Kate and Mike Lancor (Old Friends Genealogy) and Eilish Feeley (Center – Irish Clann Connections) in Athlone, County Roscommon.

What an exciting time it is for Irish descendants in the U.S. and around the world!

The recent explosion of online genealogy records has made access to family history records possible from the comfort of one’s home. As a result, the new-found myriad of records and DNA test results have ignited a renewed interest by both Irish and Irish Americans in discovering their “roots.” Finding one’s Irish ancestors can indeed be a very exciting adventure.

Mike (left) shares family trees with Kate’s long-lost cousin James from the Enniskerry area in Wicklow County.

However, tracing Irish ancestors in Ireland continues to be an extremely challenging task despite the availability of online records.

On June 30, 1922, the Public Records Office in Dublin was burned during the Irish Civil War. Records lost in the fire included the 1821, 1831, 1841 and 1851 Ireland Censuses, over half of all Church of Ireland Registers, the majority of wills and testamentary records, and pre-1900 legal court documents.

Burning of the Public Records Office in Dublin on June 30, 1922 during the Irish Civil War.

The loss of so many historic Irish records created many gaps of time during which it is very difficult to find Irish records online. Once online resources are exhausted, it becomes necessary to find someone who can “swing into action” in Ireland and search for records that only exist in places such as libraries, archives, historical societies, churches, and graveyards.

The original 1768-1771 Rent Roll of the Estates of Edward Crofton Esquire in County Roscommon, Ireland.

As a result, Old Friends Genealogy, LLC, and Irish Clann Connections have joined forces in an effort to bridge the gap between “chasing” Irish American ancestors in the U.S. and Ireland. Old Friends Genealogy is based in the U.S. and is the business name for genealogy researchers Kate and Mike Lancor. Irish Clann Connections is based in Ireland and is the business of genealogist Eilish Feeley.

Read More: A County Clare family reunion – a hooley any Irish family would cherish

Kate and Eilish explore the old Kilmeane Graveyard in Mote Park just south of Roscommon Town looking for gravestones of a client’s ancestors.

Kate, Mike, and Eilish had an opportunity to first join forces in June 2017 in County Roscommon where they collaborated to solve a genealogy quest for an Irish American client from Texas. Together they located the specific plot of land on which the client’s great grandfather’s family lived before emigrating from County Roscommon to New York City during the late 1840s.

The old Quaker Meeting House in Ballymurray, County Roscommon. Like so many buildings from days gone by, the ruins of this Meeting House have become lost in time.

By combining their expertise and resources, Old Friends Genealogy and Irish Clann Connections firmly believe they can better serve the needs of Irish Americans and Irish descendants throughout the world who are trying to find where in Ireland their emigrant ancestors lived before leaving for foreign shores.

Likewise, there are a growing number of Irish families who are trying to find and/or connect with descendants of their emigrant ancestors whose whereabouts in the U.S. or elsewhere has been “lost in time.”

Keeping the home fires burning in Co. Fermanagh. Plan to spend some time in front of a peat fire when you visit Ireland!

Old Friends Genealogy specializes in “chasing” Irish American descendants back in time. Kate and Mike work closely with their clients by exchanging information, asking questions and confirming records found in an effort to identify each client’s immigrant Irish ancestors.

The “chase” always starts with an exhaustive search of U.S. records including censuses, naturalization and passport documents, military and cemetery records, death certificates, historic newspapers and more.

The death certificate of Kate’s great grandmother Nora Hearney Regan names both of her parents, but gives their place of birth as Ireland (no townland or county).

The key to success is knowing where and what to look for and having access to the myriad of free and subscription online websites needed to conduct a thorough search. Even then, in some cases, Old Friends Genealogy cannot determine where in Ireland their clients’ Irish ancestors lived. In other words, they “hit a brick wall” and need someone in Ireland who can literally “hit the ground running” and find records that are just plain not available online.

Section of the 1846-47 Census of Civil Parish Killashee, Co. Longford, Ireland. A very rare find that contains years of birth for residents!

That’s where Eilish Feeley of Irish Clann Connections comes into play.

Eilish specializes in visiting cemeteries and townlands in search of a client’s ancestors and/or potential living “long lost Irish cousins.” She also makes regular trips to Dublin to access records held in the National Archives of Ireland, General Register and Valuation Offices, and National Library.   It is this type of “legwork” that can often break through the proverbial “brick wall.”

A cancelled Valuation Book for Civil Parish Killashee, Co. Longford available in the Valuation Office in Dublin showing changes in Irish tenants from one year to the next.

When and if you are able to visit the townland(s) where your immigrant ancestors lived in Ireland, then Irish Clann Connections and Old Friends Genealogy can produce maps and provide you with an agenda for your visit. Even better yet, depending on where in Ireland you are traveling, Eilish may be able to serve as your “genealogist guide” for the day. It is one of the services provided by Irish Clann Connections. As for Mike and Kate, if you are unable to travel to Ireland, then they may be able to visit your Irish ancestor’s home townland for you on one of their trips to Ireland.

Historic map of Townland, Ballymurray found in Crofton Estate Records housed in the Roscommon County Library.

Old Friends Genealogy and Irish Clann Connections believe that by collaborating with one another they have a much better chance of solving their clients’ Irish genealogy puzzles and mysteries. After all, it is all about finding connections between those of us living today and our ancestors from the past.

Ruins of stone houses (two in this photo) on Pigfoot Lane in Co. Tipperary where Kate’s great grandmother Mary Water’s was baptized in 1831. Thirty-five plus families lived on Pigfoot Lane when Griffith’s Valuation was taken in 1850.

Finding one’s unknown deceased ancestors is always extremely exciting and emotional. It allows one to better understand the trials, tribulations, and successes experienced by ancestors who lived in very challenging times in the U.S., Ireland, or elsewhere.

Read More: How do you find out if you’re Irish or how Irish you are?

Mike holding shrubs back from gravestone of his second great grandfather James Laide. The gravestone was “lost in time” before being rediscovered by Kate.

Connecting with long-lost living relatives in Ireland, the U.S., or elsewhere can be the ultimate way to connect generations across time. Once you determine where in Ireland your emigrant ancestors lived, the next compelling task is trying to find living long-lost cousins in Ireland.

On the other hand, if you live in Ireland it may be possible to follow your emigrant Irish ancestors forward in time to identify living cousins in the U.S. or elsewhere. Old Friends Genealogy and Irish Clann Connections can also help clients interpret their DNA results in order to find out more about their ancestry.

Several souls are “lost in time” at the base of this “family tree” in a neglected cemetery in Ireland.

So if you hit a “brick wall” or just don’t have the time or expertise to “chase” your Irish or Irish American ancestors, then contact either Old Friends Genealogy or Irish Clann Connections and they will collaborate with one another to determine how they can best join forces to “chase” your ancestors.

Kate and Mike Lancor live in Moultonborough, NH, and have traveled to Ireland numerous times. They can be reached on their website www.oldfriendsgenealogy.com or by emailing oldfriendsgenealogy@gmail.com.

You can also visit their Old Friends Genealogy Facebook page.

Eilish Feeley lives in County Roscommon, Ireland. She can be reached on her website irishclannconnections.com or by emailing feeleyeilish@gmail.com. You can also visit her Irish Clann Connections Facebook page.

Have you had any luck tracing your Irish roots? Share your story in the comments!