An American couple who came to East Clare to trace their lineage leave the county this week with a lot more than they bargained for thanks to the assistance of many strangers but whom they now call friends.
Bob and Millie McCormick from Chicago made contact with The Clare Champion before they arrived to Clare where they put out a public appeal to anyone who could help them trace Bob’s great-grandfather’s family.
Little did they know that when they arrived messages would already be waiting for them offering a series of leads which has ultimately led them to Bob’s great grandfather Cornelius McCormack’s homestead as well as a meeting with a living relative.
Bob and Millie McCormick live in Wisconsin currently but are originally from the suburbs of Chicago and have now established a line back to Caherscooby, Newmarket-on-Fergus.
“My father always said he was Irish even though he had never been to Ireland, he always considered himself Irish Catholic and I grew up with that feeling that I really have a strong heritage to Ireland even though I had never been here. I wanted to see where my great-grandfather actually walked and where he lived and where he raised his children 150 years ago, and to get that feeling of what that environment was like,” Bob said.
He explained that together with his wife, Millie they have been trying to find out more about Bob’s great-grandfather’s heritage, whose family hailed from Caherscooby originally. However records available online as well as from church records only yielded so much and so the couple decided to come to Ireland to fill in the blanks.
“I had contacted The Clare Champion and following the letter being published we were quite surprised that when we arrived at our bed and breakfast Grey Gables in Ennis that Mary Keane already had messages for us. A lady, Bridget Cooley also stopped by and even though she is of no relation at all to us her brother had worked for a Cornelius McCormack so she had seen the article and told us her brother knew this man and maybe he was who we were looking for. She brought phone numbers for people she thought would be connected with the family,” Millie said.
Arising from this information they made contact with another McCormack, Michael who lives in Caherscooby and after meeting with him they were brought as far as Cornelius McCormack’s homestead.
“Michael McCormack told us the McCormack house was built 150 years ago. We went to visit a Bridget Collins and it turns out her grandfather is the brother of Bob’s grandfather so basically our great grandfather is the same. We felt fantastic to find this out because before all this the McCormacks in the United States thought we had no living relatives in Ireland. So to find a living relative was wonderful and we can’t believe we found someone,” Bob said.
The couple were able to view the house from a distance and they learned that the last person to live there Cornelius McCormack died in 1991.
“This man has the same name as my grandfather and great grandfather and he’s Bridget Collins granduncle. To look at that house from the distance and to be able to say that is where my great grandfather raised my grandfather and that’s the core of the line that extends all the way to Chicago and the USA was incredible and the friendliness of all the people who have helped us has been fantastic,” Bob said.
“We came here looking for relatives while we found living relative we have also found countless friends,” Millie concluded.