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   Welcome to the Frampton Irish Blog. I will try to provide a blog edition each month. Each edition will have a theme. I will try to include such items as updated information on my research activities, new things I am learning, interesting tidbits on Frampton Irish persons and families, and occasionally some research tips. If I present questions and issues to you, and you have answers or comments, I invite your feedback either on the guest book or if you prefer by email to me at dbmack11@aol.com.

Ireland, Part 2 Dec 14, 2010

The theme of this blog is Ireland, part 2. I will repeat my pattern of marking some items as WELL WORTH IT or DISAPPOINTMENT. I arrived in Wexford Town in the morning and the B & B I was staying at was walking distance from the train station. The B & B was definitely not a four star hotel but it was just what I was looking for. I had a comfortable room with "Irish breakfast" served every morning. The owners were very friendly and helpful and I felt welcomed and surrounded by Irish people and some other "foreigners" like me. Staying there was WELL WORTH IT.

My first venture in town was to visit the Wexford County library. The library was very busy (filled with happy Irish children!) that morning and the librarians had little opportunity to chat. I was told to come back at about 1:30 PM as one of the librarians who knows the most about local history and genealogy would be available then. So I went to get some lunch and enjoyed walking down the narrow streets and looking at the small shops. Among my Wexford ancestors were the Murphys, so I was delighted to find a fishing shop with the name Murphy proudly displayed above the front doors and windows. I returned to the library and had a great talk with the librarian. She showed me many things that they now even had available online that I wasn’t aware of. The greatest thing she gave me was a photocopy of a map of the Catholic parish of Oulart and its surrounding parishes that had all the townlands named with their respective boundaries. I had been looking for a map which showed the Frampton Irish heartland and now I had one. I think I only could have obtained such a map by making a visit to Wexford, Ireland in person. So this was WELL WORTH IT.

The librarian told me that they had all the microfilms for the County Wexford Catholic parish records on hand. I told her that I did research in these records at the National Library of Ireland (NLI) and the film the NLI had for the Oulart parish didn’t start until after 1830. I told her that I had found out through a paid record request to the County Wexford Genealogy Centre that some earlier records existed for that parish and I was hoping that during my visit to County Wexford that I might be able to browse these earlier records. She told me that the microfilms they had were identical to those available at the NLI and they did not have any of the earlier records. She told me that those earlier records for Oulart had been found years after the filming was done and those records were submitted to the Wexford Genealogy Centre for indexing. I told her that I tried to contact the Wexford Genealogy Centre prior to my departure to Ireland to make an appointment to meet with one of their genealogists. She told me that the Centre had lost its charter (due to poor service) from the Irish Family History Foundation and the Centre was now closed and all their records were sent to the centre in Kildare. This is why the Irish Family History Foundation does not yet have the County Wexford records online. I had planned on visiting the Wexford Genealogy Centre, but now it was closed and it was too late to include Kildare in my travel plans. I am convinced that if I would have been able to browse these earlier records, I would have found several additional records of the Frampton Irish, as I believe that the Catholic Parish of Oulart was the epicenter of the Frampton Irish heartland. This was a great DISAPPOINTMENT. But at least the mystery of what happen to the Wexford Genealogy Centre was solved. It also was once again illustrative on how the Irish Family History Foundations seems to have a monopoly on the indices for early Catholic parish registers. Oh well, nobody has said that Irish genealogy is easy!

Then I showed the librarian some of the references I had found that indicated that the County Wexford library had some microfilms for very early Wexford Town newspapers. I was hoping to look at the local Wexford Town newspapers to see if any references are made to ship departures for Canada. But, she told me those references were in error and that the earliest Wexford Town newspapers were on microfilm and retained at the NLI. I had just come from there and my travel plans were to return to Dublin on a Sunday when the NLI is closed and then departure for home on Monday morning. This was another DISAPPOINTMENT. I thought to myself that I should have made my plans in an opposite manner to visit Wexford Town first and then go to Dublin second. But the County Wexford library did have some early Finn’s Leinster Journal newspapers were I found some interesting items. I found a July 4, 1798 announcement of amnesty for the insurgents of the 1798 Rebellion to voluntarily surrender and the conditions of that. I also found a March 19, 1806 article that was about the ultimate release of the State Prisoners being held for rebellion in Kilmainham Jail in Dublin. This was another "proof" concerning my Frampton Irish ancestor Miles Murphy who had been at Kilmainham, because he left Ireland in 1806, the same year as the release. However, his name was not included in the article, but the article said "the remainder of the State Prisoners will be liberated immediately." Then the library also had an 1831 edition of the Wexford Independent (published in Wexford Town) and in the February 11, 1831 edition I found an article reprinted from the Quebec Gazette that discussed emigration and new settlement in Quebec in 1830. The article even mentioned Frampton. So I did get some research done at the County Wexford library that I would not have been able to do anywhere else, so that was WELL WORTH IT.

