Shipley, Yorkshire and finding Marie’s grave

The last 24 hours has been amazing, and I’m not sure where to start, so I’ll just start writing and hope it takes shape.  I have been in Shipley, Yorkshire, United Kingdom.  This is the place that I have heard so much about and is where our English Heritage came from.  Shipley is where my Grandad – my Mum’s Dad, Harry Scarborough Crout lived with his “Mam” until in 1928, at the ripe old age of 16, he decided to travel all the way to the other side of the world to make his fortune and bring it back to his “Mam”.

Unfortunatelly (or fortunately for us) things didn’t go according to plan.  Three years after he left, in 1931 his Mum died and so he felt there was no reason for him to return and he stayed in Adelaide.  He married, lost his first wife, in tragic circumstances shortly after losing their only child durng childbirth and then he remarried her sister (my Nana).  They went on to have four children, my Mum being the third, and only girl and they had 12 children (11 who survived) and from them there have been another 11 children born.  So, as a result of my Graddad taking off across the other side of the world as a child, there have been 27 children born in Australia.  All living happy, healthy and full lives.

Mum visited Shipley in October 1995 to try to find and photograph for Grandad his homeland to bring him peace in his ailing years.  She succeeded, what a success her trip was, and she lovingly put a folder of photos and maps together that Grandad would pour over as his memories were failing and he was falling in to dementia.  What I only found out yesterday when I was reading her post on this blog about Yorkshiire, was that she thought this book had disappeared and was sad about that.  This very book I had found in Nana’s things when I was cleaning out Mum’s house a few months ago.  Oh, how I wish I could tell her and she could have had time to look back through the book, relive the memories and know her gift was safe for us future generations to enjoy.

I knew I needed to find Crag Rd, Windhill, Shipley, which in the current era of Sat Nav maps on our iphones, was a pretty easy task.  I realised this was much easier for me, driving a hire car, armed with a Sat Nav and all the knowledge Mum’s renaissance trip in 1995 had provided.  Mum had walked the very steep hills on foot carrying maps and it was only due to the help from some locals that she was able to find the information she had travelled all that way for.

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I sat on the side of Crag Road, and read Mum’s Yorkshire blog and from that post I was able to identify Grandad’s primary school and the church that he attended Sunday School as well as the library that he loved.  What was sad to find is that his much loved library, a beautiful building, is now unused and has fallen in to disrepair, with boarded up windows.  I guess this is a sign of the times.  Grandad told Mum stories of walking up Crag Road with armfuls of books and sometimes it was so windy he would be surprised that he wouldn’t get blown over.  To see these buildings and walk these very streets was pretty amazing, to say the least.

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I knew from Mum’s trip in 1995 that a redevelopment that had occurred in the 60’s had demolished the street that Grandad lived on, but I saw lots of examples of the “back to backs” that Grandad lived in.

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What I didn’t realise until tonight when I was looking at a map Mum had of the area before the redevelopment (which I had brought on our trip but not taken to Windhill) was that Grandad’s road was just behind the church.  I had gone to the church and my instinct had taken me around the back to a t junction, which I turned left at and then drove that road, which was the one that Mossman Road (Grandad’s street) ran off of.  Not at all surprising, really.

However, the best and most important part of my trip to Shipley was yet to come.  Mum’s 1995 trip resulted in contact with the Windhill Memories group who were able to locate where Marie Crout (nee Ogilvie), Mum’s Grandmother was buried – Nab Wood Cemetary.  Mum was told she had been buried in a paupers grave and knew the cemetary was beatiful and well maintained, and in a letter I discovered recently that she wrote in 1996 but never sent (because it was too dribbly) her words were;-

“To have the location of my grandmother’s grave is much more than I ever believed possible.  Knowing that I now can actually visit this special place so far from my home to pay my respects quietens the soul.  To know that Marie’s final resting place is so beautiful and well mantained is a gift beyond description.  How can I thank you?  It warms my heart so much, Milton, to know that someone I have never even met has bothered to take the time to research a matter that may seem small to some, but is so important to others.  Your Memories Group is certainly an inspiration.”

I knew the name of the cemetary and even the grave number from Mum’s ancestry bible and so with my trusty Sat Nav and my hire car I took off and again, and easily located the cemetary.  Mum was right, it was beautiiful and very well maintained.

I knew that actually locating the grave would most likely prove more diffiult.  It turned out that there was no map to tell me where section T even was, let alone which graves were which.  This, my first sortie had located the cemetary, but it was Sunday evening and there was no-one around to assist in helping me find the grave’s location, so I just explored and looked out for the areas from around the early 1930’s.  I was drawn to one area in particular.  I took some photots.

