Ancestral Travel to the Celtic Nations

Ancestral Travel Guide to the Celtic Nations

Table of Contents

Trim Castle in Ireland. Ancestral Travel to the Celtic Nation of Ireland.

Ancestral Travel to the Celtic Nations is becoming increasingly popular for theme travel. With the advancement of home testing DNA kits through companies like or 23&, people can pinpoint where their ancestors came from. Let me be your guide to Ancestral Travel to the Celtic Nations.

Many people in the United States can trace their ancestry to the Celtic Nations and the British Isles. Before the Iron Age, the Celts migrated to the British Isles and Ireland. However, several centuries later, some tribes were forced to flee Central Europe due to the Roman Empire’s invasion.

Celtic Nations, also known as the Celtic Fringe, consists of seven countries. Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall (county in England), Isle of Man, Brittany in France, and Galicia in Spain. However, there is some debate about Galicia since they no longer speak the Celtic language.

Finding a Connection to the Past

Ancestral Travel to the Celtic Nations DNA

With online databases like Family Search and Find My Past, finding those connections to the past is becoming more accessible. For some, the longing to see where their ancestors lived can be a primal need to connect.

After moving around frequently, I never felt a sense of belonging to any specific place or community. I received contradictory information about my family’s origins, which made me eager to seek out my unknown relatives. I longed for that connection. When I finally visited Scotland, I immediately felt a sense of belonging. It was as if I had found my true home at last.

Many of us strongly desire to feel a sense of belonging to a community or a particular place. Ancestral travel is a great way to explore and discover our roots. By learning about our ancestors and their history, we can establish a deeper connection with our past and, ultimately, with the present. This understanding helps us to create meaningful and lasting connections.

Celtic Migration to Immigration

Celtic Migration
Migration of the Celts from Indo-European to the British Isles

The Celts were a collection of Tribes from Central Europe, generally north of the Alps, in areas of Gaul (France), Spain, and Germany. They spread throughout Europe and west to the British Isles and Ireland. The Celtics had a violent history, with mighty warriors defending their homelands with blood until they were eventually pushed to the fringe of the British Isles.

Celts were indigenous people in Briton, Scotland, and Ireland before the Iron Age. These people shared a language, culture, art, and religious beliefs.

The Greeks first used the word’ celt’ in about 500 BC for the people of Gaul. ‘Keltoi’ or ‘Celt’ means ‘to hide’ or ‘to strike’ or ‘impel,’ ‘foreigners’ and ‘the tall ones.’

The Celts were dedicated warriors, defeating their enemies and defending their land. They spread out from their homelands in Central Europe throughout Europe. They clashed with the Romans and Greeks when they spread out to the south and east.

As a result, they sacked the city of Rome in 390 BC and then desecrated the shrine at Delphi in 279 BC. Afterward, they established themselves in Anatolia, which is currently Turkey. They eventually became the Galatians we know from the New Testament.

Before this time, other tribes spread west into Gaul, now known as France, and then into Spain. Later, taking to the seas, Celts invaded Britain and Ireland, conquered the natives, and established their own culture and Gaelic language.

Roman Invasion
italy, rome, statue-2615137.jpg

The Celts, a captivating web of ancient Indo-European tribes, wove their stories across Europe and Anatolia for centuries. Their journey, marked by cultural richness and unwavering spirit, resonates even today.

Our tale begins around 1200 BC, nestled in the heart of Central Europe. Here, the Celtic tapestry began to be woven, marked by the Hallstatt culture known for its intricate metalwork and burial mounds. As centuries passed, their influence radiated outwards, carried by adventurous tribes seeking new horizons.

Around 400 BC, the Celtic migration gained momentum. One branch swept westward, carving its path through Gaul (modern-day France) and eventually reaching the emerald shores of the British Isles. These became the Insular Celts, giving rise to the Britons, Gaels, and the enigmatic people of Brittany.

While the Romans never entirely conquered Scotland, they did make several attempts between 78 AD and 211 AD. The most notable examples include campaigns by generals Agricola and Septimius Severus, who reached points beyond Hadrian’s Wall. However, due to factors like fierce tribal resistance and the harsh terrain, they ultimately failed to establish lasting control.

Roman Presence in Ireland & Scotland

Roman presence in Ireland: Though less extensive than in Britain, the Romans did attempt to establish a foothold in Ireland with military campaigns in the late 4th century AD. These efforts were also unsuccessful, leaving minimal Roman influence on the island.

Despite numerous attempts by the Romans to conquer Scotland, they were never able to establish lasting control due to the fierce resistance of the Scottish people.

Although their efforts to establish a foothold in Ireland were not as extensive as in Britain, they were ultimately unsuccessful. Following the decline of Roman influence in Britain, the Celtic people faced a new challenge in the form of the growing presence of Anglo-Saxons, Jutes, and Frisians. They began to resist this new threat as early as the mid-5th century AD.

History is so Important to Genealogy and Ancestral Travel to the Celtic Nations

Why does all this matter? Do I need to know ancient history? I’m just trying to find my great, great, great grandma from County Cork in 1834. What will all this tell me about my ancestors? And why do I need to know this for ancestral travel?

