Representative of the Certificate of Irish Heritage with President Michael D Higgins
The Irish Government has (finally) had a good idea! in deciding to award anybody who can claim Irish descent with a Certificate of Irish Heritage. And while it is a government endorsed document, signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs himself, Deputy Eamonn Gilmore, just to be absolutely clear, it does not have any legal standing ie it is definitely not a passport. But that certainly isn’t deterring the 1000’s of people who have applied for their own personal Certificate of Irish Hertitage on behalf of themselves or a relative, since the scheme was first rolled out last September.

Who can apply? Literally, anybody who was not born in Ireland themselves but who has a relative that was and obviously some sort of proof of identity will be needed. ie a birth certificate or baptismal record, marriage certificate or even immigration entry records of the host country will suffice. And if you haven’t the foggiest notion where to obtain that kind of information there is free genealogy team available online at the link below to help you. And so far, they have been generally been able to come up with the necessary documentation within 24 hours.

Which is pretty impressive, considering Ireland has a diaspora of some 70 million souls worldwide, whose relatives emigrated in the wake of famine and hardship, in search of a better life in 'the lands of opportunity' like America and Australia. Many of them were mere children themselves like Lizzy Emmerson who was just 18 when she left Ireland in 1882 for New Zealand sadly never to see her family again, but whose great, great grand-daughter has managed to re-connect with her long lost relatives in Enniskillen via this new service.


Certificate of Irish Heritage is now available for Americans of Irish ancestry

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Irish Arts Center in New York City gears up for St. Patrick’s Day

Or the millions of Irish that fled the western seaboard for the USA in the 1940’s the first sending out the fare to the second to join them. And mostly by all accounts, being hard workers they did very well for themselves, marrying (other Irish emigrant’s) raising and educating despite the horrid loneliness and endless anguish of having had to leave their families and native country. Perhaps that is why the ties are so great with Ireland and the yearning to revisit old homesteads, connect with surviving relatives relentless. At last the Irish Government has seen fit to recognize and reward their sacrifices and the right of their descendants to an official Irish identity.

The certificate itself is beautifully presented on vellum style paper, with an embossed a golden harp, the symbol of Ireland, with a choice of templates styled by the National Gallery of Ireland, available for personalization, which can then be dispatched worldwide, framed or unframed for €40 plus postage and packing, so why not claim yours and become Irish today.

Visit their website for more information. 

By Susan Byron author of

Here's an instructional video from the Certificate of Irish Heritage: