A Travellerspoint blog

Day 45 - The Last Post and Reflections

sunny 21 °C
View Following in the Family Footsteps on Neileeann's travel map.

This is my last post for this trip. Tomorrow we fly out of Dublin for Dubai and I don’t expect to do anything of note over the next couple of days. SO it seems a good time to wrap it up and look back on the trip.

So a central theme that has been running through my head has been change.

Firstly the changes in me. Early on it was soon apparent that I was longer the 25 year old who last went on the “Grand Tour”. So this trip has been particularly hard in terms of stamina. I felt it a couple of times throughout the trip and more so at the back end. I think I shut down last week and ever since I have been counting down the days to my return. But I am still not looking forward to that cattle herding long haul flight.

I shouldn’t be surprised, but it was the changes in places that I had once visited that was the most surprising. It certainly had a lot to do with my experiences as a 25 year old and as a 55 year old. You see and do different things, so your experiences are different. Brussels and Belgium is no longer the city and country that I once loved.

Places and people change, but it re-enforced the fact that we always need to be mindful of these changes and respond to them, or you will be left behind. Places that were once the seat or centre of great political or economic power have been left behind – never to regain their former power.

Yet the more things change the more they stay the same, only the players have changed. Early on in the trip there were many visits to stately castles and grand churches, which rammed home the power and wealth that these institutions had on the lives of the ordinary people. They held extraordinary power and they wielded it to their own advantage. When you think about the amount of money that were expended by these institutions – if they just spent a fraction of that on making the lives of their “people” just a bit better – how much different would be the world today. Now these institutions have been replaced by the new masters of our domain – the financial and political elites. They now direct the wealth of the global finances, with the crumbs falling our way. There was an article in the London Daily Telegraph about Tony Blair having a net worth of £60m and you wonder how a politician can make that sort of money, except through inside deals. I know it is idealistic to think that we will have an equal society, but just a small redistribution will have a huge difference.

One thing that has constantly hit me this trip has been the internationalisation of Europe. I know that from the time of Jesus people have always moved from place to place, but the extent of this movement has really had struck me this time. It doesn’t matter if you are in a major city or a small Irish town – the chances are the people you inter-act with will be from different countries. Europeans now move to wherever the economic opportunities present themselves and the EU facilitates this movement. Fascinating!

National stereotypes have also changed, well for me at least. I didn’t notice any gangs of drunk English and if anything the Poms and Irish are into fitness in a big way. I have never see so many runners and cyclists than what I have seen in these two countries. Runner runners everywhere and they are both a nation of beanpoles. When driving the Ring of Kerry there were numerous 50+ cyclist doing the trip and you think to yourself – bugger me, well done to them. It certainly make the Aussies and Americans stand out in the crowd. I know that uploading photos of myself has been a painful experience – seeing the fat blob I have become.

Finally I never had the emotional reactions that I thought I would have when visiting some of my family footsteps. Possibly I was caught up in the moment of capturing the images that I never spent the time to absorb it. It was only today when I came across the famine sculptures in Dublin that it really did hit me. The Irish have spread far and wide around the world. Some of it forced upon them and other it was chasing economic and social opportunity. For my family it was forced upon them and I truly believe that it was for their betterment. However for many it was a journey of extreme pain, which I thought was reflected in the sculptures. The Irish diaspora is tragic, but it also brought many good things to the world. There was a great street art display in the Temple Bar District that sought to identify what it was to be Irish. It struck me that for many they had to leave Ireland to achieve their greatness. Society and the Church was so stifling that they needed to escape to realise their potential. So it was in Australia. The Irish contributed so much to our political life through freedom fights (Eureka), workers rights (trade unions) and political rights (ALP) that I am for one proud of my Irish blood. But I will always be Australian (cue I Still Call Australia Home). So it is goodbye from me and goodbye from him and I will see you on the other side.

Posted by Neileeann 01:05 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Day 44 - The long goodbye

Sailing for Australia

overcast 19 °C
View Following in the Family Footsteps on Neileeann's travel map.

The long goodbye was a term often used by the Irish when they went to see off their relatives from the port, who were leaving for distant countries in the knowledge that they will never return. Another expression used was the “American wake” where instead of gathering at the home of a recently departed for a wake, they gathered at the home of a person intending to travel to America for a better life.

All my Irish ancestors would have left Ireland via the Dun Laoghaire port just south of Dublin city. While the port has changed somewhat since 1825 it was somewhat reflective to look at the old stone steps leading down to the embankment bank and think of what young Michael might have felt at that time. A young lad of 14 shackled to a bunch of other convicts, not knowing what was to become him, knowing that he will never see his ma and pa and brother again. Then to sail out that port with the last glimpses of the green fields of Ireland slowing slipping away. A tough beginning.

From here we drove the short distance to Dublin. There was some delays and inconveniences in getting into our hotel room and the red mist gradually came down over my leprechaun travelling partner. So I knew it was time to bail out and go elsewhere for a few hours, while she cast spells over those who made her life just that little bit inconvenient.

Not a lot that I intend to do in Dublin. So I just took off for a walk. Headed for the Temple Bar district and it was crawling with tourists and locals alike all looking for a drink and a good time.

After that I went to the National Library and they had genealogists on board who would give some free advice. So I thought I would take the opportunity to see if they could put me onto anything new. Nothing much more they could offer, so I walked away knowing I have covered their lives as best as I could.

Got back to the hotel room 5 hours later and the little leprechaun was still fuming, but less so. I think we will both be pleased to get back to Oz and have some space to ourselves.

Posted by Neileeann 03:24 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Day 42 - A trip to the seaside

overcast 18 °C
View Following in the Family Footsteps on Neileeann's travel map.

