Our inner drive that fuels the search for ancestors is most likely revealed when we look in the mirror: The deep desire to learn who we are, how we were created and why we look the way we do. The haunting questions that propel us into the addiction of genealogy that will for many of us, never be fully answered. And I wonder, rather than constantly searching for individuals unknown, shouldn't we be looking within our own back yard?
The week of Saint Patrick's Day has provided an opportunity for many family historians with Irish roots to review records of our Irish ancestors and once again undertake the often frustrating task of looking for more clues. Those of us who have spent months and years looking for documents left behind by our Irish ancestors, are often left with empty hands and tired souls. With little verifiable records available to the researcher, we accept our limitations but continue our search.
And as I once again feel my rising frustration over tireless hours with little results, I realize the ancestor I should be searching for has been known to me all my life. The matriarch of my family, my great grandmother, Jane Elizabeth Clark. Raised by a mother, grandparents and aunts, all from Ireland, 'Jennie's' personality radiated with Irish traditions. Whether it was her daily afternoon tea or poetic everyday sayings, my great grandmother was traditionally Irish, through and through. And as the keeper of the family traditions, her Irish ways have been firmly passed through each generation down to me.
My great grandmother's daily dose o'blarney prose were endless and I am fortunate that many were left to me, written down by my mother. And I reflect on how her Irish personality and traditions have contributed to the melding of my personality and my soul. I have spent endless hours searching for faceless people to find answers to what makes me the person I am: Looking for Irish ancestors, many generations away, yet the Irish ancestor that has helped create who I am, has been with me all along. She is not faceless. I have her recipes, her dishes, her pictures and a 'bit of her personality.
I will continue my search for Irish ancestors unknown, but with a renewed appreciation that much of what I see in the mirror is a reflection of the ancestors of my most recent past. Searching across the pond but finding the Blarney Castle in my own back yard.
Look for some of your own family's Irish sayings at A Bit O'Blarney. And for my favorite Irish websites to search real records, go to my new page of links for Irish digital records and indexes.
Keep searching for answers,