Laurie McDonough
Surname List Administrator

Last revision on February 7, 1997

As a child I was an animal loving kid, absolutely horse-crazy. At age nine I finally talked by parents into allowing me to take riding lessons and two years later I was working at the horse farm. This aspect of my character actually has interesting roots in my genealogy! Meanwhile I visited with the eccentric old women in my family now and then, who told me intriguing stories about being related to President Lincoln and having a great-grandfather who could bend spoons and make tables dance. Toward the end of high school I began to ask questions about my ancestors and write down the replies. Although it turns out we are only related to Lincoln's Secretary of State and no one in the family shows a propensity toward telekinesis, I have continued my research to this day.

So how did I stumble across my first good sources? I had wanted to be a veterinarian, but there wasn't much support then for girls and women who wanted to go into science. At college I went through the phases of being an English major and an Economics major, but finally found my way back to my first love and received a B.S. Zoology in the pre-veterinary training program at the University of Rhode Island. The first summer I was in college I worked at the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission, researching the history of old houses at the Rhode Island Historical Library. I did some extra digging on my lunch hour and learned about my Irish ancestors for the first time.

What I learned about my Irish ancestors is this: Patrick Riley was a blacksmith in Co. Leitrim, a trade which he continued when he arrived in the United States. He owned a blacksmith shop in the town where I grew up - coincidentally, because my parents were not raised in that town. One of his sons, James, was a riding master at a local well-to-do farm. This information is what really galvanized my interest in genealogy; we can learn from whom aspects of our own characters come if we can learn enough about our ancestors.

Marriage and children came next and I was very busy. Unfortunately while I was taking care of my young children most of the old storytellers in the family passed away. I returned to school at Brown University to get a Master's degree in teaching, did a bit more genealogical research while I was in Providence, and taught high school for a few years after that. I returned to Brown again in 1992 and, when I'm not staring through a microscope, have exhausted the records of my ancestors in the local Libraries. It is time to move on - to Ireland, to Canada , to Britain and to Poland.

A project I am currently developing is an "I Remember" questionnaire for members of my family. I hope to collect information about ancestors' physical descriptions, personalities, work and hobbies. These descriptions will be combined with reproduced photographs in binders for various arms of my family.

Today I am in my last year of a Ph.D. program in Geology, concentrating in an area called paleoceanography. Using my biological background, I try to unravel information stored in the tiny shells of organisms which live their lives floating in the upper ocean. I do genealogy whenever I have the time - 1/2 hour here, perhaps a day there. The Leitrim-Roscommon Genealogy Homepage has been a rewarding effort, and I thank Ed for offering to create this wonderful page from my simple surname list. Many other things take up my time - Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, my kids' sports, ice skating and my new atheltic interest - over-30 women's soccer! But the unanswered questions about my ancestors are never far from my mind. I hope you find a wonderful source in these pages.

Happy Ancestor Hunting,


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