Sunday, April 11, 2010

"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever." Jacques Yves Cousteau

It was a great first weekend back at home. I really look forward to going away, and we have had such a wonderful time, but I am ready for some normalcy. Back to school tomorrow! Today, we took advantage of the continuing outdoor perfection and went to the beach.

Everybody was out today. It felt like we live in a beach town. I guess we do. There was a whole range of approaches. In Ireland we sort of have to dress for all seasons everyday, so many people were in pants, with sleeveless shirts and jackets tied around the waist. There were trainers (sneakers), flip flops, and bare feet.Lots of people dipped their feet in the sea.

A handfull even jumped in and went swimming!

One guy even wore a sweater and a hat!

It was so nice to be out there today. And when we got home, we got the news that our niece Molly got engaged. Very happy for her. Congratulations Molly & Lou!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

" Nothing is politically right which is morally wrong." Daniel O'Connell

My Great Great Great Grandfather, Bernard Jennings, was born in the Parish of Donaghmore, in the Townland of Derrycraw located in County Down, Province of Ulster. From what I can gather, he was born in 1792. I know that he was married in 1827 in Scotland to Catherine O'Rourke, and left Scotland in 1830 for Prince Edward Island, Canada. He died there in 1857.

Bernard's son, Hugh was born and died on Prince Edward Island. Hugh's son, also named Bernard, left Prince Edward Island for Staten Island, New York and had 10 children. The youngest, Frank was my Grandfather. My mother was born on Staten Island, and moved to Long Island as a child.

This is one line of my Irish heritage. Close to 200 years ago, a man left Ireland, got married in Scotland and moved to Canada. I really wish I could learn more about him. Why did he leave? Why Canada? What was life like for him?

Cathy, my second cousin who I connected with on Ancestry 8 years ago, has discovered a reference to a Bernard Jennings from Donaghmore on the Flax Growers list of 1796. This could be Bernard's grandfather or uncle, but there does not seem to be any way to verify this. Penal laws against Catholics, including the keeping of Church records, were not repealed until 1829. Flax Growing and the linen industry was very big in Northern Ireland in the 19th Century. The Bernard on the 1796 list was given a spinning wheel in exchange for growing flax. Maybe Bernard wasn't hopeful about his Flax prospects? Maybe the conditions following the Act of Union (when Ireland became part of the British Kingdom) in 1801 made him seek a better life? The Jennings seemed to be Farmers in Canada, so it is likely that livelihood was a big factor.

I did find this excerpt from an 1837 Topographical Dictionary that somewhat illustrates the time:

DONAGHMORE, a parish, in the barony of UPPER IVEAGH, county of DOWN, and province of ULSTER

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837) by Samuel Lewis

DONAGHMORE, a parish, in the barony of UPPER IVEAGH, county of DOWN, and province of ULSTER, 5 1/4 miles (N. by E.) from Newry; containing 4463 inhabitants. It is situated on the great road from Dublin to Belfast, and comprises, according to the Ordnance survey, 8396 1/4 statute acres; there are 110 acres of woodland, 499 of bog, 16 of waste, and 48 of water; the rest is arable and pasture land, generally good and in a high state of cultivation. Many of the inhabitants are employed in the weaving of linen for the merchants of Banbridge. Fairs are held on the first Friday in every month for cattle, sheep, and pigs, at Sheepbridge, which consists of only two houses, on the Newry road. Drummantine, the seat of the late Arthur Innis, Esq.; Beech Hill, of E. Curteis, Esq.; and the glebe-house, of the Rev. M. J. Mee, are the principal residences in the parish. The living is a vicarage, in the diocese of Dromore, and in the patronage of the Lord-Primate, to whom the rectory is appropriate: the tithes amount to £451, of which £251 is payable to the Lord-Primate, and £200 to the incumbent. The glebe-house, which is large and handsome, was erected in 1786, on a good glebe of 36 Irish acres, comprehending the townland of Tullagh, or Tullynacross. The church was built at the sole expense of Primate Boulter, in 1741 : it is a small handsome edifice in good repair, with a lofty tower ornamented with buttresses, pinnacles, and finials, which was erected, in 1828, by voluntary contributions. The R. C. parish is co-extensive with that of the Established Church: a handsome chapel is now being built at Barr, and there is a small one at Ballyblaw. A meeting-house for Presbyterians, in connection with the Synod of Ulster, stands on the borders of this parish and that of Newry; and at the Rock is a large meeting-house for Seceders. There is a parochial school on the glebe, built in 1818, and principally supported by the vicar, who gives the master one acre of land rent-free; also a school at Derrycraw, built and supported by Trevor Corry, Esq.; and there are five private schools. In the churchyard is a remarkable old cross; beneath it is the entrance to an artificial cave, which extends a considerable distance, the sides being formed of loose stones, covered over with large flat stones : near the centre is a cross or transept, forming two distinct chambers; the cave is about 3 feet wide, 5 feet high, and 62 feet long, and, at the cross, nearly 30 feet broad. The Dowagh, or Danes' Cast, passes through the western extremity of the parish, and in some places forms the boundary between it and Drumbanagher, and between the counties of Armagh and Down.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