While at the library, I also discovered that local history in County Wexford is generally researched and published in "hard copy" journals. The primary journals for the Frampton Irish heartland are the Blackwater Journal, The Past (concerned with the area of Oulart), and The Journal of the Wexford Historical Society. These journals are published annually and distributed to the members and subscribers of the parent organizations and the library had only certain copies but not all that have been published. I was able to find the latest Journal of the Wexford Society for sale at a local bookstore so I bought it and it had several articles of interest to a person with ancestors from Wexford. I also discovered that the County Wexford library has a number of things online of interest to those with Wexford ancestors. The library website can be found at http://www.wexford.ie/wex/departments/library To access the online resources, click on library catalog from the main page. Then click on online library. Then click on browse. Some copies of journals (The Past and Wexford Historical Society) can be found under the heading of "Local History Journals." Another item of interest is the History of the Diocese of Ferns. Under the heading of "Catholic Parishes in County Wexford" can be found listings of the parishes and all the names of their respective townlands. Also, the Evolution of the Catholic Parishes was a publication where I learned that the Catholic Parish of Kilmuckridge had earlier been known as the Catholic Parish of Killincooley.

While staying in Wexford Town, I had the opportunity to walk around town a lot. I saw the monument to the "pikemen" of 1798, as Wexford Town was one of the locations that had taken and under control of the insurgents of 1798. I also found the monument to Commodore Barry. He was original from County Wexford, but after emigrating to the United States, he became known as the "father of the American Navy." But perhaps the greatest site in Wexford Town for a person with Wexford emigrant ancestors was the Wexford Quay (waterfront). The Quay is on Loch Garman which is the estuary bay of the Slaney River. The Wexford Quay would have been one of the most accessible ports for the Frampton Irish emigrants to depart from. With a little imagination, I could almost picture old sailing ships tied up to the quay ready to take passengers to the New World. This was potentially where my Frampton Irish ancestors stepped off from their beloved Ireland onto a ship that would take them to a strange new place. They may have continued to look back towards the quay until it disappeared from sight and they would never return. But here I was 200 years later caught in a moment of wonderment about that fateful event. Sitting on the bench on the Wexford Quay was WELL WORTH IT.

Wexford Town is sort of a tourist location for people from other parts of Europe. I noticed on Saturday, that there were "bagpipe bands" and other musical and dancing entertainment on the main shopping street. This was an unexpected pleasure for me. I stayed busy with research and exploring each day I spent in Wexford Town.

Some records have been found for the Frampton Irish in the records of the Catholic Parish of Wexford Town. Although, the church where those events occurred is long gone. In the 1850s, two "twin" churches were built in Wexford Town to serve the Catholic parishes of the time. These churches are still standing today and are active parishes. If one of these churches was located in my town of Boise, Idaho it would be equivalent of our diocese cathedral. As one of these churches was no more than two blocks from the B & B I was staying at, I decided to attend the Saturday vigil mass. The church was almost filled. It was delightful to hear the prayers and hymns in the Irish accent. It was somewhat of a magical experience. It dawned on me as I left, that somewhere in that church were undoubtedly people who were probably related to me in some way. I may have even looked them in the eye! But after 200 years of separation, how could the connection ever be made?

In my next blog, I will share the adventures of my "drive around" in County Wexford.


Ireland, part 1 Nov 12, 2010

The theme of this blog is my trip to Ireland. This blog will be done in a few parts. I have had a busy two months since my last blog in September. I found out in August that I was going to need to have surgery with a significant recuperation period. So I decided to make a long anticipated trip to Ireland before having surgery in October. I went to Ireland in the third week of September. All in all the trip was fantastic and well worth it. But I had some disappointments. In the course of these blogs I will label what was "WELL WORTH IT" and what was a "DISAPPOINTMENT."

