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Published: September 1st 2015
The county town of Clare is Ennis and there I had my best coffee and cake in Ireland after driving from Killalloe. In the centre of town is a very large statue of Daniel O’Connell and in the museum De Valera features prominently. Both were famous Clare MPs.
Half an hour later I was in Corofin at the Clare Genealogical Society in pursuit of the original Mrs Brown—Dar’s wife Bridget Downes. This woman was Pop William’s grandmother and he knew her well. She was also Cate Cook’s mother and Pop William spent a lot of time with the Cooks and Dar and Bridget. On the wedding certificate Bridget’s parents are listed as John Downes and Margaret Downes. Bridget’s sister Catherine (“Aunty Rush”) married Daniel (Rush) in Ballarat a few months before Bridget and William. On that certificate her parents are listed as “John Downes and Margaret Downes”. Antoinette at Corofin took one look at these facts and suggested that Margaret’s maiden name, as well as her married name, was Downes. This had never occurred to me but I had often wondered why these two women in their twenties did not know their mother’s maiden name! I commissioned Antoinette and her
team to research the matter further.
I drove to Miltown Malby near the sea and stayed there for two nights. On the first of those I had planned to go to a pub with traditional music but since it only starts about 10pm I didn’t make it. Next day I drove down to Loop Head at the end of Clare’s peninsular—beautiful cliffs and coastal scenery and not crowded. I had an afternoon sleep and then went to the Cliffs of Moher which is famous and very touristy. Later in the day it wasn’t so crowded and is also very beautiful. That night I had a very enjoyable evening over a couple of pints of guinness listening to local musicians and watching young local dancers—great.
Next day after visiting the Music Museum in MM, I went back to Corofin with a great sense of expectation. I stopped at a medieval castle along the way. Antoinette told me she thought she had located our Bridget’s family but more research was needed. Just in case it is the one I drove a short distance to the lovely town of Ennistymon and along the way stopped at the Clouna church. A local
wandered by and I asked him where the townland of Cahersherkin was and he turned and pointed up the hill. I drove up there and took a few photos of the fields which are delineated today pretty much the way they were in the 19thC.
I had one day left in West Clare and decided I wasn’t going to make it to nearby Galway city. I chose to go to Doolin on the coast and stayed with Danny who was about my age and before he ran a B&B was a fisherman in the small and dangerous boats used by the locals. Doolin is more famous for music today and I spent a great night in M’s pub. That day I caught a ferry out to the smallest of the Aran Islands –Ish. Except for the crowds it was like going back in time. When everyone else turned left off the ferry I went right and had a great walk around the island whose major feature is thousands of stone walled fields some as high as two meters. Today the fields are empty as tourism seems to be the island’s only industry.
I was sad to
leave Clare the next morning and hope it will not be my last time there. I feel a great affinity with Ireland and its people.
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