After months of stressing—will the passport come in time and will the school say yes to the application?—we are now staring down a short three weeks until takeoff when our fearless foreign student heads for University College Cork (with empty-nester parents trailing behind).
Hard to believe it is so quickly here.
Not that all tasks are completely done. There are thousands of minute details that keep popping up, insisting on instant attention. Housing. Transportation. Phone service. Health insurance. What goes in the luggage and what doesn’t make the cut. Even the plugs for electronic equipment. The logistics required for this expedition far more resemble those of moving a household than taking a vacation.
First on the agenda, once arriving in Ireland, will be said student’s summer session survey of archaeological digs currently being conducted in the vicinity. Our intrepid student is blogging about her adventure from start to finish—well, at least that is the intention—and hopefully the digs will feature prominently in her posts for those first few weeks on the Emerald Isle.
After a week’s break in early September, the fall semester will begin in earnest, filled with an enticing combination of anthropology and political science classes—with a bit of Irish Studies thrown in for good measure. This is, after all, Ireland.
By October, her parents will find their way to Dublin, then eventually to Cork, to reunite (briefly) with their daughter. Then, it will be off to see the sights of Ireland—mostly in hopes of tracking down what can be found of the many surnames in our heritage along the western shoreline of the island. Starting just up the road from the city of Cork, we’ll explore the 1848 stomping grounds of the Malloys and Flanagans from Parish Ballyagran at the County Limerick border. We’ll wander our way west to County Kerry to explore the territory the Falveys and Kellys forsook to head to Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the late 1860s. As we go farther north, we’ll explore Ballina on the River Shannon in County Tipperary, home of the Tully and Flannery families, who headed to Canada in 1848. And if we can figure out anything more on the Stevens line, we’ll extend our trip up to County Mayo.
The capstone of this excursion will come at the end, when we spend a week in the library and archives in Dublin under the expert guidance of researchers in a program arranged by genealogist Donna Moughty. Even that week will have its grand finale—participation in the Irish national genealogy event, "Back to Our Past."
Hopefully, by then, I will have reaped the benefit of some serious research of my own in preparation for this adventure. Wouldn’t it be grand to walk the very streets an ancestor once walked, or see the church where an ancestor was baptized, or even meet a current-day descendant of a common Irish ancestor?
Whether it all will come down to that—or not—I can’t yet tell. But if we never try, we’ll never know.