Northern Ireland

Roots: Ireland's first family tree week

Family Tree

Nine out of 10 Irish people regret not having asked relatives more about their lives, a recent survey suggests.

It also found that just three in every 10 people interviewed could name all of their great grandparents.

And, if they had a choice, the most popular people to whom they'd like to be related include Michael Collins, Oscar Wilde and Brian Boru.

Ireland's first Start Your Family Tree week is scheduled to begin on 26 December.

Rachel Murphy, historian and marketing manager with Eneclann, a Trinity College company involved in genealogical and historical research, said the free initiative would point people towards important sources and help them trace their ancestors.

The period around Christmas is when there is the greatest annual surge in interest in tracing family trees.

"What you find is that families get together at Christmas and start to reminisce. Then they'll start checking out their family trees."

The Start Your Family Tree Week initiative is supported by Eneclann, the Genealogical Society of Ireland and the Irish Family History Society.

It aims to encourage people to find out more about their family history and to hand down the stories and memories to the next generation.

Over seven days from 26 December, people who sign up will receive a daily email pointing out what sources are available to them in their search.

"We have already had a lot of interest from all over the world," Ms Murphy said.

"We have found there is a lot more interest in Ireland which would not have been there five or ten years ago. We have also had people contacting us from Australia, the States and England."

Research by Eneclann suggests that while 89% of Irish people can name their first cousins and grandparents - only 31% are able to name all of their great grandparents.

"I knew my owm direct family members but I came across siblings when I did the research," said Ms Murphy.

"The Irish 1901 census revealed that my great grandmother, who came from Carlow, was working as a laundry maid in County Antrim. I'd never have known that.

"Irish Family Tree week is completely free. it is about promoting history. People are fascinated by it."

Other research revealed that the top ten famous Irish individuals that people would like to discover they are related to are:

1. Michael Collins

2. Oscar Wilde

3. Grace O'Malley

4. Brian Boru

5. Daniel O'Connell

6. Mary Robinson

7. Arthur Guinness

8. James Joyce

9. William Butler Yeats

10. Charles Stewart Parnell.

People can participate by visiting Start Your Family Tree Week and signing up for the newsletter.

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