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Transatlantic search of family tree goes online.

Byline: Sam Malone

A TRANSATLANTIC search for relatives has been launched online by the descendants of a South Wales family.

Bill Cole, 65, who was born in Cardiff but moved to Virginia when he was 18 months old, set up penarthryans.org after his cousin Mary Taylor (ne Ryan) wrote a book about her relatives.

Mr Cole is liaising with his fourth cousin Les Ryan, 63, who was born in Penarth but who now lives in Swansea, to help track down the different family members.

The online archive of ancestors has so far plotted Penarth's Ryan family back to the mid 19th century, and includes stories of a long-closed Cardiff pub and the clan's first arrival in New York.

Mr Ryan said: "It's fairly easy to search for people now on the internet but we also use the elderly relatives and try and tap into their memories, but some aren't all that reliable."

The website traces the family back to John Patrick Ryan, who was Mr Ryan's great-great-grandfather. He was born in Mary Ann Street, Cardiff, in 1852 where his parents ran the Maid of Erin pub and lodging house.

Four of his daughters then emigrated to Ellis Island in search of work in 1900 - which has led to several generations of American Ryans. Their descendants have retained links with Penarth and the Welsh side of the Ryan family, but both Mr Ryan and Mr Cole are still hoping to build up a bigger picture of their family tree.

"We know John Patrick's sister Catherine Ryan married John Fleming in 1873 and would love to make contact with this side of the family. We believe they lived in Cardiff," said Mr Ryan.

"We are also researching back in time and although at the moment we can only go back to 1827 on the Ryan side in Ireland, we are able to get back to about 1580 on the Thomas side of the family who originated from Cornwall."

Despite being separated by the Atlantic, the descendants of John Patrick Ryan and Amelia Thomas regularly keep in touch via phone and e-mail and even meet up for the odd reunion.

One of the dozens of Penarth Ryans still listed in the phonebook yesterday welcomed the new website. Jennifer Ryan, 62, of Meadowside, said: "I think the website is a good idea as lots of people are interested in their genealogy these days.

"But I don't think they are any of my relatives; I know none of my family ever went west.

"Some of my family did go to India but I've never heard of anyone going to America."

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Les Ryan is helping his American cousin trace their family Mary Ann Street late 1800s John Patrick and Amelia Ryan
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 13, 2010
Words:458
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