Certifiably Irish: A Community Chat with Kay Woods from The Certificate of Irish Heritage

The following is a transcript taken from the LIVE Community Chat chat hosted here at TheWildGeese.com on Tuesday, December 10, 2013.  The focus for the discussion was The Certificate of Irish Heritage.  We were joined by Kay Woods, a representative for the Certificate of Irish Heritage.  Some editing has been applied for clarity.

The Wild Geese:  Céad míle fáilte, a chairde! So glad to see each one of you who have stopped by for this evening’s LIVE Community Chat here in TheWildGeese.com.

Our focus this evening is on learning more about The Certificate of Irish Heritage -- an intriguing piece for anyone with Irish ancestry.We’re being joined tonight by Kay Woods who is a representative of The Certificate of Irish Heritage, and a member of The Wild Geese herself.

These good folks are offering a discount of 20% for members of The Wild Geese community in our orders of Certificates of Irish Heritage through the end of 2013. Thanks to Kay and her associates for this generous offer to our members.  You can learn all about the Certificate and the significance thereof by visiting www.HeritageCertificate.com.

My name is Ryan O’Rourke, and I’ll be the moderator for this evening’s chat.

We’ll now turn it over for the next 45 minutes to Kay. Welcome, Kay!

Kay Woods:  Hi Ryan, Yes delighted to give your members a 20% discount which we will offer until 31st December, and they just have to use the promo code 1RR5Q at the checkout to avail of the discount.

Gerry Regan:  Go raibh maith agat, Kay.  And welcome!

The Wild Geese:  Please tell us a bit about the certificate, Kay.

Kay Woods:  The Certificate of Irish Heritage is an initiative by the Irish people, to connect the Irish worldwide back to their roots. Anyone born overseas with an Irish ancestor is eligible. It provides official recognition by the Irish Government to individuals with an ancestral link to Ireland and who are proud of their Irish Heritage. The ancestry requirement is, you must have an Irish ancestor and that can be from any generation. On the Certificate you can put the names of two ancestors, where they came from, the county and year of birth if available.

The Wild Geese:  “A people's relationship to their heritage is the same as the relationship of a child to its mother."  ~ John Henrik Clarke

Kay Woods:  You will be asked to complete the line of descent online, that is, your relationship to the ancestor you are naming on the Certificate.

Fran Reddy:  Kay, does the Society help with any of the genealogy, or must you know it already to get a certificate?

Kay Woods:  Hi Fran, to get a Certificate you will need to know the ancestor name but not necessarily where exactly they came from -- you can say Ireland -- but we will help people to try and find where their ancestors came from.  On our site we have a lot of information as to where they can look, and we also have a list of recommended genealogists -- both in Ireland and overseas. We have a lot of good information on the “Genealogy” section on our site.

Fran Reddy:  That's great, Kay, as some may not have much info.

Marcie Kelly:  Will a DNA test help?  I've done one on Ancestry.

Kay Woods:  Yes indeed Marcie, I think DNA will be the way a lot of people will go in the future.  It’s something we look forward to learning more about.

Fran Reddy:  I have considered a DNA test..

Marcie Kelly:  Which website has the genealogy?

Ryan O'Rourke:  That's how I connected to my ancestors ... DNA, that is.  Worked wonders for me.

Kay Woods:  There is a company in Ireland who set up about two years ago who we recommend, they do reverse genealogy -- www.IrelandXO.com.  They have volunteers in practically every parish in Ireland, their service is free but it may take a little longer to get answers.  They try and trace people who left the various parishes and are doing great work -- so, worth contacting.

Marcie Kelly:  Thank you.

Fran Reddy:  I have been to their site.  :-)

Kay Woods:  Marcie, here’s the page on our website with genealogy resources.

Marcie Kelly:  Thank you.

Belinda Evangelista:  Ireland XO do great work.  :-)

Fran Reddy:  I have used the Family Search quite extensively.

Gerry Regan:  Kay, please describe the purchasing options available too, when a chance arises, that is, framed versus unframed, a gift card, etc.

Kay Woods:  One can purchase a Certificate framed or unframed, and we have a choice of four designs.  Of course, if someone doesn’t have the ancestor information and you would like to buy a gift for somebody, you can always buy a gift voucher, this is an instant purchase, and can be emailed or printed off and given to the recipient.  They can then go online at their leisure and purchase a Certificate.  This is ideal as a gift, especially if you are unsure of the ancestor details.

Ryan O'Rourke:  I love the four different options for the image on the bottom of the certificate.  I'm torn between the immigrant ship image and the west of Ireland image!  May have to order two!!  :-)

Kay Woods:  Yes Ryan, you could do that especially if you have more than two Irish ancestors. Very often, people choose the west of Ireland if their family came from that neck of the woods, or for others if their ancestors left on the emigrant ship, then they choose this one. This image was taken in Dublin Bay.

