Ireland Reaching Out

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Ireland Reaching Out
Ireland Reaching Out logo.png
NicknameIreland XO
Formation2009; 10 years ago (2009)
FounderMike Feerick
Founded atGalway, Ireland
Legal statusNon-profit organization
PurposeTo build lasting links between the global Irish Diaspora and parishes of origin in Ireland.[1]
HeadquartersGalway Technology Park, Parkmore, Galway, Ireland
Mike Feerick

Ireland Reaching Out, also known as Ireland XO,[1] is a non-profit, volunteer and community-based organization headquartered in Galway, Ireland. It was founded by Mike Feerick in 2009. The organization aims to build lasting links between the Irish diaspora and the civil parishes in Ireland.[1] Currently, the organization has more than 100,000 members around the world with 32 volunteer networks across Ireland, including Northern Ireland.[2]

Background and history[edit]

In Ireland, civil parishes are regarded as administrative offices; they possess civil records of their parishioners who emigrated to another country. Through a network of volunteer-based groups, Ireland Reaching Out uses these records to help Irish descendants rediscover their family history.[3]

The organization first started as a pilot project in South East Galway, Ireland in 2009.[4][5]

During the Irish recession in the late 2000s, Irish social entrepreneur Mike Feerick wanted to help the rejuvenation of the Irish economy by tapping into the power of this Irish diaspora.[6][7][8][9] He said that "There are 70 to 80 million people with Irish heritage, living around the world. Many of them don’t even have an idea that they have their roots on the island. And each of them has a connection to at least one Irish parish."[7]

In 2015, Ireland Reaching Out partnered with Google to begin mapping Irish houses so people could see who had lived there in the past.[7] In December 2011, the organization launched a global partnership with Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) to link members of the Irish diaspora to GAA's network of 500 clubs worldwide.[4] On 14 March 2012, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the organization launched the national "reverse genealogy" program. By March 2013, the volunteer network had reached 32 counties of Ireland, having at least 2000 volunteers and being active in at least 800 civil parishes.[10]

On 19 June 2015, Ireland Reaching Out launched its enhanced website at Iveagh House, Dublin, Ireland, which was announced by the Jimmy Deenihan, the Minister for Diaspora Affairs.[11][12]

On September 2015, "Epic Journeys Ellis Island", an online exhibition, was launched in Tulla, County Clare, Ireland.[13] A result of extensive research by Ireland Reaching Out with support of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the exhibition focuses on the stories of 71 residents from Tulla who had left Ireland in the early of the 19th century to emigrate to New York. It was launched in hopes that similar exhibitions and research at the parish level can be replicated.[14]

Methods and funding(arjunan)[edit]

The organization operates in a civil parish basis.[15] Volunteers are able to contact the living descendants of the parishioners who had settled in another country, and volunteers invite these descendants to uncover their own genealogical history,[16][17] a method known as "reverse genealogy".[18] For people to trace their Irish roots, they only need to post queries in the civil registries.[19] Another method is by registering through the organization's website. By registering, the user will then be able to search and join a civil parish.[18]

The organization's volunteers offer a "Meet & Greet" service for returning diaspora.[20] They welcome the visitors to the local community, help them with any specific genealogical queries they have and show them places of historical significance, such as local graveyards, churches and homesteads.[7] In 2018, this service was provided to 300 groups of visitors.

The organization is mainly funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, through its Emigrant Support Programme, and the The Heritage Council. The organization is also funded by Google, Inc. through its Google Enterprise program. It also generates small revenue through Google AdSense.[1]


The Ireland Reaching Out is a recipient of a special award at the Pride of Place Awards in November 2012. It was also voted as the Best Community Initiative nationally by the Local Authorities Members Awards.[4][21][22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "About Us". Ireland Reaching Out. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Bringing Irish ancestors' stories home to Ireland". IrishCentral. 4 August 2018. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  3. ^ Grenham, John (12 March 2018). "How to trace your Irish family history: a step-by-step guide". The Irish Times. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "New 'Ireland Reaching Out' Programme". TipperaryLive. 16 October 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Ireland Reaching Out goes International". VSO Publications. 22 March 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  6. ^ McManus, Darragh (16 November 2013). "The emigrants we're bringing home ourselves". Irish Independent. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d Hildebr, Julia (5 July 2015). "The Irish parishes forming new links with the diaspora". The Irish Times. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  8. ^ Nicholson, Chris V. (18 July 2011). "In Tough Times, Irish Call Their Diaspora". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  9. ^ Forry, Ed (3 October 2012). "In Boston visit, Ireland's Tourism Chief touts "The Gathering 2013"". Boston Irish Reporter. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  10. ^ "Ireland XO achieves All-Ireland Coverage" (PDF). Heritage Council. 14 March 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  11. ^ Walsh, Jane (19 June 2015). "Ireland Reaching Out launches new enhanced website for Diaspora at Iveagh House". IrishCentral. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  12. ^ "Ireland Reaching Out launches new enhanced website". Heritage Council. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  13. ^ Corless, Nicola (8 September 2015). "Exhibition tell stories of emigrants' Epic Journeys". The Clare Champion. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  14. ^ ""Epic Journeys Ellis Island" online exhibition tracks 71 people from Clare's stories of immigration". IrishCentral. 4 September 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  15. ^ "Foxford plans for The Gathering 2013". Mayo Advertiser. 4 January 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  16. ^ "Ireland XO - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade". Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  17. ^ Grenham, John (25 November 2013). "Irish Roots". The Irish Times. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  18. ^ a b "About Ireland Reaching Out" (PDF). The Gathering Ireland 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  19. ^ Kelleher, Patrick (7 January 2019). "Finding your Irish family: 'Looking out the airplane window I cried'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  20. ^ "Partnership Announced - The Gathering 2013 & Ireland Reaching Out". The Heritage Council. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  21. ^ "Tucson Irish Community: The Launch of the Ireland Reaching Out Diaspora Project by An Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny, TD". The Irish Community of Tucson. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  22. ^ "Ireland Reaching Out Host Community Open Day – Discover Loughrea". Loughrea Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 4 February 2019.