Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ireland: Day 10: We Meet the Irish McDermotts

Gerry, Marion, Pat and Maura at the homestead milk shed.
So today is our final day here in Ireland and we headed further north from County Cavan to meet some of my husband's McDermott relatives from Omagh and Derry in County Tyrone and County Londonderry respectively in Northern Ireland. It's peaceful there now and the only difference we noted as we left the Republic of Ireland was an occasional British flag near government offices and the change of money from Euros to British pounds. It looked the same: lovely green countryside, quaint towns and cows, lots of cows!

My husband's relatives: Marion, her cousin Maura and her husband Gerry and Maura's sister Pat were delightful people, friendly, warm and full of names and stories too complicated for me to digest. The introduction to this side of my husband's family came about 4 years ago when another relative, working for the Mormon's Historical Archives, met a first cousin of my husband online while she was searching for family connections. Through the wonder of cyberspace these other relatives were discovered.

The homestead in Crackenboy.

Immediately, Marion was struck by how much my husband looked like her Uncle Frank (a brother to his grandfather) and we were equally struck by the remarkable resemblance of my sister-in-law to some of the Irish relatives as Marion showed us some old family photos!

We met for lunch at a restaurant in Omagh and then Gerry drove us to the family homestead in Crackenboy and Greencastle. We drove down the driveway and Gerry reversed the car in case we needed to make a quick getaway. The property had been sold some years ago to a gent who opened his door upon our arrival and sent his 'vicious' mutt out to check us out. I'm kidding, the dog wasn't at all vicious but a slightly snarling, sweet tempered dog who 'wouldn't hurt a flea' (where have I heard that one before?).

Once we passed the sniff inspection, we took some photos and Marion regaled us with her memories from her childhood of life there when she visited Uncle Packy who owned the farm. It was clear to me that the McDermott storytelling gene is alive and well in Ireland...her stories were great!

"200,000 quid, my final offer!"
We moved onto the church (St. Patrick's) not too far away and visited some grave sites (I took lots of photos) and the church where my husband's great grandparents were married. Marion pointed out wooden framed stations of the cross with the wording in original Gaelic. She thinks they are the only ones in existence in Northern Ireland and she was responsible for making sure they remained.

Marion and Maura shared their reminisces of the McDermotts and it was clear from their descriptions that the family shares many commonalities: industrious people, opinionated (hmmmmm?), stubborn and set in their ways. Good hearted people but strict disciplinarians. One that confused me was that the Ireland McDermotts were noted for their musical abilities. I was jealous! My husband's cousin's children from Scarsdale have all those husband's siblings (and offspring, including mine) not so much!! My husband and his brother THINK they can sing (another hmmmm). So I've decided,  everyone's getting a musical instrument this Christmas. Kate, you have the oboe and you have nothing to say about it!

We ended the day with a drive through a beautiful county parkland and a visit to a rock of dubious distinction (Ogham Rock). Gerry, it seems, is a qualified amateur tour guide and a cheerleader for the delights of  Northern Ireland which are many. I suggested that they buy the farm back and make it into a bed and breakfast so the American relatives could visit often whereupon Gerry left a lot of rubber behind as he pealed out of the parking lot, Maura in tow!

Just a note about our travel agent. MyguideIreland handled all of our arrangements and did a fantastic job! Everything went smoothly (except our own slipup at theWaterford Castle) and we appreciated their expertise in getting us around a counrtry we had never been to before. A shoutout to Vivienne Stanley! Their toll free number from the U.S. is 1.800.255.9302. 


My mother did indeed pass away last night at age 86. She was a talented sewer, cook, hostess, glamorous in her day and not shy about speaking her mind! She was the best mother anyone could ask for and she'll be missed.
We head back to New York tomorrow.

Back in  a week.

1 comment:

  1. Hi - Thanks for the post regarding your trip to see Marion and Maura and kin. I'm the relative who originally connected with them last October (2009) via an internet genealogy forum. I worked at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah for the last five years & loved it. It was awesome to find living relatives in Ireland who had histories and photos of our family. They are wonderful people and I'm so happy that you were able to meet them in person in our familiy's native land! I'm anxious to make the same trip!