A US businessman’s research into his family tree has led him to visit County Longford, where his great grandfather was born in the 19th century.
Tom Fischer, who hails from the state of Missouri, is visiting Ireland for three weeks in a bid to unearth information on his family’s background.
“About 20 years ago I started doing some of the family history,” Tom explains. “My father was ill and I wanted to find out where his side of the family had come from.”
It was when Tom expanded his search to include his mother’s branch of the family that Tom connected his great grandfather, Patrick Corrigan, to Longford.
“All we had was ‘Longford’, he says. “We had an estimated birth date -sometime between March 1834 and March 1835 - and we know he entered the USA around 1859.”
Shortly after his arrival, Patrick Corrigan joined the US Army, becoming a career soldier, which invol ved re-enlisting on a number of occasions - something that required him to change the spelling of his surname.
“They would discharge you after a year or two years and he wanted back in again, so he changed the name. It went from Corrigan, to Karrigan, and then Karigan.
“He travelled west and fought the Indians in Oregon and the Northwest Territory; he also fought in one of the greatest battles of the American Civil War - the Battle of the Wilderness - where over 3,000 men lost their lives, and was imprisoned by the Confederates in Libbey Prison, which was the most horrific of the Civil War prisons.”
Patrick returned to his post as a sergeant in the army after being freed, and went on to father eight children with his wife, Eliza Horrigan, who was originally from Clonmel.
With his attention now on discovering more about the Corrigan family, Tom says he is currently focusing on the Killoe area.
“Corrigan is a strong name in the county; the Griffith Valuation from 1854 documents around 40 Corrigan families in the county, and 26 of them were in Killoe, so it could be one of those, although it could also be one of the others, too!”
While he’s in Longford, Tom is also taking the opportunity to sample local life.
“I feel like this town and county has adopted me,” he admits. “I go down the street and people I’ve met already call my name and cross the street to talk to me; it makes me feel like I’ve been here a long time,” he says, adding: “An extra special thanks to the library here in Longford; the people there are fantastic”.