Caroline Dougherty, a senior, grew up hearing her father's stories about their Irish ancestors. The family can trace their roots back hundreds of years, going back to when Sir Cahir O'Doherty (1587–1608) led an unsuccessful rebellion against the English and was exiled, scattering members of the O'Doherty clan all over the world.
Caroline Dougherty, a senior, grew up hearing her father’s stories about their Irish ancestors. The family can trace their roots back hundreds of years, going back to when Sir Cahir O’Doherty (1587–1608) led an unsuccessful rebellion against the English and was exiled, scattering members of the O’Doherty clan all over the world. “We have a framed picture of the family crest and a short history,” she said. “It’s very Game of Thrones.“
The many O’Doherty descendants, with variations of the name, have a Facebook group that Dougherty joined. She learned that members of the group were working to restore the ancient O’Doherty’s Keep, the remains of a 14th-century Norman castle. The keep was occupied by the family in the early 15th century.
Her father may have told the stories that intrigued her to travel to her ancestral homeland, but her mother also inspired Dougherty with her own study-abroad experience. “She went to Scotland and Wales because that’s where her ancestors are from,” Dougherty said.
Studying in London
An Adelphi partnership with Kingston University in London offered the perfect chance to study abroad and visit her ancestral homeland. “I really wanted to experience the world and different cultures and history,” Dougherty said. “I had never been outside North America before this, so I was itching to go.”
She stayed for three and a half months, from January to April 2019. A communication sciences and disorders major, she used her time abroad to explore other areas. At Kingston University, she took classes in acting, London literature and British life and culture; the latter was a recommendation, she said, from Shannon Harrison, director of Adelphi’s Center for International Education. She visited sites such as the Tower of London and Stonehenge and met students from the European Union. “It’s a great multicultural experience,” she said.
She said she recommends other students try studying abroad. ” I learned to be more open-minded and explore things outside of my comfort zone,” she said. “You might think, ‘I don’t have it in me to plan this whole thing on my own or live in this new city.’ But you’ll never know what you’re capable of until you try something, and you’ll never know what you might find. Adelphi has programs where you won’t pay any more than you already do if you live on campus, so financially there are a lot of options.”
Off to Ireland
A highlight of her experience was traveling with fellow Adelphi student Lila Woodbridge, now in her senior year, to Donegal to meet Dougherty’s relatives, some of whom she had earlier connected with on Facebook, and tour the keep, which borders a public park. She and Woodbridge visited various sites, including where scenes from Star Wars Episode VIII—The Last Jedi were filmed.
Her cousin Ronan O’Doherty told her the family’s goal is to restore the keep and turn it into a museum or historical site where descendants from around the world as well as locals and visitors to the area can learn about both family and town history.
Having connected with distant relatives and learned more about her family’s history, Dougherty said her next goal is to take her father on a trip to Ireland.
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