Leaving the Johnston Central Library in Cavan Town with map in hand we headed south east to Kilnaleck. From there we used the map to find the places our Coyle and Brady families had lived and worshipped. We drove up and down the little roads that looked very much like the Irish roads we’d been driving along all around the island. There were green sloping hills and stone walls with scattered trees and sheep. I could have photographed any of those other spots, taken the photos to my family and said, ‘Our family came form here.’ However, I didn’t want any Irish lane, any stone wall or charming church. I wanted to stand where my ancestors had stood. So we drove and turned and doubled back. We wondered if the tractors’ routes counted as lanes and if a modern drive obscured an ancient route. Stopping, starting and turning we did our best to find the exact places we wanted.
|St Mary's Church, Carrick|
We found St. Mary’s Church. The church was built c. 1824 when it had a clay floor. Doors, windows and pews were added later. In the early 1840s children of Michael and Mary (Cunningham) Coyle were baptized here. On 11 February 1870 their son, Patrick Coyle married Margaret Brady here.
|St Mary's Church, Carrick|
We’d seen grander churches in Ireland but none thrilled me more than seeing the place my great great grandparents had been married. The church was open. I was able to kneel and offer a prayer for the souls of my ancestors and a prayer of thanks for the opportunity to be in that special place.
Thomas & Catherine (Gibney) Brady lived in Killykeen. Son, Thomas, was born there in 1860. Catherine died there in 1873. In 1901 & 1911 Thomas was still in Killykeen, living with his son, Patrick, and his family.
There were times when the Thomas & Catherine (Gibney) family lived here. We drove through this little cluster of buildings.
|Ballymachugh, St. Pauls|
St. Paul’s Church. Children of Michael & Mary (Cunningham) Coyle were baptized here. The church and church yard were locked up. I was able to peek at it over the stone wall.
There were times when the Patrick and Margaret (Brady) family lived here. Their oldest child, my great grandfather, Michael Coyle was born here in 1870.
I very much wanted to find Moat. My daughter and I studied the map carefully and made a left off R194 along Lough Sheelin hoping it was Moat. We passed three or four houses without any indication of the name of the road. When the road became narrow my daughter turned out little rental car around and went back up the road. I asked her to pull to the side of the road at the first house where I had spotted a man in his driveway, w orking on his car. His little white terrier ran over to warn me off with his barks. His owner soon calmed him and the little dog sat and watched us talk. “Hello. I am looking for directions. I’m trying to find the place my ancestors lived. Is this Moat?’ He shook his head but was very friendly, looking carefully at my map. He was from Belfast and hadn’t lived there long but he loved history. The road I wanted was another mile up the road.
He also advised me to go up the road to Ballynarry post office and shop to find a book on the history of the area. Concepta, at the Johnston Central Library, had suggested the same book on the history of the area. With much thanks to this gentleman I got back into our car.
Back at home, when I search the internet or looked through reels of microfilm and saw references to Moat, I pictured a cluster of little houses. Records call it a townland but in reality it is an easily missed country lane. The end of the road is blocked by a gate and the couple houses there are very new. Any sign of the former cottages is gone. There is piece of an old wall and a low, abandoned stone structure. It was not a place I could feel any connection to my family’s past.
We made one last stop in County Cavan. We doubled back on R194 and turned left to find Ballynarry. The post office and shop turned out to be the same building. A small red haired lady greeted us and I told her I was hoping to find a book on the history of Ballymachugh and Drumulumman South. She knew the book I was looking for but didn’t know where it was. She went off to make a phone call to help her find it. My daughter and I glanced around the little shop with shelves of food and household supplies and pencils and school notebooks. I looked up over my head and spotted a shelf with three copies of the book. Helen, the clerk, announced her surprise at my spotting the book as she brought over a wooden chair which she hopped right on and grabbed the book. She did not know what to charge for the book. She went to the back once again to make a couple calls to track down the owner of the shop and learn the price. 30 Euros, would that be alright? It was the exact amount of Euros I still had in my bag. Perfect. Since I have been home and have had time to read the book closely, I have discovered it is a treasure, filled with the history of the area my family lived.
The day was getting late and we were exhausted from our long days in Ireland. My daughter turned the car towards the highway and Dublin.