For over 25 years I have searched for information on where our McGinnis family originated in Ireland.
Family lore spoke of Belfast as their origin. Two branches of the family shared the same memory - that someone in the distant past had come to Canada from Belfast. But no proof of this could be found.
The McGinnis family was a large one - 7 sons and 2 daughters found so far, plus their father, came to Ontario Canada circa 1834. I have spent years hunting down every son and daughter, their spouses, their children and their grandchildren. I have searched for gravestones in hopes of finding an inscription with a town or even county of origin. I have searched for obituaries. I have searched for burial and church records. Nothing in the 4 generational search I've conducted has given me one iota of a clue except for "Northern Ireland" as a place of origin.
I had my brother scrape his cheeks for a Y DNA test - and found that we connected with McGinnis families in Castlewellan, Co. Down Ireland. Castlewellan is not far from Belfast so the family lore was looking good, but I wanted more. I wanted an exact location and I wanted proof!
This year, another McGinnis descendant, Annie Tobin, sent me copies of several early family photographs that her aunt had recently left her. One was of Sarah Tobin nee McGinnis. Sarah was the sister of my 2nd great grandfather Joseph McGinnis. On the back in period handwriting was written the town where Sarah was born - Katesbridge in County Down Ireland. I cannot tell you how excited I was to finally learn where my Irish roots began.
I learned that Katesbridge is a hop, skip and jump to Castlewellan. So far I've not found any existing church records but I'm planning a trip to Ireland in the spring and will visit the village where my McGinnis ancestors lived.