finding your roots

At age 40 I found a sister I never knew I had in England & My Irish family I did not know existed

catherine jackson April 2, 2012

My Irish mother from Dublin traveled the world and landed in Boston. She then died when I was 8 due to terminal illness. Her Irish family had all predeceased her, or so I thought. I went on with life. Started a career, married and had two wonderful children. Always having the gap of not having or knowing my mother. In 2010 a surprise trip to Ireland by my husband for my birthday turned into a magical and life changing experience. Our first stop with my mother’s old neighborhood. The first curious event happened; an old neighbor of my mother’s was visiting the neighborhood the same time I was, and she had a secret. She informed me 11 years earlier a woman tracing her family tree was looking for my mother. It was because it was her mother too. After much searching and help from this neighbor, I was speaking with my sister 2 weeks later. I then made it my personal mission to try to fill in the missing spaces. With help from a woman in Ireland we found my mother’s adoptive mother’s obituary. It said she would be missed by neices and nephews. I knew then there were more out there. I then went on RTE radio, the Joe Duffy Show… asking for any information on my mother. The next day I was speaking to my mother’s first cousin. Through cold calling, putting all of my sister’s paperwork and my paperwork together, applying for my mother’s immigration paperwork to Australia, we were able to locate my sister’s god mother and god father in Ireland. It has brought so much closure to the both of us.
We have now been searching our birth mother. My sister will probably never know her birth father nor will we know our birth grandfather. We have now located and are speaking to the man who was born at the address listed on my mother’s birth certificate. He was born one year earlier than my mother. He was shocked to see her certificate. We are curious if he is family. We have also located a lot of other patterns of people that are of interest. I have had my DNA done. The close matches I have are people who are also trying to unravel their adoption mysteries as well. I would love to see if my mother’s adoptive family could also be blood and if this gentleman is a relative as well.

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The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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