The theme of this blog is Ireland, part 3. I will repeat my pattern of marking some items as WELL WORTH IT or DISAPPOINTMENT. I began my day of discovery by taking a morning walk to the car dealership where I could pick up my rental car. The rental agency was north of Wexford across Loch Garman. I walked across the Wexford bridge. A much earlier version of this bridge is the one that the rebels of 1798 crossed to take the Town of Wexford. I picked up my rental car at 9:00 AM. While there, I noticed a sign that pointed the way to the County Wexford Archives. I had made e-mail contact with the director of the archives before I left for Ireland. The director told me that she doubted that the archives would have anything that would be of interest to me that I couldn’t find at the County Wexford library. But before I left town in my car, I drove past the archives and noticed that it opened at 10:00 AM, so I decided I would drive north for a while and then return to the archives just to check with them again. I proceeded north to the villages of Blackwater and Kilmuckridge. Both of these villages have significance to the Frampton Irish. I was also getting accustomed to driving on the left side on very narrow roads. I passed through Blackwater and proceeded to Kilmuckridge where I stopped to turn around. Kilmuckridge was the Catholic parish where I had found the baptism record for my Great Great Grandmother Anastasia O’Connor. Although, in some Frampton records her parents Matthew O’Connor and Catherine O’Brien were reported to be from Killencooley. But recalling that in my previous blog I had learned that the Kilmuckridge Parish was previously known as Killencooley.
I took some time to study the maps I had obtained and located the Townland of Killencooley and saw that I would need to turn off the main road a few miles south of Kilmuckridge. Unfortunately, I missed the turn off as there was no sign. So I turned off the main road at the next intersection which took me to the Townland of Ballynamona. I took a quick look around and studied my map again to determine how to get to Killencooley. The road to Killencooley was just a few hundred yards north on the main road. Turning onto the Killencooley road, I noticed another country road with a sign that pointed to Ballynamona. So Killencooley and Ballynamona were adjacent to each other and connected in a way. I stopped and took photos of the area around Killencooley and noticed it was very near the coast. By now it was past 10:00 AM so I went back south to the County Wexford Archives. I introduced myself and said what I was looking for and the woman I talked to took me to the archives director’s office. The director recalled her e-mail to me, but after I told her the specific townland names I was interested in, she agreed to take another look. She soon returned with some archive documents she thought might be helpful. One of the documents was an old advertisement for the sale of some estate lands by the landlord in and around the Parish of Kilmuckridge. On the second page was a list of tenant farmers and there was the name of my Great Great Great Grandfather Matthew O’Connor. He had a farm in the Townland of Ballynamona! I believe this indeed was him because the Townland was next to Killencooley and it was within the Catholic Parish of Kilmuckridge, which were direct matches for what I already knew. I was permitted to take digital photos of this document. So some might call it "serendipity," but my thoughts always focus on how my actions may have been guided by my ancestor. I accidentally had just visited the Townland of Ballynamona which I had no intention of visiting. Then I checked once more at the archives, even though they had already told me they would have nothing I would be interested in. I was delighted! This record could have only been obtained in Ireland. It was WELL WORTH IT!
I left the archives and proceeded north on a different highway. I went to the village of Oulart. Oulart was a very small village in comparison to Blackwater and Kilmuckridge. My first destination was to go to Oulart Hill where one of the battles of 1798 occurred. The road to Oulart Hill starts in the village immediately next to the Catholic Church. The Oulart Church was a beautiful stone building and a mason was working there on a restoration project. However, it was not the same church where the Frampton Irish had worshiped, as that church was burned down by the British forces shortly after 1798. The road to Oulart Hill was the most primitive and narrow road I would drive on in Ireland. The bushes on each side of the road rubbed against the side of the car and I thought that vehicle traffic was the only source of "road maintenance." There was a parking area and a monument at the top of the hill. The monument narrative was the first evidence I found that made reference to some of the rebels of 1798 being "transported" to Canada. The view from Oulart Hill was spectacular. The inland mountains could be seen to the west and the ocean could be seen to the east. I could pick out the areas around Blackwater and Kilmuckridge in the distance. I got out my maps and studied the surrounding areas. I have come to believe that my Murphy ancestors came from the Townland of Tinnock or Ticknock. That townland was just below Oulart Hill to the west. The first battle of 1798 did indeed occur in the "backyard" of the Murphys. The visit to Oulart Hill was WELL WORTH IT.
I then went back to Oulart and went around the south of Oulart Hill to the Townland of Tinnock. While there, I notice a very old "estate house" made out of stone. It had an entry gate with a sign that said "Tinnock House." Could this be the "Colclough’s Gate" I had found reference to in the Rebellion Papers? If so, my Murphys lived no more than 1/4 mile from here. I thought that I would ask about this at the County Wexford History Museum later that day in Enniscorthy. Before leaving the Oulart area, I explored the Townland of Bolaboy where my Doran ancestors were from. The Frampton Irish Devereuxs had come from the Townland of Kilcotty, the Martin Murphys came from Ballynamuddagh, and the Sinnotts came from Kilbride. I studied the maps and it occurred to me that Bolaboy, Tinnock, Kilcotty, Ballynamuddagh, Kilbride and Oulart were all "walking distance" to one another. I was indeed in the heartland of the Frampton Irish. Understanding this geography perhaps could only be achieved in an actual visit to Ireland and it was WELL WORTH IT.
