Greece is a place you usually don’t associate with the Irish; however, the Greek Ionian Islands (Eptanisa) were at one time occupied by the British and used as military outposts. Scores of Irish soldiers and merchants were also part of this. The Ionian Islands consist of seven individual islands which constitute the western borders of Greece with Europe. These are Cephalonia (Kefalonia), Corfu (Korfu or Kerkira), Paxoi (and the small island of Antipaxos), Leykada (Lefkada), Ithaki, Zakynthos (Zante or Zakinthos), and Kithira.
The British came in 1809 and following the Congress of Vienna in 1815 the Union of Ionian Islands was set up under their protection. By 1864 all the Ionian Islands had joined an independent Greece. The British generated records often use the term Ionian Islands rather than the name of the specific island.
On these islands, especially Corfu, many of Irish heritage, were born, married and died. Many of the cemeteries have been transcribed by the Society of Genealogists in London: www.societyofgenealogists.com in their journal Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica.
The Irish also intermarried with the local population. The Greek Orthodox Church is the largest denomination on the islands. Soldiers and merchants can be found in the registers. Also keep in mind there were Eastern Rite (Greek Catholic) parishes and Roman Catholic parishes, so you must check all. These as well as Protestant registers will be at the Family History Library (FHL). Also be aware the Irish intermarried with the Italians living on the islands. Do not neglect the FHL as a major resource for your Ionian Island research.
From a family history perspective, don’t be surprised if your Greek or Italian ancestors were actually Irish at some point!
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