Monday, December 2, 2013

Review: Tar Abhaile, Episode 3

In this week's Tar Abhaile, Angie Mihalicz from Beauvail, Canada avails of the assistance of the North Kerry Reaching Out volunteer group (to see reviews and watch previous episodes, click: episode 1, episode 2). Her great-grandfather, Peter McGrath, went to Canada with his mother Ellen in 1847. She knew Peter had come from somewhere on the Shannon river in Kerry and was very curious about how her ancestors made the journey to North America.

Both stories in this episode show the importance of acknowledging and then ignoring county boundaries and, instead, thinking regionally. People from north Kerry didn't just live, marry, and work exclusively in the county. They also did these things in neighboring Limerick, along with, of course, emigrating from the port there. It is important to remember this for anyone who has found an ancestor living near a county boundary.

This was also the first story in the series that focused on the passage across the Atlantic in detail. Why they might have chosen Canada, the types of ships, how they might have heard about the service, and the conditions of passage were all discussed.  

The Ordnance Survey maps, created in the 1830s and then used later in the century for Griffith's Valuation, are also highlighted. For those who can pin-point their townland of origin in the mid-19th century, these maps provide such detail that the house of residence in the field can be found in most circumstances.

Towards the end of her journey Angie touched on a facet that is experienced by many people in north America tracing their Irish ancestors—their American and Canadian born relatives of previous generations not talking about their past, or wanting to acknowledge their Irish ancestry in any great detial. Memories of 19th century discrimination against the Irish lingered long and this can make it harder for those with Irish ancestry to research their family history.

So does Angie find her townland of origin by the Shannon? Watch below to find out.


  1. Thanks for the kind words. There was so much more detail and research but unfortunately a lot fell to the cutting room floor due to time constraints. I think there is a great future for this type of programme , a genealogy show that highlights the issues and the history rather than name checking celebrities. Regards Ger Greaney North Kerry Reaching Out and 4UR Genealogy.

  2. Keep up the good work in Kerry, Ger! Thanks for the comment.