Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Search For My Irish Roots, Part 2

We're Irish???

Now don't get me wrong, there is no anti-Irish sentiment in my family that I am aware of but some how this little tidbit of information had gotten lost or perhaps hidden somewhere along the way. My grandfather had told me we were English. There was no talk of Ireland in the family stories, no Irish names, no tombstones in the local cemetery with the words, Native Of County Blah Blah Ireland, Nothing. Thus began my quest for my new found Irish roots.

Now what???

I quickly learned that to do any meaningful genealogy in Ireland you need to have some idea of what County your Irish ancestors came from. Without this you are just flailing around in the dark.

The 1861 census had told me my GGG Grandfather William Massey was a native of Ireland. Where in Ireland I had no idea. So I did what any new genealogist would do, I started flailing around. However in my case my flailing around would one day pay off. It would just take about 30 years.

Fortunately for me Massey is not a common name in Ireland (this makes hunting a little easer) so I began to collect even the smallest mention of the Massey name anywhere in Ireland. Sort of like a one name study of Irish Masseys. At the same time I continued to research my Masseys in North America in the more conventional organized way, working on my direct lines. It was these 2 styles of research that would one day give me some of the answers I was looking for.
My somewhat haphazard one name study of Irish Massey’s soon began to paint an interesting picture. It told me that almost all the Masseys in Ireland are descended from a few men, most likely just 3 of 4 who came to Ireland in the 1600s. It also told me that the descendants of these men tended to stay in the same locations as their original immigrant ancestor. This has the effect of producing little pockets of Masseys located at a few different places in Ireland. This info was interesting but of course it did not tell me what little pocket of Masseys I belonged to.

Then I got lucky......

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