23:18 PM GMT

An epic tale of Irish ancestry

Stories of Irish ancestry on show in Dublin 

Stories of Irish ancestry

One in every six Irish-born people alive in the world today lives outside Ireland. Back in 1890 that figure was even higher: two in every five.
The stories of the Irish diaspora, one of the largest per capita in the world, range from tales of desperation to tales of success. Almost all contain adventure.

If you are visiting Dublin and interested in these Irish ancestry stories, make sure to visit the CHQ building, an 1820s warehouse on the Dublin docklands.

Deep in its brick-lined vaults is Epic Ireland, an interactive visitor experience developed by the team behind Titanic Belfast. It aims to tell the “authentic and epic story of 10 million journeys, and the roots of 70 million people”.

“There is a specialness about Irishness”

Epic Ireland was funded by former Coca-Cola chief executive Neville Isdell. He emigrated from Co Down with his parents to Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) in the mid-1950s.

“There is a specialness about Irishness. It is the friendliness and the storytelling and the enjoying life. I knew that was something to be celebrated,” he told the Irish Times at the time of the opening in 2016.

Epic Ireland’s 21 galleries use actors and film footage to tell the story of 320 members of the Irish diaspora. The displays explore why people left Ireland and the influence they had abroad in sectors such as the arts, science, education, sport and politics.

Guinness and Riverdance

Well-known Irish brands – Guinness, Riverdance and the traditional Irish pub – are also referenced in the displays.

Famous faces who have Irish ancestry that is well documented can be seen, including Grace Kelly, Barack Obama, Graham Norton. You can also learn the stories of plenty more whose Irish roots are less familiar, including the Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara, whose ancestors have been traced back to Co Galway in the early 18th century.

One especially interesting story is that of Dr James Barry, who as a British army surgeon in Africa undertook the first successful caesarean in the world where mother and baby survived. On his deathbed it was discovered Barry was in fact a woman, born Margaret Bulkley, in Dublin. Her mother had told her to disguise herself as a man before she moved abroad in order to practise medicine. Bulkley/Barry was the first qualified female British doctor or surgeon, preceding the next woman by more than half a century.

Please ask your Ireland Chauffeur Travel Travel Advisor if you would like to visit Epic Ireland.

Call us

We offer custom-designed Family Ancestry Tours of Ireland, working with experts across Ireland to assist your to trace your ancestry. Please email info@irelandchauffeurtravel.com or call 1800 329 9138 (toll-free) to chat to our Travel Advisors.