The O’Connors: An Introduction

The flights are booked, the documents are in order, and it’s actually happening–

I’m moving to Ireland. By way of Italy, naturally, but come St. Patrick’s Day 2020 I will be a resident of Dublin. And as my genealogical pursuits have always been closely tied to contemporary narratives in my life, I find it fitting to apply my newfound research focus to the family that first sparked my interest in genealogy as a young boy, my grandma’s family, the O’Connors.

My very namesake (“We dropped the O in the ocean,” my great-grandfather would always tell my grandmother and her siblings), hearing the story of how, generations ago, this group of people left their native land to end up in Ohio fascinated me. I wanted to know more about Ireland and their motivations for boarding a ship and sailing away, to understand the historical context of colonial oppression and the dynamics of the Great Famine. Since those early days of intense interest, I have learned a bit more about them, but even bigger questions remain, ones that I hope to address through making this my research focus.

I will first gather all of the information that we know of and have discovered, compiling it into my new tree in the Gramps desktop software, meticulously citing sources and creating a comprehensive view of what we know so far and what we hope to discover. One of the guiding questions for this process will be one of the biggest questions that remains unknown to the living descendants- where are we from?

Since I wish to discover all there is to tell about this particular family, I’ll be engaging in cluster research. I will not only look for known members the family in the usual places, but I will study censuses, land records, directories to understand who they knew and interacted with in their daily lives, who they may have known from Ireland and possibly immigrated with, what their business dealings looked like, what patterns show up in names, their neighbors… I will give my utmost dedication to painting the stories not only of their individual lives, but the greater contexts of time, place, and community that they found themselves in.

I will complement this historically centered research with my growing understanding of genetic genealogy and DNA research techniques. I am fortunate that not only my grandma but many of her siblings too have tested their DNA, which could prove critical in supporting eventual hypotheses.

In these ways, I hope to discover long sought answers and narrate the stories until-now suspended in time. It will be a journey that spans decades, oceans, faiths and languages, the grand tale of our arrival in America.