The new American Ambassador to Ireland went back to her roots in Co Donegal today when she visited the village where her grandfather had emigrated from in 1912.

It was Ambassador Claire Cronin's first visit to Carrowmenagh in Inishowen where her grandfather Hugh McLaughlin was born in 1886.

Hugh McLaughlin (third from the right) was born in Carrowmenagh in 1886

Ms Cronin (nee McLaughlin) said she grew up hearing stories about Donegal from her father but today was the first opportunity she had to visit the place where her ancestors came from.

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She said it was very emotional to be there and she wished that her parents could have been with her.

In pouring rain, the ambassador visited the local Garden of Remembrance which honours the 13 families who were evicted by an absentee landlord just after Christmas 1881.

She said her ancestors were among those families and she knows that she comes from humble but strong roots.

Local historian Seán Beattie showed the ambassador the remembrance garden, which contains the hearth of a stone cottage and then showed her where her grandfather Hugh's house used to be; it's since been replaced by a shed attached to another house.

Ms Cronin said even though it was lashing rain she could feel sunshine in Donegal today in the warm welcome she received from local people, among them a number of relatives.

Sisters Julie Callaghan and Lily McLaughlin, third cousins of the ambassador, said they felt honoured that she had come to visit.

Pól Callaghan said his great grandfather was a brother of Hugh McLaughlin and they were delighted to welcome Ms Cronin to the village.

Carrowmenagh was a special place, he said, where people had a strong sense of their history and worked hard to keep it alive through their community centre, garden of remembrance and the forge and the great welcome they gave the ambassador today, he said, was another manifestation of that.