Saturday, 31 December 2016

Genealogy Highlights of 2016

As 2016 ends, it’s time for a recap of the year’s genealogy achievements. And, quite a few proverbial brick-walls, once considered insurmountable, have come crumbling down this year. It’s easy to visualise the progress via numbers. 

In short, I can now prove 50% of my direct ancestors from the last seven generations. That’s up 5%, or seven people, from when I last quantified the position back in 2015. There’s still a lot of work to do, obviously, but it’s progress none-the-less.

Ancestor Scorecard*

The year started off spectacularly well - I uncovered the origins of my elusive great-grandfather, Michael Byrne. He had been a slippery quarry, and it was only by discovering and tracing his little brother Tom that I finally made any headway. Not only did Tom lead me to the boys’ birthplace in Dun Laoghaire, but from there I found the names of their four grandparents (my third great-grandparents), and traced our Byrne lineage back as far as Athgarvan, Co. Kildare, in the 1830s. 

The other two probable third great-grandparents discovered in 2016 were also on Dad’s side. Laurence Coyle and Bridget Corcoran lived in Dublin city from at least the 1820s. These were Granny Lena’s ancestors. 

But, my mother’s family were not to be outdone. Just this month I located the long-sought marriage of my third great-grandparents, John and Mary Radcliffe, in Liverpool, England, in 1848.  This provided Mary’s maiden name, and the name of my fourth great-grandfather, John Leonard, a labourer. 

Rita and Moira (probably)
Still, it’s not just about discovering their names. I also want to learn about their lives. And, in 2016, blogging proved to be one of the best ways of accomplishing this. When I share stories about my ancestors, their other descendants sometimes find my blog. These long-lost cousins then frequently help fill in the gaps in my story and occasionally even send me pictures of our relatives.

This year I ‘met’ Carli from the U.S. She is the granddaughter of Moira Mapes. Moira, born Mary Pauline, was the daughter of James Percival Wynne, granda’s first cousin. Moira was probably once better known by her stage name, Moira Martell. She was part of a famous juggling act, the Martell Sisters. I wrote about them last year, here.  

From the same branch of our family tree, I also ‘met’ Kerry. Kerry’s grandmother, Nora (Wynne) Fogarty was James Percival’s sister, making her Moira’s aunt. Nora emigrated to Australia in the 1920s and raised her family there. I shared her story, here, and wrote about her father, my great-granduncle, James Wynne, here.

Probably, Nora and John Fogarty (standing) with
 John’s brother Thomas and Nora’s sister Moira (seated), 
Wedding photo, 1920

And, on Mam’s maternal line, I ‘met’ Margaret. Although born in Dublin, she has made her home in Canada. It was with Margaret’s help that I finally discovered what happened to my granduncle, John Byrne. 

Can you imagine if we all had a crazy big family reunion! What stories we'd have to share! 

Roll on 2017! If it’s even half as good as this year, it will be great. Will you be coming along for the ride? 

'Family History All Done? What’s Your Number?', Ancestry blog, 16 August 2012.

© Black Raven Genealogy


  1. You made a lot of progress this year and I'm especially jealous of all the cousins you've 'met' in the course of your research. I did have a good year for cousin connections but there are so many cousins and so little time! Hope 2017 brings us both more cousins and more ancestor proof.

    1. I had a great year of cousin connections and I'm not being ungrateful, but I am hoping some relatives on my Dad's side make contact in 2017.

  2. It really has been a wonderful year for you! And it's been fun to watch it all unfold. Hopefully the coming year will hold as many or more wonderful genealogical discoveries!

  3. Your chart of possibilities and results is inspiring. I should do that - maybe it would help keep me more focused. Sometimes I feel like I just flit from here to there and to another there. No wonder you have had such a successful year. Looking forward to watching your work in 2017!

  4. Thanks Wendy, but I'm the queen of flitting from one family to another! I've a short attention span :-) The only thing I have going for me is that I keep good notes on where I'm at when I move on, so it's easy to pick up where I left off.

  5. Dara, what a fantastic year it has been for you! That's so inspiring to see how your blog has served to draw other distant family members to you--and then pitch in, sharing news and details on those ancestors' lives.

    We have such unprecedented opportunities to connect, now, with online capabilities. Even though you and I are not related, it's been a pleasure "meeting" you, as well! You have said some inspiring things in your blog this past year, and they are thoughts which have stayed with me, over the months! Happy New Year!

  6. Thanks Jacqi, blogging sure has it's advantages! It was great to 'meet' you also :-)


I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!