The Toland-Kelly gang getogether!

What started out initially as a bit of fun and a quest for some information along the lines of the BBC programme ‘Who do you think you are?’ has turned out to be something much bigger for Illies woman, Siobhan Lowen.

And On Sunday, August 12th it will all come to head in Buncrana when there will be a big Toland-Kelly clann reunion

Speaking with the Journal yesterday Siobhan explained that her little project has now turned into a full scale reunion for family members from England, Scotland all over Ireland.

“Anyone related to James and Fanny (Kelly) Toland, Malin Road, Carndonagh and Owen and Rose (Farren) Kelly, Drumcarbit, Malin are welcome to joing our big reunion.

“Cousins are travelling from Scotland, England and all over Ireland.

So far 80 people have signed up, with ten coming from England. I’m expecting a bit of a last minute rush so there could be a lot more. I’m very excited and looking forward to what will be big gathering of the Toland-Kelly clann.It will be a chance to get to know and reacquaint with extended family too:

“Two of those coming are cousins living outside London and it’s more than 40 years since they were last here.

“I’m getting a great feedback so I’m hoping more and more will get in contact before the actual day.”

So what is the story behind the story?

“Because of emigration and all the rest over the generations we, like most people here, lost touch with the extended members of our families. I have always been fascinating to find out my family’s history. There are many strands to it. I was originally led to believe that my family on the Toland side could have a Spanish connection but we couldn’t get too far with that.However, my research seems to be indicating that Toland is a derivation of an old Irish name so the Spanish thing might only be a false lead!”

How did it all start?

“The adventure really began in 2010 when The Clonmany Genealogy Group were having a workshop in The Colgan Hall during the heritage weekend. I went along and there I met a lady, compltely by chance, who told me that her grandmother was my grandmother’s sister and that they came from a large family.

“This made me very curious so I felt the need to investigate further to see how many more relatives of mine were out there that I didn’t know about. So I started doing a bit of digging and so between Carndonagh Library and the internet I began to gather information and found out that my maternal grand mother came from a family of 12 and my maternal grandfather came from a family of nine.Most of these two families’ siblings married and had large families also. The family tree was growing rapidly.”

Now totally engrossed Siobhan admits what started as a hobby soon became an obsession.

“I contacted, and was contacted, by a whole host of people. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped me along the way - all the people who gave up their valuable time reminiscing and providing stories about my ancestors, those who provided addresses and photographs for long lost relatives, every little bit of help was greatly appreciated. Without their help this reunion would not be possible.

“And I issue this invite to anyone out there - if you think you are related come along on the night and join in the fun.

The Reunion takes place in The Swilly Suite, Inishowen Gateway Hotel on Sunday 12th Aug. at 6 pm. Please come along on the night and join in the fun.

Anyone who feels they might be a family member contact Siobhan - or at 0749363971.