Robert says “it was always a dream of my father that he would be able to reconnect with our Horan family in Ireland. My grandfather had met his wife in New York City. We knew where his mother’s Delaney family was from and had remained in contact with the cousins over the years. They hailed from the Williamstown area in County Galway. Every Saint Patrick’s Day we looked forward to the envelope from his cousin Birdie containing shamrocks from Ireland.
Since my grandfather‘s father had sought work in England and came from there to America the family here had lost track of our roots back home. I had accompanied my father on a trip to Ireland in 1983 for a cousin’s wedding in Williamstown and during that trip we came to Portumna. My father knew we came from in or around Portumna. We spoke with the local historian Father Egan at the Church. We went all around the area looking for signs of the family in church grave yards and followed some leads the good father gave us. That started my interest in the family history.
After my father’s passing I took on his quest. I have spent untold hours going through microfilms and records both in the states and Ireland. The internet opened up new promise. A big break came from my cousins in New Jersey where they had found some correspondence between my Grandfather and a cousin of his. Those letters lead me to our great grandmother’s family, the Callagy’s, in Killimor.
Over the course of my 30 year journey I learned much of the Irish history and the untold hardships they endured. I’ve met new cousins, made many discoveries, took on the role of family historian and developed an enduring bond with Ireland. In 2010 I took my nephew over, we stopped in portumna and while we were there visited the Woodford Heritage Centre. We discovered the baptism records of 2 of my great grandfather’s siblings and learned they were born in Boula just north of Portumna. We went up to the Boula church spoke to the groundskeeper then visited the old Kilmalinocue Church Yard.
I searched the Tithe Applotment Book and Griffiths Valuation records and found my 3rd great grandfather and his son, both named Patrick, in Boula and Sheehan. I had a yearning to go back to Ireland and put together a trip with my brother Philip Jr. and his 2 sons. It would be a very short trip because my one nephew only had a week of vacation time. He had never been to Ireland and wanted to meet the cousins so I planned out a very full schedule.
About a month before the trip I came across the Ireland Reaching Out web site and placed a post. I received a reply from Dolores O’Shea in Portumna and she was looking into checking the church records for my great uncle Patrick’s death. Two days before we were to leave I was contacted by Pat Madden, an Ireland XO volunteer, who put me in touch with the Horan cousins in Boula. What a wonderful surprise development. Coincidently my 3rd great grandmother was Bridget Madden.
We had only the one night in Portumna but we met Francis Hardiman, John & Kitty nee Horan Lawless, Ann Horan and John’s son & his family. We had a wonderful reception, went up to the cemetery, saw the remains of the original homestead and had a good chat at John & Kitty’s.
It was grand making the family connection. Just to walk on the same sod as our ancestors did was quite the thrill and to actually meet living family was a dream come true. I’m sure my father was looking on and happy for us all.”