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Published: October 23rd 2013
We are missing the toaster! Breakfast is just not quite the same without hot buttered toast with jam or peanut butter. We have had to make do with croissants after our muesli, fruit and yogurt and it’s not quite the same. So that’s something we are looking forward to, other than seeing the family and friends in the flesh again when we get back home.
We are not having quite the luck we need with the weather at the start of the day and this morning it is raining again although thankfully the forecast is for the rain to clear.
Today we are heading inland to the small town of Millstreet on the trail of my great, great grandfather Michael Mahony to try and put some missing pieces in the ancestry puzzle on my late mother’s side of the family. The name we are tracing is clearly a very Irish one and when you look at records on various websites you find that the name is very common here. One small difference which is not uncommon also is the addition or exclusion of the letter ‘e’ before the ‘y’ in the name.
From a death notice in a NZ newspaper that my great grandfather had inserted in 1901 when his father died we have traced Michael back to Millstreet using the date and his age as the major clues.
Driving north east through Killarney, Gretchen observed just how many houses were painted yellow in Ireland that we had passed by and we have decided that is because they need a contrast to the lush green grass and also to cheer them up when it is dull, grey and raining!
Vannessa,the rental VW we have driving, has been very mean on diesel and as yet we haven’t had to refill her tank in all the kilometres we have travelled so far. We have put that down to the car being manual so you can control the speed and use of the gears better and also the sparse traffic which means the speed we have travelled at has been very consistent.
The N12 north east from Killarney towards Millstreet runs through pleasant farmland and we noticed another feature that has stood out for us and that is the number of relatively large, new homes in the rural areas close to the towns and cities. Of course Ireland had had a major building boom a few years ago that had led to problems for the country in the economic crisis that started in 2008. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of new houses under construction currently so perhaps they have an oversupply for the current population.
Another feature of Ireland is the huge number of small pubs and often in small towns there can half a dozen or more to cater for the population. One name that has appeared frequently in the towns we have passed through is ‘Murphy’s’ which of course is to be expected being that the name is very common in this country, although it would be interesting to know just how many pubs named for the Murphy’s that there were.
Millstreet has a museum and we thought that we might get some leads from there by seeing what history they had. Before we went into the museum we checked the Catholic Church in the middle of the town. The church had been built in 1932 so there wasn’t going to be anything there of interest and the cemetery around the church didn’t seem to have that many graves and headstones going back far enough.
We still had the museum to check out and crossed the road only to find that although there were hours advertised for it to be open on Saturday, there was no one there. However, the library was open and as a last resort to talk to someone who might know something about the history of the area we went inside. And it was just as well we did as Grace, the librarian, was most helpful and did a census search for 1901, the year Michael died, and found him recorded living with a family by the name of O’Keeffe in nearby Knocknagree. Michael’s age that was recorded agreed with the age he died which was in June 1901 and so it seemed we had another clue to follow.
So it was back in the car and a drive to Knocknagree about 10km away.
We checked out the Catholic Church in the small village but it was too new and the graves and headstones in the cemetery didn’t go back far enough to cover the time when Michael died. We were interested in finding a headstone as it would likely have family information on it perhaps even covering all of the family which would have been great.
While checking the headstones we found one that had a family from the ‘Townland’ of Shanballa where Michael lived with the O’Keeffes. ‘Townland’ we guess is land that was leased and farmed and now we needed to find where the area known as Shanballa actually was.
Being a Saturday afternoon there was no one about in the village so we took a drive out into the farmland to see what we might find. Down the road a bit we saw a local man out clearing leaves and stopped to ask him if he knew of the Shanballa ‘Townland’ and we got another break as he gave us directions to the area and also the name of a local person who was up on the history of the village and surrounding area. He didn’t know what house he lived in but if we asked at any house on the road we would be directed to the historian’s house.
We chose a house where there was a car in the driveway and by chance we were just one house away from the man we needed to talk to.
But it was here the trail went cold as the man wasn’t home.
So although we didn’t come away with a a picture of the grave and headstone we did get more names and information to follow up online and it may now be worth writing to the historian once we get home. We could have hung around to see if the man came home but we had no idea whether he was just out somewhere local or further away and the neighbour didn’t know either.
Our accommodation for next 2 nights was at the Travelodge in Cork which was an hour or so away and we took ‘The Butter Route’ over the Boggeragh Mountains which was a pleasant drive through dairy farmland on a narrow and winding road that was the original road for local farmers to take their dairy products to market in Cork.
It had been a long day and generally successful day in ancestry tracing and with the heavy overcast sky the daylight was starting to fail when we made it to Cork.
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