Ireland has proven to be a place of grand coincidence. At times, I have almost felt as if a force from above was placing me in the right place with the right person. As a result, I stumbled upon pieces of information about my great- grandparents and my grandmother. When we were on the Dingle Peninsula, I was able to find several records- some fit, others conflicted. There was a family census record that listed a Michael and Bridget Glynn, and they had at least 8 children, but my grandmother is not listed. I find a Michael Glynn from Cong, but he died at the age of 37 in 1890, which would not match up with my Grandmother’s supposed birthdate or many of the siblings I think she had. When I express my frustration to a native, they just laugh and say that everyone searching their past in Ireland faces the same troubles.
My husband wanted to see the town of Cong, the place where the John Wayne movie “The Quiet Man” was filmed, so we had booked a reasonable B & B just outside of Cong, called Nymphsfield House. We had booked the place while in Croatia. While doing a birth record search, I decided to search 5 years either side of 1890, and there she was! Julia Agnes Glynn, born to Michael and Bridget Nalty Glynn, 1888, in Cong in the parish of Nymphsfield. But I am still not sure until I find Julia’s Naturalization record in the U.S. She lists Cong as her birthplace. And, she lists May 14, 1908 as her arrival date in the U.S. On the ship’s record, she is listed as 21, a slight discrepancy, but the Irish say age is like weight- approximate at best.
When we arrived in Cong, we stopped at the tourist center, and across the road is the Abbey cemetary. We had no luck finding Michael’s grave, but when we checked into our room, our host listened to my story of searching and promptly advised us to go to Ballinrobe, the next town over. There was a family genealogy center in Ballinrobe and maybe Jerry (the local expert) could help. Jerry verified that Michael Glynn, married to Bridget Nalty, died in 1890, after fathering 6 children, and Julia was born in 1888. He was certain Michael is buried in the Abbey cemetery.
Living next door to the Nymphsfield House was a farmer named (believe it or not) Michael Glynn. I met with him before I left Cong, and he connected me with his aunt in Cork, who may have information on my family. The living Michael Glynn remembers a Glynn family, from the other side of the village, and they were all “large men, huge men.” And we are a tall family. This is all starting to feel too surreal.
Finally, our last night in Cong, we are eating dinner at the Crow’s Nest Pub in town and the owner gets talking to us, and in the end, asks for my email so he can pass it on to a “man in the village who is an expert on finding these things out”. I had not expected when we booked Ireland, to be able to find out much about Julia and her parents, but now I feel as if a divine presence was leading me through my family’s past. Maybe this was the hidden purpose of this trip.