Fran Reddy:  I love the immigrant ship, but I'm finding some of my ancestors came from the west.

The Wild Geese:  Absolutely lovely.

Fran Reddy:  Either way, they are beautiful.

Marcie Kelly:  I'm glad to have these. I've been doing my ancestry for about 13 years ... it's fascinating.

Fran Reddy:  It's a very interesting hobby!

The Wild Geese:  “My heritage has been my grounding, and it has brought me peace.”  ~ Maureen O'Hara

Belinda Evangelista:  Kay, what famous sons or daughters of Ireland have Certificates of Irish Heritage hanging on their walls?

Gerry Regan:  To add on to your question, Linda ... Kay, did you get to meet any of the celebrity recipients cited on the site? Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, Barack O'Bama ...

Kay Woods:  Hi Belinda, Thankfully their are many at this point:  Caroline Kennedy and actors such as Tom Cruise and Chris O’Donnell, to name but a few.  I met Tom Cruise when he was in Dublin, and such a nice guy.  He was really interested in what an exciting background he came from, and I think he would love to come back in a quiet capacity to visit the places his ancestors came from. They had such varied occupations, too.

Belinda Evangelista:  :-)

Gerry Regan:  I read his fascinating 'Irish story' on the celebrity Certificate holders page.  Team, note:  We must invite Tom Cruise to join us here!  :-)

Ryan O'Rourke:  "Help me help you!!"  "Show me the MON-AAAAYYY!"

Fran Reddy:  LOL

Kay Woods:  Of course, we love to hear everyone's ancestors’ stories - they are so beautiful.  We had the Canadian Rose of Tralee last year, I think she was from Ottawa and she had gone back 7-8 generations on her family tree. It was such a fascinating story, and how incredibly hard her ancestors worked on the land, built the local school, village etc.  They survivors, and I suppose this is the very reason that the Irish government are now recognising the wonderful work that the Irish have contributed to the many communities overseas.

Fran Reddy:  Amen, Kay!

The Wild Geese:  Great thoughts, Kay.

Belinda Evangelista:  What is the farthest flung place you've received a request from Kay?

Kay Woods:  We have quite a few from various places -- recently had South Africa, and have had Japan recently, as well.  Many from Asia.

Belinda Evangelista:  The Irish ... worldwide.

Gerry Regan:  Kay, any really unusual, perhaps poignant, stories to share about recipients, perhaps someone elderly who might have wanted this tangible link to Ireland or someone not obviously Irish, but who put a lot of importance on affirming the link.  I worked in the cafeteria in my college in North Carolina, and my manager was named Maggie McGee. She was very black, and about as proud of her Irish name as an individual could be. I was so touched by that.  It made me even prouder of my ancestry.

Kay Woods:  Yes indeed, we have quite a few and we actually have tears here in the office when some come in.  We have a section on our site called “See Who Else has a Certificate.”  One lady, Maureen Ashworth, is one which was so sad, but had a very happy ending.  Her relations in Ireland spent five years trying to trace her - they eventually did, and she actually didn’t know she had any relations.  If you click on her picture - her story will pop up. They presented her with a Certificate when they went to US to meet her.  She was so so excited, but unfortunately passed away last year.

The Wild Geese:  Very neat.

Gerry Regan:  If Maggie was alive, I'd love to try to get her a Certificate. She'd be close to 100 now.

Fran Reddy:  I would LOVE to meet actual relations! It's a dream!

Marcie Kelly:  I know ... would love to find my relations in Ireland.

The Wild Geese:  These bear the stamped signature of Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore. Is that correct, Kay?

Kay Woods:  Actually, for The Gathering 2013 we introduced a special Gathering Certificate which is signed by the Tánaiste, Taoiseach and the Minister for Tourism; but the other Certificates are signed by the Tánaiste only.

Fran Reddy:  Nice.

Kay Woods:  Fran, it is quite possible to meet relations.  We have those stories all the time. Have a look at Jean Bills story.  She came to Ireland for the 31st time this January, and she met her relations a few years back in Achill Island, County Mayo.

Fran Reddy:  Fabulous, Kay!

Gerry Regan:  I haven't gotten past my Irish families arrival in New York. That's a big barrier -- 'the pond' -- in many searches. I know it is for me.

Marcie Kelly:  It is difficult.

Kay Woods:  We had another lady from New Zealand, Paddy Patrick, who came and met her relations and she just loved the whole experience. Also I can remember this year a guy from Australia came to Kilkenny as his grandmother worked there as a child in Kilkenny Castle.  There, he met his relations, Irish people

Marcie Kelly:  It’s as if they came emigrated and their past vanished.

Fran Reddy:  I'm going to be doing a lot of reading after this session!

