Of all the things I thought I would dig up as I began genealogical research last week, I never thought I would find Irish roots.
I had never heard anyone talk about it. On both sides, all I heard was about the long-lost Cherokees and the speculation that we are German because there are a lot of German-sounding names. Every March 17 I celebrated St. Patrick's Day mostly because I like an excuse to drink Guinness and make my favorite Irish-stout-laden beef stew.
But now I know...my maternal grandfather's lineage is Irish. Many generations removed from the island, and mixed in with some other stuff, but Irish nevertheless.
My maternal grandfather took his mother's maiden name, not the name of one of her four "husbands" like we had previously thought. Once I uncovered this, it was pretty easy to find his mother's parents through census records. And once I found my great-great-grandfather, I learned that another researcher on Rootsweb shares him as a distant anecestor and uncovered a lot about that line through census records. Sources point to a common ancestor coming over from northern Ireland around 1719; that main line settled in Pennsylvania, then migrated to Virginia, then one branch moved into the mountains of Kentucky. I know that it's a litle iffy trusting someone else's research, but this someone documents all his sources and has transcribed most of them to give proof. It all looks very plausible.
I am hitting dead ends on my father's side of the tree, but I was able to find an Irish immigrant from the late 1700s on his paternal side, too.
So this year, on March 17, I have a real excuse to celebrate. I'm, like, 1/1000th Irish! Well, maybe more than that if you count the two instances of inbreeding I found (they were distant cousins, so it's less icky, but it still concentrates those Irish genes, am I right?)