This article originally appeared on IrishTimes.com on 7 January 2019.
When Jeanie Lewis, who is from Chicago, started tracing her family history a few years ago, she was able to find out a certain amount of information by herself. Her research revealed that she was descended from an Irishman who had taken part in the Fenian Rising of 1867, before emigrating to Chicago.
She was able to access that information through an Irish centre in Chicago, but she wasn’t sure what to do next. Then, a few years ago, she discovered Ireland Reaching Out (irelandxo.com), an online initiative that calls itself a “reverse genealogy” project. Instead of waiting for people to trace their roots, Ireland Reaching Out encourages volunteers in Ireland to connect the Irish diaspora to civil parishes across the country, where their ancestors emigrated from many years before. Volunteers do this through a message board system, where they can reach out, and the diaspora can reach in.
Read the rest of this article on the Irish Times website here.