Internet helps reunite long lost cousins

TWO branches of a Kerry family that had lost touch for half a century have been emotionally reunited through an internet-based ancestry tracing service.

Veronica Collins and Helen Collins, who had the same grandfather, met for the first time in Killarney last week, and spent a number of days catching up on family information.

They belong to a family formerly well known in Killarney because of its involvement in the coach building and hotel businesses.

Veronica, from Nettleham, Lincolnshire, was born in England. Her father Owen, an outstanding Kerry minor footballer, left Killarney as a young man and joined the RAF during World War Two.

She visited Killarney as a child in 1960 with her father who came to see his cousin Peggy Collins of the Alexandra Hotel, in High Street which has long since been demolished.

The families lost contact, however, and Veronica — who has not been back since then — did not know if there were any relatives left in Killarney.

But through the Munster Ancestors’ genealogy service she made contact with Helen Collins, daughter of the late Donie Collins, a brother of Owen Collins.

“’I’ve got great joy in hearing about a family I knew very little about,” said Veronica, shortly after meeting her new-found second cousin.

“It’s been a huge thrill and my only regret is that I didn’t know of other family members while they were alive.”

Helen Collins, who was brought up in Chicago, but now lives in Killorglin, said she and Veronica had a lot to talk about and would be going through old family photo albums.

Munster Ancestors is run by three local women in Killarney, Caitríona Dunlea, Mary Howard and Rachel Foley.

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