Posted by Nick Cifuentes on August 18, 2011 in Contest

Many of you may remember’s “True Irish Roots” sweepstakes held this past March to help celebrate the release of our Irish Collection. The contest featured a grand prize trip to Ireland for two, where the winner would spend a week exploring the Emerald Isle’s finest sites including Blarney Castle and the Aran Islands.

Contest winner Michael Hanlon recently returned from his adventure and sent us a recap along with some of his amazing photography from the trip.

“We have returned from one of the greatest Irish vacations anyone could possibly have and I wanted to share our trip with you.  I wanted to really let you know how great this win was for my wife and I, as a person, am usually not lucky enough to win a trip like this in their lifetime, but I did!”

Michael flew from his home in Sacramento, California to Dublin, Ireland and hit the road straight to Waterford Castle. From there trip highlights included falling in love with the town of Adare, a stop at Killarny, Ross Castle, a visit to the Cliffs of Moher, Ashford Castle, and of course Dublin.

Images from Michael’s trip can be found at; and we must say that he’s an outstanding photographer, so have a look and enjoy!


  1. Bridget O'Envious!

    What a wonderful follow up to the Irish Roots contest. Thank you to the Hanlons for letting us vicariously enjoy the trip. The beauty and the color of nature and buildings is breathtaking. Now I know where I got my love of color in buildings… looks like it’s genetic 🙂

    Thanks again for allowing us to peek into the time you had.

  2. Thank you for your great, positive comments. My Canon DSLR and I had a great time in Ireland and my pictures reflect the places and things I thought reflected Ireland the most. There are lots of generic photos of all the great places to see in Ireland, but I have a different approach. See Ireland through my eyes in my photos. But you have to see it for yourself to really appreciate its beauty and get to know the fabulous people. It is very interesting to listen and learn from the Irish. Thank you again.

  3. Christine burd

    It’s wonderful to actually see a winner and hear about the experience . What beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing .

  4. Mary Runyon

    What glorious photos and what a wonderful trip for you and your wife. I was in Ireland in 2005 and it was all I had hoped it would be and more. The group I was with were having a family reunion in Ennis and the Dysart O’Dea castle. I do have cousins in County Clare and had a chance to meet them. So nice of you to share.
    Mary Runyon

  5. Linda Kirkpatrick

    Congratulations to you!! I know that I was supposed to win that trip but since they failed to notify me I am glad they found you!!! Your photos are wonderful…did you have a special lens or filter?? I have seen other photos with the appeal of yours and I have to have that!!
    Glad you all had a good time!!

    Linda Kirkpatrick

  6. Rena Jackson

    Oh, the memories this has given me!! My dad took me and my son to Ireland in 1998 for my birthday present.
    It was absolutely magical. The whole isle is just beautiful as are the people. Not too sure about my Irish heritage though…it may be a family myth, but that’s what they’ve always said. But I know my heart is there, regardless of my actual heritage! Congrats and thanks for sharing.

  7. Deb Morrison

    Congratulations on winning the experience, and what a pleasure it was to see your wonderful photos!!! Beautiful.

  8. Gail Ridge Saparito

    Magnificent pictures. Your shot #76 is amazing! So beautiful… Thank you for sharing.

  9. Deb M

    I went to Ireland in June, my first trip anywhere with a passport in all of my 54 years. County Clare, Dublin, Northern Ireland, Cobh and Cork. Sigh. Your pictures bring it all back and remind me that there is so much more to see. Thank you for making me “ancestral-home-sick”!

  10. Mikki

    I guess a person had to be a member of Ancestry in order to enter this contest, as I just joined in June and none of the emails I received from Ancestry mentioned the contest. What great trip! I am sure anyone with Irish connections, mine is McElderry, would have enjoyed the trip! Pic’s are great! Thanks to the winner for sharing!

  11. Dawn

    Gorgeous! I went in the fall of 2006 for a two week tour and a piece of my heart will forever remain in Ireland. Friendliest people I EVER met and some of the most gorgeous scenery EVER…We came back with almost 1000 pictures!!! I cant wait to go back again someday…

  12. Diane McShan Hofsommer

    Congratulations on winning the trip and sharing your beautiful photos. I was blessed to visit Ireland in 2010 and see the ancestral home of my my Great, Great Grandparents (Tretton, Finn). I fell in love with the villages and kindhearted people living in the Brandon Bay area of Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry – villages of Castlegregory, Camp, and especially Stradbally. My other Great Grandparents (O’Hare) were from Newry, County Down, near Belfast – your photos have inspired me to return. May you have many more travels to Ireland.

  13. RebeccaSue Daugherty

    The pictures are awesome and I am so
    happy that you won just cannot get over
    the pictures, makes you want to live there.

  14. SCWBCM

    I am so glad that they had this contest and shared the experience with us. I did not know I was of Irish descent until a few years ago and I have a lot of catching up to do.

  15. Barbara Simmons

    Thank You for the truly wonderful pictures. I was born in England and did visit Ireland a couple of times as a young girl. Really brought back the memories for me. I didn’t think my roots included Ireland but has shown me connections otherwise many times over. Lovely!

  16. Louis Aubry Teck

    Thank you for the wonderful trip through Ireland via awesome phography and soothing Irish music. I am a French-Canadian descendant of Tahg Cornelius O’Braonain who came to Canada in 1620. He died as Pierre Aubry in 1687 having changed his name after marrying a “King’s Daughter” Jeanne Chartier from Paris. I have 5500 of his descendants in Canada and the U.S.A. in my genealogical database.
    My son Sylvain and I travelled to Ireland in 2005 in search of the birthplace of our ancestor and I think we found it in Castlecomer probably Dysart-On-The-Dilen,

  17. Thanks for the pictures of my g-g-grandparents homeland. I’m 80 years old and have never fulfilled my dream of taking a trip to Ireland. My relatives, supposedly, came from County Clare and Kilkenny. They lived in Crutt, Castelcomer, for a time. About 1840, She came to Canada, with her 17 kids, and finally settled down about the area of Toronto and places North to Penatanguishene, Ontario. Your pictures are making me think seriously of a trip to Ireland evan at my advanced age. Nice pictures.

  18. Anne Davison

    Ahhhh, Michael~~for those of us who had hoped to win this contest, many thanks for generously sharing your visit to the isle. Photos so beautifully capturing the magic your eyes saw~~ that I felt they were my own eyes, and I was there. And the music~~brought tears (we Irish are quick to tear up with emotion, aren’t we?) My only visit to meet family in Dublin & County Mayo was a glorious two months in 1973 just before my son was born back in the states; young & cavalier, we said “the only pictures we need are the ones we’ll carry in our hearts & mind’s eye”~~and so we have. But, I do wish now we’d had a camera! Your pastoral photos are brilliant with color and mood; and the one of Trinity’s Long Room is one of the finest photos I think I’ve ever seen. So, of all those who had a chance to win the trip, I’m glad it was you.

  19. Linda

    WOW! Indeed, what a trip of a lifetime, TY for sharing it with us, via photos. EXCELLENT photography!

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