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I went back to our room, happy that I had visited the cemetary and knowing what I needed to do tomorrow to hopefully locate the grave.  The other thing I wanted to do was get information about how I could go about getting a headstone or some other memorial erected, as this is what I know Mum has wanted to do since she had located the cemetary that Marie was buried in.  She never was able to do it.

So, this morning, I took off again for the cemetary.  The rememerance book room was open, so I went in there and could see that people had put rememberance passages in for loved ones for all kinds of years.  So, I knew this was a possibiity for me to do for Marie.  No-one else was around, so I called the office that manages the cemetary, and the man said there should be someone there who could help, and he would all them and tell them to come out and assist. A few minutes later, I was releived to see a man come out and he showed me where area T was.  I was so close with my photo above, just a bit further to the right was area T – again, not all that surprising.  Now, if I could just locate the general area of grave 203.  The man showed me that some of the headstones have the grave number on them, and I thought he would leave me to trying to locate the general area (knowing there was no head stone).  However, he helped me look.  We looked like we were getting closer and then numbers started jumping all over the place and not making a lot of sense.  I was starting to think this was as close as I would get, and I was telling him that I was happy just to know I was in the general area.  I had found 206, so knew I was close, then he yells out – “its here”.  I go down the other end of the section, the row in front of the row with grave 206 and there in front of me is a marker that reads “In Rememberance” with lots of flowers and other momentos.  You see, in all of this investigation, I discovered a Paupers Grave is a public grave, is not owned by anyone and there are multiple people buried in it.  So, no option of a headstone for any of the people buried in a public grave.  There is a Garden of Rememberance however, so I can follow up on having a plaque erectd on my return to Australia.  For now, I was overwhelmed.  Here I was in front of Marie’s Grave.  I cried tears of joy for finding it and tears of sadness for not being able to share it with Mum.  I talked to Marie – I told her that I was thankful that she had allowe her son to travel to Australia.  I told her that we know her story now, thanks to my Mum.  I told her that she would have loved my Mum – a stong, independant, fiesty woman.  I paid my respects in the way that Mum had dreamt of doing.  I did it all becaus of and for Mum.  I then talked to Mum and told her I hoped she knew I was here and that she was as happy as I was that I had found Marie’s grave.  I’m sure she was, but it’s not the same as being able to tell her and hear her response.

I took photos and I left some of Mum’s hair.  The other times that I have left Mum’s hair, it has been hard to get strands out of the rubber band that it is tied up with.  This time it pulled out easily, like something was saying that this is so right, lots of Mum’s hair needs to be left here.

In the last photo if you look closely in the purple flowers, you can see the strands of Mum’s hair.

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Mission Accomplished and I am so grateful.

 

 

A great man, a great bond, great memories, a great day and a precious moment in time.

Today I fulfilled a quiet goal of mine, all before the 1 year anniversary ticked over for the death of my Mum (on the 6th of July, which my family will be soon waking up to in Australia, but I won’t be living until the following day, due to currently being in Ireland).

Today I shook the hand, talked, laughed drank coffee with, introduced to my Husband and Son, joked, compared stories, had photos taken and hugged a man who was very dear to my Mum. His name is Sean Whelan, and he lives in Killnaboy, county Clare, Ireland.  I first met him in 1994, 21 years ago when I visited Ireland for the first time with Mum. Right at the beginning of her quest to seek for Susan Kelleher, her Great, Great Grandmother who came from County Clare and emigrated on a Bride Ship to Port Adelaide in 1855, we came to Corofin to visit the Clare Heritage Centre. We were told by locals that we needed to meet Sean, as his mother was a Kelleher. We did and him and my Mum hit it off straight away. I remember him as being warm, welcoming, cheeky, laughed a lot, and smoked a pipe.  I remember the three of us went to a pub in Lehinch, a great little seaside town and I snapped a great photo of Sean and Mum sharing a cheeky joke.

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We visited a cemetary where some Kellehers were buried and tried in vain to find the headstone which was 90 years old and in bad shape, and being protected by a bull in the surrounding paddock. We didn’t succeed, but Mum and I often recalled that night in the cemetary and running from the bull.

Mum went back to visit Ireland the following year, and met up with Sean again and they kept in contact over the years by writing letters, sending Christmas cards, and later, email.

When Mum died, I found Sean’s email address on her computer and I emailed him. He was very glad that I contacted him, but very sad to hear the news. His words – “another bright star gone from our world” – were lovely. He asked me to send him some photos. It took me a while to follow up, but when I did, it was to tell him we were coming to Ireland and hoped to meet up with him. He said he was glad to hear I had “survived my great loss” and that he should be around when we were here, and looked forward to chatting.

