You don’t have to be born in a place to be from there

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

Ours was never the most adventurous of families; we did what every other west of Ireland family did and had a handful of close relations in the United States but even the more adventurous members of the clan didn’t move further than a stone’s throw from each other in Boston.

My mother’s family decamped en masse for Dublin and, for the most part, permanent and pensionable jobs in the Civil Service; most of my father’s stayed close to the home place in Killannin and Rosscahill – a part of the world making headlines this week for different reasons.

The Killannin and Rosscahill I know all my life is a community that turns out in force for positive reasons – football, fundraisers, to support bereaved families at funerals … a welcoming place where so many of those who did make their lives on the other side of the Atlantic come home and are embraced by their native place like they’d never gone further than Kinneavey’s pub.

Many of our own crowd ventured further than that – perhaps in pursuit of All-Ireland days out – but many were rarely more than a decent train journey from home.

Even my own journeys never needed a boat or a plane; just an anti-clockwise tour of Ireland to Cork, Dublin, Athlone and back to Galway.

So nobody could accuse us of racking up the air miles in pursuit of the impossible dream – and yet there isn’t a week goes by that doesn’t throw up another relative in a corner of the world I’ve never heard of.

The most recent new cousin is Trevor Rowsell, who lives in Australia, a country that – as far as I know – not a single one of the family has ever been to.

Trevor, who is in his seventies, is either my fourth cousin or my parents’ third cousin. In genetic terms, we share half a per cent of DNA.

That’s the same percentage of DNA I also share with John Minniter who lives in the USA and is either my fourth or fifth cousin.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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