I then proceeded north on "country roads" to get to Boolavogue. At Boolavogue is the Fr. Murphy Centre. It is a re-creation of the Catholic parish village where Fr. John Murphy was the parish priest. Fr. John Murphy had become the reluctant leader of the 1798 Rebellion. The re-created village gave me an excellent vision of what conditions were like during the time in which my ancestors lived in County Wexford. It was WELL WORTH IT.
My next stop was the National 1798 Rebellion Centre in Enniscorthy. This was absolutely the best visitor centre/museum that I had visited in Ireland. It had many interactive displays and a video display that evokes great emotion. It also had a nice café and gift shop. Enniscorthy celebrated its 1,500 year anniversary in 2010 and they still had some "1500" shirts available, so I bought one. I inquired about directions to the County Wexford History Museum, but was told that it was closed for renovations. Now I was not able to access the historical information there nor could I possibly get an answer to my question about "Tinnock House." So this was another timing problem that resulted in DISAPPOINTMENT. But Enniscorthy and the 1798 centre was WELL WORTH IT.
I returned to Wexford Town for the evening and planned on more adventure the next day. My second day involved a longer drive to the Town of New Ross. I went to New Ross for the purpose of seeing the "famine ship" replica of the Dunbrody. This may be the only place in the world where a replica of a "famine ship" can be viewed and toured. The funds for this replica had been provided by the Kennedy Foundation as the original Dunbrody was the ship that transported the ancestors of President John F. Kennedy to the United States. The Kennedys were from County Wexford in an area near New Ross. New Ross had been their port of departure. While the Frampton Irish had mostly left for Canada long before the famine, ships very similar to the Dunbrody had been used to take them to Canada. Further, the original Dunbrody had been built in 1845 in Quebec City. It was one of hundreds of ships that had been built from 1817 to the famine years that were constructed of Canadian timber in the Port of Quebec City. Many Frampton Irish, including my own ancestor Andrew Murphy who was a ship carpenter, were involved in ship building and its supporting industries in Quebec City. They had built many of the ships that would carry the "famine emigrants" to Canada and the United States. The Dunbrody was much smaller than I anticipated. Below decks can be found the makeshift shelves where entire poor Irish families were forced to stay as "steerage" passengers. They were only allowed above deck, once a day. Interpreters dressed in period costume were on board that gave presentations about the voyage and the conditions that the emigrants had to endure. The tour of the Dunbrody was WELL WORTH IT.
I then stopped at the Irish National Heritage Park outside of Wexford Town. The park had re-creations of Irish farms and settlements through the ages. A trail starts at the visitor centre that winds through Irish history starting with the oldest settlements and working its way towards the Viking and Norman invasions. I have visited many "cultural centers" in places like Hawaii and the American southwest, but this was the first time I had been to such a place where the indigenous people being interpreted happen to be my ancestral people. So I enjoyed it tremendously. The park has a café, gift store and visitor centre, it was WELL WORTH IT.
After a train ride back to Dublin the next morning, I enjoyed my last afternoon and evening in Ireland. I first went to the Kilmainham Jail museum to see where my ancestor Miles Murphy had been imprisoned for his activities in the 1798 Rebellion. The old jail is most famous for imprisonment of the "political prisoners" who actively lead the various rebellions for Irish independence. The tour guide showed us where the prisoners had been held and in some cases executed by hanging and firing squads. I was most interested in the oldest section where the 1798 prisoners had been held. The cells they were kept in were very dismal. Next to the jail was the Kilmainham court house, where the 1798 prisoners had been released in 1806 due to lack of "habeas corpus" and the "good will" of the British government. The tour of Kilmainham Jail was WELL WORTH IT!
I apparently was very successful at blending in and looking like an "Irishman." As I walked away around the block from the Kilmainham Jail, some British tourists stopped me to ask directions to the Jail. I momentarily contemplated telling them that my ancestor had been imprisoned there because of their British government! But I "bit my tongue" and calmly gave them the directions and they were most surprised at my American accent. I stopped at the Guinness brewery on the way back to my hotel. I quickly went through the self guided tour to the top where I received my "complimentary" pint of the stout. This was the only true "tourist trap" I had visited in my entire trip. But it was WELL WORTH IT. I finished the evening with an Irish dinner and another Guinness at the pub attached to my hotel. The pub had live Irish music that evening and it was a great treat. It was a great trip and the WELL WORTH IT scores clearly outnumbered the DISAPPOINTMENTS.
My trip to Ireland represented somewhat of a closure to my Frampton Irish research. I have been working for several years on writing a manuscript that would be a new comprehensive history of the Frampton Irish. I knew that I had no business writing such a tome without having actually visited the heartland of the Frampton Irish. Like all projects of this nature, a time comes when the research must be turned-off and the manuscript come to completion. That time now has come! So I now have only a few follow-up research projects. I still need to make a trip to Salt Lake City to screen some more Quebec notaire records. I also intend to wait awhile to see if the Irish Family History Foundation finally places the indices for the County Wexford records on-line so I might do some additional screening, especially on the early Oulart Catholic parish records that were not available at the National Library of Ireland.
But about two months ago, I began diverting my attention to a separate unrelated history project. It is a history manuscript that has to do with what I previously did in my career with the U.S. Government. I intend to attend an upcoming reunion of former employees and co-workers where this manuscript can be talked about and interpreted. This manuscript may ultimately become more marketable than my work on the Frampton Irish for which my small business has significantly decreased. I don’t know if this decrease in business represents a decrease in interest in my website? So because of this diversion, my Frampton Irish blogs will now become rather infrequent over the next several months.