Ireland….a journey into my genealogical and religious roots

My father spent a lot of time working on our family tree. He found a couple of the obligatory convicts, in every multi-generational Australian family tree. Plus, three generations of Tullochs, that were forced off the Orkney Islands in Northern Scotland, in  1830s Highland Clearance (which I mentioned in my blog, as I went through there last year). He recalls my mother’s Welsh grandmother (not fondly) and an Irish grandfather and mother. After feeling a connection with my Scottish forebears when I went to the Orkney Islands last year, I have been wanting to go to Ireland, to continue the journey, of seeing where my forebears lived.
Ireland does not have the multi-centuries old, grand building and churches, due to its history of being, repeatedly conquered by Britain rulers, who then divided up the land, to give to the nobles, the king owed favors to. It started with the Normans in the 12th century. Oliver Cromwell came over in 1649, in additions to beating the Irish in battle, he being Anglican, Reformist Protestant, went on a binge, slaughtering Irish Catholics.  The sectarian animosity between the native Catholic Irish and the Anglican British that came over with the conquering British, has been a dominant part of Irish history for the last 500 years. The violent atrocities that have committed on each others, were horrendous and would have been a dominant cause of the emigration of  millions of them to Britain and the New World.

For centuries the wealth of the very fertile lands of Ireland was sent to Britain to build the lavish buildings I saw there.
The warm ocean current running up the east coast of America, then heads east, hitting Ireland, resulting in a mild climate, with plenty of rain (especially while I have been here). Unlike England where it seemed to be overcast the whole time, in Ireland it rains for 10 minutes, then the sun comes out for an hour, then it rains again, repeated throughout the day.
In the mid 1700’s the potato arrived in Ireland, after its discovery in the Americas. This was the primary influence for the Irish population tripling over the next century to 8.5 million (it is less than 5 million now). When the potato blight disease destroyed the potato harvest and storage from 1845 to 49, a million Irish died of starvation and another million emigrated to escape poverty and starvation. As I was repeatedly told by the old timers, in the pubs I visited throughout Ireland, while all this starving was going on, the British landowners continues to send ships laden with beef, butter and grains across the Irish Sea to England. The British (Protestant) Overlord at the time looked upon the famine as a good thing, as he felt it was God’s way of punishing the Catholics. When people in America realized what was going on, they started sending boat loads of food to Ireland to feed that starving masses.
Humans don’t fix things until they are broken, and what the Irish refer to as “The Great  Famine”, was the catalyst for major changes in the way the British governed Ireland. The skyline of the cities I visited in Ireland were dominated by grandiose Cathedrals and Churches, whose foundations stones were laid in the decades following the famine, with completion dates in the 1880s and 1890s.
 As you will see from the photos, these are amazing buildings, built by very religious people.

My great grandmother Mary Ryan left Tipperary for Australia, at the time of the potato famine and her husband to be; Jeremiah  Creedon left Marcoom, County Cork some years later.  This was the world, they as Irish Catholics were born into and lived in, before they left for a better life in Australia

Their Catholicism  was passed onto the generations that followed them. I went to Catholic Primary Schools and attended Sunday mass, up until I was in my late teens.

Without fail, everybody I talked to in the pubs, now have a total disdain for the Catholic Church, caused by what came out of the enquires conducted this century, into the sexual exploitation and pedophilia by hundreds of Irish priests over the 20th Century. A feeling of betrayal by the then Catholic hierarchy, that refused to address the issue, instead moved the offending priests onto anther parish to reoffend again and again. 


I flew from Bristol to Dublin (population 1.8 million, of Ireland’s 4.7 million population)

Dublin while still being the source of Irish emigration throughout the world, has been turned by contraceptional, globalisation and membership of the European Union, to, on the streets appearing to be a city of Immigrants. Everybody is walking around with those earpiece buds in their ears talking to themselves in languages, not the national languages of Ireland, if they are not texting as the walk. My youngest daughter Phoebe would love living here, while I who is happiest anchoring my boat off a small village in Vanuatu, would not consciously choose to stay in a city like this for the 4 days, I booked the accommodation for. 

I did try to get into the groove of the city, but like Helsinki, it was not my scene, hence the lack of photos.I was going to hire a car to get around Ireland, but there were a lot of horror stories about dealing with the hire car companies on the internet, so I went with the lesson learnt in the Eastern Baltic. Use the buses or trains to move around, booking accommodation for 4 nights, close to the train/bus station and then using local buses for day excursions.

First up, after Dublin was the train ride to Cork (population 210,000), were Jeramiah Creedon came from.were I had booked into the Rose Lodge. A quirky place with no lift, to get my luggage up to the second floor

it was nice to get away from the crowded streets of Dublin

only in Ireland would you have a pub across the road from St. Francis’ Church  Storm Ciara was forecast to come through in the afternoon, so I hastily caught the bus to Blarney Castle

In 1974 I came here with my family and kissed the Blarney Stone. There were no photos of us being here, in the family photo archives, but there was this one of my family at Stonehenge

the stone is up, at the top of the castleto get to it, first I had to get up therethen hang down and out, to get my lips on the stone Kissing the Blarney Stone is purported to give one the “gift of the gab”. I’m not sure if I need any more “gift of the gab”, especially with a pint of Guinness in hand.

