On Thursday, April 5, the winner of the Irish America sweepstakes for a luxury vacation package to Ireland for two was announced. The luck of the draw went to Stephanie Sullivan of Chicago, Illinois.
Stephanie, who works in sales and marketing for mapping and location data company HERE Technologies, was overjoyed upon being contacted with the good news, and said, “It was like a miracle.” She told Irish America that she has already selected her sister, Rosemary, as a travel companion, and that the two are eager to reconnect with the land of their ancestors.
An avid genealogical researcher, Stephanie also told Irish America that her first known Irish ancestor arrived in the United States bearing the surname Hagan (one of the first families recorded in Chicago) in 1849. He was a stonecutter by trade – and went on to become no less than the president of the Stonecutter’s Association.
Another branch of Stephanie’s ancestors hail from Ballinasloe, Co. Galway – one particular unit of which produced a woman who grew up to become a Sister of Mercy, and, incredibly, one of the first women in Australia to cast a vote.
Stephanie and Rosemary plan to begin their travels coming September (the height of the oyster season in Ireland!). They will fly courtesy of Aer Lingus airlines, and the CIE “Taste of Ireland” tour will take them on the journey of a lifetime, filled to the brim with the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Emerald Isle! ♦
Dear Irish America:
Rosemary and I had a wonderful trip! Thank you! Ireland is even more beautiful and inspiring in person than in the photos we’ve looked at for years, when we dreamed of visiting there. Our CIE coach driver, Oisin, was helpful and told us memorable stories about his childhood in Ireland. Everyone we traveled with was nice and we all looked out for each other. They called us the “Chicago Sisters.” We took lots of photos and videos because we saw so many majestic sites. The countryside is breathtaking. We learned so much and this trip has motivated us to learn more about our Irish heritage and culture. We hope to visit again someday.
– Stephanie Sullivan