Visitors to a new history research centre at Killymaddy will be able to find out whether their ancestors were Irish ruling chiefs, mercenaries, highwaymen or just mere scullery maids.
Killeeshil and Clonaneese Historical Society have set up the research archive at the former site of the Killymaddy Tourism centre.
To welcome the public to their new home, the society is offering free family history research assistance at a coffee morning on Saturday July 19th.
“To the stranger in South Tyrone the questions where are you from and who do you think you are may appear to be searching, if not rude, but the local understands that these queries are more about the importance of family identity and sense of place”, said society spokesperson Brendan Holland.
“The answers to these questions are the basic, essential information we need so that they can connect you to your extended family and townland.
“The emergence of TV programmes such as ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ have caught the public imagination and has energised our need for understanding what it is that makes us what we are.
“The committee and members of Killeeshil & Clonaneese Historical Society also value this need to find out who we really are and our family origins.
“They also believe that many people may need assistance in their own individual quest for identity and, to this end, they are organising a series of Coffee Mornings in their new home in the Killymaddy Centre when the public can come along and find out the secrets and tips to build their Family Tree.”
The society has compiled a comprehensive range of records and local history in the four years since its formation. These records will be open to inspection to the public at no cost – all the society ask that participants become a member and this will give free and easy access to their family history database, compiled with great dedication by the members and by the great work of Jonathan Gray.
Records can be scanned from books and magazines, printed from the database or photocopied – all free of charge at the society’s new home in Killymaddy.
“As we are a voluntary, non-profit organisation and a registered charity we want to share and spread our information with everyone”, added Brendan.
“Our first Coffee morning will be on Saturday 19th 10.00am to 1.00pm at Killymaddy. Each of our committee members will be there to help you find out what you want to know.
“As a taster, did you know that a young American World War II pilot crashed his aircraft and was killed in the area, that a young Roger Loughran left Killeeshil in the 1850’s
and took part as a Union soldier at the famous American Civil War battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania?
“Talk to two of our members who have managed to trace their ancestry back to the 1780’s and to one who can go back a further 125 years.
“If you want to follow their work and embark on that same journey yourself, please visit us on Saturday 19th and find out “who you are and where you are from”.