A Missouri visitor to East Clare was reunited with 29 of his cousins thanks to an event hosted by the Tulla Reaching Out committee last weekend.
Blake Dickie from Missouri, St Louis in the United States, who was of the international visitors who attended the very successful Weekend of the Welcomes in Tulla, was thrilled to meet so many of his relations in East Clare. He had a family photograph taken with all his cousins the previous weekend.
He made the trip to East Clare as a result of the Tulla Reaching Out committee’s involvement with TG4 for its documentary, Tar Abhaile as they follow two Tulla descendants on their search for their family history.
Tulla is one of the six communities that will be featured on this programme produced by Red Pepper Productions, which will be broadcast in November. Some of the filming for this documentary took place last weekend.
Committee chairperson, Jane Halloran Ryan, who is also a cousin of Mr Dickie, recalled he loved the event.
“Dickie is gone back to Missouri a changed man. He was totally blown away by the Weekend of the Welcomes in Tulla. He was thrilled to be able to stand in his ancestral home in Tyreeda, Tulla and get the chance to walk the local fields,” she said.
Visitors came from New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States of America to participate in a variety of events.
The local committee took members from three different families, including one from New Zealand whose great grandfather came from Tulla, to see their ancestral homes.
Ms Halloran Ryan believes the majority of visitors who came back to link up their ancestors will return over the coming years and most of them have pledged to keep in touch with the committee through its home page.
“The visitors want to keep in touch and become involved in future events. The committee was delighted with the success of all the events over the weekend. We got a great response and feedback from all the visitors.
“Hearing all the different accents during the Prayers of the Faithful at the Mass Rock celebration at Loughaun, Tulla at 3pm on Saturday was very emotional. The chief celebrant was Fr Martin O’Brien, parish priest, Tulla,” she said.
Community Activation Leader for Ireland Reaching Out (XO) and cousin to US President Obama, Henry Healy and Mayor of Clare, Joe Arkins kicked off the weekend with a welcome reception on Friday night at the Tulla Courthouse with a concert featuring local Comhaltas musicians, the Tulla Pipe Band and sean nós dancing.
In addition, there was a very entertaining singing session in John Minogue’s after with Mayor Arkins as master of ceremonies.
Saturday’s activities included a genealogy workshop at the local library, a GAA tournament, soccer match and the Mass Rock celebration where visitors took part in the Mass prayers.
Sunday’s activities included a very well attended road race hosted by the Tulla Athletic club, a heritage walk and cinema screening showing two workhouse films: A Room in Air and Poorhouse.
Ireland Reaching Out is a national project that connects the diaspora with their ancestral parish. It is otherwise known as “Reverse Genealogy” whereby the community searches for those whose ancestors have left and invites them back to their ancestral locality to take part in that community’s activities with a Weekend of the Welcomes.
Tulla has been involved with this project for over a year and has had a tremendous response from its descendants all over the world.
The Tulla Reaching Out team consists of: Jane Halloran Ryan, Bernard Mulcahy, Michael O’Rourke, Morna Toibin, Sr Eileen Callinan and Col Michael McMahon.