Thursday, 11 August 2011

Céad míle fáilte romhat!

Yes, a hundred thousand welcomes to you.

It's an Irish wouldn't understand. Well, maybe not.

This resurgence of my Gaelic allegiances has all been brought about by my correspondence with the farm in Co Mayo where Alfie, pure Connemara, was born.

I'm very proud of my heritage. For a while I was preparing to be sickened by it. My family was given land in County Wexford for services to Oliver Cromwell (warts and all!)


Shameful maybe, but LESS shameful when I discovered that my Great Multiple Times Uncle Jacob was a Quaker who sheltered both Catholics and Protestants in his house at the time of the Irish rebellion of 1798.

There's an account of those times written by Dinah Goff, his daughter, called DIVINE PROTECTION THROUGH EXTRAORDINARY DANGERS. It's one of the items I have that I would run to save in the event of a fire. It's also, quite extraordinarily, available to read online HERE

Jacob had twenty two children. (We're a fertile bunch but I stopped at three!)

He built Horetown House for them and it had to be quite big, taking all things into consideration! My family was still there in the days my grandma was alive.

I have letters written from Horetown dating back to 1854.

Now it's a hotel. A couple of years ago, we stayed there and it was the strangest experience. The bedrooms were named after members of my family. I'd taken some of the letters and read them out loud in the very room in which they had been written.

I can honestly say that I felt there was part of me there in the very fabric of the house. I've never felt so immediately comfortable in a place I've not visited before - not visited in body, at least.

It felt like coming home.