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Happy Thanksgiving Update

Hello O'Dochartaigh Cousins! I hope each of you had a delightful and Happy Thanksgiving! I know to some of the family around the world it was just another Thursday, but if you're in the United States–and somewhere around 60% of the diaspora are–by the end of Thanksgiving day most of us were feeling as stuffed as the turkey was when it came out of the oven, and then we were sitting back talking to the family, swapping stories, or watching a movie or game.

Just like the Mayflower Pilgrims who came to America in 1620, regardless of whether you can trace your family tree back to their names or not, most of you can point back toward your O'Dochartaigh ancestors who boarded ship and sailed to a new land to escape famine, find religious freedom, escape social oppression, or search for new opportunities. Each of them, undoubtedly, carved out a similar time of Thanksgiving, a time of gratitude to God, a time to remember where and from whom we came, and to celebrate how far we've come. Of course, in the way of our Irish heritage, many of these family gatherings were–and are to this day– accompanied by stories, food, music, dancing, and merriment of the like!

How the Irish saved Thanksgiving!

I was fascinated to come across an article while doing some research a few weeks ago, detailing the story of how the Irish may well be responsible for saving the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony. Marketers have commercialized and painted extravagant details into the feast we read about happening in 1621, when the Native Americans and Pilgrims ate together. This has been popularized as the "First Thanksgiving". There's no uncertainty that during that feast gratitude was given to God for His many blessings upon them, but the Pilgrims did not think of that feast in 1621 as a day of Thanksgiving. The first record of a proclaimed day of Thanksgiving among them was a couple years later—and it was actually a day of fasting, not of feasting!

A decade afterward, many of the Pilgrims had died. They were not adjusting well to the harsh winters of Massachusetts Bay and their only subsistence became the shellfish they could gather from the bay and bitter acorns. They had sent, long before, for help from Ireland, but supposed the ship had sank or perhaps been looted by pirates, as many months had passed since they expected its return. By now it seemed they had taken about all they could. Talk of returning to England had begun to spread through the settlement. Their once-strongly-held vision for coming to America was waning more and more dim as they stared into the ugly grimace of death. Their passion seemed almost to evaporate into bitter cold that had lied waste to the land over the months of winter which had already past. It was the bleak of 1631–February to be exact. With no provisions and no hope–on the verge of abandoning their settlement–the Pilgrims declared a time of prayer and fasting to God for help. Finally, the day before the appointed fast, while their prayers were going up, a ship called The Lyon arrived in their harbor with bountiful provision of food and drink sent by the Irish from Dublin, along with a number of passengers. It was then that the day of fasting and mourning was reappointed and proclaimed among them as a day of feasting and Thanksgiving. Some historians believe these provisions not only saved the Pilgrims, but also may have been the origin of the Thanksgiving Feast which later became a tradition in New England over the years afterward.

A Personal Note: Baby Dougherty on the way!

On a personal note, you haven't seen any Blogs posted by me over the summer, as I've been pretty busy. Regardless, I still tried to do a few things here or there to add a little more information to the O'Doherty Heritage website for you (I'll go over these below). Over this time period, my wife Ciera made some O'Dochartaigh shirts for a few of our clanfolk who had expressed interest and she's those posted on our Etsy Shop.

Recently, we started a YouTube channel covering the things we do around the old Dougherty family farm. My great great grandpa William Eli Dougherty bought the place in 1903 and the family has lived on it ever since. In our YouTube videos, you can see how we're trying to grow our little herd of cattle and goats, take care of our bottle calf, and smooth concrete or swing a hammer as we begin building on to our tiny home. The most exciting news is that Ciera and I just recently found out that we're expecting to WELCOME OUR FIRST BABY into the O'Dochartaigh Clann in July 2020!!! We've been wanting children for several years and now God has blessed us with our hearts' desires! Check out and subscribe to our YouTube Channel, Dougherty Farms, to keep up with all that's going on at the farm with the family, animals, building on, and more!

More variants of the O'Dochartaigh Name!

