Behind the Scenes: The Natural … and the Supernatural at the IFHC.

I had a decidedly odd experience with a client at the Irish Family History Centre (CHQ Building, Dublin) in late August 2017. Something not of this world … but the next.

I was helping a really friendly and open middle-aged US lady [I’ll call her ‘Mary’] with her family tree and showing her how to use some of the databases and websites that we offer clients who come to the IFHC. Mary knew about Ancestry.com but was not familiar with Findmypast.ie or Rootsireland.ie and had only a passing acquaintance with FamilySearch.org. As I was showing her how she could use these web sites to further her own family research, I noticed that she was getting a bit distracted. This sometimes happens for all sorts of reasons, and I carried on. Then she started looking over her shoulder into what, to me, looked like thin air. I let her recompose herself for a second and happily explained the A-Z search function on Findmypast and how it can be used as a shortcut to get US censuses. At which point she stopped me and asked, very politely, “Have you got an English grandmother?”

That got my attention. I slowly replied that yes, one of my grandmothers was English. Mary then repeated, “English Rose” a few times. I told her that my granny’s name wasn’t ‘Rose’, to which she replied that that was just a ‘handle’ that she could psychically latch on to. Then Mary said that my English grandmother was here with us and desperately trying to contact me. And Granny’s persistence was really interfering with Mary’s concentration in the IFHC when I was standing close by. So, I moved away to help someone else for a while and let Mary explore the websites herself.

About 15 minutes later, I went back to Mary to see how she was getting on and immediately she told me that Granny was back (now that I myself was back in close proximity to Mary) and Granny wanted me to know that she was happy in the afterlife. I told Mary – not being sure what to say to all this – to tell Granny that I was happy to hear of that and that I was thinking of her, too. At which point, apparently, Granny stopped pestering Mary and left happy.

Curious, I asked Mary if she was psychic or something. And she pulled out from her wallet a full membership card of the American Association of Psychics.

 

By Patrick Roycroft