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The number of visitors to Monaghan seems to be increasing and more and more people from abroad are discovering that their ancestors once lived in Ireland and emigrated. Now the younger generations wants to see and learn about life in Ireland and the place from whence their ancestors emigrated. I have been involved with two parties in the past fortnight and I am convinced that there is a great opportunity here for an increase in tourist numbers coming to Monaghan as part of their visit to Ireland. Indeed one couple had no connection with Monaghan but were spending a day and night as they passed through to head for Belfast, Antrim Glens and the Giants Causeway. They wanted a bit of history of Ireland and local in particular. They were extremely interested and delighted with what they heard and saw. Another couple were trying to trace a connection to the Finan family and I hope with the aid of Clogher Historical Society they will get a lead somewhere. This week I had a couple from Silicon Valley, California.  The gentleman was a McKenna but his great-grandfather had emigrated to Pittsburgh from Birmingham, UK, but quite possibly he had originally emigrated from Ireland to Birmingham as many did. However they were more interested in the history of the McKennas in earlier times and to see the land in which they lived, fought and died. They were also interested in the history of the locality and were delighted to get a trip through Castle Leslie.
Regis McKenna is a big business man, who set up his own promotion and marketing consultancy and worked for all the major companies in Silicon Valley and was a personal friend to Steve Jobs and Steve Wosniak, the founders of Apple and many other company founders as well. He and his firm were instrumental in the launch of some of the most innovative products of the computer age, including the first microprocessor (Intel Corporation), Apple's first personal computer (Apple Computer), the first recombinant DNA genetically engineered product (Genentech, Inc.), and the first retail computer store (The Byte Shop). It was his expertise and assistance that helped build those companies to become the world leaders in the IT industry. He has been described as the man who put Silicon Valley on the map. In addition to marketing consultancy, Regis McKenna also owned an advertising agency and a public relations company. “So not only did we write their first business plan, we also designed the Apple logo and put together their advertising campaigns. Since his retirement from active consulting in 2000, Regis has lectured extensively and produced 5 Books on Marketing in the IT sector and numerous articles for magazines. He is also on the Board of many International and prestigious companies.  He and his wife, Dianne, are founders and trustees of the Children's Fund of Silicon Valley, which assists young persons, who find themselves in difficult circumstances, to continue in education and gain qualifications to proceed to employment. Because of his involvement with these companies, he has an in-depth knowledge of Europe and Ireland in particular and has been involved in the setting up of many of the major International corporations now operating here.

Diane was involved in politics and was Mayor of Sunnyvale, Silicon Valley, and is now on the State Board. She has a particular interest and has a Masters Degree in Planning. I organised that they would meet with Monaghan Mayor, Paudge Connolly, and they had a long and an interesting exchange of ideas and approaches to planning. Indeed the rules and objectives of the planning authority in Silicon differs little from that required for Monaghan or anywhere else and of course Brexit got an airing too. Employment in Monaghan was discussed and Regis stated that International Companies in Ireland with whom he has worked would say that the work ethic of the Irish is a big incentive to persuade them to set up here. He has also worked closely with the IDA in Ireland.

Getting back to the emigrant and the wish to trace roots it was agreed that everyone should submit to a DNA test and have their results recorded. Everybody’s DNA is unique and can be used as a molecular fingerprint to establish family relationships. No two people have the same DNA, except for identical twins! Your DNA can be found in the cells that you collect from the inside of your mouth, using a swab kit, which is then analysed in a laboratory. The results of your DNA can then be compared with the DNA of others and when a match shows you can discover your lineage. Genealogy in Ireland can be very difficult due to the loss of records but DNA is an easy and positive way of establishing family lines, which can then be fed into records to get matches. This would be of great benefit in bringing hundreds of visitors to our county and country due to the huge numbers who emigrated to countries all over the world, many of whose descendants are now anxious to trace their roots but find it too difficult to get information. It is my understanding that Paudge Connolly will bring the matter to the attention of a Council meeting in the near future. From my own experience of trying to get information for families this would be of great benefit and a massive assistance.

It was a wonderful experience for me to spend the day with our two visitors and to listen to their stories and to tell them some of the history of North Monaghan. I hope they enjoy the remainder of their holiday in Ireland and that they will call again.

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