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Paramus Grandmother Uncovers Mom's Irish Roots 116 Years Later

Kathleen Graham of Paramus stands outside of the cottage in Southern Ireland where her mother was born and raised.
Kathleen Graham of Paramus stands outside of the cottage in Southern Ireland where her mother was born and raised. Photo Credit: Contributed
From left: Megan, Kathleen and Ashley Graham.
From left: Megan, Kathleen and Ashley Graham. Photo Credit: Contributed

PARAMUS, N.J. — Kathleen Graham of Paramus had waited her entire life for that moment.

At 85 years old and for the first time in her life, she found herself standing outside of the cottage in Ireland where her mother was born 116 years ago.

It was a dream come true for Graham and an unforgettable moment for her granddaughters, Ashley and Megan Graham of Paramus.

"I had never seen my grandmother light up as she did in that moment," Ashley, a freshman at Stony Brook University, said in a blog post.

"She was finally home."

The trio toured Ireland for six days — kissing the Blarney Stone, exploring Dublin and taking in the Cliffs of Moher.

They stayed in a quaint bed and breakfast just outside of the downtown Dungarvan knowing that their family's history was hiding somewhere in those cobblestone streets, begging to be uncovered.

"Just being there flooded my grandma with emotions," Ashley said. "This is somewhere she heard about her entire life but had never seen with her own eyes."

The Grahams headed to the town library, where they dug into the Census of Ireland.

Ann Walsh — that was Kay's mother.

They typed her name into the system and came up short.

"My sister and I started to look street by street in the town of looking for any homes under the name of Walsh," Ashley said.

An hour went by and still — nothing. But then Megan clicked on O'Connell Street. House number 21, to be exact. Walsh.

And it was only a six-minute walk to get there.

"It could've been anything," said Ashley, "a supermarket, bookstore, pub, an empty piece of land."

But there stood a small cottage, and it looked just like the pictures.

"This is what we traveled 3,185 miles for," Ashley said. "At 85, my grandmother fulfilled her dream of seeing the country she came from and exploring the village where her family originated.

"A true testament that no matter what, you should always follow your heart."

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