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Dorothy Titera Day: Resident Honored for Research Dating Back to 1848

Westlake woman tracks down descendants from Tralee

Dorothy Titera is one of Westlake’s most industrious volunteers.

Like the other 79 volunteers honored by the city of Westlake on April 18, Titera has spent countless hours volunteering for the city.

Her efforts for tracking down one of the descendants of a baby born on a ship from Tralee, Ireleand to Quebec, however, earned her special recognition, a mayoral proclamation and her very own day.

Her work locating descendants from Tralee was enough to earn her a proclamation from Westlake’s Mayor Dennis Clough and a plaque from Tralee’s Mayor Johnnie Wall.

Tralee is one of Westlake’s sister cities, and the city hosted dignitaries from the country last week.

In 2011, while the city was celebrating its bicentennial, Titera volunteered in two programs, including “Westlake is 200 Years Old…How Old is Your Family?”

The first event was attended by then-Tralee, Ireland Mayor Grace O’Donnell and Tralee, Ireland Development Officer John Griffin. From this chance meeting, John Griffin told the story of a baby, Nicholas Johnston Ryle (Reilly), born aboard the famine ship Jeanie Johnston on its maiden voyage from Tralee to Quebec in April 1848. Quebec was the gateway to North America for thousands of Irish emigrants fleeing the potato famine.

In 2003 a replica of the ship was completed in Tralee and sailed to the United States and Canada but Tralee officials were unable to find descendants of Nicholas—searching for more than 15 years.

That’s when Development Officer John Griffin found Westlake’s bicentennial event and solicited help from Dorothy Titera.

Dorothy searched for descendants online, on the phone, in letter correspondence and in person at far-away locations, finally locating the last living direct descendant, Miss O’Reilly, in California.

Titera obtained certified copies of vital records for the Irish Government Consulate to confirm the relationship and shared this information with Tralee officials, O’Reilly family members, including many great-grandchildren as well as an eastern US author who was including Tralee, Ireland in her new book.

Titera is credited with connecting long-lost Reilly/O’Reilly family members in North America while providing proof and lineage to Tralee of Nicholas’s lineage.

As all of Ireland celebrates The Gathering Ireland 2013, Tralee will spotlight Nicholas and his prodigy as well as Dorothy Titera during the Rose of Tralee week-long event this summer.

At the April 18 event, Wall enrolled Dorothy as one of three first members of the newly established organization, The Friends of Tralee.

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