A South Dublin man who spent his free time during lockdown tracing his family tree accidentally stumbled across distant relatives on the most unlikely of platforms – Twitter.
James McCann, from Sallynoggin, said that he was inspired to go looking for his family roots after his father died four years ago due to lung cancer.
He told Dublin Gazette: “I’ve been properly searching for the past year and a half or so and have come across 200 descendants so far. I’ve tracked my father’s side to about the 1720s and my mother’s side to the 1800s.”
However, one of James’ most surprising discoveries came earlier this year when he stumbled across a tweet from a Dublin-based company called Slated, which makes artisan slate-based homeware.
James says that he has a history of slaters in his family tree and decided to reach out to the owners of the business – Ed and Tara Hammond.
Through his own research he also found that the name Hammond appeared in his ancestry as far back as the 1850s.
“Turns out we share a great, great, grandfather,” said James after talking on the phone to Tara Hammond.
He revealed that he has yet to meet his distant relatives due to the pandemic but they have agreed to stay in touch.
James says that searching for his family history has uncovered many fascinating stories that he otherwise would not have known.
For starters Joseph Roe, his great, great, grandfather, helped stop a Dublin house from being stormed 118 years ago.
Meanwhile his grand uncle, James Hammond was heralded as hero in 1918 after saving fishermen from a storm off the coast of Dalkey.
James Hammond was also involved in the rescue of a pilot in Dublin after his plane crashed in 1933.
“It’s pretty amazing the things you find about your family’s history when you go looking. My family has seemingly sprawled across Dublin, relatives have been found from Balbriggan to Dalkey,” he says.
McCann says his quest has turned into a hobby in recent times and usually sticks to traditional methods to trace back his roots.
“If anybody is looking to get into tracing your family tree, I recommend starting off small. Look up your grandparents and then your great grandparents,” he says.
James says the 1911 census, which can be found online, is a great resource for finding out details of family members at the turn of the 20th century.
“Ancestry.com and Irishgeneology.ie are also great,” he says.