I’m a mutt. In the US, everyone’s family is from somewhere else — with the exception of the Native Americans, you can only go back a few generations, and then they had to come from somewhere. A lot of other people I know can say with great confidence what their heritage is. They can state what percentage of their family comes from which country, and sometimes, even where they came from before that. I don’t really have that.
Judging by the fairness of my skin, I can pretty well assume my family is European on both sides, but other than that, I’m more uncertain than not where we’re all from. My father’s grandfather actually published genealogies for other people, but, as far as I know, never did his own. We think there’s some Irish and German blood in there, but in high school, when I tried to trace the family back to Europe, I came up empty handed.
On my Mom’s side, my grandfather was English and Irish, but even what we know is pretty vague, and where my Dad’s family suffers from an incredibly rare, but probably somewhat “lost in translation” last name, my Mom’s father had an incredibly common last name, making his family a little hard to trace as well.
My Mom’s mom, my grandmother, is easy, though. She was from Ireland — Belfast, in Northern Ireland. She was born there, she grew up there, she lived there until she met and married my grandfather and came to the US. She was always very Irish — she strongly identified herself with her country of birth, and we all did, too (all of her many, many grandchildren).
That’s one of the reasons that I’m so excited about this upcoming trip to the UK. We’re going to visit her hometown, to see the street where she lived. It’s the strongest connection I have to my ancestors and my heritage. Of all of my grandparents, she was also the one I was closest to, and I have very fond memories of her stories about growing up in Ireland. I can’t wait to see the place the she came from.
I’ve never been to Ireland, but it feels like going home.