A Wellington man never expected a seven foot tall clock to turn up on his doorstep, and yet there it was, the huge grandfather clock his great-great-grandfather had built almost 200 years ago in Ireland.

It's a "miracle" story of chance.

Porirua man Doug Agnew had become interested in retracing his family history, and got as far back as 1833, when his clockmaker great-great-grandfather James Agnew travelled from Randalstown in Ireland to Canada.

While looking into his genealogy Mr Agnew became friends with an American couple who were also looking into their genealogy.

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This couple then travelled to Ireland to investigate their family history, but also had Mr Agnew's history at the back of their minds.

So when they ended up in Randalstown outside a pawn shop they decided to go in and look for one of James Agnew's clocks.

But the shop owner did not recognise the name, nor did he have any in his shop.

He did, however, have an old grandfather clock which had been sitting out the back.

And there it was - a "huge" clock built by Mr Agnew's great great grandfather.

"The miracle of finding the clock was quite stunning," Mr Agnew said.

The trouble was, the huge clock was 17,700km away. But Mr Agnew was determined to get the clock "by hook or by crook".

So it was bundled up and flown all the way to his home in Porirua.

"It wasn't going to slip through my fingers."

He now hoped the clock would become a family heirloom. A coin would have to be tossed to decide which of his three children, who all wanted it, got it, he said.

However one family member is not so fond of the clock. "It makes a hell of a noise - my wife doesn't like it because it makes too much noise."