In my last post, I was sightseeing during my stay in Galway, visiting the magnificent Cliffs of Moher and The Burren. So, our next day was to be a “free day” in Galway. I suggested to my 3 traveling companions that instead of shopping (Gasp!) that we instead rent a car and let my husband drive us up to County Mayo and more specifically the town of Castlebar. Ron had done such a wonderful job of driving in Southern Ireland! After some cajoling or maybe they just felt sorry for me, they indulged me in my “genealogical” wish and I will always be grateful for this most memorable day.
I selected Castlebar since it was the county seat of County Mayo and nearby to the town of Islandeady. My great grandmother Bridget Chambers was born in an area known as Letter in the Islandeady area. Castlebar is the large town near Islandeady. I wasn't sure we would be able to find Islandeady or convince them to look for it, so Castlebar seemed like a great compromise.
Castlebar was less than 2 hours northeast of Galway, especially when Ron “Mario Andretti” was driving us. We arrived in town with no specific idea where we heading next when we decided to stop at McDonald’s for a soda. Look what is behind the McDonald’s! It is the Old Castlebar Cemetery! Wow, I couldn't have planned it any better than that. My fellow companions were more than happy to explore the cemetery with me. I gave them instructions on what names to look for – Chambers, Feehan, and Kilroy. I didn’t know if any of those people buried there would be related to me but I could sort that out later. Just take photos of the headstones of any possible relatives.
They were so intent on finding gravestones that after a half hour, I lost both my brother and husband. The cemetery isn’t that large! Oh, well, Ginya and I decided to explore the Mayo Peace Park, which is at the front of the cemetery. The Mayo Peace Park commemorates the men and women who fell in the World Wars of the last century. I need to put a footnote here – Ireland was neutral in World War II. Again I took lots of photos and decided I could find out later if any of these fallen soldiers were relatives of mine. I’m very happy we just found this place “by accident”.
We found Ron and Danny but where do we go from here? I have another idea …