From the moment I stepped onto the Aer Lingus (an Irish airline) plane in Boston, I felt like I was already there and my anticipation was building. Seeing the flight attendants in their crisp "Erin Green" uniforms was a welcome sight and hearing their musical Irish accents was an added blessing. Even the audio entertainment menu included selections of Irish and Celtic music. I was finally on my way to the land of my ancestors.

When planning my trip, I deliberately stayed away from joining any organized tour group. Such tours would not include all of the destinations I intended to go to, they would be too time consuming for non-research activities, and I believe that they would tend to isolate me from the Irish people and their culture. I left for Ireland on a Saturday morning with expected arrival in Dublin on Sunday morning. As the places I intended to do research were not open until Monday morning, I was able to explore around Dublin somewhat upon arrival and then retiring to my hotel when the "jet lag" tiredness set in. Unknown to me when planning the trip was that the day of my arrival was the day after the finals of the Gaelic Football championship. My hotel had a pub (with Irish food, drink (read as Guinness on draft) and live music) connected to it and the hotel and pub were full of Irish people celebrating their win and or bemoaning their loss. My hotel was located right across Kildare St. from the National Library of Ireland with Trinity College across the other street. It was also just two blocks from Grafton St. (a significant shopping area). My hotel was in a great location and full of Irish people. But in terms of amenities, it was lacking. I had to carry suitcases up four flights of stairs (no elevators) and no phones in the room. But it was just what I had in mind.

On Monday morning, my first stop was the National Archives of Ireland. My primary objective was to examine the Kilmainham Jail register that they had available on microfilm. As I had found my ancestor Miles Murphy in the "rebellion papers" as a "State Prisoner" at Kilmainham, I was hoping that this register might provide additional details so I might further confirm that I had the correct Miles Murphy. Unfortunately, after spending a few hours obtaining my "reader’s card" and asking for the microfilm (no self service here) and looking through it, I found out that the register for the target time period was a register of the "common criminals" and the "State Prisoners" (read as political prisoners) were not included in the register. DISAPPOINTMENT. The archives also has the "rebellion papers" and a card index of names for them. I consulted the name index, but did not find any references that I hadn’t already seen in my "rebellion papers" research in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. I looked through all the various card and hand written indices without finding anything significant. So spending my first morning at the archives was a DISAPPOINTMENT. There are a lot of records available there, but I would have to know more about the specific origins of my ancestors and have a little more knowledge and guidance before research at these archives could be more successful. Also it is a difficult location to plan for as they have very little on-line in terms of indices and catalogs to determine precisely what is held there.

Walking back to my hotel from the Archives, I found a shop called the "National Map Store." As I am a "map gazer" and understand things best through geography, I was delighted. I immediately walked in and found a large selection of "Ordinance Survey, Discovery Series" maps and found the one for the northern part of County Wexford. It is an excellent map showing current routes and road conditions and provides place names for villages and townlands. This map would aid me tremendously when I would explore the "heartland" of the Frampton Irish later in the week. This is a map I would not have been able to find anywhere but Ireland so it was WELL WORTH IT. So the journey to the Archives was not a total waste of time.

