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Bound for Ireland to Discover My Past

I have officially booked our trip to Ireland! I will be setting off this October and bringing my mom with me for an adventure to find out more about our ancestors (McMullen) who resided in the now historic and quaint village of Kells, Kilkenny County, Ireland.

I have been a history buff since I was a kid. Trips to the library to read old newspaper headlines, visits to museums and heritage centers, period piece movies, pulling out old family photos from our cedar trunk... all of it. I am also quite the daydreamer, so it isn't uncommon for me to dream of being in a different period of time. What social class would I have been in? Would I have married young? Where would I have lived? Would I have been involved in an important historical event?

The only way I know how transport myself into history is to find my ancestors and live vicariously through their stories. Thankfully with services like, this makes it much easier to fill in the gaps of your family tree.

My father was adopted, so it is unknown exactly my roots through my father's side of the family. So, all of my research thus far has been on my mother's side... which has been quite the discovery. We have 4 main family threads we are following...

*The Ball's - My grandfather is Marshall Trafton Ball - a long line linked through Tennessee, Arkansas, Virginia and old England. There is even a line to George Washington! More on that later.

*The Vallad's (also Valade's) - My grandmother's maiden name is Vena Vallad. This family line goes back through original settlers in Quebec via the Fille du Roi, and then through old Rochelle, France.

*The Slocum's - a long line of deep English history all the way back to an Earl.

*And the McMullen's - My great-grandmother (Ida Mae McMullen) married William Amos Vallad. This is my long line of McMullen's who settled into Michigan after moving from Canada and originally migrating from Ireland during the great potato famine.

This is now my focus for the year... A deep ancestral dive into my Irish roots - the opportunity to find and tell their stories. In my research and journey into Ireland, I hope to walk on the same soil as my ancestors - find the churches where they were christened, married, and buried.

We are starting our stay in Dublin for a few days to explore the libraries, genealogy services, museums and sightseeing that it has to offer. From there we will stay in the same village that my ancestors resided (in Kells, Kilkenny County). We will be staying in this idyllic enchanted cottage. I can't wait to get started on our adventure. Just over 7 months to go feels like an eternity, but I know time will fly by so quickly. If there is anything I have learned from my ancestors thus far is to live every day to its fullest... you never know how long you have in life so it's best to truly live every moment.

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