Cochrane Family - Fahan, Co. Donegal
"Of Ulster Scots descent
Everybody’s journey into family genealogy is a personal statement. A box of old photographs and a handful of letters written to me by my father in the 1980’s was my starting point. Now I was kicking myself. Why hadn’t I listened more carefully to those long-ago conversations?
Being a devotee of social media I asked family members to join me in a dedicated Facebook group to share photographs and family information. The main principle of the group was to contribute only as much as you felt comfortable with. Some were a little guarded, others simply observers, however, enough of us enjoyed our on-line discussions and were open enough to having our information scrutinised, to allow for a lively group of like-minded individuals.
Each inspired by the other’s research our knowledge rapidly expanded. Some of the material we shared also had a large emotional impetus where people were known to us: grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts and cousins.
The Road to Discovery
It quickly became apparent that there were a huge number of unanswered questions, a lot of conflicting information, with the likelihood of the odd family myth adding to the load. So armed with my St Patricks Day Special, I contacted Jennifer Doherty of Irish Ancestral Research (formerly Clonmany Genealogy).
The aim of my research was to get a broader view of my ancestor’s lives and personalities so my questions were probably a little different, and, therefore, a little more difficult to provide definite answers for than most I also knew that my family had involvement with the running of a linen mill in Buncrana but researching this aspect of my family’s history had presented many challenges because none of the official information actually linked our family to its history.
Instead Jennifer concentrated on providing me with the best value for money that my very meagre budget would allow. One of her best finds was the Last Will and Testament of an uncle several generations removed. Fortunately for me my family had the habit of making very detailed wills so this information both verified the names that I already knew and gave me additional names for my family tree. It also helped to establish the nature of the family politics.
Other information Jennifer provided gave me the names of other likely relationships, and also alternative spellings of the family name. Her research also included reference to some of the terminology associated with the linen industry in Donegal during the times that my ancestors lived there.
Of even more significance was an excerpt from a book, “Derry Beyond the Walls”, by a John Hume. Naturally curious, I bought my own copy a few months later. Reading it gave me even more insight into the times that my ancestors lived and was of huge assistance when I later began writing up my family history. As I came to learn, many of whom had also lived in Derry.
I have been most fortunate that since my first contact with Jennifer a lot more information is now available on-line and Jennifer’s research also allowed me to continue my research knowing that I was on track. Her report also highlighted many of the problems that I could expect to encounter in furthering my research.
I find documenting my family history a very significant creative outlet and have contributed information to both New Zealand and Irish genealogy and heritage societies. I have come to realise the significance of my Ulster Scots heritage and with Jennifer’s encouragement to look forward to making contributions further afield."
Cochrane Family Descendant - Australia