Not quite two months ago, I was contacted by a very nice man by the name of Walter Dorritie who traces his lineage back to the 1840s–to a ship captain from the Bahamas who bore that same spelling. I had never seen his unique and really fascinating variant of our name and, after adding his spelling to our comprehensive list of surname variants on the O'Doherty Heritage website, I set off on a wild goose chase in search of other iterations which I might not have seen before. After delving out into full-on research mode, then later resurfacing, I was able to update our list of Clan surname variants from 269 spellings, up to the 324 variants listed currently. While about half of these are documented historical variants, I reevaluated the population given for the now-157 names currently known to be used today. The most recent data brings the total of those bearing a variant of the O'Dochartaigh surname to 252,368 people. Of course, that doesn't count the likely million-plus bearing other names who can claim an O'Dochartaigh parent or grandparent, let alone the many millions who can claim an O'Dochartaigh great grandparent or more distant ancestor. Check out the updated list on the O'Dochartaigh Heritage Names Page. If your spelling of the name isn't included or you know another not listed, smash that website chat button, comment, or shoot an email and we'll get yours added!

Reunion Page Photos:

Well it's only 33 weeks–less than 8 months away–to the International O'Dochartiagh Clann Reunion in Ireland and we're totally stoked about it (even though my wife and I aren't going to get to be there this go round, because of the baby coming–though we're making plans for Reunion 2025 already). I'm really excited about all the different events that will be taking place. I'm not sure what I like the sound of more, the scenic Inishowen-Donegal Bus Tour, lively dancing to traditional Irish folk songs played by the Ceili band, or the connecting and sharing at the Clann Genealogy Forum–though that's just a few of the many memorable events slated for our quinquennial reunion. Our Reunion Coordinator, Ms. Eva Doherty Gremmert, so kindly shared with me a bunch of photos she and her husband, Mr. Arden Gremmert, took at some at some the Reunions in years past and allowed me to post them on the Reunion page on this site. Check out the pics and while you're there make sure to click the link to Eva's Reunion site and start the registration process to secure your place at the soon-coming O'Dochartaigh Reunion, if you haven't already, because time is quickly running out!

Historic Clan Newsletters added to the Library

I remember some years back, when I was in College, finding the editions of Ár nDúthcas–the old O'Dochartaigh Clan newsletters–online and saving copies of them in my family history files. Well, about a year or so ago, I went looking for them again to place a link to them in our sites' digital family history research library, but couldn't find them online where I could readily read them anymore. Not long afterward, if I remember right, Zack Daugherty and I were talking and he whipped out one of his favorite tools, The Wayback Machine, and found the editions lying in a dusty old corner of the interwebs. Since they're not presently available for reading on-demand on the internet of today, I reached out to Ms. Joyce Dougherty, who was married to the late Cameron Dougherty and daughter-in-law to the late Pat "Inch" Dougherty of Michigan and obtained permission to post those editions of the Ár nDúthcas newsletter of their Ó Dochartaigh Clann Association, which I had saved away.

Volume 1 was published in February of 1982 with Volume 60 being issued in October 2012. While the project was spearheaded by Patrick Dougherty of Michigan (later of Inch Island), and later his son Cameron, many other dozens of wonderful clanfolk served in various editorial and contributing roles over those three decades to produce these newsletters. There's tons of information tucked away in them, which you can use to begin your researching, including tips on visiting Ireland. Because later discoveries unearth new information, as with all secondary genealogical sources, the best practice is to identify the primary sources where the authors obtained their data. Also as times change, make sure to check the latest travel sites for information. Regardless, there's a treasure trove of information and history hidden in the over 900 pages published. Throughout these issues, each a snapshot in time, you can see the development of our Clann Association, the growth of the O'Dochartaigh Reunion, and see new discoveries about our history emerge. I've added a page for the Ár nDúthcas newsletters to this site under the Genealogy Library so you can read and download them.


I'd like to say Thank You to each and every one of you who use the O'Doherty Heritage website, read this blog, contribute information, or share with friends. This site has been up for just a little over a year now. The first iteration, on Google sites, was published October 9, 2018, and then it moved to Wix in February 2019. Since joining Wix, the site has had over 2000 visitors with almost 8000 page views. When it first started nearly all the traffic was generated from Facebook users, but now that it's been up for a while, organic Google searches are now generating over 75% of the web traffic. This is exciting because it means we're beginning to reach out to our clanfolk of all ages and all over the globe, meeting new people and sharing our heritage with them when they simply begin searching the web for their variant of the name. This was one of the original goals of the site!

May we ever be thankful for our O'Dochartaigh family, who though they might be spread across the world, are close at heart and thankful for the heritage and traditions we share! I wish you a blessed Holiday season, safe travels, warm memories, and–until next time–Ár nDúthchas!

Will Dougherty III

An Old Irish Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.


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