THE town of Dunmanway and, more importantly, its people have received glowing reviews from American visitors, who visited the town while researching their ancestral roots.
Bostonian Ted Chambers and his sister Maureen visited Dunmanway last month to trace where his family came from in Coolkelure, and they were overwhelmed by the hospitality shown to them.
Ted set up ‘The Descendants of Dunmanway and West Cork’ Facebook page two years ago initially with just 20 members. However, the interest in the page has increased dramatically over the past year and they reached over 1,000 members by last month.
They share their stories, pictures and information with each other about their West Cork ancestors.
The group even found out that Ken Casey of the American punk/ska band, The Dropkick Murphys, has ancestors from nearby Kilmichael and Macroom.
Ted’s glowing review is the stuff of Fáilte Ireland marketeer dreams and it highlights his genuine love for Dunmanway. ‘We had an amazing time here and I hope every member of this group who lives abroad gets a chance to visit,’ he posted.
‘Come here to meet your relations, research your ancestry or be astonished by how many of the locals look like you and other members of your family!’
Ted name-checked several businesses too – Galvin’s on The Green B&B, Mirabelles and the Heritage Centre and many others – and praised their kindness and super-friendly attitude.
Ted concluded by saying that although there are bigger tourism destinations close by, it’s more than worthwhile coming to Dunmanway.
‘But when you come to Dunmanway, you’re going to get an authentic Irish experience in a community with amazing people.’
Ted’s sentiments were echoed by another visitor and member of the group, Matt Shaffer, who also praised the local hospitality.
‘It’s probably not a normal tourist destination but we loved the town and surrounding area. I got to visit Fanlobbus Cemetery where I believe some of the ancestors were buried. Anyway, just a very nice town you all have and very friendly people. We loved it.’
Meanwhile, Ted and his sister Maureen were the first members of their family to come back to visit Dunmanway in 151 years after their great great grandparents, George Chambers and Kathryn Hurley emigrated to Massachusetts via London in 1871.
‘It was only after having connected with a cousins of ours in New Zealand and through their work that led us to Dunmanway.
‘We got to meet both our cousins, the Chambers and the Clarkes while here too, which was great,’ said Ted.
Local historian consultant Michelle O’Mahony, who is also a member of the group and met with Ted and Maureen, said this is all due to the ‘modern day diaspora’ and the modern media age and added that Dunmanway has the personality and hospitality to beat any other town in the West Cork area.
Last April it was revealed that the family of American singing mega-star Billie Eilish had traced their roots back to the Clubhouse Bar in Lisbealad near Dunmanway.