Knowing where your ancestors migrated from and immigrated to will help tremendously in finding them. A DNA test might reveal ethnicities from countries that you can’t explain. Like mine, I have DNA from Germanic Tribes from Central Europe. I was perplexed by the results but soon realized that the tribes (Anglo-Saxons) that invaded Britain were part of my DNA. History can tell us so much about the people who came before us.

Genetic testing has revealed more detailed migration patterns from specific groups of people. This all aids us when we are looking for those long-lost relatives. History tells so much about our ancestors and explains why you are the way you are. The more we know about their region, the more we can imagine their lives and how they lived, loved, and cared for each other.

What is Ancestral Travel to the Celtic Nations?

Ancestral Travel to the Celtic Nations

Wikipedia describes Genealogy Travel as “sometimes called roots tourism, a segment of the tourism market consisting of tourists with ancestral connections to their holiday destination. These genealogy tourists travel to the land of the ancestors to reconnect with their past and ‘walk in the footsteps of their forefathers.’”

Ancestral Travel to the Celtic Nations (also called genealogy, roots, heritage, and DNA tourism/ travel) has become extremely popular in recent years, allowing us to travel and walk where our great, great, greats lived, worked, and raised a family.

However, there is a difference between Genealogy Travel and Heritage Tourism. Each has its objective and goal for what you want out of your trip. For some, this trip could be the trip of a lifetime. Traveling can be expensive, and you want to make the most of your travel.

Genealogy Travel

Genealogy Travel – Or Ancestral Travel – Returning to your ancestors’ homeland to visit national archives, libraries, churches, and cemeteries to find more information about your relatives.

You might be looking specifically for an address you found in a census where your relative lived. Or you might be looking for where the family farm used to be. Maybe you want to meet newly found cousins, aunts, or uncles.

After exhausting all your research in the States for relatives immigrating from the British Isles, it’s time to plan that trip to Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man, or England. England was called the Britons in pre-Roman times. During the occupation, these Celts sailed to Brittany in France and Galicia in Spain or just assimilated into the culture of Britain.

Maybe you can’t travel now; perhaps you want to hire a Professional Genealogist to assist in your search. There are ways to hire one in the country you are researching.

Hiring a Professional Genealogist

If you are not interested in researching for your trip, consider hiring a professional genealogist familiar with your family’s former place of residence.

A great place to start is with:
  • The Association of Professional Genealogists.
  • The Society of Genealogists of Northern Ireland
  • The Association of Scottish Genealogists & Researchers in Archives
  • The of Association of Genealogists & Researchers in Archives for Wales & England
Why would you want to hire a professional?
  • You don’t know where to begin.
  • Can’t travel at the moment.
  • Maybe you need help understanding DNA results.
  • Some documents are just too hard to read and understand.
  • You wish to find long-lost family members.
  • You want to learn how to research better.
  • Maybe you do not have the time or desire to research yourself.

Questions to Ask a Professional Genealogist

Treat your meeting with a Genealogist like an interview. Ask them what their background is and what they specialize in. Ask them if they are certified, especially if you want to hire one from Ireland or the UK. A live video chat will help you put a face to the name and see if you have a connection with this person.

Ask them what their fee is. Also, ask what comes with that fee. Will there be added expense if they travel to look for a tombstone or other documents?

What is their schedule? Will you be able to contact them throughout the day, or do they have certain hours they are available? There is a time difference between the US and the UK. Keep this in mind. Also, ask them if they charge for phone calls and video time.

Will they send copies of documents via email, or can they mail them? What charges will be added for that? It’s a good idea to write down questions before your first meeting.

Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS)

1. Reasonably exhaustive research.
2. Complete and accurate source citations.
3. Thorough analysis and correlation.
4. Resolution of conflicting evidence.
5. Soundly written conclusion based on the most substantial evidence.

The GPS overarches all of the documentation, research, and writing standards described in Genealogy Standards and is applied across the board in all genealogical research to measure the credibility of conclusions about ancestral identities, relationships, and life events. This is taken from the Board for Certification of Genealogists. For more information, click here.

Heritage/Ancestry Travel

Heritage Travel – A vacation you take in your ancestors’ homeland to learn more about the culture. You visit to get a sense of history, culture, and food.

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Heritage Travel is “traveling to experience the places, artifacts, and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present. It includes cultural, historic, and natural resources.”

There are different ways to experience Heritage Travel, such as:
  • Studying abroad – immerse yourself in the culture while going to school.
  • Volunteer abroad – a vacation to volunteer in your homeland can be highly fulfilling.
  • Intern for a new career.
  • Become a teacher.
  • Taking a Family Tree Tour in the country of your ancestors.

Ancestral Heritage Tour Groups

Maybe you don’t want to hire a Genealogist or plan your trip. How about taking a Heritage Tour? They can help you plan your trip with a tour of your homeland. They can also help you with planning an itinerary for a self-driven tour. There are a lot of variations in full-guided tours, hybrid tours, and self-guided tours.

Fully Guided Travel Tours

Below are a few Heritage Travel Tour Companies you might like to check out. These are only suggestions for the Celtic countries of the British Isles.

