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Chance Encounter Unlocks Ancestral Secret

Chance Encounter Unlocks Ancestral Secret

When Anne LeBlanc travelled to Ireland with her husband Dave and best friend, Kathy Galin, from Salem, Massachusetts, little did she realise that a chance encounter with local news correspondent, JJ Hurley, would unlock a 100 year old mystery.

Like many citizens from the United States, the retired nurse tutor had always been curious as to the location of her ancestral Irish home.

Beginning in 2008, this year was to culminate with a return to the old sod and chase up those leads that had been so painstakingly traced over the past ten years.

Having made contact with a voluntary organisation in Ireland:, that helps families and individuals trace their Irish roots, the organisation put Anne in touch with Joanne O’Sullivan, a volunteer in the South Cork area for the organisation.

The primary school teacher and Phd Archeology graduate had spent a number of days trying to unlock the trios family connections, as they crisscrossed the South County, retiring to the White House Hotel for a well-earned ‘pit stop‘ on the Sunday evening.

Over hearing their discussion of the day’s event, JJ offered to meet the group and help them trace their links in the Clontead area.

Asking for the surname, Anne replied Walsh, in what can only be described as an unusual twist of faith, JJ’s grandaunt, Anne Farley, had married Jim Walsh from Clontead/Brownsmills in the 1920’s, before emigrating to the United States.

With JJ leading the family to the original homestead on Monday at Browne’s Mills, Anne, who had simply been stunned by the discovery, had documentary evidence that her Grandfather John Walsh, who’d emigrated in 1908, was indeed an Uncle to Jim Walsh.

As well as visiting the family homestead, well-known historian, Fergal Browne, was able to forward on an extensive article, he’d researched on the Bolton family of Knockrobin House to whom the Walsh family had worked for.

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