Hotel in Ireland adds feature that helps guests track down family roots

by | Sep 17, 2018 | General News, News

One hotel’s genealogy butler will provide the ultimate unique provincial to guests: a window into their personal family histories

In recent years it has become fashionable in some circles to submit ones DNA in an effort to learn about family history.

A new feature at one of Ireland’s top hotels seeks to capitalize on that same sort of impulse, without, of course, requiring its guests to submit DNA. No, this new hotel addition is actually a genealogy butler, who will be a staffer assigned to helping visitors to the country track down their family roots in the area. This move seeks to also capitalize on one that has swept the hospitality industry. Yes, in recent years large segments of the hospitality market have started to find it desirable to have unique and heavily-localized hospitality experiences at the properties where they stay.

From a certain point of view, investigating your unique and special family history might be the ultimate in localized hospitality travelling.

A New Feature at a Dublin Hotel

For years, hotels have sought to cater to their guests every need and desire, and this has manifested in positions such as bath butlers, beachside butlers, and even beagle butlers to take care of a guest’s dogs.

Now, one hotel in Dublin—a storied inn with deep Irish roots—has added a genealogy butler to its staff, too. This genealogy butler has been put in place to help guests of the hotel find their own connections to Ireland.

History of the Genealogy Butler

According to news reports in hospitality trade publications, this trend started with one Helen Kelly, a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists who has served as a consultant at places like Ireland’s Genealogical Office, the National Library of Ireland and the National Archives of Ireland. She had read that The Shelbourne Hotel, the grande dame of the Dublin hospitality scene, was reopening in 2006. “At the time,” said Kelly, “they were advertising for staff. Given that the Shelbourne is a very historic hotel (it was built in 1824), I asked if they be interested in my services.” At first, the human resources team was a bit hesitant. But when Kelly presented the concept of genealogy butler to the general manager, he was so interested that he created the position just for Kelly and patented the title.

“It’s detective work that I do,” said Kelly has said. Perhaps it’s only coincidental, then, that the veteran genealogist bears a resemblance to Miss Marple, the venerable sleuth of Agatha Christie mysteries. Kelly has the demeanor of a sweet Irish grandmother, although she is mum about her age. When asked about it, she demurs and quotes Oliver Goldsmith as saying “women and music should never be dated.” She added: “We are all ageless.”

So, the question then becomes: will this program prove a success, and if it does, will there be copycats? You can read more here.


Let’s take a look at a few other projects currently underway in Ireland:

Radisson Blu Hotel Dublin Airport

Spencer Dock Hotel

Marker Hotel


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