Éireann’s exiles - reconciling generations of secrets and separations

Published: 04 Jun 2020

Going on a genealogical quest in County Meath, from the Great Hunger to Maureen O'Hara, "The Big House" and scandals.

In a special 'Throwback Thusday' (in more ways than one) we look at an extraordinary tale, recounted by Michael Carolan over at Irish Central last April.

"My wife and I recently brought back relics from Ireland. The small worn head of the Virgin Mary now rests on my bedside table. A faded, hand-painted portrait of St. Joseph with the Christ Child hangs on the wall. They came from the farmhouse in which my great-great-grandfather Michael was born a hundred and 75 years ago. 

Over a nine-day journey across the island this March, my wife and I made new relationships with the people, with the country and with our own histories. So the icons are more than simply religious. 

The quest to find out about their ancestors brought them to Spingville, a townland just outside the heritage town of Kells.

They also visited the old cemetery on the Balrath Demesne, where the author’s ancestors are buried.

In 2012, Hollywood legend Maureen O’Hara, at age 92, visited the headstone of her grandfather here.

Balrath House is a romantic Georgian house built in 1760, set in idyllic gardens which may be visited (with prior booking) as part of the Boyne Valley Garden Trail

Nearby is Balrath Woodland Walk, a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Have you ancestors in the Boyne Valley? Now is the perfect time to research them. One way is to seek the help of experts at My Ireland Family Heritage. Genealogist and Fáilte Ireland-approved national tour guide Seán Quinn and team provide customized itineraries for historic tours of the Boyne Valley and Ireland. This award-winning company was named Best Tourism Experience and Best Overall Business (Tourism) at the Meath Business and Tourism Awards 2019 and were also ranked 6th worldwide by USA Today for 'Best Ancestry Tour Company'.

You can read Michael Carolan's full article here and for more on the Boyne Valley sign up to our newsletter.