Kay Woods:  I will be delighted to take you the the valley, the field, or wherever your relations came from.  This is also something that Ireland Reaching Out do. That's why they have ambassadors in most parishes.

Fran Reddy:  Exciting to think about!

Gerry Regan:  Kay, with the focus on adoption and relinquishment created by the Judi Dench / Steve Coogan film "Philomena," do you have any stories related to children who were swept away from Ireland by adoption who've shared their stories when getting Certificates?  Or who might have had trouble establishing the identity of their Irish 'first' parents?

Kay Woods:  Yes, we do, and I am sure we have many recipients whose story we don’t know; but one man I can remember Jim Edwards from Australia.  Actually, he was the first person in Australia to receive a Certificate.  His great great grandmother, I think, was one for the 4,000 orphan girls who were shipped out.  From Ireland to Australia and every year, he comes to the Famine remembrance and brings her photo with him to the ceremony.  Jim is now 83 years of age, but is so Irish.

Gerry Regan:  It's heart-rending for me, as an adoptee, to hear of those, particularly Irish-born, who can't locate their parents.  Whose birth or baptism certificates baldly state simply born in a place in Ireland without identifying the parents.

Kay Woods:  Yes, Gerry, it is.  But there is great progress being made in the last few years as the authorities now have to give the information, and its so lovely to hear of the happy endings.

Gerry Regan:  I've heard closed adoption wryly called 'the witness protection program,' but happily as you say the inhumanity of it is becoming better understood, cutting people off from their heritage, in a real sense from kith and kin.

Kay Woods:  That was a sad era in Ireland and not so very long ago either.  But fair play to those who came public and got to where they have today.

Ryan O'Rourke:  Have to say that this is a great gift for a family member. I'm going to order a Certificate for my father's birthday since I already know the name of our last Irish-born ancestor from my own searches.

Kay Woods:  Lovely, Ryan.  It is a beautiful gift as it is personal and unique. It really is a family heirloom which can be passed down through the generations, and the Certificate is one thing ... but it’s the story behind that Certificate which is what must be treasured to preserve our heritage.

The Wild Geese:  We'll go just a couple more minutes with Kay this evening, Geese. Any final questions?

Marcie Kelly:  I'm going to check it out. I know a few of my ancestors from Antrim.  Mother is 90, one would tickle her pink

Kay Woods:  Oh my, Marcie ... what a fabulous age.  And yes, she would love it.  The reaction from people to receiving a Certificate is a very emotional one. It is all about your ancestors and the sacrifices they made to create the opportunities of today.

The Wild Geese:  We'll wrap it up there for this evening. Our sincere thanks to Kay Woods and the rest of the folks at The Certificate of Irish Heritage for joining us and educating us about this great initiative.

Fran Reddy:  I just want to thank Kay for the very informative session!

The Wild Geese:  And thanks to all of our members who joined in on the discussion this evening.

Marcie Kelly:  Thank you Kay.  I really enjoyed it, and learned a lot.

Belinda Evangelista:  Very informative, Kay.  Thank you.

The Wild Geese:  Don't forget that generous 20% discount, folks!  

Kay Woods:  Thank you all for participating, and would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and wonderful 2014.

Gerry Regan:  What's the discount code again?

Kay Woods:  The code is 1RR5Q and use at the checkout stage.

The Wild Geese:  Oiche mhaith gach duine, agus Nollaig Shona!

Views: 644

Tags: Ancestry, Genealogy, Heritage, Preservation

Comment by Ryan O'Rourke on December 14, 2013 at 7:17am

Just placed an order for a certificate on HeritageCertificate.com as a gift for a member of my family.  Thanks for giving us all this great information, Kay.

Comment by Geraldine Callaghan on December 17, 2013 at 1:45am
This site is without a doubt the best there is. The history, folklore stories, food recipes are so informative and enjoyable. I haven't participated in a live chat yet, maybe in the New Year. I am working on having two people join. I wish everyone a Wonderful Christmas and a Peaceful New Year
Comment by The Wild Geese on December 17, 2013 at 3:19am

Míle buíochas for those kind words, Geraldine!  And thanks for working to bring other Irish enthusiasts to this community ... we all benefit from a richer experience when more Wild Geese are brought into the "flock!"  :-)

Nollaig shona to you as well, Geraldine!

Comment by sullivansjohn@comcast.net on January 16, 2017 at 2:09pm

Sitting here at my PC  with the hair up on my neck, just had a phone call from Paul Burns an old friend who told me he had been watching my DNA results for updates on contacts. Well, he said my DNA had been checked with a fairly new method which put me in an additional identifier of  R (L226) which traces back to 300 ad.  Have you heard of this before ?   The things he said were breath taking and I need to get further information before I pass it along  to other family members = children, grandchildren cousins etc.  Thanks in advance for the feedback.     Big  Hug    Seaneen

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