WDYTYA? location guide: Emma Willis

By Guest, 3 August 2017 - 10:15pm

Emma Willis's family history journey took her from the heart of the West Midlands to rural Ireland. Discover the locations that she visited with our handy guide

The Library of Birmingham, where Emma Willis uncovered stories about her Brummie ancestors (Credit: Loop Images/UIG via Getty Images)

Birmingham Back to Backs

At the Birmingham Back to Backs, Emma Willis get a sense of what living in 19th-century industrial Birmingham would have been like for her ancestor James Gretton and his family. Owned by the National Trust, the Back to Backs are a “carefully restored, atmospheric 19th-century courtyard of working people’s houses”.

Library of Birmingham

Emma moves on to the Library of Birmingham, where she meets genealogist Olivia Robinson to view a new set of birth certificates revealing that James and Mary Gretton, her 3x great grandparents, had children with different partners. You can visit the Library of Birmingham to research a plethora of local records dating back to the 12th century, including newspapers, parish registers, census records and birth, marriage and death indexes.

Registry of Deeds

Now in Dublin, Emma heads to the Registry of Deeds (part of Ireland's Property Registration Authority), to find records that allow her to identify her Irish ancestors - Michael Kirwan and Harriet Fowler, Richard Fowler and Abigail Alcock, and the notorious Richard Fowler Sr, her 5x great grandfather.

The Dunlavin Inn

While searching for more information about her 5x great grandfather, Emma goes to Dunlavin where she meets genealogist Nicola Morris at The Dunlavin Inn, a pub that has been in the village since Richard Fowler Sr's time.

Emma learns more about her ancestor's horrifying activities at The Dunlavin Inn

St Saviour’s Church

In the hopes of finding a happier ending to her ancestral adventure, Emma visits St Saviour's Church in Limerick, where her 4x great grandfather Michael Kirwan Sr built the altar.

Trinity College

Emma meets Professor Patrick Geoghegan at Trinity College, Dublin to find out more about Michael Kirwan Sr’s political life and major involvement in helping to liberate Irish workers. Created by royal charter in 1592, Trinity College is still a thriving university today.

O'Connell Street

Finally, Emma heads to O’Connell Street in Dublin. One of the capital's main thoroughfares, it was renamed in 1924 in honour of the nationalist leader Daniel O’Connell, an acquaintance of Michael Kirwan Sr. Emma views the enormous statue of O’Connell, which her ancestor helped campaign to have built.

Words: Kirsty Woods

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WDYTYA? episode summary: Emma Willis
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