As I mentioned on the Boards, I was going to Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. I wanted to share a "highlight" of my trip to my ancestral home: Athy, in Co. Kildare.
With a free afternoon in Dublin, my husband, my son, my sister and I ventured from Heuston station in Dublin, approximately 4 stops away to a pretty little town along the River Barrow with its own inhabited castle - White's Castle. The ride down to Athy (pronounced by locals (At-tie)) was lovely as we passed rolling hills with cows, sheep and beautiful shades of green. Being a terrible romantic, I dreamed of Michael Darcy and his wife Mary coming on the train to Dublin - hopefully they could afford a trip to the big city sometime - maybe not though.
While on the train a lovely old gentleman was sitting near us. He had on his overcoat, a farmers hat, his trusty umbrella, and a quirky smile on his face. Well, I'm a firm believer that God sends his angels to guide us, and this old man was everywhere we were while in Athy. He even took the train back to Dublin at the same time we were returning there.
When we got off the train there was another older gentleman standing at the station. I asked him for directions to St. Michael's Cemetery. He noticed the bouquet of flowers I was carrying and I said we were going to visit the grave of our ancestors. He said, "It's nice to come home, isn't it?" The Irish...they always know just what to say. For sure, we were coming home...
We decided to get a bite to eat first, and walked down the main street, finding a lovely cafe. This was a memorable meal as potatoes were served 3 different ways! We had Shepherd pie (topped with potatoes) and vegetables including two scoops of potatoes and a fried potato and carrots. What a mountain of food! Delicious scones, and a great cup of tea finished off the menu. By the way, the elderly man from the train was in the restaurant having his meal too. My sister asked him how to get to St. Michael's cemetery and he told her there are two of them - the ancient one and the modern one. After visiting the modern one - no luck - we headed for the ancient one. Well, to our dismay it was in terrible condition. The weeds were two feet deep and made any discovery quite difficult. There were two men, however, cleaning it out, but they'll be at that job for another month at least. I had the grave number, but it meant nothing - what we needed was a plot of the cemetery and someone to guide us. Supposedly I could have gotten this ahead of time by writing for it, but not knowing about that, we were left to try to find a grave that contained my great-great grandfather who was burried in 1873, how wife Mary, burried in 1890, and their oldest son John, who remained in Ireland, burried in 1912.
My husband and son knew of my overwhelming disappointment and they literally checked every grave in the place. Many stones had long ago lost their writing and I fear this is what happened to our family grave. The two men said no more Darcy's lived in Athy (this I knew from a previous visit in 1980) but they helped us find a grave of a David Darcy, who died in 1915. Although I have no record of him in my line, I left the flowers on his grave and we all said a prayer. By the way, the old man from the train happened to walk by the cemetery while we were there!
After quite a long while, hunting ancestors ( found some Keys graves too - my gggrandmother's maiden name) and took pictures of all of them, we headed over to St. Michael's church. The office was about to close when we got there - but they will do searches for you. St. Michael's Church is gorgeous - large enough to be a cathedral. I think they have added to it since I was last there.
Well, it was time to catch the train, and lo and behold the same elderly gentleman was heading back to Dublin. We went across to the other side thinking that was where we needed to be to go back to Dublin. However, the train only has one track and goes back from the same platform. My sister waved over to him and he said if we wanted to go back to Dublin, we'd better get back over to where he was. I guess our "angel" was guiding us back safely to Dublin.
I hope you enjoyed my ramblings...