WDYTYA: Sean Hayes

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I have anxiously awaited this episode of WDYTYA since they released the line up. Sean Hayes (of Will and Grace) is an extremely talented actor / comedian and I knew he would be a great celebrity to have on the series. Anytime the shows goes to Ireland I get a bit excited. There is always something new to learn, whether it is about a record set or social history. With Sean’s episode, I was very aware that we would be discussing his black sheep (or Forbidden) ancestors. The only issue for me was why TLC made me wait so long (LOL!).

As always, TLC and WDYTYA did not disappoint!

But, there was definitely something different about this episode. Did you notice they never showed a family tree? Not once did they show you how the family connects to Sean. Obviously, we know it is his paternal line as they never veered from the Hayes surname. But, I thought it was interesting that there was no tree shown.

Normally, I would not go into the details of where the celebrity was taken for research. Since Sean’s first visit was to Chicago it just makes sense that we start there. His first stop in the city was The Chicago History Museum (CHM). I have only been in this museum once, and that was for a haunted tour. I am certain it is nothing like researching there. This museum houses many great items that are of great Chicago historical value. If you are planning a trip here, I definitely recommend a visit to see items from the Eastland disaster or to do a bit of research.

After that, he headed to the Medical Library and was able to view police and medical records that pertained to his grandfather. I know that the Chicago Police Department has an archives, though I have never seen records from there. I have talked with current police officers when I have needed some assistance with past records, though nothing has ever panned out for me. As for the Medical Library, they did not give a lot of information. I am assuming they went to the UIC Medical Library. I have never been there and I do not know anyone who has been there to do research. Something I plan to look into.

From there he visits the Cook County Archives to find more information on his Hayes line. Once there, the historian showed him some census records on Ancestry, and then they looked through the naturalization index. After that, they moved to finding the original record that just so happened to be located there. I was so excited that they took Sean in the back to see the Naturalization books. Like us genealogists he was armed with the book volume he needed and went directly for the correct copy. You could see how thrilled he was to find the information that was listed in the Naturalization records! I was super excited to see the archives on the show, but I would have loved to see someone from the archives actually handle the reveal portion there.

Sean got his Ireland clue from the 1930 Census when they show that his family is from the Irish Free State. For those of you who do not spend time researching Ireland and do not really have information on the history of Ireland. The Irish Free State is also known as the Republic of Ireland. 6 Counties make up Northern Ireland, the balance is the Irish Free State.

I love that they focused on Sean’s law breaking ancestors and the records that surround them. However, I would have loved to be able to see what records they used to tie the family together. We know that over 1000 hours on average are spent researching the family before they even begin the taping of the show. So, we know that they truly tied the records to the family. But, what did they use? Civil Registration Records? Church records?

Doing a bit of research I found a few records that relate to the family. Here is the index for Patrick Hayes Sr’s marriage to Bridget. The baptism of Patrick Jr is also indexed here. Also, I found the baptism of William Hayes. So you can see there are many records to look through. As I sit and go through these records, I wonder if they tried to find any living family members. According to Sean, at the end of the episode, he said that it looked like Patrick was the only family member to leave Ireland.


So what happened to the balance of the family. I have found many other siblings beyond William, there are a few sisters and other brothers as well. I would love to see if there are any connections left in the Ballylongford area, or in Ireland at all.

Stay tuned as I will be doing a bit more research on the Hayes family.




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