2 (from which most of the International flights leave) is just across the street from the terminal.

Mirta has traveled with me before, as well as doing an independent Ireland trip in the fall of 2021. She had specific places to visit and scheduled her time to visit a cemetery in Belfast as well as a trip to St. Malachy’s College.

"I have spent the last week recovering from jet lag (usually worse coming home) and dealing with deciphering my notes from the research. Last time I waited too long to get back to my notes and was not sure what some of my scribbles said. I also promised myself I would document what I found and what didn't find in each of the archives. Working on this diligently. I already have a list of documents that I requested at PRONI but were not on site and need to be ordered ahead of time or just didn't get time to order at all. So I foresee a trip to Belfast and PRONI at least 1 more time. 2023?"
I could have probably spent all 2 weeks in Belfast doing the research for most of my families. Especially at PRONI; time there goes fast. Both the Ulster foundation and NIFHL were very helpful too.

I’m with you on that Mirta. I too, have a tendency to wait too long after I return to collect by research and thoughts. This trip I tried to transcribe as much as possible and make my notes each evening, but I still have to title and file all of my document photos.

I hope the blogs from the past few weeks have helped you to better prepare for a research trip to Ireland, whether with a group or on your own. As a reminder, I will be taking another group in October. There is still one space left for Dublin and five for Belfast. You can download the Registration Form here.

Happy Hunting!

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Donna did a superb job leading the Belfast part of the trip in spite of her cold,sinus allergy or whatever it was. She kept us on track. Just wish I had had a few extra days for additional research. Just let me know the 2023 dates since I would really like to go back

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