In Search of… Me (Part 5)

Joe-ODonnellYes, the Magazine is back!  With that said I wanted to open up this issue with the continuing story for the search for my family roots. As last left off I wanted to find out when my Irish ancestral name came into Scotland in the area around Glasgow.

My father was born in South Lancashire, nearby. His father, who also born in that area, was a boat builder along the  River Clyde, in Glasgow. My father’s uncle owned three pubs in that vicinity which were quite popular with the local citizenry. Upon my grandfather’s move to America, my father’s uncle, who was childless, asked if my father could remain behind in order to inherit his businesses, and therefore keep them in the family name. My father declined this gracious offer and decided to move to America with his parents and sister. In America three other siblings were born into his family. These are the aunts and uncles, and later their children, my cousins, of whom I grew up with.

joe-odonnellStill the question of an Irish name  for a Scottish family puzzled me. I decided to join a heritage internet site and began the painstaking research on my own that was needed to backtrack my ancestors. It was slow and tedious but I was able to track down my Great Grandfather to the same area where my grandfather was born. So now I was hot on the trail, and decided to go even further back in time in hopes of finding the Irish link to my name.

With some small amount of luck, and many trying hours of work, I finally hit on the answer that I sought. My Great Grandfather’s father had moved there from North Lancashire. He became the answer to my quest.

It seems that my Great-great Grandfather had moved there from Londonderry Ireland in 1830 on the eve of the Great Irish Potato Famine. He had sought to escape the plight of many an Irishman during those hard times. He had sold the property that he owned in Londonderry and moved to the Glasgow Scotland area where most of the Irish sailed to from Ireland. He then met, and married, my Great-great grandmother and settled there to raise a family.

red-hugh-odonnellThis past year I travelled to Ireland to take up the quest in a more personal way. My wife, son, and I took a tour around Ireland with the stipulation that it comprised of stops in Londonderry and Donegal, the ancestral stronghold of my family. I was able to do a guided walking tour of Londonderry and visit many of its sites, one of which was the famous ‘Giant’s Causeway’. The Causeway is the mythical link between Ireland and Scotland.

Directly after visiting Londonderry we traveled to Donegal Ireland where we toured the town and my family castle. People were amazed when I was able to actually lead that tour and describe the castle’s history. On the floor of the great hall a storyboard confirmed the details that I spoke of earlier. I felt that I had finally came home, now that I was able to trace my origins. Of course the family name goes even further back to the ancestor known as ‘Conn of the Hundred Battles’ , and even some of my earliest ancestors, but this will remain for another episode in my continuing search for the earliest O’Donnell.

Since this time I had also decided to strengthen my search by sending my DNA samples to the same heritage site. To my surprise, and delight, much of my previous work has been proven correct. I discovered that the samples showed that I was 56% Scottish, 36% Irish, 3 % Scandinavian ( those pesky Viking invaders),  2% Western European, and a small smattering of other European additives.

For this edition of my search I have included several pictures from my trip that I know will be fascinating for my readers and family members. I do hope that everyone will continue to follow my progress.

Joseph J. O’Donnell, Sr., Publisher/Writer