‘Reaching Out’ the
hand of friendship

A most successful launch of a new initiative that will assist those wishing to find out more about their ancestral links took place at Longford Library recently.

A most successful launch of a new initiative that will assist those wishing to find out more about their ancestral links took place at Longford Library recently.

The Longford Reaching Out initiative was launched by American President Barack Obama’s relative Henry Healy, who was joined by people from all over Co Longford to learn more about this very valuable initiative.

According to the county’s archivist, Martin Morris, the basis of Ireland Reaching Out (Ireland XO) is reverse genealogy. “It is where people here carry out research into those who emigrated from their areas and seek to connect with their descendants,” Mr Morris explained further. “The ultimate aim is to encourage those people to visit their ancestral home.”

During the launch last week, Mr Healy spoke about the pilot project in south-east Galway, which began in late 2010. “Since September 2012, it has been a partner of The Gathering and The Gathering puts us under severe pressure,” joked the American president’s cousin. “It is amazing really, because the two fit together like a glove; however unlike The Gathering, which is a year-long project, Ireland XO will continue to develop in the future.” Mr Healy went on to point out the benefits the project would bring to parishes across the county. He said it would generate more visitors to the county and generate “valuable networks abroad”.

“Everyone in the parish can be involved in this, and those who are on hand to welcome visitors and make them feel at home are very important too,” Mr Healy added. “Some places where Ireland XO is well-established have organised ‘A Weekend of Welcomes’ - an event that treats visitors to a range of events including Gaelic games, traditional music and much more. “Training is important and I would encourage everyone to sign up to the programme and get organised in Co Longford.”

On the night, both Mr Healy and Ray Hogan, Chairman of the Longford Reaching Out Steering Group, referred to the Longford roots of Mayor Jerramiah Healy of Jersey City, whose mother Catherine Loughrey hailed from Drumlish.