Ireland Reaching Out

Ireland Reaching Out is an amazing project, creating an online, virtual community for the 70 million people of Irish descent worldwide.

Irish volunteers at local parish level are literally reaching out to the Irish Diaspora via the internet and inviting them to reengage with the ancestral homes of their forefathers. Credit

Strong, deep ties link the people of Ireland and America.  For centuries the Irish crossed the Atlantic, seeking to start a new life.  Years later many of their descendants return to Ireland in search of ancestral threads, hoping to reweave their family story.  Their greatest dream is to reconnect with the people, parish and culture their forefathers left behind.

For many retracing their roots is a daunting task.  Searching for information in a strange land is simply intimidating.  For years the responsibility of reconnecting with long-lost relatives fell heavily upon the shoulders of the near 70 million people worldwide of Irish descent.

But all this has changed with Ireland Reaching Out.  Their volunteers now actively seek to reunite all people of Irish descent through a system of reverse genealogy.  Rather than waiting for people of Irish heritage to search for their Irish connections, Reaching Out volunteers at a parish level actively seek to find and trace descendents of those who left in years gone by.

Their admirable and formidable goal is to trace and record all the people who left a parish and to network and interface with their living descendents worldwide through the power of the internet.

Their motto is:


Ní neart go cur le chéile


There’s no strength without unity



I personally experienced the power of their work a few months ago.  A volunteer working for the parish where my father grew up in Co. Cork found this little blog of mine and contacted me, wondering if I am whom she thought I might be.  She knows my family well.  It was lovely to exchange e-mails and connect to my roots.  The internet is changing the world and the people of Ireland Reaching Out are harnessing its power.

So, if you know where your ancestors hailed from in Ireland, check out the parishes which have registered with this project by clicking here.  Over 2500 parishes are currently participating.  Who knows you may be able to trace your roots to where it all began.

This weekend the second annual Week of Welcomes celebration is concluding in Southeast Galway.  The friends, relatives and descendants of Irish emigrants from the area were invited to participate in a week of special events designed to help them explore their past, and reconnect with the people from their forefathers’ villages and parishes.  I hope all of the participants enjoyed a wonderful week of unforgettable experiences, forged new friendships, strengthened family bonds and created memories to last a lifetime and beyond.


Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)



Irish American Mom


  1. Billy Collins says:

    I have been told that a lot of my ancestors came from Limerick and Cork Counties in Ireland.I would love to be able to trace my roots and find my ancestors.

    Thank You and God Bless.

    • Billy – I hope some day you can piece your family story together and reconnect with the parish or village where your people came from. The Irish for Collins is O’Coileáin, and it is a fairly widespread name in County Cork. Wishing you every success as you trace your roots. Best wishes!

  2. This is such a wonderful thing to know exists! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for many, many years now. My mother had made a lot of progress in tracking down my father’s family to at least the county level, which gets me a good start. Knowing about this, I’ve got a bit more incentive to take up where she left off. Thank you so much for sharing.

    (Also, I’m so glad that Ogham Art shared the link to you. I’ve been greatly enjoying reading your site. :) )

    • Melissa – I am so happy you found my little corner of the world wide web. Céad míle fáilte – a hundred, thousand welcomes, and a big thank you to Ogham Art for sharing my link. Wishing you every success as you continue your mother’s wonderful work. I hope Ireland Reaching Out will be an inspiration and a resource for you. Have a wonderful weekend and please stop by whenever you have a few moments to spare.
      Best wishes!

  3. Hi Mairead,
    We Americans love the connections to our past, what a nice service you have provided helping those looking for their connections. The hard part can be the when the first generation of Irish souls landed in their new home, many desperate and mis-named immigrants travelled through Ellis Island. I’m always thankful for the sacrifices of my family and descendants to allow me such a beautiful life.
    Cheers and keep well,

    • Brian – What you say is so true about how names were changed and misspelled when families first arrived on these shores. I think many Irish Americans run into difficulties tracing their roots because of names being changed when the first generation of immigrants arrived. I imagine many Irish speakers called out their names in Irish or Gaelic only to have them transcribed using the closest English spelling the immigration clerk could come up with. I hope the Ireland Reaching Out project will be able to successfully help some people find their ancestral homes.
      All the best!

