Grandma and the blarney

We are in Ireland, and I am hoping we will be stranded here permanently. I think I could easily live in a stone cottage, drink tea all day, staring at my emerald green yard full of sheep and to the sea beyond. We have had a wonderful time, exploring castles, ancient sites, the local pub with traditional music, and hiking the amazing countryside. I feel so at home here. The people are wonderful, and remind me of my Grandma Julie who emigrated to the US over 100 years ago.

We arrived in Dublin and took the advice to not linger, but to head out and see the rest of Ireland. Our first stop was Kilkenny Castle and the Medieval Mile; Kilkenny has a quaint downtown with a narrow cobblestone street called the Butterslip, where butter was sold. We braved the rain to listen to great Irish music in a town pub and had lamb stew for the first time. 

When we arrived in Cobh (pronounced Cove) the next day, the weather had cleared to everyone’s surprise and we enjoyed a great hike around the town that bid the last farewell to the Titanic. In our explorations we found information on Irish emigration- Cobh was the major departure point for most Irish to the United States and before the Easter Rising of 1916 it was called Queenstown. My Dad claimed his mother was from Galway, but left from Cork. And, Cork is less than 10 kilometers away from Cobh. The information got me thinking about the passenger list I saw on, listing both Julia and her mother, Bridget, as passengers, arriving at Ellis Island. I started looking at online passenger lists out of Queenstown. Could she have left from the very dock I was standing on?

Our third day, we arrived in Cork, and grabbed a lunch at the English Market. Over lunch, we decided to ignore the discouraging comments about Blarney Castle and kissing the stone, and hopped a local bus out to the castle. (Traffic was terrible in town and John was done driving.) The weather was beautiful (which even the locals kept remarking about) and we spent a full two hours exploring the castle and its gardens. Going later in the day, we managed to avoid the crowds (no lines for the stone) and had a great time talking with a Czech immigrant on the bus, studying and working in Ireland. 

By the end of the day, I had found some sites online that made me think I might have success finding Julia’s past- my late father had tried in vain to get a written record of her birth. My third cousin Melissa Grein, who has the same great-grandparents, has listed Juia’s birth as 1890, but there are no records that year for her. There is a Julia Agnes Glynn, born to Michael and Bridget Nalty Glynn, in 1888, but we all thought her birthdate was 1896. This is discrepancy #1. And there are several discrepancies. According to my B and B host Barbara, from Milestone House in Dingle, lying about one’s age is, well, very Irish. 

My trip around Ireland is proving to be an ancestral discovery tour. I am now determined to find out what blarney my Grandmother told about her age. God bless her- she survived travel most of us wouldn’t want to do, even today. 

2 thoughts on “Grandma and the blarney

  1. I love this blog! And I’d love to go to Ireland – for heaven’s sake it’s only a 3-1/2 hour flight from where we live (from St. John’s to Dublin). I don’t understand why we haven’t gone years ago.
    My maternal great-grandmother was a Kelly and she said her ancestors were Protestants from Cork. However Ancestry shows that they were from North Ireland. Reading your blog, I wonder if they went to Cork and then boarded their ship at Cobh?


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