Yesterday was the big day. I woke up with only 29 1/2 miles to go to reach 10,000 miles of bicycling for 2021. As it turns out, the distance from my home near Washington, DC to County Mayo, Ireland, the place of my paternal grandmother’s birth, is about 3,333 miles. So if there were a bridge between here and there and you rode a bike across it you could do one round trip and then ride back to Ireland and hit 10,000 miles.
One of my little projects when I retired was to apply for Irish citizenship, which you can do if you can prove that one of your grandparents was born in Ireland. And so I set about tracking down official documents (with embossed seals and such) to prove my lineage.
I needed official copies of her birth certificate, marriage license, my father’s birth certificate, his and my mother’s marriage license, my grandparents’ death certificates, my parents’ death certificates, my birth certificate and my marriage certificate. My siblings had a few of the documents, some official, others photocopies. Thankfully, one of my brothers had the hardest one to get: my grandmother’s birth certificate from rural Mayo in the 1880s. Most of the rest I had to find on my own. It took over a year but I was finally ready to send my package off to Dublin.
As I was about to send in my application I found that I had misplaced my grandparents’ death certificates. I turned the house upside down to no avail.
I went to the website of the Vital Records Office of New York State where my grandparents died. It said I needed to appear at a hearing with legal representation to get the documents. I was ready to give up.
Mary Mother of Gawd.
To obtain my parents’ marriage license, I called the town office of Freehold, New Jersey where they were married. Talking to a human greatly simplified things so I decided as a last resort to call the New York Vital Records Office and beg for mercy. When they learned what I was doing and the fact that my grandparents had been dead for decades, they told me to send copies of the documents demonstrating my relationship with my grandmother and they would gladly send me the missing papers.
After a mess up on my part (and a 3,000-mile bike tour), I finally received the documents I needed. I sent everything off to Dublin with my application to be added to the Registry of Foreign Births, a process that normally takes three to six months.
After a few weeks, in August 2019, Dublin sent me an email saying they had all my documents. Alas, Brexit happened. Dublin was inundated with applications. This would lengthen processing time considerably.
Then the pandemic hit and the office closed.
Last month, I received an email saying that Dublin was once again processing applications. Yay. They would be processed in the order they were received. Applicants could expect to wait up to two years to hear about their status. Boo.
Yesterday morning, I opened my email and was stunned to learn that my application had been processed. Accordingly, my name had been added to the Registry of Foreign Births. I was now officially an Irish citizen.
I celebrated by going for a 30-mile bike ride. My body rode to DC and back. My mind rode across a bridge to a far away land.