From a blogpost in 2008 when Patrick and I went to Ireland:
In 1978, Kerri and I were living in Germany because my ex was in the military. My Aunt Teresa came over to visit us. I was teaching on the Army Base during that year. We were able to take Teresa to many wonderful places in Germany and Austria. She and I also planned on a trip to Ireland. We went over our spring break which was approximately 30 years ago. Kerri stayed in Germany with her dad. I found out later when she was in first grade and Ellen Widmer was her teacher that she thought that children were not allowed in Ireland. I don't remember ever telling her that, but it was always a point of laughter between dear Ellen and I.
Teresa and I spent a week in Ireland. We arrived on Easter Sunday and went to mass in Dublin. We had a rental car and traveled around the country. We spent much of our time in churches and in cemeteries looking for family names. We found out that the English had not allowed the Irish Catholics to keep records and so we were not able to get birth, baptismal, communion records, etc. Teresa had limited information from her grandparents Matthew Roughan and Ellen Nephsay. Her father's name was Scott. She did know that my grandfather was from County Cork and my grandmother was from County Mayo, God Help Us. My great grandmother made her first communion at Knock and left for the United States just before the Blessed Mother appeared at Knock, County Mayo.
We found a phone number for a man with a last name of Nephsay in the Irish phone book. His family was from County Mayo. I am sure that he was a relative. He told us that his great uncle had recently died and that he would have known all of this information.
I think that this experience brought home to me what a tragedy it was for young people to leave their families and their homeland in search of a better life. My great grandmother was illiterate, but lived an incredible life. She died at the age of 96 in 1949. I can't even imagine what it would have been like to leave everything behind to go to a new country. In addition, she and Matthew moved to Bisbee, Arizona in 1903 so that my great grandfather could work in the copper mines. I think that as a country we are forgetting what it would be like to not have a job and not be able to provide for our family. Yet for many of us, that is how our families came to this great country. My grandson, Cameron, and I just got out of the swimming pool in our backyard. Thanks to our grandparents for this opportunity!!!!!!!!!!!! Unless we are Native Americans, we all came to this country for a better life!
Interestingly enough, I was pregnant with Patrick when we went to Ireland in 1978.