Storm Ciara was fast approaching, so I hightailed it back to Cork, to find a pub to watch Ireland play Wales, in the 6 Nations Rugby (Ireland won, an exciting match to watch)

Storm Ciara arrived with plenty of wind and rain post Storm Ciara, I had to be very aware of the roadside puddles, when vehicles approachedthe church were Jeremiah Creedon probably worshiped was St. Peter and Pauls

the midday Sunday service, the priest sang in Latin with a Gregorian Chanting Choir, accompanied by the organ

also in Cork is The Church of Ireland’s St. Finbarr’s  Cathedral. St Finbarr lived in Cork in the 6th Century and he is the Patron Saint of Cork.

both these churches were built in the latter third of the 19th Century, after my great grandparents had left

I was married in another St Finbarr’s church, in Brisbane (as were my parents), implying there was a strong Cork influence, on the Catholic Church in Australia.

the church had just spend a million Euros doing up their organ, so the Choral Evensong, was added to my agenda the next day’s weather forecast was for only intermittent rain, so I caught the 30minute bus ride to the port of Cobh (cove), were my grandparents may have left from, for their passage to Australia.all up 3 million emigrants left from Cobh for the New World, including a 15yo Annie Moore, who was the first immigrant  to be processed at Ellis Island in New York.there was a very well done museum there, with this interesting bit of triviathere was a spectacular bronze sculpture on the foreshore, titled the Navigator,  of a man delicately holding a folded paper boat in his cupped hands, which perfectly sums up, how I feel heading off on a big ocean passage in Logic

dominating the skyline above the harbour was St Colman’s Cathedral were the emmigrants would have worship, while waiting for their boats to leave

a very strongly Irish theme to the Mosaic running up the centre of the Cathedral

it was beer o’clock, so I wondered up the hill for a pint of Cork brewed stout

then it was back to the bus stop, for the return journey to CorkMy 4 days in Cork was at an end time to move on to Killarney.

My Smart Phone’s was very helpful, I fed in my accommodation in Killarney, and it  told me were the train station was, direction to get there, what time the train left, when it arrived and then direction to my accommodation.I had booked a room above Murphy’s PubCorned beef with mashed potatoes with white sauce, was a favorite dish from my childhood, so when I saw it on the menu, I had to order it for my dinner (unfortunately it was not as tasty, as I cook it myself)

Storm Ciara, had left a dusting of snow on the hills behind KillarneyAnother weather front came over from the Atlantic, which rained out my  first day herethe next day had less rain forecast, so I decided to catch the bus(s) to Dingle for the day. There was a bus change over at Tralee, which I missed, due to a delay in the bus from Kilkenny leaving. The next bus from Tralee to Dingle was 3hrs away, which would have had me there at 3pm. Not worth continuing, so I spent a few hours in Tralee, before catching the bus back to Killarney.there was a monument in the main street to The Irish War of Independence or Anglo-Irish War. It was a guerrilla war fought in Ireland from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army (IRA, the army of the Irish Republic) and British forces: the British Army, along with the quasi-military Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and its paramilitary forces the Auxiliaries and Ulster Special Constabulary (USC). It was an escalation of the Irish revolutionary period into warfare. it is very pertinent to stop and look back at the horrendous atrocities that both sides of the sectarian violence (British Anglicans and Irish Catholics), committed on each other, only 100 years ago, and compare it to what the media now thinks we should feel is important. back to the present.

A pub advertising itself as “drinking consultantscould I not walk past a pub, with this mural on the outside wall, without dropping in for a  quick pint of Guinnessthe Abbey in Killarney, had all their deceased priests and brothers buries in the church grounds (glad I don’t have to mow around all those crosses) my time in Killarney was up, time to get on the bus for Limerick (population 162,000)

I found inner city Limerick to have a moneyed pretentiousness, which does not suite meprobably not helped by another named Storm coming over, Storm Dennis. A heap more rain.I went to Sunday Mass at St. John’s Cathedral (another mid-late 19th century, catholic church)

there was some very good “Gospel Music” singing accompanied by guitar playingI had to take a photo of this mural on the side of a brewery

I did catch the bus to Tipperary (population 5,000). It was pouring rain when I got off the bus, so cold and wet, I got on the next bus back to Limericktime to catch the bus to Galway (population 80,000)I had booked into a room above Garvey’s Pub

all the rain over the last 2 weeks had the river in full flowI visited the Galway Cathedralwhich was finished in 1965, the same year I was in 2nd year of school at St. Elizabeth’s Primary School, being taught by old, cantankerous nuns, who were probably Irish.

while I was expecting there to be some rain while visiting Ireland in February, this February, had significantly more rain than usual. Add in temperatures in single figures and I did not do a lot of outdoors activity.

I finally found a beer that I would rate better than a 3 out of 5and had a night of Irish craic, with some teachers on term breakI  spent my last few days in Ireland at the home of my 3rd cousin Bernadette (we share  great, great grandparents), her husband Mike and the children Maura and Eoin (O-in

I did not think it was possible for the weather to get worse, but it has, 30-45kt winds and at least half an inch of rain for the day (temperature 7C). We did venture out, the day after the worst of the weather to The Cliffs of Moher 

and the we had a lovely seafood lunch

I’ll end with some Irish pub humour