An Irishman and woman who emigrated to New York have discovered their long lost relatives – thanks to a seemingly insignificant Facebook notification.
Danny Price has lived in New York for 11 years, his sister Mary Willis has also been in New York for eight years.
They come from Clara, Offaly and are the children of Joe and Phyllis Price.
The siblings’ great-aunt Nelly and great-uncle Davy emigrated to New York in 1926. As an only child, their father Joe lost touch with them when they left Ireland.
Danny and Mary became intrigued about their relatives when they realised that great-uncle Davy would write to his sister for decades until communication stopped in the 1960s.
When they moved to New York they found Nelly’s grave and learned that she had never married, but they could find no information about Davy.
Mary told the Leinster Express: “We could never find Davy even though now and then we’d look online.
“We knew he had been in touch with our granny, his sister, by mail but for some reason, they stopped communicating around the sixties. His last name was McDonald so there were always a lot of results.
“Dad even tried ringing McDonalds in Richmond Hill, New York where Davy had lived but there were so many. His son Davy Jnr had spent a year in Ireland as a teenager, so dad remembered him well but had no more information.
“Dad always wondered if we had relatives here we didn’t know about.”
Mary said that she and Danny gave up on their investigation for many years as they seemed to have hit a wall.
That was until the coronavirus pandemic struck the world in 2020 and a sequence of events resulted in a breakthrough for the siblings.
Danny was preparing to reopen his bar following a lockdown and joined a neighbourhood Facebook page to promote his business.
He received a notification when a local woman messaged his Facebook page.
Mary said: “A woman called Kathy asked him where in Ireland he was from.
“She said that she had Irish heritage, her family being from Offaly. Danny said that his grand-uncle Davy had moved here, explaining that he was a bus driver in Manhattan but lived in Jamaica, Queens. He said he might as well ask…
“She replied that her grandfather was Davy McDonald, who drove a bus in Manhattan and lived in Jamaica, Queens. He had a sister called Molly, our granny, and she had married a Joe Price (Snr), our grandfather.”
Mary, Danny and Kathy then began exchanging messages and putting together the missing pieces of the jigsaw of their family history.
The siblings’ great-uncle Davy had passed away in 1966, having had five children – Davy Jnr, Mike, Helen, Susan and Dianne.
Mary said her father was over the moon that she and Danny had managed to find their long-lost relatives.
She said: “He’s still in shock I think. He’s always wondered about them, especially Davy Jnr who spent the year living with them. He would have been around 15 or 16 at the time, my Dad around six.
“He’s delighted that we’ve made contact. Being an only child and with his aunt and uncle moving to the US before he was even born, he has had no brothers, sisters or cousins up to this
“He’s in Kerry right now and that alone took a lot of persuasion. He’s a homebird but hopefully, he will come out to meet them all when it’s safe.”
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Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling