Dear Austin and Gwenn,
Welcome home and thank you for your lovely letter and contents. Before I go any farther - a question! Do you have a copy of the booklet on the history of the Friary for yourself? If you do not, I will send this one back to you because you should have it to keep with other mementos of your trip. Then too, you will be discussing events with your family from time to time and in view of what I am going to write here, it will be of interest to all.
I read that book twice. I was so fascinated by its contents. I learned a lot from it, including names that had left my memory, but names I had heard over and over while I lived there.
It was so enlightening to learn that the land on which our ancestors lived and also the land we owned, was once owned by the "Church" 600 years ago. The English took it all away from them when they enforced the Penal Laws against religion. When these laws were repealed the land was bought up by the Irish who had money for estates. Among the big land owners in our area were the Dillons, Burkes and Costellos. With the passing of time these people, or their descendants divided up the land so that in this century farms are owned outright by the people to keep or sell. That was the case with our land.
Oh what memories were brought back in looking at the pictures in the book. On page 19 - how well I recall that scene. Many times during the visit of your father, R.I.P., at the age of 13, he and I went to Mass there together. That's how it looked then, and it was by that little statue outside, that we all stood on the May morning in 1914 talking to the priest, before we left. I have never forgotten it.
On page 23 - a picture taken in 1870, the year before my mother was born. There are two men named Waldron. They had a business in the town. Many of the young people of your grandmother’s time worked for them. In those days, they got what is known today as on-the-job training. (They did not get paid for it). There is another man in the picture - Dr. Crane. He was the town doctor and took care of our Uncle James Lyons for a long time. He also owned a wide expanse of farmland opposite our property on which flocks of sheep used to graze. Since Dr. Crane was getting on in years he was joined by a Dr. Costello who was a descendant of the old Costello family.
The last man of interest is Andrew Forde. One of his sons, Michael, was your grandmother's first husband. They were married in England and he died a very young man. (In his twenties when it happened) Andrew Forde had a business in the town also.
On page 27 - Bishop Heavey. This man was the son of a Mrs. Heavey who was the schoolteacher who taught my mother and your grandmother. I remember the day my mother went to her funeral.
As for burial records, it could be that later generations of our relatives are buried in the "New Graveyard" which is a short distance out of town beyond the Boy's School. I remember mother telling me that many buried in the Friary Cemetery were buried during the awful times of famine, disease, and starvation. The folklore was that common graves held many of them - no shroud or coffins. So it is likely that records were not kept.
I am reading a book entitled "The Big Wind" by Beatrice Coogan. It is interesting reading. Get it, it will give you a picture of the conditions under which the people lived back in the days of our great-grandparents. There is a love story interwoven into the historical background. Well, I'll close for now. Hope the above will be of interest. Austin your dad would have been 70 on September 26th, R.I.P.
Love to both