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Best Friends Discover Shared Irish Heritage on International Trip

by Paige Dormann Jan 2, 2024

When best friends Alexis Armstrong ’24 and Allison Devlin ’25 became teammates on the DeSales field hockey team, they had no idea how far back their connection truly began. That changed when they visited Ireland last summer.

Led by Julie Himmelberger, Ph.D., associate professor and pre-health professions advisor, their trip to Ireland was for a course about food science and Irish culture. 

The 12 participants enjoyed food and beverage tastings, a dance class, walking tours, and a visit to EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, where Armstrong and Devlin, a biology major and a media studies major, respectively, learned that their ancestors had lived in the same area. 

“At one point we were able to add our Irish ancestors to a wall and it would tell you a small history of your ancestry,” said Armstrong. “We found that Devlin and Armstrong were from the same county and our families were right next to each other on the map. It said that both our families were in County Tyrone.” 

Class at EPIC Museum in Ireland

The discovery led to lots of smiles, excited conversations with family about their roots, and further research on their ancestry. It also strengthened their bond as best friends. 

“We said that it was fated that we were best friends, and it was honestly so cool to think that maybe our ancestors were friends too.” 

 Alexis Armstrong ’24 

From helping each other navigate college and their personal lives, Armstrong and Devlin have been through a lot together. That’s why they weren’t surprised by their newfound connection. 

“Alli and I seem to have a deep understanding when it comes to each other,” said Armstrong. “I feel like it would make sense that our ancestors were friends too. We always felt like we were meant to be best friends, and this felt like proof.”