Day 2 - Visiting the Ould Sod
A few months ago I got a Facebook message which said, “I think we’re related” from a woman living in Westmeath. It didn’t take long to determine, yes, she was in fact related to my husband...a second cousin. Her grandmother and Brian’s grandfather were siblings. I decided that I would travel to Westmeath on my upcoming trip. I only have a couple of days free before the trip starts, so today was the day. I was a bit concerned about Storm Lorenzo, but although it was raining this morning in Dublin, it was only overcast by the time I got to Mullingar (1.25 hours on the train).
My train arrived at 10:15 and Dee was not able to meet me until about 11:30. She suggested we meet at a local hotel only a few blocks from the train station. Well as a genealogist, what do you do if you have an hour a free time in a new place? You go to the local library. A bit of research showed that the Mullingar Library has a Local Studies room and it was only a few more blocks. I texted Dee and told her she would find me at the Library.
If you’ve done your homework prior to a trip to Ireland, you should have found all of the online records. Research becomes not about typing a name into a search engine, but finding more about the area, what was happening when your ancestor was living there and digging through sources most of which you were totally unaware. I found a 100th anniversary edition of the Local Newspaper - 1884-1984. Also, because of the large migration from this area to Argentina they had the Coughlin books, Los Irlandeses en la Argentina (The Irish in Argentina). Once you know a few words, it's not that hard to read.
I already knew that a number of Moughty’s had emigrated, along with Feeneys and Duggan’s, names that appeared in my database. The Library also had microfilms of The Southern Cross, the Irish newspaper from Argentina. Since I only had an hour, this was mainly a reconnaissance trip. Once Dee arrived, we talked for a while about the family...she has not started researching but is interested in finding out more. I told her I could provide all of the Moughty information and help her develop a plan for her other lines.
After lunch at the hotel, Dee took me on a tour of the area. I had visited Mullingar and Aghnabohy (where my husband’s grandfather was born), but I had family connections in other areas, Ballynacarrigy, Emper or Empor, (yes it’s spelled both ways) and Multyfarnham. I got a picture of the Chapel in Emper where Bernard Moughty and Mary Lynn were married. I haven’t found a lot on the Lynn family, but Dee seems to think that the Lynns still lived next to the church. Perhaps she can figure out if it’s the correct family for a visit next year.
We also stopped to visit Tommy Moughty. I met Tommy and his sisters back in 2015. I had a specific question about the John Moughty who lived in Multyfarnham...was John a brother to Tommy’s great grandfather (also Brian’s great grandfather)? There are no living descendants from this family but I had a couple of hints. Tommy’s great grandfather, a merchant in Ballynacarrigy had bailed John out of jail and Brian’s great grandmother had been present at the birth of one of his children. Tommy agreed, that that was probably the connection. John was also a merchant and Tommy suggested we visit Connor’s pub in Multyfarnham because they had a picture on the wall of the Moughty store. Sure enough, Connor, also a cousin to Tommy, had the picture of the store, long since sold. John’s wife ran the store after he died and since none of their children survived, her will left the property to a nephew. I took a picture of the picture, but unfortunately the quality of the original was poor. It's likely been on the wall since the early 1900s. I'll have to work to see if I can improve it.
The web of connections here in Ireland is amazing. It was fun to just sit and listen to Tommy and Dee talk about who lived where and how they were related. We talked so long that I missed my 5:00 train back to Dublin and ended up taking the 7 pm train instead. It was definitely worth it.
When you’re visiting Ireland try to find the cousins who are still living there. They may say they don’t know anything, but just get them talking...they know everyone! Can’t find the cousins...just visit the local pub and start dropping names. The barman or owner will tell you everything about the families that live there, and may even make a call or introduction for you.
I had a wonderful day and am looking forward to continued conversations with cousin Dee.