There it was, staring at us from the large map of America we were poring over, and daring us to investigate a small town in east Texas called 'Corrigan', which lay around 200 miles from Dallas.

The road-trip my wife (Maureen) and son (Shane) and I had been planning was a 3,760-mile, music-themed drive around the Deep South of the United States.

As we were flying back from Dallas at the end of our four-week odyssey, we decided to spend our penultimate day in the town that bears our name. We were not disappointed.

Wild flowers, including the bluebonnet and the Indian Blanket, were growing in profusion along the road and soon led to a large sign on the outskirts, proclaiming 'Welcome to the City of Corrigan Population 1,595'.

By that descriptor, Irvinestown and Lisnaskea can take their place among the cities of the world! Our family name was everywhere!

It adorned the huge water tank on the edge of town; it featured above The Corrigan Times newspaper office, and the Corrigan Heritage Centre, it caught the eye on Corrigan Camden High School, and the Corrigan Sub-Courthouse, it appeared on local premises such as Corrigan Seafood and Corrigan Supermarket, and we even had our own church the Corrigan Church of God at the far end of town.

So many photo opportunities, so little time!

In 1881, a namesake of mine, Patrick Corrigan, began to oversee construction of a railroad track through this part of Texas, originally called 'Gaul'.

The town was founded in 1882 along the location of the Houston, East and West Texas Railroad (HE&WT, also known as Hell Either Way Taken).

The first scheduled train appeared in 1882 and the settlers liked Pat Corrigan and his wife, Katie, so much that they named their town after him!

I don't know where Patrick emigrated from, but I would like to think it was Fermanagh, where the first Corrigans emerged and where most still live.

On entering the City Hall, we were introduced to the Mayor of Corrigan, Johnna Lowe Gibson.

We were struck by the friendliness of all the people we met in 'our' town, particularly Johnna and her husband, Darrell, the Chief of Police.

They showed us around the Corrigan Courtroom and entertained us in the Mayor's parlour, answering our questions about life in Corrigan at that point a traffic accident blackspot in Texas which they were endeavouring to remedy.

When I remarked that I would love to have driven the sleek black Corrigan Police car outside with the lovely, large Corrigan crest on the sides, Darrell kindly presented us with souvenir Corrigan Police badges, which remain a treasured memento of a lovely visit.

In turn, we informed them about the genesis and history of the name 'Corrigan'.

We bought Corrigan t-shirts and hoodies in the supermarket which bears our name, before being welcomed to the Corrigan High School by its vice-principal.

A poignant plaque at the school's entrance read as follows.

In Memory, September 11, 2001.

May each person who passes this way be reminded that life is a precious gift never to be taken for granted. Live life to its fullest, spend time with those who love you, and be ever mindful that tomorrow is not promised to anyone. We will always remember. The Class of 2002.

We were amazed at the sporting facilities provided for a school of just 250 students, including a superb American Football pitch with impressive grandstands and scoreboard, a baseball arena and a huge gymnasium.

When I asked the vice-principal how they were funded, he said some of the parents were oil barons, and were generous.

We were not the first members of our family to visit Corrigan, Texas.

My brother, Marius, and his wife, Mary, had recently passed through a visit made even more interesting by the discovery of the nearby community of Burke, Mary's maiden name, which they also visited.

Other adjacent towns included Henderson, Graham, Duncan, McAlester and Vernon. Each has its own pioneer story, no doubt.

I have been unable to find any trace of children belonging to Patrick and Katie. They bought a small piece of land in Corrigan in the early 1880s from a J. B. Hendry, and settled for a while.

They eventually moved on, and records indicate that at some point Patrick and Katie divorced.

There is, however, an intriguing reference to a grandson of Patrick's one Douglas Corrigan, who had the same pioneering spirit as his grandfather, and is probably America's best-known example of the clan: the famous 'Wrongway' Corrigan.

Douglas Corrigan was an aviator in the early decades of the Twentieth Century. He had undertaken a 28-hour flight across America, from California to New York, in a rickety contraption described by local media as "a crate that looked like a museum piece".

Its maximum speed was 120mph, and the basic navigation systems excluded radio, and blind flying equipment.

He applied to the Bureau of Air Commerce for permission to undertake a transatlantic flight but was turned down, his plane being regarded as unsafe.

Shortly afterwards, he left New York, having filled his tank with 320 gallons of petrol, and he flew low through the fog in the wrong direction, out across the Atlantic.

On Monday, July 18, 1938 a plane with American markings was noticed flying over Belfast and heading south.

At 1.30pm, Douglas Corrigan's boneshaker landed at Dublin Airport. When interviewed by Customs officials, 'Wrongway' said the following.

"Where am I? I took off from New York early Sunday with the intention of flying back to Los Angeles without a stop. I had to go above the clouds. I was flying at 6,000 feet most of the time. I thought I was heading for California. After 25 hours I decided to descend. The mountains didn't look like California. I had only 30 gallons of fuel remaining. I used 290 gallons at 24 cents a gallon. That's $69.60."

We'll never know for certain, but I suspect Douglas Clyde Corrigan was of the 'Don't ask permission, just err and ask forgiveness afterwards' school!

I can't help feeling old 'Wrongway' knew exactly what he was doing!

Our encounter with Corrigan, Texas, was wonderful and was a good example of how far the influence of our family name has spread from Medieval Fermanagh.

We're just poring over that large map of America again, and have spotted a Corriganville in California, and a town called Fallis (my wife's maiden name) in Oklahoma. Mmm! I wonder...!