Extraordinary Case Studies in Irish Geneaology
I would like to share some experiences in Irish Family Research so that researchers in Irish Family History are prepared for the unforseen things that research can throw up.  For some people, the more unexpected and the more harrowing the history, the more interesting they find it to be.  For others, however, it can be a cause for sadness and in some cases  even devastation.

I will not use real names, but let me say that I am familiar with and connected to all the cases I mention.

Adoption in Ireland
A woman asked us to investigate a situation in which a single woman -the owner of a substantial farm - had died without a will.  This is not so uncommon in Irish Families as one might think.  There was a suggestion that the woman - unmarried - had had a baby many years previously and had given the baby up for adoption.  Because there was no official adoption in Ireland prior to 1953, the baby would be difficult to trace.  Fortunately, an older neighbour remembered a cousin from the USA coming to the  village many decades ago and taking the baby of the  States to be the child of another family.  Now if the baby had grown to adulthood without being officially adopted, he was going to inherit the farm and whatever cash was left behind.  After some searching, the person was found, and the delicate task began of finding out if he knew he was adopted, and, if he did know, did he know who his birth mother was.  The man in question did know he was adopted and he was vaguely aware who his birth-mother was.

The search entailed getting access to airline records and the child was found travelling as a one year old with a man who turned out to be the cousin.  It took a long time to get proof that he had been adopted and so, a woman in Ireland died thinking her son would get her farm, but alas, under the adoption laws of most countries, when you are adopted, you cut legal ties to birth parents. You are adopted into one family and acquire inheritance rights, but you are adopted out of your birth parents families and lose any inheritance rights.

Wrong Great-Grandfather 
An extraordinary tale unfolded when we were asked to assist in discovering the lineage of a man – let’s call him Bill -who had been born in another country , and all his life he had believed he was the great- grandson of a Mr. Murphy.  He even had a birth certificate of this Mr Murphy and when on the trip of a lifetime to Ireland he looked up people who were bound to be cousins, he was told that he was not related in any way and he had the wrong great-grandfather!!  Many decades of research down the drain.  (When you are researching, be your own worst critic, never assume, never skip the various stages of research.)  Fortunately, we were able to unravel the mystery and found the correct great-grandfather's Irish Birth Certificate and then found the burial place of the ancestor.  What a surprise we all got.  The man who was researching turned out to be from a gentry family and his grandfather had apparently left home after a family rift with great-grandfather and settled in another country. It must have been tough to lose a family history and gain another all in one year and realise that your supposed birthright had also been lost.  Fortunately our now friend was very philosophical about it all and he now has an Irish passport because his grandfather was born in Ireland.  The mistake was very simply made.  Bill's father had written to the appropriate county registrar in ireland many decades beforehand and given some basic information as he had remembered it from his own father.   The registrar should have asked more questions but didn't...... and picked the wrong Mr. Murphy from the Registry of Births.  A copy certificate was then sent to Bill's father and this had been a cherished piece of family history for several decades. It's interesting that is was so easy to acquire an Irish Passport just by giving a name and a possible date to the registrar!

Sister or Mother?
In case number three, it was a request to assist in another case of a man who died without a will.  It actually turned out to fairly straightforward given that family members had quite a bit of knowledge and knew the names of all the children of that family - some of whom were still living and would inherit. But alas! One of the children turned out to have been born out of wedlock to her 'supposed eldest sister' - Mary - and  had been brought up  by Mary's mother as her own child.  But no formal adoption ever took place, so no Irish Birth Certificate could be obtained that showed this person to be the child - adopted or otherwise - of that family.  The family had grown up as a family of seven children but only the survivors from the other six could now inherit. Mary's daughter was one generation removed from the inheritors.  So, this woman saw her family home being sold and monies dispersed to her exclusion.  She had lost a mother in more ways than one and also lost her inheritance.  She lost a mother and sister in one day but acquired a 'new' mother.  We hope it worked out for them!

Poor Research
This is a mildly humorous but cautionary tale regarding Irish Roots that I heard from a man of learning some years ago.  He was a busy man practising law in Dublin but he had been born and educated in his native County Tipperary.  He (Jack Walsh)  once received a request from the USA from a family of the same name asking if he might be related.   Jack  knew he had a great uncle from the townland mentioned in the letter and he knew several  members of that family had emigrated to the USA.  He had no time to be searching in Irish Birth Records and Irish Census records, so he wrote back and said yes, he was most likely a cousin.   A couple of years later following some correspondence he  agreed to travel to his home place in Tipperary for a reunion with ‘his’ American family.  A party of thirty Walshs were travelling to Ireland to meet their cousin and to see the ruined cottage from where their ancestors had come.  Jack  arrived in the village on Friday evening and planned to meet his Walsh cousins on the Saturday when they were to be bussed in from Shannon airport.  He went to the local pub for a quick drink the evening before they arrived  to chat about Family History in Ireland with old friends.  An elderly acquaintance overheard his conversation and came over to him and said, “ Jaysus, Jack, I think you have the wrong family there!  The Walshs you are speaking of were actually from Ballyglin and not related to you at all.”  A quick dash to a local historian who consulted Griffiths Valuation and the Irish Tithe records proved the acquaintance correct. There was another Walsh family  very close to where his own Walshs had lived. What was he to do?  The Walshs were at that moment in the air over the Atlantic and winging their way towards him.  He never told them.  He spent the next day walking around roads and fields with his non-cousins and celebrated with them that evening in the local hotel.  They never found out that Bill was not their cousin and never found out that they had walked the right roads and maybe the correct fields but not with their cousin.  Well, what would you have done??