Tracing Gramps…and becoming Irish

Tracking down my grandfather and becoming Irish


I’m becoming Irish.  To be sure, I’ll still be Scottish and British, but if I can also become Irish it means I’ll still feel European.

Ok I admit, that’s quite a lot of nationalities for just one person…but don’t go all judge-y on me. I like to have options – I’ve also got 5 pairs of very similar jeans & 3 pairs of almost identical black heels.

So, in case you missed it – Britain voted to leave the European Union and is scheduled to say….So long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye sometime in 2019, which means…actually, I haven’t a clue what it means apart from I expect I won’t feel as European after 2019 as I do at the moment.

Now, don’t worry I’m going to get all shout-y and political BUT (whine-y voice) I LIKE being European.

Yes, I know that there were a lot of downsides to being part of the EU. It guzzles money and there’s a lot of waste and major problems and complicated issues and bureaucrats who pay themselves tons of euros and are prone to banning bananas that aren’t bendy enough, BUT, call me shallow and simplistic…. I LIKE having continental hams & cheese in our supermarkets, and I LIKE meeting (and making friends with) people from different countries, and I LIKE being able to travel easily throughout Europe without having wait in long queues at every border and most of all… I LIKE not having World War III.

Plus, I don’t much fancy chlorine-washed chicken.

But hey, democracy rules.

Then, a couple of months ago, I read that applications for Irish passports have shot up by 82% since the EU Referendum, with British citizens claiming nationality based on where their parents or grandparent were born.

Which got me thinking about Ol’ Gramps (my dad’s dad), who died long before I was born. Now, I was vaguely aware, through family lore, that Gramps was born near Enniskillen, but I figured that because that’s in Northern Ireland, he would have been a British citizen and therefore I wouldn’t qualify for Irish citizenship

How to apply for Irish Citizenship

Which just shows how much I know!

I found out, in the pub (see…going to the pub is not a waste of time) and confirmed here, that anyone with a grandparent born on the island of Ireland (including Northern Ireland) is eligible for Irish citizenship – which means Gramps could be my PASSPORT to…a PASSPORT.

Tracing Gramps

But first I had to find out a bit about him. Sadly everyone on that side of the family is dead but I got hold of my dad’s birth certificate, then got on to Mr O’Google and tracked down my grandparents’ marriage certificate (which took place in Scotland).   With some names & dates to go on I seached (which cost £9) but didn’t get any futher: They suggested I try and, without much thought or expectation of a reply, I dashed off an email, outlining the little information I had, to their Contact Us address.

Within an hour, my phone rang. Hello… a lovely lilting accent said…it’s Willie here from County Tyrone,  I’ve found your grandfather.  Within an hour!

As Willie told me my grandfather’s full name, his parents’ names and where and when he was born, I felt I was starring Who Do You Think You Are.

I realised that my grandfather must have died at the age of 50, which made me feel a bit teary for the man I never knew.  And curious…what I really wanted to know was when and why did he come to Scotland.   I expect I never will.

How to apply for Irish Citizenship

So anyway, the lovely Willie has offered to get me Gramps’ birth certificate, all the way from Dublin, do some more research and prepare a report on any other family connections he can find (I’m hoping there are some serious millionaires in the clan) – all for the princely sum of £35.

By this point, Willie was my new BFF and I was hoping we were related.

So while I am waiting on news from the Old Country, I’m practicing my Oirish accent and that really fast dancing (it’s not going well) and trying to develop a liking for Guinness. I’ll keep you updated on progress….wish me the luck of the Irish.

For a much more thorough, and sensible approach to tracing your Irish ancestors, check out THIS cracking resource.


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  1. 18 November 2017 / 9:37 am

    What a great post, love the idea of finding your Irish roots.

    • Jill
      18 November 2017 / 9:42 am

      Hi Amber. Enjoyed the process so far. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. Peter dunlop
    18 November 2017 / 10:16 am

    Well good luck with the old oirish accent but if you want some advice on how to become a native of the Emarald Isle you should contact Jack Charlton I remember in the 80’s he could get you citizenship by just drinking the black stuff🤨great blog once again

    • Jill
      18 November 2017 / 10:45 am

      Hey Peter thanks for reading. Afraid I’m not a fan of the old Guinness. I’ll need to keep practising! JIll x

  3. 18 November 2017 / 11:03 am

    Aren’t us Irish just great? 🙂 Tracing your roots is such a great thing to do. Good luck with your passport!

    • Jill
      18 November 2017 / 11:15 am

      Hey Noelle- To Be Sure! I have so enjoyed doing this. Thanks for reading. JIll

  4. 18 November 2017 / 1:45 pm

    That is exciting. Yes to keeping us posted. If it eases travel I am all for it. I have UK grandparents but never pursued it. Canadian passport here.

