Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thirty Year Old Memories

Tonight I was at school for a wonderful program put on by our fourth graders. Our music teacher, Clare, is the best there is. As always, it was a wonderful evening. Parents and children were all so positive. It was a good way to begin spring break!

When I got home about 7:00, my aunt Teresa called from Douglas and reminded me that she had left some things at Judy's from our trip to Ireland in 1978. Judy brought them over and there was a great letter that she wrote to the family after her trip. Of course, 30 years ago we didn't have computers, so it was type written. We tried scanning it, but the paper is so thin. I am going to retype it here for our family to see (and anyone else who might be interested.)


April 23, 1978

Dear All:

I had a wonderful vacation, it was perfect from start to finish. John and Joan had Judy fly to Dallas on Thursday afternoon shortly after we arrived. It was a real surprise and a perfect ending to a great vacation. We stayed in Dallas until Sunday evening.

I left here on March 11th at 1:00 A.M. and flew to Washington. Mary and Tom had Ellen, Nick and their two darling children, Pat, Phil and their four darling children, Phil's dad and Mary's brother George and family and Tommy for dinner. We had a real good dinner and visit. I left Washington on Sunday morning and flew to N.Y and then to Frankfurt. Sheila, Jim and Kerri met me there. Kerri loved me so much, kept patting me and kissing me, this went on for a week. Jim thought she didn't realize how much she had missed us until she saw me. On Thursday we started out on a trip through the southern part of Germany. We went to the Black Forest. It's beautiful. I never saw so much snow in my life. We went into Austria and Switzerland and went to Mass on Palm Sunday at Garmish. Judy Frances, we saw the area where you used to live and work. All of Sheila's friends had me over to their houses for either dinner or parties. They sure are a nice group of people.

On Holy Saturday, we flew to Dublin. A teacher that Sheila teaches with went with us in our car and two other teachers were in another car. I got a lump in my throat when we landed in Ireland. There was a special feeling when we got into County Mayo. It's hard to describe. The people are great, very friendly and go out of their way to be helpful. Sheila did a good job of driving. It's on the wrong side of the road and of course you shift with your left hand. The car was a new Avenger, made by Chrysler, bright red. We had a little trouble finding our way out of Dublin, but after an hour were on our way to Wexford where we spent the first night. Everything closes up at 11:00 P.M. so we stopped in Ashford at Marty O'Gara's restaurant to have dinner. It was cold. There was a fire in the fireplace in the bar and after we ordered dinner, they suggested we sit near the fire. We visited with two women and the owner. These women wanted us to try the Guiness beer, so they ordered for us and then told us not to drink it unless it was on tap because it wasn't much good in the bottles. We stayed in the Talbot Hotel in Wexford and went to Mass there on Easter and then started out for Cork. On the way we stopped in Youghal at Ahern's Pub because the women had told us it was nice and they had good sea food and they did.

There is a lot of house construction going on all over Ireland. Everything looked prosperous. We stayed in Blarney that night and the motel was full. Everybody was on vacation because of Easter and everything was closed on Monday. I was talking to the man at the motel and I mentioned my Grandfather's name was Roughan. He said right away "Oh, that's a Clare name." We looked in the telephone book and there are two pages of Scotts, 20 Godfreys, but there were only four Kneafsey's and nine Roughans. The next morning we went to Kiss the Blarney Stone and then on to Killarney.

On the way there was a lot of traffic coming the other way because there was a car rally that started in Belfast and was going all the way around Ireland. In the bar in the Motel at Killarney, we met two delightful young girls from the North of Ireland. They wanted us to visit up there. They said the fighting wasn't as bad as the paper said. They said you stay out of the area where the trouble is and you're O.K. One also told us she sure wished she was related to us.

We left Killarney on Tuesday morning and stopped in Limerick. I called Patrick Kneafsey. He told me his family all came from County Mayo and that his Uncle Bill had died on Good Friday at 83 years old. Twenty five years ago he had cancer and they had given him two months to live. He went to Knock and his cure was one of the recorded ones.

I asked him if the name Scally sounded familiar to him and he said it did. He said his father's name was Tom. He told me he was an Engineer and comes to America quite often on the East coast. I asked him to call me the next time he came and also gave him Tom's address because he gets to Washington and he said he would like to. He also said his Grandfather was a school master at something Castle and I misunderstood him and I thought it was Castle bar. He told me he thought some of the family would still be there that had come for the funeral. An uncle and aunt were retiring and moving back to stay at Murphy's Guest House and he said you won't have trouble finding it because the town is small. There was another Kneafsey in Limerick but he told me he had been transferred to Dublin and was not related to him. He also told me he had a cousin, Patrick Rice, who lived in Dublin and was interested in trying to keep track of relatives and he gave his telephone number. There was a Desmond Kneafsey in Galway that was also a cousin. When we got to Galway, I tried to call him but the telephone strike was on and the call wouldn't go through. This Kneafsey is a surgeon.

