Behind the scenes at The IFHC: Lady Luck.

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Some walk-in clients to the Irish Family History Centre want a very specific question answered. Solving such problems can be difficult in a short time, sometimes impossible. However, there are those happy times when the answer just pops out. This is one of those.

A lady (who wishes to remain anonymous) came in with a beautifully hand drawn family tree and a bulging notebook. She admitted that she had only been fired up by genealogy relatively recently and was not overly familiar with computers or many of the online resources. She had found ancestors and relatives on both her parents’ sides going back some four generations. One of her distant great grand uncles was a James Raftery (born around 1865 in Offaly). He was a mystery to her: the family rumour was that he had gone to America. But nobody really knew. Could we help?

I typed in his name and basic details into both the and websites. And Bingo!  There was James, aged 19 (a labourer) booked into steerage class on the Cunard Line steamship Marathon bound for Boston, Massachusetts. The client got quite excited. Her eyes opened even wider when she saw the name below his on the passenger list – Honorah Raftery. This was an older sister to James who had also been a mystery to the family … and there they both were together – going to Boston. 

The client was delighted. Two family mysteries solved, and easily. She went away enthused with this new factual piece of information that confirmed the family rumour. Armed with dates and places, she was resolved to find out what had happened to both of them when they were in the States. And I was very happy for her.

By Irish Family History Centre Expert Genealogist

Patrick Roycroft

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