Truth be told, having followed several related lines—mostly belonging to Sullivans—connecting to that of John Kelly of County Kerry, all I have to show for the effort is: not much at all. In all my research wanderings, it is as if I have pounded on the four walls surrounding me, yet only now have I been able to see I've been surrounded by Sullivans, but none of their clues have led me to open doors with any useful answers.
I can find the connection between our family's ancestral John Kelly and his sister "Abbie," who married a Sullivan. I can find John Kelly's sister Margaret, the spinster aunt who, once immigrated to Toledo, Ohio, served as host to several Sullivan nieces and nephews—and then more Sullivan grand-nephews—who followed in her footsteps and came to America. But I can't find the hand pointing me in the direction of the townland back in Ireland which the Sullivan and Kelly families called home before home became the midwestern United States.
Clearly, it's time to backtrack. To regroup. To come up with Research Plan B.
Do I have an answer? To put it shortly: no.
I suspect my next best bet is to go back to tracing those DNA matches which seemed to belong to family members linked with either our John Kelly's line, or that of his wife, Johanna Falvey. Some of those matches, after all, were the six to ten centiMorgan matches which I joined others in howling over their potential loss this past summer at Ancestry.com. Fortunately, I saved our Falvey and Kelly matches. And it is for such a time as this. May as well get back to work muddling through the possible links.
This, of course, means borrowing from the playbook of adoptees seeking their birth parents: building tentative family trees from our current time, using each of those matches as the home person. Then, working step by step, pushing back one generation at a time, not just copying the other person's tree online, but building my own using documentation to verify the connections. Then, seeing where that line leads us, back in Ireland. Hopefully, it will be in County Kerry.
Having to backtrack and regroup with a research goal can be disheartening, indeed. There are some obstacles which may prove insurmountable, even if we call for a re-do of effort. For one thing, there are so many records missing from the historic accounts of the common people of Ireland. Another contributing factor is the aggravating habit of our Irish ancestors to borrow from their elders the same names, repeated generation after generation by each sibling of each family, making confident identification of this specific John Kelly next to impossible, at times.
Yet, I'm up for one more go round on this attempt. Thankfully, there are a few promising DNA matches to examine. If we have them, why not use them? Perhaps we'll uncover a story or two along the way. But even in this process, we need to remember that every research task may come with its own embedded genealogical clock. Sometimes, the timing of the quest may simply not be right; the records we need may not be available now, but that is not to say they will never be accessible. Some projects are initially handled far before their time has come to be completed.