Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone! In honor of true Irish storytelling, sit back and relax while I tell you a wee story about my adventures finding an ancestral grave…
This is the actual blog post I wrote in May 2007 from Armagh, Northern Ireland:
the past few days brought me back to my ancestors. i landed in armagh on monday night at the youth hostel. myself and one other person happened to be there and the staff member. we ended up watching tv and sitting in this living room that holds about 40 people! a little bit strange to say the least…not the height of tourist season.
i tour the city the next day-easy enough on foot.
i admired all the absolutely beautiful churches and cathedrals.
i stood in the mall area-a central green park with the museum on one side and several churches surrounding it.
i walked through st patrick’s trian-an interactive centre with displays and info about the book of armagh, st patrick and the history of armagh including a giant talking Gulliver in the Gulliver’s Travels section!
the city itself wraps around several hills with breathtaking views.
the tourist info centre was my home base as i went back and forth nearly 10 times in the four days i was there. i met a very nice lady, Phyllis Healy, another possible relation 🙂 , who took me under her wing. she made phone calls, she asked around and pulled some strings. she managed to get the researcher to look up some family names for me and have the info made up in a 24hr period! i also went to the armagh co. museum and looked in the Griffith Valuations-info on landholdings. i found 4 Francis O’Hares (my great-great-great grandfather!) in the book. i compared this info with the stuff given to me by the researcher and once i visited the Catholic Church in Armagh, i narrowed it down to a small town, Camlough (Camloch). i found that this town covered the Parish of Lower Killevy, listed in the info from the researcher.
so, i hopped on the bus this morning, lugging my rolling suitcase onto the city bus-i was the only passenger-and got off in Camlough. the bus driver directed me up to the top of chapel road. i rolled my suitcase 6 blocks up the hill to the Church of St Malachy, Carrickcruppin. it sits on the top of a hill and the graveyard spills down both sides of the hill. i put my suitcase inside the foyer of the church (not a soul in sight) and wandered around the graveyard. i didn’t really know what i was looking for and i’d been told several times that this was really a needle-in-a-haystack situation. two separate people insisted that i didn’t have enough information to know where the ancestors were, if they stayed there, etc and i’d be lucky to find anything.
for some reason i wanted to look anyway.
i made a zig zag up and down the hills, looking at all the old headstones-some had nothing on them. i thought this is really pushing it.
it was really cloudy and grey.
i kept looking but somewhat casually. i watched some people come and go to place flowers on graves and leave.
as i was about to leave i thought i’d just go over to a little area that looked interesting. my spider senses were tingling.
i glanced over my shoulder and saw-Catherine & Mary O’Hare! My great-great grandmother and her sister…
this is no exaggeration when i tell you that at that exact moment, the sun burst through the clouds. straight out of the movies! i looked over and my jaw dropped. the sun stayed out for a minute or so as i took pictures and just sat in awed silence.
i felt really at home in that place. the church was very peaceful and comforting when i stood inside it. i imagined that that very church held my great-great-great grandparents, Francis O’Hare and Elizabeth Smyth when they married on February 23, 1841…
Here are some pictures of the city and the gravesite/church in Camlough. Also some of the sites i visited-Eiman Macha an ancient site believed to be from the Bronze Age and some other spots around town.
Me standing on top of Eiman Macha