ancient world for knowledge, for enlightenment, even for example. Our philosophies, our
political structures, our dramatic expressions have long been guided by the systems of olde
civilizations. More narrowly, we also draw upon our own particular ancestries. Why the
tradition of family portraits? How often do we tease apart the branches of the family tree-
and grow fascinated?
It seems not to matter much if that olde family thread of ours is frail or
poorly traceable or even if it fades into obscurity. We need the spirits of our past more than
we need the facts; we need the pride more than we need the proof. And the more mobile we become, and the farther we travel from our point of origin, the more we seem to want to return.
That is, if the Irish example can be judged; to have come from Ireland, no matter how long ago,
is to be of Ireland, in some part, forever.
Internationally, genealogical research has been one of the world's growing
pastimes. Within our origins we search for our anchors, our steadiness. And every one's
journey to the past is different. It might be found in a legend or in the lore of an ancestor's courage or an inherited flair. Or it might be found simply by standing on the earth once owned
by a namesake tribe, touching the stone they carved, finding their spoor. In all cases we are
drawn to the places whence they came - because to grasp who they were may guide what
we might become.