Tuesday, April 26, 2016
The property (location of their farm) where my Great Grandmother Bridget Chambers was born and spent her childhood is located in the townland of Letter in County Mayo. According to Griffith's Valuation, "Lietir means spewy hillside. It is bordered on the north by Derrycruv, on the south by Derrycooraun and Derrygowla and on the west by Kilmaclasser."
Years ago my cousin Betsy got the opportunity to visit the actual property where the Chambers lived and has shared with me photos that she took while she was there. I had hoped that during my trip to Ireland, that we would be able to see at least the townland of Letter.
Townland may be misleading. It is more like a housing development or a few houses with lots of land rather than an actual town. As such it is rather hard to find. It is much easier finding it on an online map at home than it is driving down tiny roads with no signs and hoping you don't get lost. We probably got within 100 yards of it.
So I am keeping it on my "bucket list" with the hope that some day I may actually have the opportunity to see it. Until then I will just appreciate Betsy's photos of the Chambers land.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
It was important to me that my son and daughter got the opportunity to visit Islandeady (the home town of my great grandmother Bridget Chambers) while on our trip to Ireland. So on our first full day in County Mayo, we drove to Bilberry Lake -- located near N5 road, halfway between Castlebar and Westport. We drove down a narrow country road -- thank heavens for signs! From there we could see the Old Islandeady Cemetery on a hill, across the lake. I love how lovely and peaceful this lake is, surrounded by green trees, green hills and green grass.
After admiring the view of the lake and taking lots of photos, we drove over to the Old Islandeady Cemetery. From the parking lot of the cemetery, you can see Croagh Patrick, where according to legend, Saint Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland. The four of us walked through the cemetery and to the ruins of St. Eiden's Church, located on the shores of Bilberry Lake,
St. Eiden's Church has been in ruins since the penal times and was restored in the 1990's. Of course we took photos to commemorate my kids' first visit to Islandeady!
We then drove a short distance to St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Islandeady. This was my first visit to St. Patrick's. According to legend, St. Patrick preached on the shores of the lake on his way to the holy mountain in 440 AD so hence the name of this church. The roof of this church was originally
thatched but the church building was slated in 1849. Other improvements and upgrades have been made since then. This was a very meaningful visit for me since this was the church that my 2nd great grandparents Thomas Chambers and Ann Kilroy Chambers attended Mass on Sundays and where their children, including my great grandmother Bridget Chambers was baptized. It is so exciting to me when I can actually walk in their "footprints". It makes me a little sad, though, to think that my Dad and Grandpa never got to visit this place. I think they would have enjoyed the peaceful lake, the old church ruins and just knowing that Bridget grew up not far from here.
Note: This is my 200th post in this Home of Sherlocks blog and thought it was very fitting that it would be about Islandeady.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
After picking up our son at the Dublin Airport, we headed northwest to County Mayo. It was a 3 hour drive. We met the husband of the owner of our rental vacation house in a tiny town called Ballyvarry. We then followed him to the house -- down the road to Carrowkeel, down another road, past a campground and down another long country road. We arrived at the rental house and was greeted by the owner Ann Marie who had brought us a homemade cake called "treacle".
We were given a tour of the beautiful house with hardwood floors, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a washer and dryer. The backyard was large and very green. The view out the front windows was mesmerizing. During our three day stay at this house, I often stood by the window and gazed at all the beauty of the countryside.
My 2nd great grandparents, Thomas Chambers and Ann Kilroy Chambers raised their family in the townland of Letter (not more than 15 minutes away) in a rural setting, probably much like Carrowkeel.