Sunday, January 1, 2023

2023: The Year of the Research Trip to Ireland

When I decided to retire from my full-time job as a librarian at the University of South Florida Libraries, I set a date for early August 2023. This meant that I would have more flexibility with my time after that. So when I then heard that Irish genealogy expert Donna Moughty, who I have known for many years, was planning to conduct her last research trip to Dublin in October 2023, I immediately seized on the idea of being part of it, together with my brother Jeff. Neither of us had ever been to Ireland, and as all of my Grandfather Smith's ancestors were from Ireland, I wanted the opportunity for us s to learn more about them.

Both of Grandfather Smith's parents had 100% Irish ancestry, with the Smiths and Reillys from County Cavan and the Bannons and Hylands from County Laois. I decided to focus on the latter families, partly because I knew exactly where in County Laois they were from (not so with the Reillys in County Cavan) and because the surnames were somewhat more unusual (certainly less common than Smith and Reilly!).

So this meant that my research would be primarily about the ancestors of my great-grandmother Mary Ann Bannon, who married my great-grandfather, Charles Henry Smith. You may have heard me speak or write about Mary Ann Smith before, but that was almost always Mary Ann Reilly Smith, Charles' mother. What I knew about Mary Ann Bannon was that she and my great-grandfather were buried in the same plot as Mary Ann Reilly Smith, as were my grandfather William Henry Smith and one of his brothers.

Also, Mary Ann Bannon was born in England, as was her brother James Joseph Bannon. But after the birth of James Joseph, the family left England for Newark, New Jersey, between 1867 and 1872, and had one more child, Catherine R. "Kate" Bannon. A few years ago, I realized that Kate had married Patrick J. O'Connor and was buried in the same cemetery, Holy Sepulchre, as Mary Ann Bannon, but in a different plot with James Joseph Bannon. And who else was buried with them? Their parents, William Bannon and Mary Ann Hyland. 

I have much more to say about Mary Ann Bannon and her ancestors and their descendants, some of whom also came to Newark but others who remained in England. And I have a lot more work to do on the Bannons and Hylands before they left County Laois for England. 

From now through the rest of 2023, I plan to post weekly updates on the preparations for the research trip and what I am learning as I go. I hope you will enjoy it.

Photo: Abbeyleix Heritage House, which I plan to visit when I'm there


  1. Congratulations on your planned retirement and future research trip!

  2. I am planning my first research trip to Ireland in September! I look forward to following your planning.