The Ireland Reaching Out project (IrelandXO), which has been described as 'reverse genealogy' in action, has become a national project after being launched as such by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD.
The scheme is based on a simple idea; instead of waiting for people of Irish descent to trace their roots, IrelandXO reaches out from the opposite direction. Working through voluntary effort at a townland, village and parish level in Ireland, people identify who left, and set out to trace them and their descendants worldwide, proactively engaging with them and inviting them to become part of an extended 'virtual' community with their place of origin.
The national pilot project of Ireland XO was developed in South-East Galway from October 2010 through to July 2011. It subsequently expanded to a number of pilot project areas from Donegal to Kerry.
Since then, more than 2,500 parishes have joined up to this unusual Irish genealogy project.
The official launch of the national programme took place at a reception at the National Library in Kildare Street.
"There are few human instincts stronger than the need to belong," said Mr Kenny. "And it is not surprising that for many people, tracing their genealogy becomes a personal and emotional journey. The Ireland Reaching Out initiative is all about enabling and helping people to make that journey."
Find out more about the Ireland Reaching Out project.