  • Family Tree Tours – Group or private heritage tours. Private genealogy tours.
  • Time Travel Tours – Ireland & British Isles full-service travel agent & tour operator.
  • My Irish Connections – Genealogy & Irish family history tours, historical sites, heritage centers, and places of interest.
  • Clans & Castles – Culture, castles, and clan lands. *Bespoke tours of Scotland, driver-guided tours. Tailored vacations and theme tours.
  • Discover Scotland Tours – Leaving Glasgow and Edinburgh, one to six-night tours to historic castles and stunning scenery where drivers share myths and legends, heroes and villains.
  • Wow, Scotland Tours – Leaves from Inverness. Tours off the beaten path, day and shore excursion private tours.

*Bespoke Travel – refers to an advanced form of travel where you obtain a custom-designed itinerary focusing on unique experiences of a place you want to travel.

  • Celtico – Customized private tours, genealogy tours, Welsh heritage and culture tours
  • Creepy Carmarthen Tours – Evening tours, local history combining actual events, mysteries, and a bit of magic presented by The Spooky Magic Company at Castle House.
  • Cardifferent Historic Pub Tours – Actors take you on a tour of the city & pubs with a dash of history and a twist of drama.
  • Full Day Private Historical Cornish Tours – Discover the coastal county of Cornwall, customized or pre-designed.
  • Cornwall Garden Tours – There are over 100 gardens to tour, including World Mining Heritage sites, galleries, and shopping tours.
  • Poldark Tours – UNESCO World Heritage Cornish Mine. The series Poldark tours.
Isle of Man

Hybrid Ancestral Tours

A hybrid tour combines a guided tour for a pre-determined number of days and then staying longer at your destination to explore the region independently. If you have the time and the money, this option might be a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Self-Guided Tours Heritage Travel

Self-guided tours are more precise than self-guided. If you enjoy creating your itinerary and researching must-see places, this trip is for you. I love making my itineraries and finding out-of-the-way sites. I’m not a huge fan of touristy places, but I have visited my fair share.

Tour companies can customize an itinerary outlining where your ancestors lived and worked. These itineraries can be pricey but are a great alternative to making those plans yourself.

Whatever way you travel, whether for genealogy purposes or just immersing yourself in the culture. It all begins with tracing those people you share DNA with.

Getting Started with Genealogy

Why do your genealogy? Why not just take that DNA test and visit your homeland? There is more to genealogy than just a name and date of birth or death. Genealogy has been around since the Old Testament times.  Genesis chapters 5 and 10 discuss the descendants from Adam & Eve to Abraham and Noah.

Noah was the 10th generation of Adam; after Noah, it splits off from his three sons (Japheth, Shem, and Ham). In Matthew and Luke, they follow the lineage back from Jesus to Abraham.

According to Answers in Genesis, “Given the age of creation, can we know the approximate generation number from Adam to people today? We can, in some instances. The Queen of England (Queen Elizabeth II) has a lineage that goes back to Noah—which is pretty well-known based on the six Anglo-Saxon royal houses (Anglia, Kent, Lindsey, Mercia, North Umbria, and Wessex).2 

This is the case with many royal houses in Europe. Though this lineage is known, it is deemphasized and largely ignored in our secular culture that insists in recent times that we are the progeny of animals instead of Noah.”

There is no judgment here whether you believe in Creation or Evolution. It’s just an interesting fact that the Queen of England can trace her lineage back to Noah. Researching your genealogy will help you make more of a connection to the area you wish to travel to. It’s best to trace your ancestors in your current country and exhaust these resources before planning your Ancestral Holiday.

What is Genealogy?

Genealogy is tracing one’s family back as far as possible using birth, marriage, and death records, along with others. Countries have been taking censuses of their people for centuries. A census was taken in Bethlehem when Jesus was born.  This is to point out that even census taking goes way back.

There are other records to search for families, such as land records, deeds, military records, parish records, old Bibles, newspapers, and historical societies.

History plays such a massive part in genealogy. It helps to know what went on at certain times of each generation, the political climate, and the migration of people. This will aid in finding documents to search for.

Types of Family Trees

There are a few approaches you can take when forming your family tree. You can search the Direct Lineage, Family Lineage, Descendant Tree, and Collateral Ancestors.

Direct Lineage is an ascendant tree or a pedigree. It begins with you, your parents, and your grandparents and follows a single bloodline going back several generations. You can trace your parents on both sides simultaneously or one line at a time.

Family Lineage is where you take your family tree of your parents but throw in siblings of yours, parents, and grandparents. This type of research can help you with brick walls you might have by showing information on documents or census reports that might be missing from your parents.

Collateral Genealogy Research is where you extend your main family lineage to include not only their siblings but also their wives, husbands, and children. Have a plan on how to keep your records straight. It can get overwhelming with all the relatives.

Descendant Family Trees are the reverse of the traditional family tree. It starts with your grandparents going back a few generations and coming forward. I like to combine this method with the collateral method. It gives a more complete picture of your most recent family history.

How to Search for Ancestors

Where do you start your new adventure in genealogy? It can be overwhelming when first starting. What is the best place to start? Should I use special software? How do I know if this is the person I am searching for?

