An astonishing 70 million people worldwide have Irish roots in their family tree and it’s little wonder, considering almost 10 million Irish have emigrated from here over the last two centuries.
If you count yourself a member of Ireland’s far-flung family, then you’re in very good company. Some of the world’s most well-known, talented and respected people have Irish ancestry. From musical heroes like Bruce Springsteen and Ed Sheeran, to cinematic legends like Peter O’Toole and John Ford, to modern day screen stars like Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford, Megan Fox and Matthew McConaughey. Plenty of sporting legends trace Irish lineage too, including tennis ace John McEnroe, American football star Tom Brady, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
Not only was the White House designed and built by Irishman James Hoban, the iconic address has also seen its share of presidents with Irish connections, including Presidents John F Kennedy and Barack Obama. Ireland’s Easter Rising of 1916 wasn’t the only birthplace of a ‘Revolutionary Generation’, Argentinian Che Guevara claimed Galway ancestry, while former President of Israel, Chaim Herzog, was actually born in Belfast and raised in Dublin.
With Ireland boasting such a vast family tree, it’s no wonder that each year thousands of people of Irish descent visit the National Library of Ireland (NLI) to research and explore their family history.
The perfect starting point for those beginning to investigate their ancestry, as well as an invaluable tool for more experienced genealogy researchers, NLI’s free Genealogy Advisory Service contains hundreds of thousands of records documenting people’s Irish heritage, including diaries and documents written by the ancestors themselves, giving unique insight into the history of all of Ireland’s people.