I hoped meeting up with him would all go well, but I really wasn’t sure. Without Mum there, who was the well read, enthusiastic learner that could share historical stories and anecdotes, what would we talk about? How would Jay and Bruce feel meeting him? Could I get them to understand how important this man was, even though I’d only met him once and we may not even be related? So many questions and I think it it was those questions that kept me from calling on our first day.

Today was the day. I called after breakfast, got directions to his house which I had to write down in fear of forgetting them. It was important that I “not go past the tree mile mark out of Corofin”, I looked for the “wind charger on the hill”, looked for the “sooner bungalow painted morone” and We should find it. So much more complicated than an address out in to google maps.

So we did and it was even better than I imagined. He was a gracious, welcoming host, was very kind to Jay, very happy to see us, and conversation flowed easily. He gave us detailed directions to the same graveyard and happily hugged me in a photo saying “maybe my cousin”. It was a fantastic day, and a very special moment in time. What a way for me to prepare for the upcoming 12 month anniversary of Mum’s death.

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Then em to top it off, we managed to follow his directions and found the graveyard  and the headstone of Sean’s Great Grandfather, Andrew Kelleher. The graveyard was much better maintained than 20 years ago, the headstone had been cleaned and so was easy to read and there was no bull.

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As my Brother recently said, our Mum is the gift that keeps on giving. Thanks Mum for introducing me to Sean all those years ago. Thanks for keeping and developing the bond and for giving me all the reasons in the world to be here on this amazing adventure and giving me the courage to contact him and arrange such a wonderful meeting.

As my family awake in SA to the 12 month anniversary of that dreadful day when Mum was taken from us, they will see this post and know that Mum’s soul will be resting peacefully knowing that even without her being physically with us any more, that Sean Whekan is still connected to us.

I love you Mum and I miss you more than words can say.

xxx

Ireland – I’ve been here before -Part 2

This morning I woke up in beautiful Corofin in pain. Emotionally and physically. Last night I got very stressed trying to post on Facebook with an almost useless internet connection and then this morning I woke up dreaming of horrible stressful situations back home ( to do with my Business) as well as having an excruciatingly sore neck. I had already woken up once to an annoying noise that I thought was running water, which turned out to be a bird tweeting outside our window, which immediately stopped as soon as I told my husband it was annoying me (was that you, Mum?). I was stressed and agitated the first time I woke up, so I knew this time I needed to wake up fully to get myself out of my state.  Took a while and a few tears, and so I decided it’s time for another post.

So, here I am in Corofin.  Our trip here from Galway was by hire car.  I’d carefully done the sums and worked out it was probably a bit cheaper and Much Much easier at this stage of the trip, rather than negotiating buses and trains. We took the coastal road and visited the Cliffs of Moher – still spectacular, but Boy what a difference in 21 years! So commercialised now. They have built a big visitors centre, and car parks and you have to pay €6 to visit the cliffs, which were streaming with people. There are now walkways with steps and barriers. No just driving there, parking in the small car park and walking out to the Cliff like Mum and I did. There were shops built in to the hill. I was stunned! I’m not sure the tower had even been renovated last time. Although the Cliffs were much more majestic than Sliabh Liab, Jay preferred the fact that it was more natural – we all did.

When we pulled in to Corofin, I recognised it immediately, although it has changed significantly. I saw the Hostel that Mum and I stayed in on the left hand side, I saw the general store that Mum and I caught the “Post Bus” to Ennis outside of (this was the mail van that had a few extra seats that you could hitch a cheap trip to Ennis on, if you were lucky).  I saw the Clare Heritage Centre which is where Mum’s Genealogy search began and then I saw the bridge that Mum loved. I was pretty emotional, but pretty calm and I managed to contain the tears.

Boy, it’s changed though. The first thing that stood out to me was the lack of pubs, especially those still open for business. There used to be 9 pubs, now there are four or five. I’ve been told by locals that people can’t afford to drink the way they used to, and they can’t afford to drive home any more.

We went to Bofey Quinns for dinner – by far the largest pub/restaurant in town.

After a lovely meal we headed down the road chasing the night of traditional music and storytelling that happens on a Thursday (how lucky are we to be here on the right night) but found a sign on the door saying it starts on the 9th of July. Of course, how Irish to advertise something as being in July but means actually not on the 2nd of July!

I had been looking at a photo of Mum I had in one of the bars in Corofin, and wanted to go back for a drink and to compare it with my memory and my photo. I was pretty sure that it was across and down the road from the Hostel, but there was no pub past the Hostel. So either my vague recollection of the location was wrong, or it wasn’t there any more.  So we decided to try another local bar – Macks’s bar. Unfortunately my useless connection to the internet won’t allow the inserting of relevant photos at this time, so I’ll just write the words for now.

