29 January 2017
I remember returning home with my father Anthony in 2005 to visit Glenmore where his own father John was born in 1905. I say returning home, as I had never been to Glenmore before, but when I was there I felt like a salmon feels when it finally reaches its destination after traveling thousands of miles across the ocean to where it was born. My father himself had only been back once before with granddad in 1938 when he was just 12 years old and they had walked the whole way from Dundalk station to Glenmore. My father stayed next door with the Donnelly family and remembers being very embarrassed at staying with a lot of girls! He remembers my Great Grandmother, Mary O'Neill (ne Reilly) sitting in the corner of the old house dressed all in black. My father also vividly remembers the old Glenmore church with it's arch and slabs of stone laid by his ancestors, so much so we spent hours driving round trying to find it! Only to discover it had been rebuilt and a car park was now in it's place. That's progress! He recalled to me walking to the top of Slieve Foy with two of his cousins, Jerry and Albert and remembered how he cried when he reached the top he was so scared. He felt he was on top of the world. When we finally made it back to the top together fifty five year later he laughed at how he had felt back then as a boy and also laughed to his cousins Jerry and Albert who were no longer there that he wasn't crying now! Instead he has brought me home, his daughter, Shelagh who had made my own special journey with him to be there. Home again. We went to see Mary Reilly who lived up from the old house and as soon as I walked through the door she said she felt like crying as I looked the image of my Great Grandmother Mary. I knew I had come home again. I had always felt so tied to Ireland but as my mother and father had separated when I was just three I had never known why. So many unanswered questions. Great Granmother Mary and Great Grandad Andrew had had eight children, Mary (Minnie), Tom, Alice (who died aged 8), Elizabeth (who emigrated to Australia), John, Andrew, Peter and James. All of the children were the best turned out children you could imagine and how Mary was able to do that in the little cottage they all live in will always amaze me. When I was taken to the house, now a just a shed, I stood and wept. How she must have felt seeing all of her children leave her and emigrate to find work must have broken her heart. I can't imagine it. I feel so grateful that I was able to make it back to Glenmore with my father and see where we came from before he passed away last November. We spent so much of our lives apart, but walking up that hill together we found not just each other but how our roots were so entwined with one another and with Glenmore which will always stay with me forever. More > (0 comments)
29 January 2017
I grew up in Ghan in the 40s, 50s, and some part of the 1960s till it was time to fly the nest.The were 6 of us two of whom were girls,my mother, father, and “Auntie”.
I never really knew who ''Auntie'' was nor did it matter. She had arrived before me and from all appearance she had as much right to be there as the rest of us.I learned later from my mother that she had come from Liverpool to Ireland in the 40s to help her while she was expecting her second child.
She was to come for 2 weeks but stayed till God called her home at the age of 88 in 1961.She died with us in Ghan House.
''Auntie'' later turned out to be my mothers aunt,a sister of my maternal Grandmother whom I had never know. She was one of 9 children and was born in 1873.It seems extraordinary now that I had access to someone who lived so long ago and never took the opportunity to find out more about her life and that of her brothers and sisters.
She had worked as a shop girl in “Bunnies” department store in Liverpool.
Through the Woods Gavan connection and the boat links from Greenore to Liverpool she had met and fallen in love with John Connor from Lordship.
They married and had a son called Sidney.-Sidney died of T.B when he was 27.He himself had married before his death and had a son called “Young Sid”.When he was 17 and in the merchant Navy, the boat on which he was travelling was torpedoed and he was drowned.John Connor died, and some years later “Auntie” remarried a Phil Mc Grath from Hollymount Kilcurry who had a pub in Argyle St in Liverpool.She survived his death and it was then she came to Carlingford.
Though Ghan House was a big place, all 6 of us slept in the one room.It was a big room that was without heat of any kind.It was so cold in winter that if you needed to go to the bathroom in the night you would hold on till morning hoping for a thaw.If you couldn't manage that, you moved throught the frosty air with such dexterity that you didn't disturb the air less you freeze to death.”
“ Auntie” for as long as I can remember was part of our night-time ritual.
We would hear her coming up the back stairs at night never settling until she did.We became accustomed to every creek and squeek on the landing outwitting her every night and she tried to tip toe pass without notice.
“ Auntie have you any sweets” we would chorus. “AHHH” we would hear her say “Go to sleep” and then silence.Minutes later the door would open and each in turn had a sweet stuffed into their gob as she went round from bed to bed,the door would close and she was gone.And so it was every night until a sweet had lost its taste for something more substantial or she couldn't walk passed any more..
“ Auntie” acknowledged everyones birthday with a half crown,she picked up eggs from the “en pen” a throw back to her Liverpool accent.As the years went on she developed a sniff and a drop on the end of her nose.She would drive us all insane with the constant tapping of her wedding ring
on the hearth out of rythmn with the music.
It was only after she had gone to her reward that we discovered one of her best kept secrets.We were aware that each night, summer or winter she would go for a short walk right up to her last days. In the pitch dark on the coldest nights off she would go. Months after she had died we found a hugh pile of Baby Power Whiskey bottles that had been tossed across the garden wall.She had been a regular customer in O Hares and it seems that she must have felt the cold in Ghan House as much as we did.
My father handed me a letter years later that he had found in the chimney of the Ghan that had been left for Santa to read. It was a letter that I had written as a 9 year old and in it I had requested Santa to bring “Auntie” a canary in a cage,and a flashlight.I don't know now why I requested a canary,but I must have guessed why she needed the flashlight,it was a dark road to O Hares in those days.
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29 January 2017
Coming Home 2001
Keller & Associates
St. Louis, MO 63118
Driving north on the road from Dublin I saw the soft peaks of the Cooley Mountains begin to take shape in the mist.