  4. Mairead, this was such a great post! Oh how I would have loved to attend the Week of Welcomes….

    • Grammy – I imagine a Week of Welcomes is amazing fun or, as we say in Ireland, “great craic.” I’d say you would enjoy every minute of it. Someday I hope you make it to Ireland.

  5. Maria Leahy says:

    Hi mairead, This email comes to you from Listowel , Co. Kerry . I have the privilege to be an active member of the NORTH KERRY REACHING OUT GROUP,We are having our WEEK OF WELCOMES will be held on 3rd-10th August ,the excitement is building,all details and bookings can be done via our website ,We also do free family research for anybody from the catchment area do check us out.

    Keep up the good work

    • Maria – Thanks so much for stopping by and adding the link for the North Kerry Reaching Out Group ( ). It is lovely to know more groups are organizing their own Week of Welcomes. You are doing amazing work helping to reconnect people of Irish descent with their roots. Thank you for volunteering for this great project.
      Best wishes.

  6. Mairead,

    Thanks for the fantastic post on our project. Our volunteers will actively seek to reunite all people of Irish descent and we encourage people to join our site and connect with a parish where they have a connection.

    Thanks Again,
    Henry Healy
    Community Activation Leader
    Ireland Reaching Out

  7. Brenda hennessy says:

    Hi Mairead
    Greetings from Kildorrery – the home of your ancestors. Thank you so much for telling all your followers about our genealogy project – Ireland Reaching Out. The website is really catching up with people from all corners of the world. We (in Kildorrery) have had a few successes since we started. It is like putting a jigsaw together and there is such satisfaction when it works out. Tomorrow we are welcoming a group of 16 Americans to Kildorrery. 6 of them are Fouhys who are related to the late Jack Fouhy of Scart. Yesterday I went to see Jack’s old house. It is deserted since he died but is in pretty good shape. You would love it! It has the kitchen in the middle with the big old fireplace and the two rooms either side with lofted ceilings. The new owners have cleared it all out and hope to preserve it. They have no problem with the Americans coming to see it so it should be an exciting day for all.
    Thanks again and slan go foill

    • Hi Brenda – Lovely to hear from you. Your Kildorrery celebrations sounds wonderful. I hope it is a great success, and that the 16 Americans with descendants from our little corner of Ireland, have an amazing experience. It sounds like you have done fantastic research to help connect them to their ancestors. Have a wonderful time.

  8. Hi Mairead:

    I just saw your comments on the XO website. Many thanks for giving this organisation a plug. From an American Irish Mom (American born & living in Ireland) who has become involved in this in the last few months, it is great to see the positive response. I am involved in the Tulla webpage and we are updating our page all the time. All the best to you and your very informative blog.


    • Jane – Thanks so much for stopping by. I was delighted to write about your amazing project and it is lovely to see how it is attracting new participants and gaining strength with each and every week. The potential is limitless. I was also delighted to see my father’s home parish of Kildorrery had a very successful reunion last week. Thank you for all you are doing to support this great work. It is lovely to hear from an American who is now living in Ireland and experiencing what I have experienced in reverse.

      All the best and visit again whenever you get a moment.


  9. kathleen Woods says:

    Hello …..

    I’m so happy to hear that your helping folks getting together with all that is Irish. There past is
    a strong part of what they are. I’m getting my Irish Citizenship by Descent. In the process right now.
    I’m coming over next year to stay. I’m very excited and preparing myself for living and working on the Island.
    I’m coming home.
    Blessing to you.

    • Kathleen – Wishing you every success in your transition home to Ireland, and congratulations on obtaining your Irish citizenship. Thanks so much for stopping by my site, and for your kind words.
      All the best,

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