Posted by: irishhungercomm | February 15, 2013

Ireland XO in Action

Ireland XO in Action – focussing on the People, Places, Parishes and Connections being made through the Ireland Reaching Out programme.
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Vol 1 Issue 3 –  December 2012

Welcome to the third issue of our new newsletter, Ireland XO in Action, focusing on the People, Places, Parishes and Connections being made through the Ireland Reaching Out programme. Ireland XO in Action will bring you the news as it happens on the ground, keeping you up-to-date with progress and featuring new parishes as they come on board as well as some great stories of connections being made. In this issue, we feature the following:
Interview Corner –  We talk with Martine Brennan, parish volunteer in Annagh County Kerry.  Martine has discovered interesting facts during her  own family research and is still looking for her two great uncles.  Martine has begun an exciting project, locally, teaching national school children about genealogy and researching  their own family trees.
Making Connections – Rosemary (Roisin) Dwyer connects to her Banko relatives in Eyrecourt and the O’Shaughnessy clan features in the iconic ‘Lunch atop a Skyscraper’ photograph.  We also talk with Matt Flannery who re-connects to Athenry from the USA.
Parish in Profile –  This month we feature Offerlane which is in County Laois. An exceptional history and beautiful landscape the, only landlocked county, is known as the Queen’s County and is situated in the heart of Ireland.
If you have not yet registered as a member of Ireland XO, please sign up, or if you would like to become a Parish Administrator or Volunteer, or would like to refer someone to the programme, please contact us today.

To discover your Irish Roots! … and connect with your ancestral community in Ireland.
1. Register on our website and log in to your account;
2. Join your parish(es) – or if you don’t know, then the county;
3. Post a message telling us how much you know already!  We will then link you up with local parish volunteers who will attempt to trace your roots! It’s as simple as that – we call it ‘reverse genealogy’!

Want to get involved on the ground?
We need volunteers countrywide in Ireland to help us with The Gathering 2013 (Failte Ireland initiative) and the Ireland XO National Roll out. Help us in your own area – see full parish listing here
See what Ireland XO volunteer tasks we have this month here and just reply to this email if you can help!

New Website

We are working on a new and improved website over the next 12 months.  A new look and feel to the site (phase one) will be available from next week, first week of December.  Please bear with us while we are working on this.  Phase two and three will improve the functionality of the site and will be completed over the next 12 months.  The new site looks great and we are very excited to have an improved look and feel to the whole site.  We will have the same website address at

Matt Flannery re-connects to Athenry, County Galway!

Matt Flannery is Co-Founder and CEO of uses the internet to enable people to lend money to entrepreneurs in developing countries to help them build their businesses.  Since 2005 Matt has led Kiva’s growth from a pilot project to an established online service with partnerships across the globe.  Earlier this summer, Matt got in touch with Ireland Reaching Out and posted a message on the Galway county board as he was unsure where his people came from within the county.  Michelle Mitchell, Parish administrator for Kiltullagh, Galway did some research for Matt and found connections dating from 1861, 1871 in Galway and 1881 in Kiltullagh, Athenry with the family names of Flannerys, Mannions and Graney.  Ireland Reaching Out arranged for Matt to meet some living relatives in Kiltullagh, Athenry and other living relatives came from Dublin to meet with him also.  Matt was taken around the parish of Kiltullagh and to Esker where Conrad Joseph Flannery married his wife, Hanoria and then to Kiltullagh Church where the priest who married them is buried, to the graveyards where Flannerys are buried, to the schools in the parish and the local pubs.  Matt thoroughly enjoyed his trip and found a real connection and sense of belonging and place in Galway.  “I will always remember this trip to Ireland and meeting my living cousins!, thank you to Ireland Reaching Out for all of their assistance.”

Parish in Profile – Offerlane in County Laois
In the heartland of Ireland, Offerlane is situated by the Slieve Bloom Mountains

Offerlane, a civil parish, in the barony of Upper Ossory, County Laois (Queen’s county), is in the province of Leinster.  This civil parish which is also called De Foralain is situated on the river Nore, and at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, stretching from east to west about seven miles in length.  In 1839, the ancient parish of Offerlane, or Upperwoods, was broken up into two new parishes, one to be known as the parish of Castletown, the other as the parish of Camross. The present area of the parish is about 30,327 statute acres.  In the nineteenth century the county was divided into 11 baronies, and contained 53 parishes with 1,156 townlands.  The population in 1881 was 72,598 people, or 15,500 families, inhabiting 14,297 houses. In 1871 school records show the number of persons in the county that could read and write, 39,111; those who could read only, 12,909 and the remainder, 27,461 being unable to read or write. Persons who speak Irish only, 89; Irish and English, 103 people.  Today Laois is considered part of the extended commuter belt of Dublin with rail and motor way links.  Both the GAA and Traditional music are still at the heart of the parishes and communities in County Laois.  Ireland Reaching Out have significant presence in county Laois with 18 active volunteers on board.  If you would like to volunteer for your area please see our roles available here or get in touch via email here

