, 2022-08-19 14:18:45,
Book Now: The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin
For Marcia DeSanctis, author of the upcoming travel memoir A Hard Place to Leave: Stories from a Restless Life, her Irish heritage had always played second fiddle to her Italian roots. “The Irish part of my family had been somewhat diluted over the generations,” she says. “The Italian side was so much more recent: My grandfather was an immigrant in the 20th century, and he was very connected to the Old World and his home village. So, I felt a strong tie to Italy because it was so palpable.”
But when a trip to Europe brought DeSanctis to Dublin earlier this year, it spurred an interest in the more forgotten part of her DNA. And in a stroke of luck, she discovered her hotel—the city’s grande dame, the Shelbourne—actually employs a genealogy butler. Guests can send relevant information, such as ancestors’ names, dates of birth and death, and names of villages, to resident genealogist Helen Kelly, who can then comb through records to help paint a fuller picture of a family tree.
Since starting at the hotel in 2007, Kelly has helped hundreds of guests like DeSanctis trace their Irish heritage. The process is fairly straightforward: After receiving the relevant details and completing her research, she schedules an hour-long meeting to share everything she has discovered (in person or over Zoom). From there, she can direct interested visitors to one of five record offices in Dublin. “My consultation with the guest eliminates time wasting on their part,” she says. “I know from what I research online what particular office will best serve their purpose for the next phase of their research.” Those offices include everything from the General Register Office for births, marriages, and deaths to the National Library of Ireland, which “holds a great deal of records, including Roman Catholic parish registers up to about 1880,” she notes.
Thanks to her chat with Kelly while in Ireland, DeSanctis is one of many visitors who could find their family tree within these public records. Some 70 million people worldwide claim some Irish heritage, and for those fortunate enough to be able to travel to investigate their roots, Ireland tries to make it easy to do, with or without the aid of a genealogy butler. The government even hosts its own website, irishgenealogy.ie, which lists church records and civil registers of births, marriages, and deaths. Those who can prove that a…
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