Ireland Reaching Out, also called Ireland XO, is a non-profit organisation financed largely by the Irish government. The organization tracks down the descendants of those who left for America, Australia and other countries. Instead of waiting for people of Irish descent to trace their roots, Ireland XO volunteers worldwide are networking with people of Irish descent in their local areas, helping to build bridges between the present and the past by connecting people with the home parishes of their ancestors. Volunteers then invite the descendants to visit the homeland. Ireland Reaching Out hopes to build a database of the Irish diaspora containing 30 or 40 million names.
The Ireland Reaching Out web site states:
“Whether you have emigrated recently or have never been to Ireland, we welcome Irish people from all over the world and those who share an affinity for our rich and varied cultural heritage. We are a community with no geographical boundaries, connected first through bonds of people and place, and then developed through our shared celebration of culture and friendship, both online and offline.
“Of the estimated 70 million people of Irish descent living outside of Ireland today, many are unsure of where in Ireland they originate from, or if there are any living relatives still there. We aim to help these people discover the story of their family history and reconnect them with the Ireland of today.”
Another part of the web site states:
“A key part of this programme is the concept of “reverse genealogy” as a way of connecting with the descendants of Parish emigrants. Instead of waiting for descendants from the area to get in touch, Ireland Reaching Out groups use genealogical research methods to engage directly with the existing Parish Diaspora.”
Ireland Reaching Out is a non-profit organisation that is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and also the Heritage Council of Ireland. It has close relationships with many state bodies such as the National Library of Ireland as well as local authorities such as County Councils. The primary reason for this monumental effort is financial: returning Irish descendants bring cash to spend. A few may even be tempted to move back to Ireland, bringing with them skills learned abroad.
The Ireland Reaching Out web site includes a message board and encourages Irish descendants to post messages about their ancestry. There is a separate message board for each parish. The site alo explains the concepts of civil parishes, ecclesiastical or church parishes, townlands, baronies, poor law unions, and more.
You can visit Ireland Reaching Out at http://www.irelandxo.com/.