    • Jill
      18 November 2017 / 1:50 pm

      Thanks for rewarding, Brenda. Yep I figure it will make travelling easier in the future. Jill

  5. 18 November 2017 / 2:57 pm

    My kids, young adults, would love to find an Irish grandparent – they were devastated at the UK vote, but both sets of grandparents are still alive and no Irish births there. But my grandmother was a Butler…now there’s a thought! Good luck x

    • Jill
      18 November 2017 / 3:33 pm

      Hi Claire thanks for reading and commenting. Butler sounds promising !! It’s been an interesting process. Jill x

  6. 18 November 2017 / 3:50 pm

    Genealogy is a hobby of mine. I too am English, Scottish, and Irish, but I’m also French, German, Swiss, and Swedish, Canadian, and of course, now American. It gets hard to keep track of sometimes! But knowing your roots makes such a difference. I’m happy for you finding out about your grandfather. Best wishes in your family history journey!

    • Jill
      18 November 2017 / 4:11 pm

      Hi Dianna Thanks for reading. Wow that’s great mix you come from! Yes I agree it’s great to know more about family roots. Thanks again,, Jill

  7. 18 November 2017 / 5:57 pm

    What a great post! I’m always interested in stories about heritage!

    • Jill
      18 November 2017 / 6:02 pm

      Hey Lisa, thanks for commenting. It’s been a really interesting time tracing back my roots. JIll

  8. 18 November 2017 / 8:24 pm

    I wish I could do the same.

    My mum used to have a house in Ireland (although none of us are Irish) so I spent all my summers growing up over in Connemara. I’d love to be able to have an Irish passport and stay European! Lucky you. <3

    • Jill
      18 November 2017 / 10:36 pm

      Oh thanks for commenting. I had no idea this was possible to few weeks ago. And yes I feel lucky. Jill.

  9. Kevin
    19 November 2017 / 12:28 am

    Jill, I was born in the USA but have 3 Irish grandparents. I just started research hoping to someday get an Irish passport but they don’t make it easy. Gods luck. Kevin,

    • Jill
      19 November 2017 / 8:57 am

      Hi Kevin thanks for reading and commenting. I am still getting together all the paperwork but from what you say sounds like the application process might not be as simple as I think. Good luck with your research. Jill

  10. 19 November 2017 / 9:22 am

    That’s fascinating, Jill. I adore looking into family history (there’s a brilliant AncestryHour on Twitter where everyone is really helpful). I’m also delighted that my gramps was born in Kinsale, Cork – Irish passport here I come!! I recently did an ancestry DNA test and discovered I’m 46% Irish, 37% Western European, 5% Great Britain, 8% Iberian, 3% Scandinavian, and 1% African!! I can’t wait to delve into the research for this 🙂

    • Jill
      19 November 2017 / 11:13 am

      Hi Shelley I’ll check out AncestryHour. I think I had beginners luck. Hopefully it was all go as smoothly going forward. Let me know how u go with your research and passport. Jx PS What a lovely mixuture you are 🙂

  11. 19 November 2017 / 9:40 am

    I love this post😁 I am Irish but fond root tracing before 1900 hard! Glad you are having a positive experience!

    • Jill
      19 November 2017 / 11:10 am

      I think it was beginners luck really. I was told older records were hard to trace and couldn’t believe Willie came back to me within an hour. Thanx

  12. 19 November 2017 / 1:01 pm

    In general, I would say that I do not have an addictive personality…..that is until I start working on the family tree. Then NOTHING gets done around the house! I spends hours drinking tea and finding “lost” relatives. Enjoy your journey!!

    • Jill
      19 November 2017 / 1:03 pm

      Hullo – thanks for reading and commenting. Yes it is rather addictive! THink I had beginners luck. Loving the journey so far. Thanks JIll

  13. 19 November 2017 / 3:47 pm

    Good luck with tracing your roots. I’m not surprised how many people are applying for Irish passports. A lot of us didn’t vote to leave and I think most of us are worried about what this means for us as a nation.

    • Jill
      19 November 2017 / 8:21 pm

      Hey Rachael thanks for swinging by. I’ve enjoyed doing the reseach and would love to get an Irish passport…we’ll see what happens. Cheers, Jill x

  14. Melanie
    23 May 2018 / 5:56 am

    Thanks for the new website lead. I’ve been trying to trace my Irish GGgrandfather for four years. After many a brick wall and false starts, I’ve finally gotten back to his father, my 3Ggrandfathsr! Now if I could just find his wife…
    I’m going to give this site a try. I haven’t been able to get much from or the other one you mentioned. Love your writing! Thanks.

  15. Jill
    23 May 2018 / 8:18 am

    Hi Melanie lovely to read your comment. I really enjoyed the process of tracing my grandfather and the website once I found the website I mentioned it was so easy!! Good luck with your search and thanks for your kind comment on my writing. Jill x

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