I am about to talk genealogy; feel free to avert your eyes.

Just in case it weren't obvious already, I am a dork. HUGE dork. To prove my point, I offer Exhibit A: I just registered for an Ancestry.com membership, and this isn't the first time I have done it. Yeeeah.

I have always been kind of a sucker for family history. I have always love hearing the stories about what it was like when my grandparents were young. Somehow imagining what it was like to live where my ancestors lived was like catching snippets of a really interesting movie, and I was always wanting to see more. It was also pretty amazing trying to fathom the enormity of the balls it would have taken for my great-grandmothers to leave their families at not even 20, knowing it was most likely forever, and move to the U.S. (I mean, really, can you imagine? I was nervous leaving for college and that was only an hour away. Clearly the gene pool has gone soft in the intervening years.)

Over the years, I have visited Ancestry.com from time to time in hopes of finding more information about my family, but I have always hit dead ends pretty quickly because of my somewhat limited information and the limited information available from overseas registries. I decided to give it another shot, though, because I am super dorkily addicted to the weekly hour long commercial for Ancestry.com, AKA NBC's Who Do You Think You Are? (♫ "Ahh ahh ahh ahhhh..." -- theme music brought to you by Mark, who sings it every. single. time. they play it, including each return from commercial.) I mean, can you blame me? They plug a partial name into the search engine and seconds later have a complete family tree. It's effective advertising is what I'm saying.

I opened up another free trial this week and totally fell into a genealogy wormhole. However! This time around, I learned new things! Like, I had great-great-grandmothers named Norah and Teresa, Mary and Caterina. I have a crapload of ancestors named Bridget, and even one named Kate. It took me the better part of a day to learn all of this information, making it even more special to me. Norah and Mary and their husbands were people I had never even heard of before -- blows my dorky little mind. I have even been emailing with a woman with whom I seem to share an ancestor; here's hoping she has some useful advice.

Please note, Irish genealogy research still sucks, comparatively speaking. Case in point: I excitedly explained my discoveries to Mark when he got home, and he was all, "Look up mine too!" He was absolutely useless in providing names beyond his grandparents and dates beyond his parents, but we rolled with it, and I was back to the 1700s in one branch of his family within minutes. Because OF COURSE I WAS. Now he's very excited by the fact that his Swedish ancestors were named things like Axel and Magnus. He is misguidedly thinking that these could be potential names for our hypothetical children. "What? You said you like family names." Ohh, buddy. Not so much. 

Anyway, now I am dreaming of taking the amazing trips to see where ancestors lived a la Who Do You Think You Are? I kind of did that on a visit to Italy when I was in grad school, visiting the town my grandmother's parents came from. My sister and I visited the mountaintop church my great-grandmother used to talk about hiking up to as a girl. We had Easter dinner with my grandmother's cousins who still live on my great-great-grandparents' property. I actually went into the house my great-grandfather grew up in, though it's only used for storage now. The U.S. is a relatively young country, and I am only the third generation of my family born here, so I suppose I could blame my geeking out on the novelty of this kind of experience, but truthfully? DORK. Dork dork dork. And I can't wait to do it again. One of my best friends lives in London and I have already recruited her to join me on a road trip through Ireland at some date TBD, so it looks like I have some work to do.

Are any of you as geeky as I am with this stuff? Any (hopefully inexpensive) hints/tips/tricks for research on Irish ancestry?


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