So just to puzzle any potential readers, I’m jumping ahead (I actually went to Paris between Provence and Ireland, but we’ll get to that in the next post. I’m behind in both this blog and my real-life journal, and I want to get my Bunclody info down! My scrappy little notes won’t make it!)
Bunclody in County Wexford was the destination, and it was quite a bit bigger than I expected (after being told it was such a small village for such a while!). I guess even villages of 2,300 people need all the amenities if they aren’t 10 to 15 minutes away from a big city (like they would be in Southern Ontario!). Although whether having 4 Chinese restaurants is really necessary, I don’t know. (The large number of pubs I can understand in Irish culture though, since they are apparently like “living rooms”).
Bunclody is where the rivers Clody and Slaney come together – and where the Clody ends as it flows into the Slaney. I would discover later that “bun” is end in Irish. Therefore… Bunclody = the end of the Clody (River!).
My first night I rolled in after dark (on the bus, so it was literally rolling in), and got situated at Meadowside B&B a lovely old stone house right in town with Phil as my hostess, where I was the only guest. I started up on my quest for the past right away, and headed down to Redmond’s pub. Unfortunately, the older Redmond’s were busy for the evening, so I had a drink with some older local men (I got my second Guinnes bought for me, which I would repeatedly discover just happens in Ireland, because – yes – the people are so friendly), and the “barwoman” (as they say here), who is apparently Andy Redmond’s great-niece (and therefore, though I didn’t know it at the time, also a distant relative).
The next morning I hit the town. I went to the charity shops (AKA thrift stores), and wandered a bit, even going out further from the town centre to some more rural areas. Saw some cows, and sheep.. and stumbled on what the Bunclodians call “the old graveyard” (just because there is also a new one). I though it may be a good place to find some relatives that aren’t with us anymore… but I was all alone, and was too afraid to leave the path, so a lot of the gravestones were unreadable to me (curse my fear of cemeteries!).
After a quick lunch at a place called Doyle’s something [Mill maybe?] (a new place, with a Doyle from out of town – no relation), I got up the guts to go visit Nell and Andy Redmond at the back of Redmond’s pub. Andy had been sick for the last year, so though he was there, it was Nell who I chatted with and had a cup of tea with while getting some stories.
What I discovered: My great grandparents (otherwise known as Ma and Da) were not “Michael and Anne Doyle” like I thought they were. To the people of Bunclody, they were Mick the Merchant (sometimes called Mack) and Nan.
The reason there is the Redmond relation is that Mick’s sister Molly Doyle married a Redmond. My great great grandfather (Mick’s father) owned the pub that is now called Redmond’s – it was then called The Merchant Doyle’s (which is where “the merchant” part of Mick’s nickname comes in. The pub was also a shop that sold corn and such things). However, his sons were both “into the drink” as they say in Ireland, so he passed on the pub to his daughter (Molly, who married into the Redmond’s, if you remember).
Since the back of the pub is the house, many of my descendents lived there and were even born there (including Mick, and perhaps others as well…).
As for Ma – otherwise known as Nan, well she was born and raised – as a Handrick – behind a shop that is nearly across the street from the pub. At the moment, there is still a shop there, though the Handrick’s no longer own it.. it’s called The Price is Right (I bought a facecloth there, since I had lost mine).
And that’s where the next part of my story comes in. Nell had some contact information for some remaining Handrick’s, since they are used to visitors from this section of the family (and, yep, they knew each other since it was a small town!)). So I went over to what people in town call “the Handricks of Ballinstraw” (one of Nell & Andy’s 9 kids, Dermot, gave me a ride over!), and I met Thomas and Kathleen, as well as one of their daughters (around my age!), Marian, and one of their other daughter’s little son.
Though it was a working day for Thomas (on his farm), and he was getting ready to go back to tend the sheep, he was quite pleased to have a relative to show around, so he got changed and decided to give me a tour around of sights of family significance! He kept asking me , though, if I was really interested in what he was telling me and showing me because he said that his 5 kids (all around my age) would not be into that stuff. I had to keep insisting that I was of a different sort for sure! (Dermot put it very well when he said that it’s only the immigrated families to Canada or the US that need to come find their roots… the ones still in Ireland are still trying to get away from their relatives!)
What I saw: first of all, we went to the old cemetery again, but this time I had a newly earned boldness because I was being accompanied by Tom Handrick. They had just restored the gravestone over the grave of several Handrick relatives (the tradition was that many members of the same family were buried together, even at different times – because the land cost money!). The direct descendents of me being John Handrick, my great great great grandfather (Ma’s grandfather), and then Thomas Handrick, my great great grandfather (Ma’s father).
Afterwards, to complete the cemetery tour of Bunclody, we visited the new cemetery. Here was the grave of Tom’s father and his uncle… otherwise known as Ma’s 2 brothers.
Then, it was houses. We saw the house in Kilmyshall where Grandma and her family lived just before they left for Canada (which was a delightful little white cottage that had had a recent addition – that still looked very much like the original). This was also probably the house Grandma was born in, and Ma had a little shop out the front for a while.
Then, we saw an even more extreme house site to a Canadian girl like me: looking out on the vista of Mount Leinster, we saw the white farmhouse (and surrounding farm) in Craan where my great great great grandfather lived – and probably more generations before him. That is pretty intense.
We also some some general Bunclody sites like the old schoolhouse (though my descendents went there too!), the new schoolhouse, the GAA pitch (that’s neat, because we don’t even have a sport like GAA – which is the Gaelic Athletic Association, which mainly sponsors the “Irish football”, which is more like American football than soccer, but even more like rugby than either…. and they sometimes play the Australian football teams, which apparently becomes rule-less, because they are pretty much different sports. Hm. I foudn the whole thing curious), and the government sponsored “Irish traveller” encampment (AKA welfare housing for gypsys… but not the same gypsies that are on the continent… ) – complete with low bars so the “caravans” (trailers) can’t come in, and sketchy looking dogs – “the most dangerous place in Bunclody, most people wouldn’t coem at night”!
My last little tidbit of information was finding out my distant relation to the owners of Meadowside B&B where I was staying. Though Phil was the only one I saw, she isn’t the only owner – her sister and brother-in-law co-own it too. And that brother-in-law is a Foley (no one in town recognizes the name “Meadowside B&B” ; they call it “Foley’s place”)…. which is the same Foley family as my great great grandmother (Ma’s mother). Phew!