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No family history journey is entirely smooth. The history of the Irish goes far beyond native shores which can make any quest to discover your ancestors a complex and challenging one.
Even when you appear to be drawing a blank however, you should never give up hope. Findmypast’s very own Ireland Executive Aoife O’Connor had hit a brick wall tracing her husband’s family history until she discovered records from the 'British in India' collection, which revealed a previously hidden piece of the puzzle.
Here, Aoife shares the journey which took her across the world in pursuit of her husband's Irish ancestors...
“This tale begins, as all good ones do, with an old picture and a family story.
All members of my husband’s family have copies of photographs of their great grand uncle, Patrick Gorman, one in his army uniform and with his wife and family in Australia.
Although he was obviously in the military, it was always a little hazy just how he got to Australia. The story, which I learned using records I found on findmypast, took me around the globe.
Patrick Gorman was born in 1840 in Dublin. He joined the Royal Artillery from the Dublin Militia Artillery aged 19, and his military record on Findmypast shows that he then joined the RA.
Having spent time in Canada during the American Civil War, he left the army with the intention of moving there permanently, but after working as a fireman he rejoined the forces and was deployed to India.
Thousands of Europeans lived in India during the late eighteenth and nineteenth century. Of these, the largest contingent were in the military, of whom more than 50 percent were Irish.
Patrick’s military record includes all the details about his birth in Dublin, his intention to live in Canada, his career as a fireman, rejoining the army and his transfer to India.
Once in India, Patrick met and married 19-year-old widow Mary Murphy nee Dorras. I learned her age (which the rest of the family had previously been unaware of!) thanks to their marriage certificate, which I found in the 'British in India' collection. Patrick and Mary’s two eldest children were born in The Punjab, and their baptism records can still be seen in the 'British in India' collection. He was then sent back to Ireland where at least two more of his children were born.
After leaving the Royal Army in 1884 Patrick emigrated to Australia, where he served as a Sergeant Major with the fledgling Queensland Defence Force. Patrick’s military record notes his intention to live in Brisbane. And so we come full circle back to the family photo! Which says Patrick Gorman, Government House, Brisbane.
The photo shows the family just after they immigrated to Australia. Patrick then served on the staff at Government House, Queensland. He died in 1916 at age 76, survived by his wife Mary and about ten children. Three of his sons went on to serve in AIF during WW1 in the Middle East, France and Belgium.”
For more stories on tracing your Irish heritage from Findmypast click here.
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