My father’s wish list had only one thing on it, go to Ireland where his paternal family originated. In 2012 my husband and I took my dad to Ireland. Before heading over the big blue ocean, I did as much genealogy research as I could to narrow down where his clan originated. I narrowed it down to Loughgilly Parish in County Armagh (Northern Ireland).
We spent our last three days in Northern Ireland. One morning we hit all the places in Armagh that might lend some additional clues about our family history. We hit pay dirt at the Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich Memorial Library and Archive. A researcher entered the few details I had and we left with a list that included the name of the town where my great grandfather grew up before emigrating to the U.S., the names of his 11 brothers & sisters, the names of his parents and the location of the property his parents leased and farmed. Off we went to the town of Belleek (population 375). Immediately upon arrival in this tiny, tiny village we saw my father’s surname on a business sign and figured we were in the right place. We decided to walk through
the cemetery of the small Church of St. Laurence O’Toole. We found several headstones with our sir name on them. Before long we noticed a man and his son at one of the headstones we’d identified as potential family. We talked with this man, who turned out to have our same last name, for nearly 40 minutes and became about 80% convinced we were related. He invited us to his home where we enjoyed afternoon tea with his wife and kids, and we shared the details of our family research
including photos. After returning home, we did indeed confirm we are related. That man we met on a random Friday afternoon, in a tiny village cemetery, in Northern Ireland is my 3rd cousin. We have since stayed in touch ever since.