Ireland Reaching Out (Ireland XO) aims to engage with all 70 million people of Irish origin worldwide.
By reaching out to emigrants and their descendants, and inviting them to connect with their ancestral Parish of origin, we are enabling vibrant, lifelong relationships between local Irish communities and their past emigrants. Through this, Ireland Reaching Out aims to contribute to social, cultural and economic growth amongst the home Parishes and Diaspora communities.
A programme for the future
Ireland Reaching Out is a non-profit organisation that is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and also the Heritage Council of Ireland. It has close relationships with many state bodies such as the National Library of Ireland as well as local authorities such as County Councils.
Diaspora Engagement through reverse genealogy
A key part of this programme is the concept of “reverse genealogy” as a way of connecting with the descendants of Parish emigrants. Instead of waiting for descendants from the area to get in touch, Ireland Reaching Out groups use genealogical research methods to engage directly with the existing Parish Diaspora.
What began as a reverse genealogy project is a now an open door vibrant community, with people from all over the world visiting our parish hubs to enquire about past emigrants and to participate in local happenings. By inviting people to introduce themselves on our community message boards, we help them in their exploration of their Irish family tree and extend the hand of friendship across waters.
Using modern technology to uncover historic connections
Developments in digital archiving and the collective efforts of researchers to transcribe and share important records has been revolutionary for those tracing Irish ancestors. Our website is visited by thousands of people daily, from all over the world. Many of these never believed they would make much progress in discovering their Irish roots and certainly didn’t dream to reconnect with the Parish their relatives left so many years ago.
Not only do people connect back with their parish of origin, but they also find each other in the extended parish network. Irish culture is thriving worldwide and connecting Irish People with each other is as important as connecting them back to Ireland. Statistics indicate you are likely to be related to more people outside Ireland than in it! By grounding relationships in the parish of origin, we can also connect our members with Irish people from the same name place in their current location.
As a voluntary organisation Ireland Reaching Out relies on local Parishes getting involved and setting up their own groups to reach out and connect with Irish people around the world. Today, Ireland Reaching has more than 500 volunteers in Ireland and abroad. They have successfully created online Parish Communities, inclusive of all people of Irish origins, and are developing vibrant lasting relationships with their newly connected Diaspora. Events are created around inviting parish members, near and far, to visit the locality and discover the heritage of the area together with the local residents.
Local Ireland Reaching Out groups help preserve community history by generating new interest in local heritage and genealogy. Reaching Out groups such as Bournea in Co Tipperary, have created a wealth of resource material from their genealogical and heritage studies in the Parish. They are now a focal point for local history and also a vital font of information for descendants of people who left the area long ago.
Bringing our history to life for future generations
Ireland Reaching Out looks to the past to discover the story of our emigrants, but it is very much a programme about our future relationship with Irish People all over the world. Being Irish is about a shared cultural history and individual pride in an identity that is welcomed all over the world for its creativity, friendliness and uniqueness. These shared bonds are stronger than geographical boundaries and it is this pride of origin that has the power to unite all Irish People in the world today.