  1. Start with your living relatives. If your parents and grandparents are alive, start with them. Ask them questions about their birthdates, when they got married, and who their parents were. Get as much information as you can. But be careful. Some family members won’t want to talk about their younger years. Memories can be painful for some, especially for those in the war or who had difficult childhoods.
  2. Have a plan Before you get all gung-ho about jumping online. Who are you going to start with? Your father’s line? Your mother? It’s best to start with one line first. Find out what you can about one generation at a time.
  3. Make a budget. A lot of websites have paid subscriptions and paid member sites. Also, remember that there will be extra charges for copies of documents when visiting archives and libraries.
  4. Design a process for collecting documents and storing them. Are you going to have hard copies of everything? Or maybe keep them in folders on your computer? There are free genealogy worksheets online, and they can help with your tree. Also, create a research log for recording resources. (Record everything right then and there; you will thank yourself later.)

Genealogy Research on the Internet

Once online, you can search for family members and documents related to them. You will find birth, marriage, and death records most easily. Then, you want to flesh out your research on them by looking for other documents such as military, cemetery, and census reports.

Records with Genealogical information:
  1. Vital Records (both governmental, religious, and family)
  2. Census Reports (beginning in 1940 going back) There is a 72-year rule regarding when the Government releases new census reports.
  3. Cemeteries records (Sexton’s records, deeds, plot records, Plat maps, funeral records, and more)
  4. Immigration/Emigration records
  5. Military records
  6. Newspapers
  7. Naturalization and Citizenship
  8. Land, property, probate, and tax records
Information Needed for Each Person
  1. Name – Include middle names and possibly nicknames.
  2. Age – Censuses, vital records, and cemeteries, then military and taxation records.
  3. Birth date and place – vital records, cemeteries, newspapers, and census reports.
  4. Country of foreign birth – Naturalization records, vital records, censuses, then check military & newspapers, emigration, and immigration records.
  5. Death date and place – Vital records, cemeteries, probate records, newspapers, Bible records & military.
  6. Immigration Date – Censuses, Immigration, Naturalization, Biographies.
  7. Maiden Name – Vital records, newspapers, cemeteries, military and probate records.
  8. Marriage date and place – Vital records, censuses, cemeteries, probate, military, and land records.
  9. Parents’ names – Vital records, censuses, probate records, published genealogies, emigration records.
  10. Places family have lived – Censuses, land records, local historical societies, directories, taxation records, and Obituaries.

After researching and locating those documents, don’t only read them but analyze them. Make sure that you have the correct Uncle Jim Bob. Build good research habits from the beginning. Please don’t make it a habit to take information from another’s family tree as the person you seek. I have encountered several mistakes on other trees that can throw you off in a big way. Do the work and analyze everything.

Research in the Celtic Nations

Researching your ancestors online can only get you so far. Only about 10% of documents are online. Once you have explored all you can online, it is time to leave your office, the basement, or your little shed in the back and step into a world of archivery. That isn’t a real word, but it sounds cool and may catch on.

All this has been building up to being able to travel to your homeland, motherland, and forbearer’s land. We shall go to the archives, whatever you want to call it.

But it’s not as easy as visiting the archive or library and reviewing files. It would be best to have a gameplan on what you are researching and what records you might find at certain places.

There are all types of archives:
  1. Colleges and Universities specialize in collections and materials related to the institution.
  2. Corporate Archives that preserve business information.
  3. Government Archives have information on the local, state, and federal levels, such as birth/death certificates, marriage, and legal records.
  4. Historical Societies are usually geared for the local region. Most countries have some historical or genealogical societies.
  5. Special Collections are collections of individual families in a particular area.
  6. Religious Archives are usually related to that church or parish.
  7. Museums house historically significant records of that region.

Numerous libraries have genealogy centers in them. Other types of research can be done at local family centers, courthouses, and cemeteries. – “ArchiveGrid includes over 5 million records describing archival materials, bringing together information about historical documents, personal papers, family histories, etc. With over 1,000 different archival institutions represented, ArchiveGrid helps researchers look for primary source materials in archives, libraries, museums, and historical societies.” is mainly for the United States. However, you can search for the Celtic countries, and they will populate some places.

Research the Repository & its Holdings online.

Most archives will have an online website telling you what you should do before visiting the library or repository.

  1. Contact the archive or library first to see their research hours and restrictions.
  2. Check the visiting hours and parking situation.
  3. Ask if there is a limit on the material you can research at a time.
  4. Check to see if they restrict what you can and cannot bring with you.
  5. Ask if they have internet access.
  6. Research online what materials they have housed there.
  7. Pay someone to assist if it is too far away.

Email the Repository before you visit, mainly if you are contacting archives in the British Isles. Ask your questions about who you will be researching and for any particulars about the facility.

Most facilities require you to bring identification to sign in and fill out “call slips.” Those are requests for specific collections.

Don’t bring food, drinks, or chew gum. Be respectful of the records you research. Bring a pencil, paper, or notebook to make citations.

Ask if they permit using computers, phones, cameras, or personal scanners. Be mindful when handling documents. Ask if they require gloves.

Prioritize your requests. You may use more time allowed on certain documents, so choose the most important for this trip.

Familiarize yourself with the policy of each establishment you are visiting.

If you are able, do not wear big, bulky clothes. Believe it or not, some people have taken documents they were not allowed to. One bad apple makes it worse for the rest. They may search you when you come and go. Be respectful.

