My Genealogy Story

A new initiative born from Twitter sees family historians talking about their genealogy origin story using the hashtag #MyGenealogyStory. Here’s mine.

I was a child who was interested in the past. I loved history at school. I researched some of my recent ancestors named when choosing my confirmation name. At 12, we were given a history project to look into our family history.

My parents grew up at 2 ends of a long road, though they didn’t really know each other until working in the same company as young adults. This meant my grandparents all lived on the same road. By 12, I was down by one, as my paternal grandfather died when I was a small girl.

My mother dropped me over to Granny Bradley’s house on a Saturday morning and I interviewed her. She was able to tell me her parents and maternal grandparents names. Her father died when she was just 9, so there was a gap in her knowledge on this side. I wasn’t to know that that family would become the major brick wall of my ancestry. She also knew about her husband’s family, even telling me the names of one of his grandfathers, though he died before my own grandfather had been born!

After a couple of hours, I was allowed to walk down the road on my own to my mother’s parents. Nana was a mine of information, not just about her own family, but Pop’s too, as they’d lived with his parents as a young married couple & she was close to her mother-in-law. Nana had known 3 of her 4 grandparents and was only hazy on the one who died before she was born. It was her maternal grandfather, Michael Joyce, the Mayor of Limerick and former Member of Parliament (in the House of Commons, pre-Independence), who became a gateway drug for ancestry. He was famous and still remembered in Limerick now! She also told me of her Welsh grandmother, Marjorie Morgan. It took me over a decade to get into this branch but I found them through the military service record of James Guerins (who I wrote about for the IGRS 80th anniversary).

A mahogany chair and plant pot in a hallway with a tiled floor and a window in the background
Chair which sat in Michael Joyce’s constituency office, still in the family.

From my day’s research, I produced a small family tree. I don’t remember what grade I got on my project, but it was the start of a (30 years & counting) life long interest and ultimately career in genealogy. I know the full names of all of my grandparents’ grandparents, and am only short a couple in the previous generation too. I’ve embraced DNA testing and solved the mystery of my Protestant great-great grandfather, who turns out to have been from Liverpool. No wonder I couldn’t find him in Ireland! 

Who knows what else I’ll find in the next 30 years? I can’t wait.

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