My first successes began at the National Library of Ireland (NLI) later that day. To ask for the books and sources that I wanted to look at, a "reader’s card" had to be obtained first. Then I worked in the main reading room. I had searched their on-line catalog prior to departure and printed out the various books and sources I wanted to view. There is a wealth of information on the Rebellion of 1798 in County Wexford. I looked through all the books on that subject that I hadn’t seen at other repositories. One particular piece of research I did on-line prior to departure was trying to find more information about the "Banishment Act of 1798." I had found several references to it and the fact that it included a list of names in the full text. But the full text was not available anywhere on line. I found the full text at NLI in the Journals of the House of Commons of Ireland. The Banishment Act passed and took effect on 6 Oct. 1798. It did include a list a persons who had already "surrendered" or who had been captured by that time. My ancestor Miles Murphy was not on the list. However, he was not identified as a "State Prisoner" until a record that was made in 1800. But the Banishment Act would indeed apply to him as the full text of the law included: ". . . and whereas his Majesty may of his Royal clemency, be most graciously pleased to grant his pardon to such of the said persons as have already confessed their guilt, as aforesaid, and to others who may hereafter in like manner throw themselves upon his Royal clemency, upon such conditions as his Majesty may be pleased to prescribe: . . ." Also among the terms of the Banishment Act was that a released prisoner was allowed two months to leave the country. So it was a "open ended" law that would essentially banish from Ireland any future "rebellion prisoners" that may be released. It is my belief, that it was this Banishment Act that forced Miles Murphy to emigrate to Lower Canada in 1806. So being able to read the full text of this law and realizing that this source was only available at NLI it was WELL WORTH IT. I attempted to try to find out further information as to the release of the "State Prisoners" in 1806, but the sources I searched through at this time did not reveal this information.

As the NLI has a complete collection of microfilm of Catholic parish registers for all of Ireland, this was my next research effort. Many of these registers are only available at NLI. The registers have been indexed by the Irish Family History Foundation through their County Genealogy Centres. But the indices are somewhat "monopolized" by the organization and obtaining each record costs 5 Euros and the Wexford records are not yet on-line. My objective was to examine any of the registers for parishes in County Wexford that had any records earlier than 1830. Most of the Frampton Irish were already in Canada by 1830. The search was somewhat complicated! First, many of the registers for the area that constitute the "heartland" of the Frampton Irish in County Wexford have only a few years before 1830. Second, the handwriting in the registers was extremely difficult to read and lacked any standard formats for what information to include or the order in which it was presented. Third, some of the registers were written completely in Latin, the names were in Latin or the given names were expressed in "nicknames." Fourth, there was absolutely no indexing or sorting. So the only way to use these sources is to read through and screen through every page from beginning to end. Why did I bother?? I wanted to at least find a few more Frampton Irish families in some Irish records that gave evidence of their County Wexford origins. My theory had always been that the majority of County Wexford emigrants came from the Catholic parishes that center on the parish of Oulart and stretch from Enniscorthy on the west to Blackwater on the east. To make family search requests through the Irish Family History Foundation genealogy centres would be cost prohibitive for a search for several families considering that I spent a few hundred dollars just requesting searches for my own ancestors. So the registers at NLI was the only repository where I believe I could look at several registers at no cost.

Searching the parish registers at the NLI was time consuming. Each microfilm had to be ordered at the desk in the main reading room. You can order up to three films at a time, but they will only deliver one film to you at a time. So each time you are ready to look at another film involves a time lag. Screening and scanning the films page by page was laborious. Fortunately I am so familiar with the surnames of the Frampton Irish that I could scan down until I saw a possible surname and then check a "print-out" I had prepared ahead of time to confirm a possible find. I worked at this until library closing time on Monday and Tuesday of my trip. After all that screening I confirmed that three Frampton Irish families came from the Parish of Blackwater, one family came from the Parish of Enniscorthy, two families came from the Parish of Wexford Town, two families came from the Parish of Olyegate and five families came from the Parish of Kilmuckridge. It sounds like a lot of work for very little outcome, however I was quite pleased because the search completely confirmed my theory about the "heartland" of the County Wexford emigrants. And since the NLI was among the few places where these films can be viewed it was WELL WORTH IT. Unfortunately, the film the NLI had for the Oulart parish didn’t start until after 1830. As I knew that earlier record existed for that parish I was hoping that my planned visit to County Wexford later in the week would allow me to screen those records. There were many other sources I could have viewed at the NLI, but I was out of time.

The following day I had took the train from Dublin to Wexford Town for a visit to the Frampton Irish heartland and more research at the County Wexford Library and Archives. It was only about 22 Euros for the round trip. The train was a pleasure, very clean and comfortable. I was delighted to hear the little Irish children speaking to their parents in Gaelic. The train followed the coast for a little ways with great views of the English channel and the Irish countryside. The ride took a little less than three hours and the time went by quickly. I had a nice seat with a table where I could consult my maps and keep track of the stops and our location as we proceeded. The train ride was WELL WORTH IT. My blog next month will be part 2 of my trip and my adventures in County Wexford.


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