Tourism website helped cancer patient find long lost Irish relates

Tourism website helped cancer patient find long lost Irish relates
David Kee visiting his ancestral family homestead in Moyne Laghey, Co Donegal

Users of Ireland’s official tourism website,, helped a man trace his Irish relatives, after a two-week driving trip round Ireland took on a sudden greater significance.

Yvonne Kee reached out on the site for help in tracing her husband’s family – Mr Kee’s grandfather was born in Moyne Laghey, Co Donegal – when Mr Kee was diagnosed with “advanced cancer”.

Mr Kee’s illness made them “determined to go ahead” with their planned trip.

As well as helping to trace Mr Kee’s relatives, his diagnosis threw up a number of issues which Community, and its members, were able to advise upon to allay concerns and ensure that Mr Kee was able to make the trip.

They originally intended to visit Donegal at the end of their trip, but visiting Mr Kee’s ancestral home became the priority, should they have to cut the trip short.

Experts Community experts and its members were able to assist with information on accommodation and possible routes for their driving tour, while the site’s own ‘Ireland information: traveller health’ provided a helpful guide on medical care and insurance.

They were also able to point the family in the direction of the site’s ‘Tracing your Irish Ancestors: A Three-step Guide’ and ‘Irish genealogy resources’ facilities.

Mr Kee’s grandfather (John Kee) moved to Chesterfield, Derbyshire in 1898 at the request of his cousin Robert Kilpatrick, whom the family believe was also from Donegal, and who became Chief Constable of Chesterfield Police.

One member from Donegal, who lived just outside Laghey, knew of Mr Kee’s family and was even able to make contact prior to his trip.

Another member was able to supply useful information about Mr Kee’s family from Griffith’s Valuation and the 1901 census.

Mrs Kee returned to Community to voice her thanks recently to all those who had assisted her, and update that the trip “couldn’t have gone better”.

Loved Ireland

She said: “We loved Ireland, and drove from Dublin, to Donegal, Derry, the Northern Ireland Coast including the Giants Causeway, Sligo, Ennis, Wexford, Ring of Kerry and Cork, as well as other stop-offs.

“Before our trip, a number of friends had told us that Ireland was magical, and they were right.

“And then, thanks to Sinead [a member] responding to this site – we met family members David never knew he had.”

Mrs Kee continued: “In Laghey is a Spa petrol station, supermarket, lawn mower showroom, cafe etc, under the Robert Kee umbrella, run by the sons Desmond, John and David.

“It was confirmed that their great-grandad was David’s grandad’s brother, so we heard lots of family stories, saw photos and documents, and managed to make sense of some of the family history.

Huge moment

“Desmond took us to the church in Laghey where David’s grandad was christened, which was moving in itself, but it was also a huge moment to be taken to the townland of Moyne to see the homestead (pictured), where his grandad, parents and four siblings had lived.

“Walking down a path, which was probably little-changed, and imagining his 19-year-old grandad also walking down it for the last time to go to England, moved David to tears.

“Our big thanks for all the resources of this site and those who responded.”

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