Today was more driving as we made our way down from Kildorrery to Tramore. The distances are not so great, but it is often the intensity of the driving that becomes exhausting. Apart from the motorways and a few other major roads, roads are not divided and are just narrow enough for two cars to pass by with reasonable caution. But often the roads are more narrow and blind so you are always “on” making turns and looking out for on-coming cars racing towards you. I think the easy pace of Ireland has now gone, at least when driving. I was pretty knackered when I arrive at Tramore, a drive of no more than 200Km.

Anyway, today was always going to be an amble. First of all we headed to Cashel and the Rock of Cashel (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_of_Cashel). It was an interesting place and full of Irish stories. Afterwards it was just an amble drive that made a way over the mountains and down to the coast which we then followed till we reached Tramore.

We are staying in an Airbnb and I said to Lee-ann as we arrived, I hoped that we are not staying in the caravan parked out the front. After meeting our host (Alex) he said he would show us to our room and proceeded to go out the front door. Well it all turned out ok and the accommodation is very nice (their daughter’s old bedroom). After a chat we headed off to Tramore town centre.

Tramore is at the south east corner of Ireland and in the past and still is a summer holiday town. However you can see the effect that cheap european airfares have had on places like these. In the past these towns thrived because they represented a cheap location for locals to go to have some fun on the beach as part of their summer holidays. Now they can just as easily go to Spain (€59 from Cork) and will be guaranteed a hot dry summer experience. Today on Tramore beach it was a chilli wind that blew the penny arcades were mostly empty of children and the amusement park was mostly idle. So it is a fairly depressing scene if you are a young teenager forced to come here with your parents and then having to amuse yourself in what struck me was a throw back to 1960 Brighton Beach.

The reason we came here was because it was another possible location for my GGGM Mary Flynn. However I don’t put too much emphasis on this Mary being “the one” so I just wanted to say that I had been here.

Tomorrow, we will possible go to Dublin a day early. I only have one more family history place to visit and that is near Dublin. So if there is room at the inn we will head there.

Posted by Neileeann 23:10 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Day 41 - Mary Mary quite contrary - where are you?

The elusive hunt for Mary Flynn

sunny 20 °C
View Following in the Family Footsteps on Neileeann's travel map.

Started the day by visiting a few places we couldn’t get to yesterday. First up Ross Castle which was average. Secondly, it was Muckross Abbey (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muckross_Abbey), which turned out to be very interesting. Well worth a visit if you pass this way.

After that we made the drive to Kildorrery, which was the home of my second strongest suspect in my quest to find the elusive Mary Flynn, who was my GGGM. I have hoped that I would find something here, or divide intervention gave me a sign, because this area is so much more pretty than my other possible location (Liberty).

Like all good Who Do you Think You Are episodes, I had arranged to meet a local historian to discuss Kildorrery history and any parish records they may find. Frank was my guide today and to start with he said that they could not find any further parish records, which I expected. Next he drove me to the local cemeteries where I already had some records of possible relatives being buried here. So I got photos of these, but the state of most graves were such that further identification of possible other relatives was impossible in the short period of time I had here.

After leaving Frank I revisited these places again and took my time just walking around and taking more photos. The Carrigdownanes graveyard had the most promising grave, which I believe in my romanticised irish way that it contained the grave of her sister Margaret and her child Mary Ellen. Mary Flynn travelled to Australia with her sister Ellen and Mary named one of her children Margaret. So my assumption is this Margaret (Mary’s sister) named one of her children Mary Ellen after her sisters who travelled to Australia. Unfortunately the grave was fenced off and I couldn’t get access. This graveyard was also nearby the Townland (Ballykeating) that I believe her father lived in around 1812. So everything was pointing to this being the final resting place for this family, whether she is the one or not.

However it is when I got back to our accommodation that things got going. Our host, Jennifer, took it upon herself to find my relative and she started calling people who were Flynn’s. So soon I was meeting Mark Flynn who had done family history and while it could not confirm or deny the connection, we have exchanged emails to swap details later on. Next her husband, Mike, took me back to the graveyard and dismantled the fence so I could get in and take some photos. When we got back to the house, Jennifer, had roped in the local grave digger and he said he knew where the bodies are buried. He then proceeded to ring an old Flynn (97 years old) and it was soon established that it was not my line of Flynn’s. Nevertheless it is worthwhile going out to this graveyard and see what is out there.

So all in all it was a real community effort to try and help me find my roots. So I hope that my Mary did come from here, so all this effort was not in vain.

Posted by Neileeann 17:00 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

Day 40 - The ring of Kerry

overcast 17 °C
View Following in the Family Footsteps on Neileeann's travel map.

I think Lee-ann has been looking forward to this day. Today we drove around “The Ring Of Kerry”. Like all good tourist places it is part marketing hype and part truth. There were certainly places where the views were spectacular and many places where the views were ordinary. But it certainly was worth it to see it by car and stop at the places you wanted, even though the drive can be quite nerve racking with so much going on.

What I thought would take us about 4 hours has turned into 10 hour drive. The weather was not kind to us and it certainly would be much more spectacular on a bright blue sky day, especially with the distant views to far off mountains. Nevertheless it was “grand” and at the end I pulled into a hotel to watch the Muster Hurling Finals, between Tipperary and Limerick. So it was a good way to finish off the day. It started raining during the game, so we decided to call it a day and head back to the accommodation.

I take my hat off to the Irish lads. There were a few “beaches” and there were signs that said lifeguards on duty. The fact that the Irish contemplated going to the “beach” to swim on days like this; and the fact that there is someone willing to voluntary jump into the frigid water to rescue the person – well I say hats off. There was even a water sports club where many were in their board shorts dreaming of Big Wednesday coming in.

Tomorrow I have one more family history duty and then it is all r&r from here on in. Looking forward to getting home.

Posted by Neileeann 11:42 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

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