Tally DNA Success
My journey for my Irish roots began in my late teens, after my grandfather died. He was a man who I know had many of the answers to the questions I now have, however I was never interested enough to ask them while he was still alive. Terrence Tally, my namesake, was named after his father, Terrence John Tally, who sailed with his brother Peter from Belfast to New York City in 1856, finally settling and becoming the Sheriff of Virginia City, Nevada, the colorful, exciting and robust gold rush town of the American west.
I started asking my dad and grandmother questions about Terrence John, knowing only that he came from Ireland. All my grandmother knew about her father-in-law, who she never met, was that he came from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. My dad knew no more. I started contacting distant cousins of mine, descendants of Terrence John, to see if they had any information either: specifically what town or village in Country Tyrone he was from, any information about his siblings, what his parents names were, etc. Other than some interesting stories of the Wild West and his position as Chief-of-Police in Virginia City and a few anecdotal recollections here and there, there was little light shed on Terrence John Tally. I continued my quest, but usually came up empty handed.
In the summer of 1981, while on business in New York City, I visited the genealogy section in the New York City Library. In my limited research that one morning I discovered several mentions of the name Tally in a few towns and villages in County Tyrone. Here, for the first time was a solid link to my past! Rather than do the sensible thing, looking them up and simply calling them, I took a cab to JFK airport and hopped on the first plane to Ireland. After landing at Shannon Airport in County Clair, I took trains to Belfast, rented a car, and braved driving on the left side of the road to Country Tyrone. While on this adventure I was stopped a couple of times by armed British soldiers asking for my passport, the purpose of my visit and what my destination was. This was in June1981 … during the heart of the Bobby Sands hunger strike when Catholic and Protestant turmoil was fierce and tourists were indeed rare.
One quaint village after another and several wonderful people led to my meeting a sweet elderly lady who told me of Tally’s Bar in Galbally, a small village not far from the town of Dungannon. Finding Galbally and Tally’s Bar was easy enough. I asked around and was introduced to a very fine man named Patrick Tally. Was he the long missing link I had traveled so far to meet? I told him I was a Tally from America hoping to find my great-grandfathers roots and wondered if they might have any genealogical information about the Tallys they could share. After some cautious questioning and uncertainty he decided I was for real and welcomed me into his home where I met his wonderful wife and five children. I soon met several other Tallys and was treated like a celebrity, especially, when the children from the area found out that I was employed in the film industry and had worked with Linda Carter, aka “Wonder Woman”, a very popular show at that time on Irish television.
One evening when many of the neighbors from Galbally came to meet me and “hear my accent”, the children all stood in line for my autograph because of my “Wonder Woman” connection. I, of course, happily obliged … you never know when you’re going to get asked for your autograph again. Everyone treated me wonderfully, and I felt like a long distant cousin regardless of our bloodline. While they had limited written family history documentation, I knew I was not far from my genealogical ground zero. Across the street from the Tally Bar and home was a cemetery with two tombstones with my first and last name on them.
Unfortunately, these distant and long forgotten relatives that I had a thousand questions for brought me no closer to discovering my missing link. The genealogy material that Patrick Tally provided and the people we queried still failed to fill in the blanks. I left Ireland a more complete soul but with no definite new leads to my lineage.
Many years passed with The California Tallys and the Galbally Tallys always staying in touch. We were visited on a couple of occasions by 2 of the daughters of Patrick’s while here on vacation. When I first met them in 1981 they were just little kids and my visit was one more story they heard about me rather than an actual memory.
Finally in the summer of 2008, I decided to take my wife and daughter to Galbally and revisit the Tallys. Again, we were treated like royalty. The years, however, have still failed to provide us with any new information that positively defined our relationship.
A few years ago, I heard about Emily Aulicino’s DNA projects and research and decided to take the DNA test to see what might transpire. I found the entire process fascinating and since I had still never determined that I was indeed in the same family tree as the Galbally Tally’s I proposed the idea of DNA testing to Patrick Tally’s only son, Patrick Jr. Sure enough he was open to the idea and did the test. We recently found a 37 marker match!
Although we may never know our common Irish male ancestor, this has been a remarkable and wonderful tool. It confirmed my family history theory and filled in another blank in the search for my ancestors. I would certainly recommend this project to those who have embarked on a similar genealogical journey.
A condensed version of this success story appears in Irish Roots Magazine, 2009 Fourth Quarter, Issue 72, page 20.
Talley-Tally DNA Project: http://www.familytreedna.com/public/Talley-Tally