land near Kinard east of Dingle
On our first visit to Ireland in 1976 we were poor college students. We took a Friday bus from Dublin to Dingle, the home of most of my Irish ancestors, and spent 3 days coming to know the town, visiting with the parish clerk, and looking up relatives in the parish books. My only living native Irish relative (Katie Brosnahan Griffin) lived in Massachusetts, and told me before our trip that all our family was gone from Ireland, or had died. So I didn’t go knocking on doors, and with no transportation, didn’t get out into the countryside at all.
In 1990 we returned to Dingle Parish, this time with more knowledge, and a vehicle. My first stop was to visit the same parish clerk. He asked if I had yet visited my cousin Peggy Flahive who runs Flahive Pub down on the Quay. “Who is she?” I asked. He looked incredulous that I hadn’t heard of my own cousin. Off I went to the pub and found out that Peggy was a distant cousin on my Ashe side, and that she had written down some of our genealogy years before that an elderly Ashe relative used to spout off when he was comfortably primed with grog.
Then Peggy asked if I had been to see my cousin Mary Ashe Griffin out at Kinard. No, I had never heard of her either. She gave me directions and off I went. Kinard is the historical domicile of the Ashe clan. My 5th great-grandfather once owned it all but the English stole it from him. He repaid them by running a smuggling business right under their noses. I followed Peggy's directions to Kinard, a few miles out into the country and knocked at Mary’s, one of 3 houses there. We talked awhile, I met her son, then I asked her a silly question. “My cousin Katie remembers the Ashe family—James, Greg, and Frank—living together in the old family house at Kinard. Where would it have been?” She looked at me dumbfounded and said, “This is the house.” I was sitting in my great-great grandfather's small house with its 3-foot thick whitewashed walls and few rooms surrounded by outbuildings. Mary explained that in the days when it was very full of Ashes that straws were drawn to determine who had to go. One family who drew short sent some children to Australia, the rest to the US. A descendant of this clan is the actor, Gregory Peck.
Mary asked if I had visited my cousin Han Farrell out at Ardamore. I had never heard of her (of course). She gave me directions to the Farrell’s dairy farm. Once at the property I drove past an old rock shed, a barn, and then up to the house. Han answered the door. I told her my name and that I was a relative from America. She warmly invited me in and began to talk and briefly whispered something to her daughter Anne. Anne disappeared into the cellar, then returned carrying a large box. Han never paused in the conversation and simultaneously fished through the box. I couldn’t see the contents. After a couple of minutes she handed me something from the box. It was an old black and white photo. The photo was of a couple of children posing with some very old ladies. And, drum-roll please—the two-year-old girl in the photo was me! What the heck? I had seen this photo in my mom’s collection, taken in 1957 at 27 Taylor St. in Holyoke, Mass. It was probably sent to Han by her aunt Katie (mentioned at top) living in America. I remember the day the picture was taken because I had rolled down the un-carpeted stairs and the old ladies had given me some chocolate to help me quit wailing.
Craig’s comment was, “Imagine making a visit to a foreign country--a remote area in that country yet--to a farm way off the beaten track--to a person you had never heard of a half hour before, and not only do they know right off where you fit in, but they pull out a photograph of you!"