Family history is not just about trees, gedcoms and data. It is about the social history and background of that information. Many writers use family history to explore wider themes. I have just finished reading Patricia Craig’s Twisted Roots (Blackstaff 2012) which looks at the complexities of a family history in the context of Ireland, and more specifically in Northern Ireland.
We think we know about a divided society, the adherence to the tribal ways and the lack of connections between factions, but this book illustrates the relationships that exist within that ‘divided’ society. The author’s family roots include a founder of the Orange Order, members of the historic IRA, planters, Gaels and the rather sad tale of a German governess who ‘fell from grace.’ It is peopled with a wide range of characters including tough matriarchs, farmers and coachmen. It challenges a lot of firmly held beliefs about some aspects of Irish history – and it is an entertaining read.