Know the Terminology
  1. Transcribing is making an exact, word-for-word copy of the record.
  2. Abstract is a summary of the most essential details. But remember, these are the author’s ideas of the most important details.
Citing the Sources

You must cite your sources thoroughly. Answer the Who, What, How, Where, and When for your sources.

  1. What does this record relate to?
  2. What kind of record is this?
  3. How can I find it again?
  4. Where did I get this record?
  5. When was the document created?

Be as thorough as you can. You may have questions later and find this information helpful if you need to call the archive to ask more questions. The person helping you will thank you.

Libraries and Governmental Facilities

These places are a little more lax regarding what you can bring in. And like before, call the place to see their policy about bringing certain things in.

Create a mobile research office. If you do a lot of research, you probably already have a portable office setup. Traveling overseas might limit what you bring with you. Even if you cannot get these items to the archive, you will have them to work on what you found that day.

These are probably the most essential items to bring with you:

  1. Laptop
  2. Charger
  3. Pen & Paper
  4. Notebook
  5. Mobile device
  6. Charging & Power cables
  7. USB Flash drives
  8. Digital Voice Recorder
  9. Headphones
  10. Scanner (Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner)

Ancestral Research in the Celtic Nations


National Archives – – Legal, Historical, and Genealogy Records.

If you have not visited the National Archives before, please consult Plan Your Visit or the FAQ.
Visitors are requested to bring 1) Photographic identification and 2) Proof of address.

National Archives, Bishop Street, Dublin 8, Ireland 08 DF85 Phone: + 353 (0)1 407 2300

General Register Office – Historic Records of the following can be viewed on

Births 1864 – 1919, Marriages 1845 – 1944, Deaths 1878 – 1969
Two types of searches may be undertaken at the genealogical/family history research facility: a specific search covering a maximum of 5 years for a fee of €5 and a general search covering any number of years for a fee of €20 per day. The fee for a copy of an entry from the records is €5. Click here to apply for birth, death, marriage, adoption, civil partnership, and stillbirth certificates.

The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport, and Media provides online access to indexes and register pages for genealogy purposes on

National Library –

National Library of Ireland
7-8 Kildare Street, Dublin 2, D02 P638
Telephone: +353 (0)1 603 0200   Email:
(For inquiries about our collections, opening hours, and admission procedures. To order material, please see the Accessing Material section.)

Genealogy/Family History
National Library of Ireland
7-8 Kildare Street, Dublin 2, D02 P638
Telephone: +353 (0)1 603 0256   Email:
(For inquiries about our resources and services for family history)

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) –

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)
2 Titanic Boulevard

General Register of Northern Ireland (GRONI)


The National Records of Scotland – Civil registration, census, demography and statistics, family history & historical records.
Telephone: 0131 314 4411 – Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4:30 pm
Find out about call charges.

National Records of Scotland
New Register House
3 West Register Street, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH1 3YT

National Archives of Scotland – On 1 April 2011, the NAS merged with the General Register Office for Scotland to become the National Records of Scotland (NRS). For inquiries, please go to the contact section of the National Records of Scotland website.

Since 1 October 2014, the information on the National Archives of Scotland website has not been updated. Please visit the National Records of Scotland website for more up-to-date research, learning, and record-keeping information, including Freedom of Information and the Public Records (Scotland) Act.

Scotland’s People Center in Edinburgh – National Records of Scotland

HM General Register House – 2 Princess Street, Edinburgh EHI 3YY UK +44 131 535 1314

Wales & Cornwall

University of South Wales – University of South Wales
CF37 1DL, Pontypridd, Telephone: 03455 76 01 01 – Contains a list of repositories throughout Wales.

The National Library of Wales – Penglais Road, Aberystwyth, SY23 3BU, UK, Contains maps, newspapers, and journals.

General Registry Office – P.O. Box 2, Southport PR8 2JD, +44 0300 123 1837, Birth, Marriage, Death, civil partnerships, and stillbirths and adoptions for England and Wales.

The Courtney Library – Royal Institute of Cornwall, River Street, Truro, England TR1 2SJ, +44 01872 242 786, – Records, Archives, and Cornish History

Kresen  Kernow – Little Vauxhall, Redruth, Cornwall TRI5 1AS, +44 01209 614430

Isle of Man

Isle of Man Family Heritage Society – Derby Lodge, Derby Road, Peel, IM5 1HH,

IOM Public Record Office – Unit 40a, Spring Valley Industrial Estate, Douglas, Isle of Man IM2 2QS, +44 01624 693 569, Open – Thursdays 9:30 am to 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Fridays – 9:30 am to 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm, Must book in advance.

Manx National Heritage Library –, Email:, +44 01624 648 047, Kingwood Grove, Douglas IM1 3LY, Isle of Man

After the Archivery is Over

  1. A wee dram. If you are in Scotland, Ireland, or elsewhere, it is best to begin with some good whisky. Just do not drink too much before organizing what you brought back.
  2. Organize what you brought back. Label everything.
  3. Scan paper files and make copies. Organize digital files.
  4. Send a thank you card to the people who helped you.
  5. Compare notes to other records.
  6. Organize pictures—touch-up photos.
  7. Then pat yourself on the back. You did great today. Good job. Now, find your relative’s home where they lived or where they worked. Or find a place to eat and connect with the locals.

