Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by searching for Irish ancestors. If you hurry, Ancestry.com will let you search their Irish databases for free from now until the end of St. Patrick’s Day.

Irish Ancestors in Your Closet

On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish. Who knows, you may really have some Irish ancestors in your closet.  I found more than I knew I had; for some reason, my maternal grandmother never told me she had a huge Irish family. With the last name of McCaffrey, I knew they were Irish – but the number was more than I ever imagined. My Irish ancestors immigrated to Boston in the years around 1850 which was a difficult time in Ireland with the Potato Famine and all hardships that went with it. Through Ancestry.com, I found the county but there I also found a “brick wall” as the genealogists say.

Ancestry.com and I have been friends for years, helping me along the way to search for my Irish ancestors (and German, Welsh, English) which allowed me to discover my grandmother’s mother was the ninth child born of a dozen siblings and she was the first born in the United States in Hopkinton, MA. My mother’s maternal grandfather immigrated with his family when he was just three years old. The two families followed hope of employment to Clinton, MA where Francis McCaffrey and Sarah Grant met and married. Sarah died after the birth of her fourth child…and Francis, the town’s truant officer, remarried producing three more children.

I never heard my grandmother speak of her family whom she left behind when she moved to Newark, NJ around 1910 to teach school. I do remember one story she told me about her first year of teaching. The students went home at lunch time and returned only to fall asleep during her instruction. My grandmother tried everything she could think of to keep their attention. Out of frustration, she told another teacher of her stressful afternoons. It was then that my grandmother (probably only Irish woman who never tasted a sip of beer…or wine) learned that the parents worked in the Newark beer factories and gave their kids beer with their lunch…cheaper than buying milk on their low wages. Needless to say, Nana was speechless but allowed her students to sleep it off. She really didn’t have a choice, did she!

Your Irish Ancestors Search Can Bring Surprises

Searching my grandmother’s Irish ancestors, of course, led me to my grandfather’s family tree. My grandfather, Walter Richman (NJ born), was a prominent Newark dentist with an office on Broad Street – a few blocks from where Mabel McCaffrey roomed. I won’t continue with details, except to tell you that through using Ancestry.com I found that my grandmother was my grandfather’s third wife!  I knew of his first wife because my mother had a half-brother, but not of the second! I later found out from my mother’s niece that the second wife wasn’t around long – she liked to spend my grandfather’s money…don’t blame him!

Ancestry.com is fun to use for tracing all ancestors…you never know where one lead will take you. I’ve done most of my Family Tree through this portal to the past. More fascinating ancestors of mine include Samuel Abbe(y) who took part in the Salem Witch trials…and my husband’s mother and father (going back 300 years) have the same gr-gr-gr- and many more great-grandparents…

Who’s in your past?

Looking for more Irish and St. Patrick’s Day posts?