Tuesday 23 January 2018

No one will 'find' themselves in dusty old birth records

The genealogy craze is harmless fun, as long as we're not looking for our 'true identity', writes Eilis O'Hanlon

Time was when we used to laugh at US presidential candidates for desperately scouring the family tree in the run up to an election, in the hope of finding some tenuous link to the Emerald Isle and thereby snapping up a few extra votes from gullible Irish-Americans.

Then the genealogy craze took hold and, before long, we were all at it. There are websites, magazines, night classes; there are even professionals you can pay to do the donkey work.

Now along comes Who Do You Think You Are? -- a six-part series on RTE television following celebrities as they trace back their ancestral lines and which started on Monday evening with Charlie Bird -- and, if we're not careful, we'll soon be swamped with parish registers, birth certificates and DNA databases, as even more Irish people rush to drag their own renegades, royals and rogues out of the family closet.

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