Friday, March 17, 2017

I Only Thought I was Irish

I spent the better part of my growing up years thinking I was twenty five percent Irish. I mean, what would you think, with a name like McCann? It wasn't until I graduated from college that a well-meaning cousin disabused our family of that notion.

Chalk it up to one of those school projects to build a family tree. A younger cousin landed the assignment and was tenacious enough to push through the family legends and discover that...imagine that!, we weren't Irish, but Polish. I've written about that story here before. It didn't really rock my world—I always thought it was suspicious that I absolutely abhor corned beef and cabbage (sold to unsuspecting underage Americans as the epitome of Irishness). But there were some in my family who suffered an uncomfortable image shift.

Even years later, when I set to work on my husband's family history, I discovered he came with some Irish heritage stories as well. Three of my father-in-law's four grandparents were born in Ireland, and all eight of his great grandparents were. But a simple Y-DNA test revealed that perhaps his Irish roots only grew about as deep as a Viking conquest—at least, according to what we know about that haplogroup today.

I wonder how many others may be surprised to learn the truth about their ethnic heritage. The "Kiss me, I'm 24% Irish" DNA ad campaign at might garner a few unexpected results—in both directions.

Still, if ever you wanted to research the possibility of your Irish roots, this is the day—or, in some cases, the week—to do it. If you really hurry (translation: Californians, catch this offer before 4 p.m. today), you can get in on the free offer at Findmypast for what they bill as the largest collection of Irish records "anywhere online."

Geneabloggers' genius Thomas MacEntee offered this tip: Ancestry is offering free access to its Irish collection through Sunday, March 19.

And Canadian genealogy blogger Gail Dever passed along the word that the New England Historic Genealogical Society is offering free access to its holdings of Irish resources through next Wednesday, March 22.

I suspect you are already familiar with any possibilities of Irish origins in your heritage. Unless, of course, you are, like I was, victim of a vast family conspiracy to conceal the true story about your roots. But it wouldn't hurt to take this opportunity to brush up on the details. 


  1. We all wonder but few really want to know :)

    1. Sometimes, the stories about why family didn't want to know are even more fascinating than the stories about what the family was...


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