When planning your itinerary, schedule your time in the archives and libraries, but limit it to a few hours a day or maybe one or two days while you are in Ireland or the UK. Then, go out and enjoy what the country has to offer.

Have a Plan B in case something happens? Like, I don’t know, a pandemic? Or if some other unforeseen circumstance occurs?

It’s just good to be prepared for anything that might happen. If everything fails, you can always sit in a pub, enjoy local music, or attend a ceilidh. (That’s a fancy Gaelic word for a party. They are quite delightful.)

Planning Your Trip to the Celtic Nations

So, you have traced your family to where they traveled to America to live out the American Dream. You have your DNA results and have researched your ancestors’ country. It’s time to plan that trip and meet those who came before you.

Have you made up your mind about what type of Ancestral Tour you would like to take? Do you want to do a Genealogy Tour? a Heritage Tour? or maybe a little bit? Do you want a guided tour or self-driven?

Ancestral Travel Pre-Trip Tips

It’s exciting that you have found your ancestors from the Celtic Isles. Now, you want to start planning that once-in-a-lifetime trip. Or maybe it will be a trip to a place you will return to repeatedly. Either way, traveling can be expensive depending on how extravagant you want to get.

I like to travel with a backpack and as light as possible. I can buy whatever I need once I reach my destination. Plus, it saves on having to pay for checked luggage.

There are many things to consider when planning an overseas journey. Deciding how you want to spend your time should be something you should figure out before going. Are you going to spend time in the Archives searching for other relatives? Do you want to take a guided tour or self-drive?

Itinerary Planning for Ancestral Travel

Planning an itinerary can seem daunting, as can figuring out where you will stay, how long to spend doing genealogy research or immersing yourself in the culture. There are travel agents capable of helping you plan your vacation.

I love planning itineraries. Every trip I have taken overseas, I have planned. It gives me the freedom to do what I want when I want to do it. Also, traveling solo allows me to go where I want, spend time in the archives, and look for places specific to my family. If I want to sleep in, I can, but who wants to sleep in when there is SO much to see and do? I can pull off any side road and explore if I drive.

Itinerary for Ancestral Research

When planning your itinerary, will you spend time in libraries and archives? Build that time into your trip. Alternate between indoor activities and outdoor activities. Maybe you could spend time in Edinburgh or London and then do the usual touristy stuff. Perhaps visit an ancestor’s castle or clan lands.

It’s up to you how you want to travel. But if you have never been on a solo trip, consider it. While looking for a connection to the past, it can help you connect to yourself on a different level. Traveling in the British Isles is pretty darn safe for solo travel.

Traveling alone can be an excellent opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, connect with locals, and make new friends while relying on technology.

Ways to Save for Your Ancestral Travel Adventures

Organize Your Finances
  1. Track your spending. It’s important to know where your money goes before you can figure out what to do with your money. I know it’s nice to stop for a Starbucks now and then or go out to eat after a long day at work. Try keeping a small notebook in your car or purse and keep track of every time you purchase something for about a month. You will be surprised where the money goes.
  2. Become financially responsible. Growing up, we are not taught how to deal with money. I think I was 18 before I learned how to reconcile my checkbook. There are free resources online that can teach you about finances.
  3. Learn about budgeting. Give every dollar you get a job. Assign it a place to go, from paying the light bill to groceries.
  4. Make savings automatic. Has it come out of your check before you even see it? Makes it painless.
Cutting out non-Essentials
  1. Cut back on non-essentials. Do you need that magazine subscription? Are you using that gym membership? What about Netflix? There are things we can all cut out of our spending.
  2. Get a 2nd job or side gig. Do you have a hobby or like to do something you can make extra money doing? Put that extra money into savings for your trip.
  3. Cut back on vices. If you are smoking, drinking, or whatever you do for sinful pleasure, try cutting back on them or quitting altogether. I have been there; I quit smoking and only have a drink on my birthday. Once you go on vacation, drink them and enjoy yourself. Nothing tastes better than a scotch in Scotland or Jameson in Ireland.
Budget for Your Ancestral Trip
  1. Set a budget for your trip.
  2. Decide what kind of trip this will be. As I said earlier, figure out what trip you want to take. Guided? Self-Guided? Or Hybrid? Check the prices for guided tours and compare them to self-drive tours.
  3. Flights. What type of flight are you willing to invest in? First class? I wish I could travel first class. I tend to go as cheap as possible to spend the bulk of my money on sites—book whatever type of flight you are comfortable with. Just be honest with yourself on what you are willing to give up.
  4. Accommodation. There are numerous accommodations to choose from—hotels, Airbnb, Bed & Breakfasts, hostels, or maybe a castle or estate. I love staying at castles when in Scotland. A note about hostels: they can be nice, and they can be a bit sketchy. I have been to both. Some have private rooms that are reasonably priced. But again, you must be honest with yourself about your comfort level.
  5. Car rentals/trains/buses. These can be booked before your travels. In fact, in most cases, they are cheaper than booking in person. Knowing everything will be ready once you get there gives you a sense of security.

How bad do you want it? Finally, how badly DO you want it? I know I “wanted” to travel to Scotland for ten years, always saying ‘one day,’ ‘one day,’ that day was never going to come unless I did something to make it happen. I started saving money for what I wanted. And I wanted to go to Scotland. What you can live without is fantastic if you put your mind to it.

