06 Jul 2022

Native American finds Laois roots on visit to Ireland

Navajo Nation attorney general

Navajo Nation attorney general traces Laois roots on Ireland visit

Doreen McPaul receiving Presidential Distinguished Service Awards for the Irish Abroad from President Michael D. Higgins

The Native American Attorney General of the Navajo nation in the USA visited Laois this week with her family to explore her roots.
Doreen McPaul was in Ireland to receive a Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad from President Michael D. Higgins.

She stopped off in Mountmellick on a whistle-stop tour of family in Ireland and was shown around by Trudy Carmody of Experiencing Ireland and Paddy Buggy, Manager of Webmill Digital Hub Mountmellick.
She has received the President's award for charitable work with the Irish Cultural Centre and McClelland Library in Phoenix, Arizona in raising funds for members of the Navajo Nation impacted by Covid 19.

“For the first time in my lifetime my two cultures were intertwined in the most beautiful way ... I was so proud to be Navajo and so proud to be Irish," Ms McPaul said.

Below: Doreen McPaul, Art Hobson, Denise Hobson Ryan with Paddy Buggy of Mountmellick Webmill Digital Hub and Trudy Carmody of Experiencing Ireland during the family's recent visit to Mountmellick. (Photos Courtesy Doreen McPaul)


Ms McPaul revealed her Laois connections on her social media account.

"Our Quaker & Kerr roots are tied to Mountmellick, Ireland in County Laois. Divine intervention connected us to Trudy Carmody. Our great-great grandparents were neighbours here. Small Irish world! She & Paddy kept the museum open late for us tonight and treated us extra kind. Super special unplanned stop in this amazing town. Would love to spend much more time here…next trip!," she said.

Paddy Buggy is Manager of Webmill Digital Hub in Mountmellick.

"Mountmellick Development Association were delighted to welcome Doreen McPaul, her sister Denise and father Art Hobson to visit our museum as they learned more about their ancestral home. We look forward to welcoming them back in the near future to meet with the ladies responsible for our marvellous museum," he said.

Below: Traditional Navajo necklace presented to Trudy Carmody by Doreen McPaul, Attorney General of the Navajo Nation during her visit to Mountmellick. 


Trudy Carmody, an active member of Laois Tour Guides Forum had contacted Ms McPaul last year and offered to help her trace her Laois family, following a press report about the family's Mountmellick connections.

"Genealogy is such an important way for members of the Irish diaspora to connect with their roots and we were delighted to help Doreen trace her father's family. I was so touched to meet Doreen with her Dad Art Hobson and sister Denise on their visit and look forward to showing them around more of Laois on their next trip home to Ireland".

Mountmellick TD and former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan said it is a remarkable story. 

“The life story of Doreen McPaul is truly remarkable, and her presence and her distinguished award is fully deserved. I am delighted she took the time to visit Mountmellick and her ancestors and I would hope she will return soon.

“The fact that the Attorney General for the Navajo Nation can claim Mountmellick heritage proves beyond doubt that the Irish footprint is everywhere and truly global,“ he said.

Caragh Burns-Sharma is Chair of Laois Tourism.

“Congratulations to Ms Mc Paul on her richly deserved award and well done to Trudy Carmody on her ever fantastic research and connection building. Welcoming tourists to Laois and helping them discover the story of their ancestral roots in Ireland is a key part of our tourism offering. Our visiting diaspora often become frequent repeat visitors which is a huge opportunity for our sector.

“Genealogy forms an important part of the Irish Tourism industry, with increasing numbers of people tracing their Irish family roots with the help of organisations like Experiencing Ireland and Mountmellick Museum. While a huge array of information is now available online, many visitors welcome the personal approach offered by a genealogist and tour-guide like Trudy to help them to really connect with the home place of their ancestors," she said.
To find out more about Experiencing Ireland go to https://experiencingireland. ie/ . Mountmellick Museum’s website is https://www. craft-museum.html .

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