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My trip to Athy, Co. Kildare, Republic of Ireland

My trip to Athy, Co. Kildare, Republic of Ireland

Susan D'Arcy Rezsonya (View posts)
Posted: 8 Jul 2002 8:28PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Darcy, Keys
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...
Susan

Re: My trip to Athy, Co. Kildare, Republic of Ireland

Kevin M. Kerwin (View posts)
Posted: 25 Oct 2003 2:51AM GMT
Classification: Query
Thanks for the story-it reminds me of the same trip I have made twice to Athy. I, too, have had no luck finding my ancestors' graves there (1850's) even though a 1970's transcription says they are there. Perhaps the stones are worn away, like you say. I talked to the groundskeeper, Paddy Rice, about whether or not there was a plot of the graves, and unfortunately there is not-and he's too busy with local politics as the local Sinn Fein man to make one. Did you happen to see the broken stone with the tree growing around it near the ruins of the church? That was an eery sight.
I think to only way to find our ancestors is to access the grave transcriptions and find out who the "neighbors" are. I'd like to leave a new stone there, if I can find it, saying thanks from their decendants in America.
There people there were really great. We were even able to find Kirwan's Lane, although no one know which Kirwan it was named for. And if you go back, I recommend staying at the Pill Lodge-the best farm B&B around, just east of town.

Re: My trip to Athy, Co. Kildare, Republic of Ireland

Susan D'Arcy Rezsonya (View posts)
Posted: 27 Oct 2003 4:30PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Darcy/Athy
Hi Kevin - Glad you enjoyed my diary...I too have had 2 trips to the Old Sod and I feel as if I'll return one day again and will stay longer than 1/2 day. Will keep in mind the Pill Lodge.

I had the Kildare Genealogical & Heritage Society do a study for me and that's how I got the grave number. So...I am certain a plot of the cemetery must exist or how else would I have the grave number?

Thanks for the info on St. John's, although someone on the Boards gave me the address and told me it was still an active parish. Most of my info will come from St. Michael's, however. Unfortunately we got to the church too late in the day to get Elaine Foley, Parish Secretary, to print us off some info.

I hadn't been on the Message Boards for quite a while and your note prompted me to get back on the Athy Board and do more research.

Best to you.

Susan D'Arcy Rezsonya
Darcy/Keys ancestors

Re: My trip to Athy, Co. Kildare, Republic of Ireland

Kevin M. Kerwin (View posts)
Posted: 28 Oct 2003 2:19AM GMT
Classification: Query
The Kildare Genealogy & Heritage Company gave me a plot number as well, but I think it is not a plot number but just the number on a list. Paddy Rice, the caretaker, told me there was no plot map of the cemetery, so unless they have the only one, it must be a list number. The next time I speak with the Kildare G&H Co. I will ask for the names of the adjacent graves-I have looked there twice and have come up empty. By the way, Franke Taafe is the local historian of sorts, and he also has a copy of the transcriptions. He writes a weekly article called "Eye On The Past" in the Kildare Nationalist newspaper, and has also compiled two books of his columns. I have the second, but the first is out of print. They are an interesting collection of local Athy history and personalities.

Also by the way, thanks to the Ordnance maps and the Griffith's Tax Roll maps from 1851 I was able to find my g-g-grandfather's blacksmith shop on Duke Street. It's now a restaurant. And in Dublin along the River Liffey there is a photo shop that sells turn-of-the-century hand colored photos of places all over Ireland. I was able to get one of Leinster Street and Duke Street, as well as the River Barrow with White's Castle, all taken about 1900.

Re: My trip to Athy, Co. Kildare, Republic of Ireland

Posted: 21 Jun 2004 5:10PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 28 Jul 2004 2:24PM GMT
Yes, it's a beautiful place indeed. I was there in the summer of '03. My grandmother was baptized in St. Michael R.C.
(There's a St. Michael C/o/I, too, there.) in 1862. She was a McGrath from thereabouts. She had since come to the US with parents. In her family there was also Cullens. You don't happen to be related to either family, do you? If so, pls. contact me.
I see you noticed that potatoes show up a great deal, especially as chips, in the local cuisine!

Regards, Dave Donovan, Cincinnati

Re: My trip to Athy, Co. Kildare, Republic of Ireland

Posted: 21 Jun 2004 5:16PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 28 Jul 2004 2:24PM GMT
Dear Kevin, I was there, too, but on a day that the parish office at St. Michael (RC) was closed. Athy (I've heard it pronounced Ah-thigh, Uh-thigh, and At-tie) is a beautiful village. We did have a problem with the roads, though, since the national did not continue straight toward Dublin, and the turn was not indicated either way.
By any chance do you have relatives from there who were Murphys, McGraths or Cullens? That's where my gm was from, but she left around 1862 for the US. If any info, I'd like to find out about it. Regards, Dave, Cincinnati

Re: My trip to Athy, Co. Kildare, Republic of Ireland

Kevin Kerwin (View posts)
Posted: 22 Jun 2004 1:43AM GMT
Classification: Query
Hi Dave-
Sorry, no Murphy's, McGraths, or Cullens that I know of, and I think at this point I know most of them. Those names sound a little rare for the area. You're right about the roads-I was joking while I was there that was going to put a bequest for $1 million in my Will for roadsigns for Ireland so the Yanks can find their way around! Fat chance of that, though, $1 million...

Re: My trip to Athy, Co. Kildare, Republic of Ireland

Posted: 27 Nov 2012 9:09PM GMT
Classification: Query
Hi Susan

We are related. Contact me on

jackie.quinn@talktalk.net for more info

Jackie

Re: My trip to Athy, Co. Kildare, Republic of Ireland

Posted: 27 Nov 2012 9:12PM GMT
Classification: Query
Hi

I've got a McGrath from Athy in my family in the 1800s. Contact me at

jackie.quinn@talktalk.net

Re: My trip to Athy, Co. Kildare, Republic of Ireland

Posted: 29 Nov 2012 10:25PM GMT
Classification: Query
Frank Taaffe's column is now a blog
http://athyeyeonthepast.blogspot.co.uk/
per page

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