[twitter]On this St Patrick’s Day, we’re all Irish raising pints, chasing leprechauns, and wearing green. But how Irish are you? Really?

I’m Canadian more than anything, but trace the tree roots back a few branches and you can get to Ireland.

family tree

You can do your family research on Ancestry, or by talking to relatives, but once you get a bit of information built, using a site like Family Echo is great to keep things visual. I’ve been building out my family tree lately, visualizing some research my sister did mixed with some poking I’ve done with the help of a librarian.

My dad’s side of the family is all Canada. I’m French-Canadian more than anything with roots deep in Embrun, Ontario all the way to pre-Confederation days.

My mother’s side hops continents and countries a little bit. My great-grandparents were born in Scotland, but go two generations beyond that and … you have Irish blood in the pool.`

James Colquhoun and Margaret Ramsey were born around 1850 in Northern Ireland. Much of the family tree records were destroyed by the IRA, so when my sister was digging deeper with our Scottish relatives, finding paperwork was hard. We know my great-great-great grandparents lived in the cottage Dunard in Broughshane, Northern Ireland just outside Ballymena.

Here’s James and Peggy at the cottage.


And the building again in 1952.


James and Peggy would have 5 children. One of them, Jane, would marry John Lamont Keelty, himself an Irishman born at the foot of Slemish Mountain in Northern Ireland. Seriously. That’s what it says in the tree. My great great grandfather was “born at the foot of Slemish mountain.”

Slemish Mountain

Slemish Mountain was where St Patrick himself used to tend sheep, and it’s said this is the place where he “found god.” On St Patrick’s Day, hundreds make a pilgrimage here, climbing to the peak of the old volcano.

In June of 1872, John would be baptized at the Church of St Patrick in Rathcaven, Northern Ireland.

Eventually, my great great grandfather would move to Glasgow where my great grandfather would be born, and meet my Scottish great grandmother. They would move to Montreal after WWI in search of work.

So I’m Irish. Just a bit. Just enough. Happy St Patrick’s Day.

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