On Wednesday morning we started out for County Mayo and went to Knock. Everything there was closed because it wasn't the tourist season or there wasn't a Pilgrimage. The priest there told me they didn't keep any records until 1869, which I asked if the marriage records were sent back. He said they didn't keep them and I asked if the deaths were recorded and he said no. But he told us where to find some Kneafsay's so we followed his instructions and found the house. A young boy was there and he told us they weren't from the area and had just moved there and his father was not at home. We went further down the road and another man gave us directions to find a man who was about 70 years old and a brother to the people in the other house. He said there was a widow in another location but she wouldn't know anything. We took his word for that and tried to find the man but didn't. The road we thought may have led to his house was muddy and I was afraid of getting stuck. It was raining and the wind was blowing. We did stop and ask at another house and they gave us directions back to the first house so we decided to give it up. We went back into Knock and got some Holy Water and I have some for all of us. When we were driving around Knock, Sheila said she sure had a strong feeling that this was the area where her Grandmother's heritage came from. We went to the cemetery but didn't find anything there. We went on to Castlebar and there wasn't a Murphy's Guest House there so we went on to Westport. The lady with us was interested in this town. We went in a pub there and were visiting with the owners and she mentioned the name of her grandmother and he told her there were some still living there. So he went to the other side of the pub and got one of his customers to take us to this man's house which was on Crough Patrick. They wanted us to come in and have tea and the lady brought us some soda bread just like what Grandma used to make. She told me that the Kneafsay's lived in Foxford and there were still some living there but by this time it was getting late and the roads are good but one lane each way and lots of curves so we didn't go there. Foxford is not far from Castlebar but in a different direction. We took a different road from Galway.

The next day we went to Dublin and stayed at the Tara Hotel. I called Patrick Rice and talked to his wife and she told me she would have him call when he got home from work. He really was nice and very friendly. He is the Chief Auditor for Aer Lingus. They were also having a strike. He told me the town was Ballycastle where his grandfather had lived. He died in 1929 and was 63 years old and he never knew him. He still has three aunts living and he will contact them and see if they know anything. If there is any connection his grandfather would have to be Grandma's nephew. He told me an uncle told him that they had a relative who fought in the Civil War in a big battle in Pennsylvania and was a general. He said he would meet us at the airport. We were supposed to leave at 11:00 A.M. but he told me he didn't think we would because of the strike. We left about 5:00 P.M. We arranged to meet at the sweet place (which is a 31 flavors) and it's strange but with the crowd there I walked to him and he to me and we visited for about an hour. He reminds me of someone, but I haven't been able to put a finger on who it is or what it is. I know this doesn't mean much, but I sure have a feeling there is a connection.

I forgot to tell you when we were on our way from Killarney to Galway, we stopped in Ennis at John J. Roughan's Hardware Store. We had a nice visit with John and his wife. He said he didn't know anything about relatives but to go to the P.P. and he could hlep. The P.P. is the Parish Priest. We didn't connect with the P.P. He was out of town.

I told both Patricks that I wish there was a connection between us because they were so nice. Patrick Rice comes over here sometimes, but he said in the New York and Boston area, but will call the next time he comes.

I left Germany on Sunday morning and Kerri decided she wouldn't come home with me because her mommy and daddy would be too lonesome. She had decided she was going to keep the new baby even it it was a boy. Her daddy was teasing her and told her little boys tear up things like books so she decided she wasn't going to keep him if he was a boy. It took a while for him to convince her that he was only teasing. She told me she would see me in three months.

When I landed in Washington, Tom, Tommy, Margaret, Debbie, Barbie, Pat and her children were at the airport and we all went to Tom and Mary's for dinner. Bea Krentz and her husband came over too. We looked at the movies from the Family Reunion. Washington is beautiful. The Cherry Blossoms were out and the flowers beautiful.

The next day Peggy Mathieu came in from Phillipsburg. She is Aunt Catherine's (Grandma's Sister) granddaughter. We all sure had a good time visiting. We went down to Tom and Mary's farm and it is beautiful. This was on Tuesday. I had never met Peggy but Margaret had in 1935. We really enjoyed visiting with her. I hope she comes out our way one of these years.

Mary took us to the Kennedy Center and it is beautiful. We really enjoyed it. It was great that Debbie and Barbie could get down to see us. Barbie is graduating in May and Debbie is going back to Switzerland on a summer job for two months.

We left Washington on Thursday and flew to Dallas. Joan picked us up and then I told you a few hours later John and Judy came in. I couldn't believe it. Mary Lou was Confirmed on Friday so we were there for her big day. We met a lot of their friends and they sure are nice.

We arrived home Sunday night about 10:30 P.M. This is a mighty long letter but wanted to put as much information as I could in it in case someone else gets to go sometime and I sure hope they do because I sure would enjoy it. We've always known there was no one like the Irish but I believe it more than ever now.

God Bless all of you,

Love,
Tese

5 remarks:

velvet brick said...

What a wonderful letter to read! There is so much information and family history...memories! A true treasure....

Anonymous said...

I know I read it at home with you, but it was really cool to see it shared with everyone in our family- and others as well. I'm wondering if it is too late to decide that I don't want to keep "the new baby"....just kidding, I wouldn't trade him for anything!!! I love that he's taking our mom on a trip of a lifetime - they both deserve it!!!!

Anonymous said...

I thought I posted this comment after this entry but must have goofed. I enjoyed very much reading the letter and thank you for the comment about our 4th grade musical. Your trip sounded wonderful. What great pictures!
Clare

Anonymous said...

Hi my name is Michele Kneafsey O'Sullivan. Desmond Kneafsey was my father. He died in Oct 2002 aged 82. Paddy Rice is still alive and well and living in Bray Co Wicklow. He is my 1st cousin once removed. I don't know who posted this blog but if you are related to me I would love to get in touch. I live in Buncrana Co Donegal.

Cheela said...

Michele,

I hope that you will read this. I don't know how else to get in touch with you. Kneafsey is such an unusual name, I imagine we might be distant cousins. I forwarded your comment to my cousins and called my 86 year old aunt!! My name is Sheila Shannon Rogers and my email is srogers67@cox.net