Getting Psyched Up for the Trip

Research the country you want to visit. You can research Ireland, Scotland, or Wales by looking online. Or you can see your local library and check out all kinds of travel books for your destination. I like to buy travel books to curl up with them, write notes, and plan my trips, but I do budget for them.

Prepare and eat traditional foods from your homeland. Check out cookbooks at the local library for the countries you want to visit. Pub food is like comfort food. I like getting recipes to try out, although I know they will not taste as good as if you were in Ireland, but it’s a start. Many websites cater to traditional foods from the British Isles. Experiment with different recipes and get the kids involved if they are around.

Immerse Yourself in Media

Watch movies or TV shows filmed in the motherland. So many shows and movies filmed in the Celtic Nations show incredible scenery. Listening to the accents gets you in the mood for travel and training your ear for the different dialects.

  1. Scotland – Highlander, Outlander, Monty Python, Game of Thrones, Shetland, The Crown, and Downton Abbey
  2. Ireland – Wild Mountain Thyme, Games of Thrones, Vikings, Princess Bride, some parts of Harry Potter and Braveheart
  3. Wales – Parts of The Crown, Dr. Who, Bastard Executioner, Merlin, Sherlock, and Da Vinci’s Demons
  4. Cornwall – Doc Martin, Treasure Island and Poldark.

These shows and movies will get you in the mood for travel. Cook up some good pub food, enjoy the weekend, and fantasize about your ancestral vacation.

Virtual tours in the Celtics Nations

Take virtual tours. Many libraries and museums offer virtual tours for you to stream. Some have live streams, so you feel like you are there. With COVID-19, some tour companies are doing live walks to tourist sites.

Virtual Visit Tours has a list of virtual tours of places in Ireland.

Visit Scotland show tours about the history, ancestry, and historical sites.

Britain Express has virtual tours of Wales.

Passports and Visas to the Celtic Nations of the British Isles

If you are applying for your first passport, it can be exciting, but you must do a few essential things. The first is to gather your documents. You will need proof of citizenship and identification, a filled-out application, and an appointment to apply.

Primary Identification:
  • Valid or expired, undamaged U.S. passport book or passport card. 
  • In-state, fully valid, or enhanced driver’s license with photo.
  • Certificate of Naturalization 
  • Certificate of Citizenship 
  • Government employee ID (city, county, state, or federal).
  • U.S. military or military-dependent ID
  • Matricula Consular (Mexican Consular ID) – commonly used by a parent of a U.S. citizen child applicant.
  • U.S. Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) – commonly used by a parent of a U.S. citizen child applicant.
  • Trusted Traveler IDs (including valid Global Entry, FAST, SENTRI, and NEXUS cards).
  • Enhanced Tribal Cards and Native American tribal photo IDs.
  • Other documents: In-state, fully valid learner’s permit with photo; In-state, fully valid non-driver ID with photo; and temporary driver’s license with photo. Note: you may be asked to present an additional ID when presenting one of these three documents. 
Secondary Identification:
  • Out-of-state driver’s license or enhanced driver’s license with photo
  • Learner’s or temporary driver’s permit (without a photo)
  • In-state, fully valid non-driver ID (without a photo)
  • Out-of-state, non-driver ID
  • Temporary driver’s license (without a photo)
  • Social Security card
  • Voter registration card
  • Employee work ID
  • Student ID
  • School yearbook with identifiable photograph
  • Selective Service (draft) card
  • Medicare or other health card
  • Expired driver’s license 
  • Prepare Your Application Package
United States Department of State

The website has an application that you can download and fill out. First-time applicants must make an appointment at the Post Office or Passport Acceptance Facility.

  • Fill out for DS-11.
  • Provide Evidence of Citizenship
  • Bring photocopies of Citizenship evidence.
  • Present identification and provide copies of ID.
  • Provide two photos to be taken at CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, UPS Store, and the Post Office.
  • Schedule an appointment at the Post Office or Passport Acceptance Facility.  Meetings can be scheduled online or at the Kiosk at the Post Office.
  • Bring your documents to your appointment, pay fees, and submit the application. The process can take up to 10 to 12 weeks. Please apply early for your trip.

Apply several months in advance for a new passport. If you already have one, it should be valid for at least six months after you return home and have two or more blank pages, depending on your destination. Otherwise, some countries may not let you enter.

US citizens may visit the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland without a visa for up to 90 days.  However, please contact the appropriate consulate if you intend to work, study, or stay longer than 90 days. And who wouldn’t want to wait for more than 90 days? This gal!!

More Travel Tips

Safeguard Your Documents! Make two copies of all your travel documents in case of emergency. Leave one copy with a trusted friend or relative at home and carry the other separately from your original documents. To help prevent theft, do not carry your passport in your back pocket, and keep it separate from your money.

Medications: Some prescription drugs, including narcotics and some U.S. over-the-counter medications, are illegal in other countries. Please check with your destination before leaving.

Consent for Travel with Minors: If you are traveling alone with children, foreign border officials may require custody documents or notarized written permission from the other parent.

International Driving Permit: Many countries do not recognize a U.S. driver’s license, but most accept an International Driving Permit (IDP). You may also need supplemental auto insurance. Read more about driving and road safety abroad before you go.

