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From the desk of Dr. Charles Murphy: November 2, 2011

Many years ago, I was engaged in the process of gaining an Irish passport. Ireland grants citizenship to descendants. For example, if your grandparents were born in Ireland, you could apply for citizenship based on descent from Irish grandparents. At the time, I was looking into opportunities in Europe, but unfortunately the international rules and regulations were impossible to overcome.

However, I found out dual citizenship in one of the European Union countries was a way around the red tape. The application process required specific documentation - birth and marriage certificates - tracing back the lineage to Ireland.

Interestingly, when I received a copy of a birth certificate for one of my grandparents the entry was signed by his father with just an “x”.

In fact, noted in the margin was “mark of Daniel Doherty.” Surprisingly, I discovered through this exercise a great-grandfather who couldn’t sign his name. Amazingly, it was only a few short generations ago that education and the opportunity for “the good life” was neither available to all nor was it a given.

This man, Daniel Doherty, my great-grandfather, would be quite surprised to see how 100 years after the birth of his children into abject poverty how education and opportunity has enabled both his Irish and American decedents, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to lead successful lives… lawyers, doctors, computer scientists, teachers, policemen, businessmen, nurses…and in fact, one of his great-grandchildren, my second cousin, Moya Doherty, producer of Riverdance, is one of the wealthiest people in Ireland.

From the mark of “x” to future descendants who continue to make their marks around the world…we see how education, opportunity and a little hard work have helped provide a more fruitful life on this small branch of a large family tree.