First, I want to thank the several people who have sent me words of encouragement. This sounds like it's gonna be a great community to belong to. Next, I want to mention that I met Thomas MacEntee on the 2012 Legacy Genealogy Cruise and he is so knowlegeable and helpful, you cannot know. We both live in Chicago now, so I'm looking forward to running into him from time to time. He does a great deal of traveling and so it's not likely, but you never know.
Speaking of traveling, I am going to the hometowns of my ancestors in January. I have four towns to visit in Flanders; they are Assebroek, Oostkamp, Vrasene and Verrebroek. I actually have research going back many generations in Flanders, due mostly to the great Belgian and French record keeping. I am going to be staying in Bruges and I'll have a car to get around to these small towns. I'll be in Belgium for 5 days.
After that, I'll be staying with family in Dublin, Ireland. This is mom's side of the family and I've always known my Irish relatives and felt close to the island. My grandmother and grandfather were born in Ireland and I hope to retire there someday. However, because of the difficulty with Irish records, I have BIG FAT GAPING HOLES in my Irish research. I'm hoping that the General Registra's office in Dublin will be a great help and I plan to spend a couple of days there. I'm looking for several original documents that they're suppose to have; a birth record for grandma and a marriage record for great-grandpa for example.
I really want to gain my Irish citizenship through descent before I retire. This is how the law reads:
"If you were born outside Ireland to an Irish citizen who was himself or herself born outside Ireland, and any of your grandparents were born in Ireland, then you are entitled to become an Irish citizen, and can do so by having your birth registered in the Foreign Births Register maintained by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs. You can do this by applying to your nearest Irish embassy or consular office. A list of these is available on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs at www.dfa.ie. If you are entitled to register, your Irish citizenship is effective from the date of registration."Registering my birth and becoming a citizen will make life much easier when I retire. The fact that I'll be able to travel throughout the EU nations will be a wonderful asset since I plan to do a lot of traveling. The problem with my plan is proving my grandparents are in fact my grandparents. I have the original long form of my grandfathers birth-certificate, so that's one down. My grandparents marriage record is a problem. The great state of New York, rather New York City, who holds the records for marriages held in the city back in the 1930s says that even though my grandparents, Phil and May, applied for a marriage license in New York, the signed certificate was never sent back to the state by the church. I of course called the church and they say that they have no record of the marriage being performed. Minutes after the "wedding" Phil and May show up in Chicago and my mom is born six months later... oops!
Problem two is proving my mom was born! Cook County Illinois has no record of mom's birth. She was born at home with a midwife and mom's birth was never registered. I tried to get mom's birth registered but of course no one is alive anymore that can attest to where and when she was born. Mom had papers in her files that were affidavits signed and notarized in the 1960s when mom wanted to get a passport to travel to Europe. The papers were never filed at the time as mom could use her baptismal certificate to prove nationality. Her baptismal certificate as well as the 1940 US Federal Census agree that she was born in Illinois. Unfortunately I don't think that the Irish government is going to let that pass. I sent the old affidavits to the state of Illinois in order to get them to use them to register mom's birth and they wrote back, taking the money that I sent, but not sending a certificate. They said that the process would have to be repeated and here is the new paperwork that can be filled out by anyone who has direct knowledge of the event of mom's birth! (Mom is 77 years old and all her old friends and relatives are already gone.) I wish they'd at least sent me my check back.
My plan B is to send every original document I can find whether direct legal proof or church proof to our Consulate General of Ireland in Chicago and work with them until I can convince them that my grandparents are the parents of my mother who is the parent of me; and that I have a great love of Ireland and I am entitled to citizenship by descent.
Not that I'd ever give up my US citizenship, but lucky for me I don't have to, the United States and Ireland allow for dual citizenship!