"A people free to choose will always choose peace." Ronald Reagan

As soon as we drove into the city of Belfast I noticed the banners above many of the tall residential buildings. I soon learned that they are memorials to the hunger strikers in 1981.

After being denied Special Category Status, or being treated as a political prisoner, many Republican prisoners went on a hunger strike which resulted in 10 deaths. I was in 7th grade at the time, but I do remember hearing about the hunger strikes and hearing the name Bobby Sands. He attracted a lot of media attention after being elected to Parliament while on hunger strike.

This is a residential building in the Catholic area of the city. Note the very high protective gates surrounding the complex.

This is one of the first murals that we saw. We decided to do a private taxi tour that could take us into the areas where "The Troubles" really took (are taking?) place?

This is a memorial in the courtyard of some residences on the Catholic side. There is a list of the IRA volunteers who died and an even larger list of the innocent bystanders who died.

Well, I can't say that I would have disagreed with OC in the 17th Century. The church has a long history of being both very influential and very influenced by politics. Then again, the King of England made himself Head of the Church of England so that he could divorce his wife and marry a mistress who might give him a male heir (she didn't). But this sentiment by Cromwell was so strong that it defines a conflict that remains alive today.

This mural on the Protestant side is notable because as you walk or drive by, the gun follows you. - Creepy.

This mural depicts William of Orange (a Protestant) who is celebrated by loyalists for defeating his Father-in Law, King James II (a Catholic) at the "Battle of the Boyne" in 1690. England and Scotland were Protestant again. The College of William and Mary are named for William and his wife.

Sinn Fein (Ourselves Alone) Headquarters in Belfast, with a Bobby Sands Mural on the side. Sinn Fein has historical links to the IRA, and is an active party in Northern Ireland and has representation in the Dail Eireann, the Irish Parliament.

The Peace Wall which divides areas of Protestant and Catholic. There are parts that of a gate that are locked at certain times of the day.

Signing the Peace Wall

The Crown Bar. We were told that the original Bar Owner was Catholic and his wife was Protestant. Apparently, she had the upper hand in the marriage because she demanded that he call the place "The Crown Bar". He had the last laugh when he had a crown laid in tiles on the ground by the door so that all who entered stepped on the crown.

I am taking the most objective approach that I can to my quest for understanding Irish History. But I couldn't resist!

The Europa Hotel- the most "Bombed Building in the world". Apparently British Journalists often stayed here so it was a big IRA target. Bill Clinton also stayed here twice when helping to negotiate the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. It's a nice hotel.

Belfast City Hall

It was great to learn so much about Belfast, the Troubles, and Protestant -Catholic relations. But the best part was being with all of my boys on my 6th wedding anniversary! Happy Anniversary Tom!

P.S. We stayed about 5 miles out of Belfast in a town called Hollywood, and this happened a week later!