Welcome to our new Parish Administrators
Stephen Hession in Belclare, Galway
Ron Dale in Ardtrea, Derry
Ron Dale in Magherafelt, Derry
Mary Murphy in Donaghpatrick, Galway
Dympna Joyce in Turlough, Mayo
James & Carole Cooke in Kilmacteige, Sligo
Paddy Waldron in Moyarta, Clare
Patti Hacht in Kilcolman, Limerick
Kevin Terry in Cloyne, Cork
May Moran in Ardcarn, Roscommon
Kathryn Freney in Balla, Mayo
Audrey Atkinson in Kilcaskan, Kerry
Teresa Lennon in Fenagh, Leitrim
Mary Jean Mulherin in Ballysakeery Mayo
Bridget McCormack in Dysartenos, Borris, Kilcolmanbane, Killenny, Kilteale and Straboe, Laois
Eamon Whyte in Clonsilla, Mulhaddart, Cloghran, Castleknock & Chapelizod, Dublin
Pat O’Halloran in Philipstown district & St Peters, Louth
Chris Stark in Addergoole, Mayo
Brenda McNicholas in Bohola, Mayo
Jim Lenehan in Dunquin, Kilmalkeder, Marhin & Dunurlin, Kerry
Sheila Phillips Byrne in Donnybrook, Dublin
Ann Marie Kennedy in Effin, Limerick

We have now over 200 Parish administrators in Ireland, and 2,000 volunteers in 541 parishes.  Parish Administrators are key to our success and this role entails updating and adding to your parish profile, monitoring & responding to queries posted on the parish message board and interacting with other volunteers in the area via the website, email or telephone.  We are recruiting more volunteer parish administrators and parish “Meet & Greeters” in particular.  All help welcome!  Contact us on return email here.

Rosemary (Roisin) Dwyer finds her Banko roots in Eyrecourt, Galway

‘It was a truly amazing experience and one I will treasure always’

Ireland XO volunteer Christy Cunniffe, left of photo, shows Roisin Dwyer her ancestor; James Banko’s grave, plus those of several other family members.  Des Coen, centre photo, is related to the Horsman family which is also connected to the Banko Family.  Des who lives across the road from the old graveyard and he knew where the Banko family, Rosemary’s ancestors, lived.  According to local Eyrecourt tradition a Banko silver smith from Eyrecourt made the Galway City Mace. While this is uncertain and is an anecdotal account, it does however suggest that the Banko’s were highly regarded silver smiths. Roisin says ‘It was indeed an amazing experience and one which I will treasure always’. Roisin also enjoyed meeting the locals of Eyrecourt, Michael and Pat, who were able to add other insights to her knowledge of the family and where they once lived. Rosin wants to say “A huge thank you to Christy and all of those working on the Ireland XO programme. It is wonderful for those of us travelling from the other side of the world to finally track down our roots in Ireland. Congratulations to you all.”  Picture below shows the Banko family home in Eyrecourt.

Famous O’Shaughnessy Clan

Lunch Atop a Skyscraper – Irish men at Work in the 1930’s

The image, which was captured by Charles C. Ebbets during construction of the General Electric Building at Rockefeller Center in 1932, features two men who emigrated from Galway to New York in the early twentieth century – Matty O’Shaughnessy and Patrick ‘Sonny’ Glynn from South Galway. Connemara film producer Éamonn Ó Cualáin has produced a documentary on the story behind the famous photograph, which was recreated in sculpture form by New York-based Italian sculptor Sergio Furnari in 2001. Speaking to the Galway Independent, the filmmaker said the story behind ‘Lunch Atop A Skyscraper’ is particularly relevant now, given rising emigration levels. “It’s coming full circle, there are people leaving Galway and the West of Ireland again now, there is a new wave of people leaving,” he said. “The Galway connection with this image is huge.  Recently it has also come to light that maybe another man from Galway features in the photo. The daughter of Thomas (Norton) Naughton from Glenamaddy has got in touch from the USA, stating that the man second from the right is her father,” said Mr Ó Cualáin.
Interview Corner –  Martine Brennan in Annagh, County Kerry
Researching her family tree has helped Martine to understand so much of her growing up

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Martine Brennan. I am the administrator for Annagh Parish, Tralee, Co. Kerry. My interest in family of origin ties in neatly with my ‘day job’ because I have worked with people from complicated families for many years as a Counsellor and Life-Coach.
What have you discovered about your family? Like many of the old people, when I was growing up, my grandmother didn’t speak much of the past. I spent a lot of time with her as a child and teenager. One day I discovered her American trunk, the suitcase she had brought back from America. Suddenly my small granny was this mysterious person who had traveled to America and made a life for herself there. I have been searching for my granduncles for two years now. I found the family of one granduncle in Chicago. It means a great deal to me to be in contact with my mother’s cousins. But three others remain elusive. Finding out about my mother’s family, helps me to understand so much of my growing up.
Why do you think the work of Ireland Reaching Out matters? Those of us who grew up in Ireland often don’t understand the importance of our Irish roots to the Diaspora. We take for granted the connection we have with our cousins. I think the fact that I was born in London and returned in the eighties to find work helps me to see both sides. I met people who knew little or nothing of their Irish roots. They often only knew that their parents or grandparents had been born in Ireland. And they had no idea how to trace them. Ireland Reaching Out breaches that gap and over time as more and more parishes have active groups, it will be possible for us to help families connect..
What does being admin of Annagh Parish mean to you?It gives me an opportunity to save family history for the members of the Diaspora and generations to come. I learn something new about our parish almost every day. I love knowing that in some small way I am contributing to the reclamation of our history.  The parish of Annagh and queries for this area can be posted here.  I recently met up with children from one of our local schools to teach them how to make their own family trees. We decided to concentrate on their maternal line. I showed them a picture of my Grand-Uncle Jack who went to Chicago in the 1920’s. On my next visit we will complete the family trees and the children have promised to                           tell me of any family who emigrated that are lost. I hope to help them find those family members.

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