Innovative Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP): Enroll for free at to receive travel and security updates about your destination and to help us reach you in an emergency. Groups or organizations can create an account and upload a spreadsheet with contact details for multiple travelers.

TSA Pre-Check

How it Works – For frequent flyers or anyone wanting to get through the safety check-in quicker.

1. Apply Online – Submit an online application in 5 minutes & schedule an appointment at any 380+ enrollment centers.

2. Enroll in person – a 10-minute in-person appointment that includes fingerprinting for a background check.

3. Travel with Ease – Add your Known Traveler Number to your airline reservation for faster, more seamless screening. You will not need to remove shoes, computers, belts, and light jackets.

Global Entry – According to their website:

map, atlas, geography-595791.jpg

Beginning September 8, conditionally approved Global Entry applicants can complete in-person interviews at most Trusted Traveler Programs enrollment centers in the United States. These applicants must schedule enrollment center interviews in advance by logging into their account on the Trusted Traveler Programs website

Enrollment on Arrival remains operational at participating airports. 
Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports.

At airports, program members proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification, and complete a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and exit.

Travelers must be pre-approved for the Global Entry program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment.

While Global Entry aims to speed travelers through the process, members may still be selected for further examination when entering the United States. Any violation of the program’s terms and conditions will result in the appropriate enforcement action and termination of the traveler’s membership privileges.

Travel & Safety

Read the Travel Advisory and Alerts for the countries you will be visiting at Review entry/exit requirements, visas, local laws, customs, medical care, road safety, etc. Write down contact details for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to carry with you in an emergency while traveling.

Why You Should Have Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance. One thing you should budget for is travel insurance. With travel being so up in the air right now, you need this. Travel insurance covers accidents, injuries, hospital visits, medical evaluation, trip cancellation, baggage/property theft, and damage. Each policy is different, so know what you are buying.

Some credit cards you use have travel insurance benefits, but check with them before booking anything. If you already have health insurance, call them to see if they cover you overseas. Click here to read more about travel insurance.

Currency Exchange

Before going abroad, notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel and check exchange rates. For information about using cash, debit/credit cards, and ATMs overseas, read information about your destination.

Check with your bank before you fly to see if they charge you a foreign transaction fee. Most travel rewards cards do not. Bringing about $200 worth of currency to the country you are visiting is a good idea. Your bank card may not work, so always get two or three cards to be safe. – I used this company to buy British Pounds before leaving on my trip. They can either mail you the money (you must be there to sign it) or, in my case, I could pick it up at the airport before boarding my flight.

Here is a big tip – don’t buy currency at the airport when you land. The exchange rate tends to be high. Find a nearby bank ATM where you can exchange money. In Scotland, you can exchange currency at the Post Office. Ireland uses an ATM or in Dublin.

In some places in the UK, you can exchange money using ATMs or post offices and Currency Exchange companies in London.

If you have ever exchanged currency, you probably know it is cheaper to do it before you leave, so check with your bank. The UK uses the British Pound, while Ireland uses Euros.

Traveling to the Celtic Nations of the British Isles

You have planned, researched, and forgone Hulu and Netflix so you can save money to find those long-lost relatives. All your paperwork is in order; you just got your passport in the mail and have cash in the bank. You’ve got all your ancestors together, and you have a plan of attack.

The British Isles, as you already know, are located in Western Europe. The North Sea, the Irish Sea, the English Channel, and the Atlantic Ocean surround them. The capital cities are London in England, Cardiff in Wales, Edinburgh in Scotland, Belfast in Northern Ireland, and Dublin in the Republic of Ireland.

The languages spoken are English, Welsh, Gaelic, Irish and Scottish. The climate varies from region to region. It’s best to pack clothes to be able to layer them. It can go from freezing to t-shirt weather in a matter of hours. The high season is between May and August. But there is still plenty to do and see in the off-season.

While in the Celtic Nations

Getting around the British Isles varies from buses, trains, ferries, and self-drive. Check out this post on getting around.

With the Celtic Nations being on an island, the seafood is lovely to experience. Who doesn’t love fish and chips? Each country has its regional dishes. Check out this post on great eats.

Accommodation will differ from country to country as well as your preferences. I would rather stay at B&Bs. The hosts are a great source of information about the area. Places to sleep can range from 5-star hotels down to hostels.

If you are traveling solo, consider couch surfing. It’s a great way to save some money and an excellent way to meet locals and immerse yourself in the culture. My blog post on accommodations delves deeper into the types of places to sleep.

Each country of the Celtic Nations has so much to do when you are not researching your ancestors. There are historical tours, genealogy tours, archeology, castles, and scenic road trips. There is plenty of nature to experience, trails to travel, places to camp, and places to bicycle. I explore these in this post.

Some Final Words

Dublin Castle Ireland

I detail more in other posts for each Celtic Nation, breaking down what each country offers. Ancestral travel is like a pilgrimage, coming home, a connection to oneself. It’s putting a story to the names of your ancestors.

Immersing yourself in the country of your ancestors can fulfill that longing to belong. Knowing that you have thousands of ancestors behind you can give you a sense of that Celtic pride and fierceness to live life to the fullest. I hope this has encouraged you to research your past and to travel to your ancestral home in the Celtic Nations. Safe travels, Slàinte!

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