Searching for my Ancestors in Ireland


I always thought if I could travel anywhere in the world it would be to Ireland.

Although I’m a mutt (Scottish, Irish, English, German, French, and Native American) I always felt connected to Ireland because of my name.

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So this past week when my family hopped into a big silver van and toured the west coast of the island I was excited to connect with my Irish roots.

I wanted to feel a sense of belonging. To walk through music-filled streets of Galway, gaze at the the rolling hills of Dingle, and bask in the the gardens of Killarney.

I wanted it to feel like home.

Growing up on army bases and moving around every year or so, it always felt like my family was more focused on where we were going rather than where we were from. Once my brother Tyler asked my dad about our heritage and he just told us we were American.

My brother Tyler with my dad, mom, and baby sheep in Dingle.

My brother Tyler with my dad, mom, and baby sheep in Dingle.

So on this trip I was on a mission to keep my heart open and feel a connection to my ancestors.

But while driving up the windy roads of the coast my brother Tyler (our family historian) told us our mom’s family immigrated from Ireland in the 1850s, and some of my dad’s family had been in the United States since the 1600s. The more my brother told us about our family’s history the more I realized I didn’t need to travel across the pond to connect with who I am- in fact, most of my ancestors crossed through Ellis island on their journey to build a better life.

It felt serendipitous that my office last year was just a block away from the Statue of Liberty and the port where they all arrived.

Turns out I have guardians just where I need them- at home in New York.

And even though I was miles away from the yellow cabs and the intoxicating energy of the city, I have never felt like more of a New Yorker.



Story by Erin Bagwell
Edited by
Diana Matthews

Erin Bagwell