Reading about a place, hearing all the stories, singing all the songs, looking at photographs and videos, can never prepare you for how you’ll feel when you get to experience it yourself.
That is exactly how Irish-American Gerry Britt felt when after months and months at his computer screen, learning as much as he possibly could about his family history and where he came from, he traveled to Ireland to fill in the blanks and walked across the land once owned by his family for the first time in his life.
“It is one of the fondest memories of my life,” he said in this new short film from Tourism Ireland, highlighting the massive connection that many people of Irish descent feel when they make their first trip to the Emerald Isle and set foot on the soil of their ancient ancestors.
Through census records and other online resources, Britt had tracked down the general area in which his family had lived before their emigration to the United States.
Gerry grew up in Upper Manhattan and when he arrived in Upperchurch, Co. Tipperary, it was a far cry from skyscrapers and the hustle and bustle of city life but meeting with the local story teller and searching physical records further, he succeeded in pinpointing the exact spot where his family home still stood.
The visit has had an immensely profound effect on Gerry as he reconnects with Ireland and spends further time in the country of his ancestors.
“What I thought was the end of my journey became the start of another,” he said.
“I once came as a visitor. Now when I come to Ireland, I’m coming home. Knowing your family history is one thing, living it is quite another.”
“With an estimated 70 million people across the world claiming links or affiliations with the island of Ireland, Tourism Ireland is actively reaching out to the Diaspora,” said Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons.
“We are inviting them to visit Ireland, to learn more about their heritage and explore the places their ancestors came from.”
Read more: Ten signs you have Irish ancestors
Have you traveled to your ancestral home in Ireland? Tell us your story in the comments section below or let us now at firstname.lastname@example.org.