I was coming home to Carlingford, the first member of my family to do so in more than 150 years.
I had read what little is available about the town but, if it is a town that time has forgotten, it is equally an afterthought among travel writers. None of their adjectives "small," "charming," "a nice day trip out of Dublin," the usual favorites, had prepared me for the magic of Carlingford.
It is an ancient town, perhaps the most wonderfully medieval of villages I have experienced in my limited travels. Its narrow streets terrace upwards from Carlingford Lough, an inlet of the Irish Sea. At midday, brightly colored boats of all description wait on their silt perches or bob in distant shallows for the return of the tides.
There’s an old saying that goes: "In Europe 100 miles is considered a long way; in America, 100 years is considered a long time." In Carlingford, more than anywhere else I visited in Ireland, there is a sense that time is an unending and unbreakable thread, and all of us who go there are beads on that thread. I cannot know exactly how the village looked 150 years ago but feel certain that it is simply faces, not structures or spirit, that have changed in that time. Perhaps I am an incurable romantic; perhaps I have been overwhelmed by the fantasies of walking where my ancestors walked; and perhaps I have been caught up in the magic of Carlingford.
My father’s grandfather, Terence McBride, left Carlingford in 1848 with his brother Peter to seek their fortunes in America. Terence married late and lived to be very old, telling and retelling the stories of Ireland to anyone who would listen until he died at the age of 95 during my father’s 15th year. Dad and his siblings, two of whom are still living, heard the stories of the Famine, and of the brothers’ flight from Ireland on a ship that foundered, leaving them to be rescued by a passing vessel and brought to harbor near Boston. He didn’t know, so we didn’t learn, the term "Coffin Ship," for many years.
The young McBride brothers eventually helped arrange passage for nine of their 12 other brothers and sisters, along with their mother, Mary Donnelly McBride, and several members of other Carlingford families. One of these, Anne Rice, became Terence’s wife and my great-grandmother. They scattered across the vastness of America seeking whatever fortunes awaited them. Gradually, as they settled in such diverse settings as Massachusetts, Wisconsin, California and, of course, Missouri, the threads that had bound them in Carlingford came undone by the thousands of miles that separated them here.
But Terence told stories that would eventually be passed along to me, and like many Irish-Americans, I came to long for Ireland. This was assuaged somewhat by learning the music and history of the country, but the ache to go there and see it for myself remained, nurtured through years of tight budgets, young children, developing careers.
I believe there is a reason as to why Irish-Americans seem more nationalistic and drawn to our homeland than any other group save possibly for our fellow Americans whose families came from Africa: we didn’t want to leave in the first place! We had no choice, but the uprooting left a longing that I sometimes think is imbedded in our genes.
And now I was back, along with my husband Tom, a great-grandson of Cork and Kerry who’s sandy hair and freckles mark his origins as surely as the black hair and pale skin of the northeastern Irish do theirs. As I walked among the townspeople of Carlingford I saw—or at least fancied I did—the faces of dear ones long departed as well as my own 21-year-old Danny back in the ‘States. I thought of a spot so far away from Carlingford, in a tiny Catholic cemetery in Missouri, where Terence and Anne, all of their children and grandchildren down to a great-great grandchild rest together. Someday I will join them in this place where my family sleeps, but for now I was back where my family began.
We took a room at McKevitt’s in the center of the village which put us in a perfect position to walk down to the marina or "down the street and up a wee hill" to St. Michael’s Catholic Church. Between those points were shops selling first-rate crafts and Irish goods at very reasonable prices, and the Carlingford Heritage Center (which, to our dismay, was closed because of Foot and Mouth precautions that were in place throughout Ireland.) There are also the ruins of an ancient abbey and remnants of stone walls that once encircled the town.
One of the many delightful surprises of Carlingford is its ability to feed and bed its visitors with a level of comfort and sophistication that exceeds all expectations. We ate a fine meal at the Marina and another at McKevitt’s where we met up with some young women from Belfast down for a holiday. Although still relatively unknown to the outside world, its location just over an hour’s drive from both Dublin and Belfast, makes Carlingford a popular weekend getaway for people from both cities. They come for the food, which we barely had time to sample; for the craic at McKevitts and the Oyster Catcher Bistro; for the vast array of water sports; for the gentle mountains that beckon the walker; for the sheer beauty of Ireland at her best.
Like so many first-time visitors to Ireland we tried to do too much and drive too far in our 11 days there and, much as I treasure all my memories of the trip, I feel I barely touched the surface of the magic of Carlingford. The longing is still there…the ache to go back. Only next time it won’t just be for Terrence and Anne. Next time it will be for me and I’ll stay as long as I can.
Janet McBride Keller
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29 January 2017
We were playing football in the school yard in 1955.The yard was in that area that is now the Church parking area beside the Parochial House.We had been fortunate today that we had acquired a cows bladder from Woods' butcher shop in Newry St.It was blown up and tied at the top with string.Two teams were picked and the match was on. The football's origins added to our hilarity as the game ebbed and flowed across the school yard.
Lunch time had another 6 minutes to run.The game slowed as the players moved to the southern wall to look towards the bottom of the hill.
Many prayed silently that this was the day when the teachers house door wouldn't open.
Every day we prayed but everyday on the dot of five minutes to two the door opened and Master Mc Grath proceeded on his onward march towards us up the hill.In what seemed like seconds his soft felt hat boobed up and down along the perimiter wall with each menacing step.He was at the gate,turned and without looking left or right proceeded to the classroom door.Wheeling round to face us I knew our time was up as we lined up two by two. "Istigh"(In) he said as every gut in my body churned in anticipation of the afternoon to come.More > (0 comments)
29 January 2017
Does anyone have any photographs of Hugh Magee.More > (0 comments)