Monday, December 30, 2013

Tar Abhaile: What Have We Learned?

So a quick recap: Tar Abhaile was broadcast on the Irish language channel TG4 in the six weeks leading up to Christmas. Each week two people were featured who had ancestors that emigrated from Ireland. They hoped to find the townland of origin of their ancestors, or if already known, find out more information about them.

Tar Abhaile continues a recent trend in genealogy programming (for example, another show created in Ireland, the Genealogy Roadshow, is now on PBS in America) where the focus is not a celebrity but a regular salt-of-the-earth working man or woman. This is genealogical research that everyone of Irish descent can connect with.


One of the strengths of this show was how a different era of emigration from Ireland was featured each week. The makers of the show avoided falling into the trap of only showing the descendants of Famine emigrants. Over one million people emigrated from Ireland during these tumultuous years, but many more emigrated in the decades before and after.

If a second season of the show is made I would have one main recommendation; showing an example of just one document from the North American side would be very useful. This would help North Americans of Irish descent to become more familiar with genealogy sources on this side of the Atlantic, particularly if they are only setting out on their genealogical journey. If such a document was to contain the name of a county, parish, or townland of origin this would be even better. It would also highlight where a researcher can find this information, whether it is on a cemetery headstone, military document, death certificate, obituary, or local history publication.
Throughout this series, Griffith's Valuation has probably been the most important set of genealogical records that have been utilized. This has allowed the participants to find out the exact holdings that their ancestors would have rented, farmed, and ultimately left from on their journeys to the U.S. and Canada. The climax for the participant was getting to stand on their ancestors plot of land, with long-lost cousins often being the ones still living and farming there.

All involved such as Red Pepper Productions, TG4, Ireland Reaching Out, The Gathering, and Aer Lingus should be applauded for creating and contributing to an innovative and stimulating genealogy show.

To read a review and watch previous episodes, scroll down or click: episode 1episode 2episode 3, episode 4episode 5episode 6.

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