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Saturday 25 November 2017

We all want to trace roots back to the Big Fella


FORGET pop idols, movie stars and sports heroes -- the person who most Irish people would like to be related to is the late Michael Collins.

The revolutionary leader topped a recent poll, undertaken to mark the start of Ireland's first Start Your Family Tree Week, which runs from today until January 1.

As well as such political leaders as Daniel O'Connell, Mary Robinson and Parnell, literary icons figured highly, with Oscar Wilde and James Joyce making the top 10.

Start Your Family Tree Week aims to encourage people to find out more about their families in a fun and interactive way. You can sign up for a series of seven daily emails from today until the first day of the New Year, with each email designed to help you develop your family tree further. They include advice and features from experts, links to useful websites and competitions to win holiday breaks in Blue Book country houses or historic hotels.

It's a timely initiative, as Christmas week always sees a surge of interest in family history. "Christmas is the perfect time to start exploring family history," says Rachel Murphy of top Irish historical research company Eneclann, which worked on the Who Do You Think You Are? TV show.

"With relatives all gathered together, it's a perfect time to share family stories, and ask about life in the past."

Funnily enough, the survey reveals the Irish to be not as greedy as critics of the Celtic Tiger have claimed. Not a single person wished they were related to such tycoons as Dermot Desmond, Denis O'Brien or Euromillions winner Dolores McNamara. And no one wanted to be related to a banker or a developer -- even though developers' wives appear to have been doing rather well recently, since the property transfer rush.

It all proves that the Irish are still Irish, and are earthed in a sense of their own history. And that's why 50 per cent of people wished that they could claim kinship with the Master of the Black, 'Uncle' Arthur Guinness. You can take the pub out of the man. . .

The top 10 Irish individuals that people would like to find they are related to are:

1. Michael Collins

2. Oscar Wilde

3. Grace O'Malley

4. Brian Boru

5. Daniel O'Connell

6. Mary Robinson

7. Arthur Guinness

8. James Joyce

9. William Butler Yeats

10. Charles Stewart Parnell

Find out more about Start Your Family Tree Week at

Sunday Independent

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