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My name is Tom McNamara. My paternal grandparents passed away when I was young, and my father never talked about his ancestors other than they had emigrated from County Clare Ireland during the potato famine.

My wife and I were planning a trip to Ireland so I joined to find my roots. With the help of census records, passenger lists, and family trees, I was able to discover that my great-great-grandfather (also named Tom McNamara) was born in Kimaley, a little village in County Clare. A trip to that village was now on our itinerary.

When we arrived in County Clare our first stop was Bunratty Castle. On the castle grounds was a pub with the same surname as ours, so we checked it out. Armed with the knowledge from research and a lot of Irish, we chatted with the couple next to us. This gentleman’s best friend was also named Tom McNamara. The friend ‘Tom Mac’ lived on the ancestral lands in Kilmaley! They took another look at me and knew I was related.

They called their friend and we got to meet him the next day. And you know, he did look like me! Our great-great-grandfathers were brothers! On Tom Mac’s acreage was the original manor house built in the 1700s and the family cemetery. I got to see the house where my ancestors lived and the graveyard where they were buried. The tour was fabulous.

Thanks to and a newly discovered distant cousin, I had one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life.