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Insight Q&A: Ireland Reaching Out

Irish volunteers are eager to help welcome the diaspora back home

Ireland Reaching Out is a voluntary organization that is dear to our hearts here at CIE Tours. Through their website at, they enable dedicated volunteers in Ireland to help connect people of Irish heritage with their place of origin in Ireland. 

We asked Communications Manager Laura Colleran to explain more about the organization, and how they can help people around the world connect with their heritage. 

CIE Tours: Tell us a little bit about Ireland Reaching Out

Laura: If there is one thing Irish people are proud of, it’s knowing every nook and cranny of their local community, as well as the names of the people who have lived there, past and present. 10 years ago, Ireland Reaching Out was founded to tap into this amazing resource of local knowledge, and to use it to help people descended from Ireland to reconnect with their ancestors’ place of origin and the people currently living there.

CIE Tours: How can help someone who’s just starting to look for their ancestors?

Laura: Today, we have a volunteer network that covers the whole of the Island of Ireland, that offers a completely free family history guidance service to anyone seeking to learn more about their Irish ancestry. The connections happen through the website, a unique online portal that hosts a message board for over 2,500 local communities in Ireland. Membership is completely free and every member has a unique dashboard where they can upload their own ancestors and share them with the IrelandXO community.

Many members decide to make the journey to Ireland after finding local connections, and when they do, Ireland Reaching Out volunteers are there to meet them and show them around the locality, and to introduce them to living relatives if they can be found.

CIE Tours: Could you share an example of someone who was able to find relatives with IrelandXO’s help?

Laura: IrelandXO member Barbara Sharkey’s great-great-grandparents emigrated to New York City from County Offaly in Ireland. She posted a query on the IrelandXO message board and connected with local volunteer Margaret Hensey. When she visited in 2019, thanks to Margaret’s help, she was able to meet with her fourth cousins, and enjoyed a few drinks with them in the local pub in Birr. [Read more about Barbara's story, and learn more about the family connections IrelandXO's volunteers have helped make.]

Barbara Sharkey gathers with cousins in the local pub in Birr.
Barbara Sharkey met her cousins thanks to the help of Ireland Reaching Out. 

CIE Tours: What do you find most meaningful about the work you do?

Laura: Imagine that for every person living in Ireland an estimated 16 others of Irish ancestry live abroad! Letting people know that they are valued members of our global diaspora and that there is a welcome waiting for them, should they decide to visit, is hugely important. Our homes were once the homes of so many people who had no choice but to emigrate. Welcoming their descendants back today is a privilege for every Irish community.

CIE Tours: Who are your volunteers? Why do you think they are such enthusiastic helpers?

Laura: They are from all walks of life; retired teachers, historical society members; local shopkeepers; radio hosts. Our volunteers are people who are proud of their local community and want to help those descended from the area to rediscover their family connections. They are incredibly generous with their time and local knowledge. Making new friends from around the world, and seeing descendants from their local communities make the journey home is all the reward they ask.

CIE Tours: How can people get started?

Laura: We have a lot of resources to help people research their family history and also to document their own connections with the area. We invite all our members to add their ancestors to our IrelandXO Chronicles, so that they can be counted as having connections with the locality, even if those ancestors left many years ago. This also helps other members who are researching family in the area. The big goal is to document every person who ever lived and left Ireland. So far we have more than 15,000 ancestors documented!

Here are a few ways to get started: 



Ireland Tours

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Taste of Ireland

Starting from $1,395

5/7 Days

This fast-paced, short-and-sweet Ireland tour is the perfect introduction to the Emerald Isle. Taste of Ireland hits all of the "greatest hits" highlights—from Blarney Castle to the Cliffs of…

​Guided Tours, Guided Small Groups, Independent Adventures

Irish Heritage

Starting from $2,395

7/8 Days

See all the highlights on this classic tour - and on our 8-day option, luxuriate in a stay at the elegant, five-star Dromoland Castle Hotel.

​Guided Tours, Guided Small Groups, Independent Adventures

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2025 Tours: Save $300pp - Use Code EBD25300

Irish Legends

Starting from $2,745

9/10 Days

Delve into Ireland and its past on this tour, which mixes in plenty of hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path sights among the tried-and-true favorites. 

​Guided Tours, Guided Small Groups, Independent Adventures

2025 Tours: Save $400pp - Use Code EBD25400

Taste of Britain & Ireland

Starting from $4,445

14 Days

Get a great introduction to two great countries on this lively trip to England, Ireland, and Scotland. Enjoy a generous helping of the essential must-dos, with a hint of the unexpected. 

​Guided Tours, Guided Small Groups

2025 Tours: Save $400pp - Use Code EBD25400

The Scots Irish Tour

Starting from $3,595

11/15 Days

This fast-paced Scotland and Ireland tour focuses on their rich history, with plenty of castle tours and museums to help bring the past to life. It's the perfect trip for those interested in…

​Guided Tours, Guided Small Groups

Taste of Ireland Self-Drive

Starting from $895

7 Days

This fast-paced, short-and-sweet Ireland tour offers the potential to see the top Irish highlights. Stay in Dublin, Killarney and Clare on this driving adventure.All our 2024 self-drive…

Independent Adventures

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