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How to plan the ultimate ancestry trip and trace your roots in Ireland


What is it that draws millions of visitors to Ireland each year? The stunning landscapes, the friendly people, the charming towns and cities with their centuries of history, certainly. For the 70 million people around the world who make up the extended Irish diaspora, it’s also the promise of a long-lost home and the discovery of an ancestral connection. It’s no coincidence that so many first-time visitors to Ireland have talked and written about the startlingly wonderful feeling of belonging they get when they first set foot on Irish soil.

Whether you’re looking to do a deep dive into your Irish heritage and reconstruct your family tree, or hope to get a more historic understanding of the journey your ancestors took as they bravely departed from Ireland, there’s an abundance of meaningful ways to connect with your roots as you travel throughout the Emerald Isle.

Witness where they came from

For such a relatively small country, Ireland has a long and robust history of emigration, born at times out of tragedy and necessity. During the worst of the Great Hunger years from 1845 – 1855, for instance, a massive 1.5 million people fled Ireland to begin new lives in America. As many as 4.5 million Irish arrived in America between 1820 and 1930.

Throughout those decades, whether you were rich or poor, there was only one way to go about leaving Ireland – by boat (though the difference between a well-appointed vessel and a dangerously crowded coffin ship was, of course, vast) . Today, this means that it’s easy to re-trace your Irish ancestors’ last footsteps in Ireland by visiting the point from which they began their journeys.

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