We met some people from Holland on the way and then met some locals in the Bar. We heard many tall tales. One guy was telling us about the perfect crime at The Cliffs of Moher – how to get rid of an unwanted wife (or husband). You just had to make sure you left “no clues” and the best way to do this was to use gloves and to put “sock over your shoes” and then if they do catch up with you and want to handcuff you you tell them you’re “itchy” and then “the worst part is if they tell you to get down (pointed a gun at you) you slap your legs an say arthritis”. He had us all (including Jay) in hysterics. We met another guy who had a twitch and kept wanting to bestow his great genius upon Jay (which was pretty creepy for Jay but we could tell he was a genuine guy), another who was telling us about his trips to Australia and how daddy long legs should be left because they eat the red backs, and then Eugene with a very thick, well oiled accent was telling us that we needed to go in to Ennis on Saturday to see the Hurly so Jay could see the “speed of the ball”. We were having so much fun trying to understand each other, it was hilarious.

I got out the photo of Mum in the pub and it made its way around the bar and after much discussion, it was decided that it was Cahirs pub which unfortunately closed five or so years ago. One guy was not 100% convinced because he didn’t recognise the booth seat, and Eugene tried to tell us that was him in the background to which his mate replied “can’t be, you’ve never owned a white shirt!”.  It was confirmed that it was down the road and across from the Hostel, so I was right.

The next morning, with a thick head, I headed to the Clare Heritage Centre armed with Mum’s ancestry bible to see if there was anything extra they could tell me about Susan Kelleher, my GGG Grandmother who is the Susan refers to in the name of this Blog. Antionette was very impressed with the information that Mum had collated about Susan and Bridget after they emigrated and believes from the clues they have that they might be able to find the death of her parents and what has happened to her other siblings. They have a system where you pay a deposit and then they put multiple people on the search for up to a couple of weeks and if you are lucky at the end of it, you end up with a full dossier. Not a cheap exercise, but I decided it was worth it, knowing how thoroughly the online available information has been scoured by Mum and her dear friend Chris – an expert genealogist. Antionette loved seeing the photos I had in relation to Susan – a photo of her, the anchor and her grave, and I emailed them to her. She told me to look and see if we have her death certificate (surely I do in Mum’s files at home). She loved hearing my recollections of Corofin in 1994 and seeing the photos of Mum outside the Heritage Centre and in the pub and hearing that we think it still has a lovely vibe. She also loved the fact that I have Mum’s hair and will be leaving some in special places, including Corofin.  I paid my money and took a walk, and spread some of Mum’s hair through the streets of Corofin, smiling as I did it.

Then Jay and I headed off to explore Ennis and visited the Dysert O’Dea Castle and archeological sights. Ennis was much bigger than I remembered. Only vaguely familiar. That was a bit of a disappointment, but I am realising that my memories are nowhere near as vivid as they are precious.

I’m feeling much less stressed and in not quite so much pain. Need to go to breakfast and call Sean Whelen, a descendent of Kellehers that we believe might be a relative, that Mum and I met in 1994 and Mum has maintained contact with over the years. It would be great if we can see him before we leave Corofin. We are also heading to Milltown Malbay as there is a music festival on that we were told about in Galway (and given a hand written message to deliver).

I am very mindful that I am fast approaching the anniversary of Mum’s death. Today is the 4th, but we are a day behind Australia, which means I’ll probably live it for the next two days. I think this is part of what my painful awakening was about this morning.

All I can do is live through it and get to the other side. A side where I will start seeing the second anniversary of experiences without my Mum. In a way, I think that may be worse, and it scares me a bit.

Ireland – I’ve been here before – Part 1

This morning I woke up in Galway, Ireland from a sad dream.  An old friend of my Mum’s was showing me the hand bag she had that was ordered by my Mum before her death and she was bragging about how she had it and asking if I received the bill yet.  I was incensed with why she thought that she should be benefiting in any way from the death of my Mum – I didn’t think they’d even been in contact for at least 15 years.  So, I took the handbag and emptied her contents on the road – all the way down Mum’s street (which was the street they both used to live on).  It was a sensless dream, so I thought, but it started my day thinking about gifts that I rightfully earned from my Mum, and in particular the memories I have of our trip to Ireland – the first time we had both been to the Emerald Isle, 21 years ago.  I knew I had to write a blog to record them as well as to recall the experience and as many of the details as I could.

Mum spent the year of 1994 working as an exchange teacher in Seattle, Washington, USA.  This was such an enormous thing for her to do, and for us as a family.  She was away from her aging parents and her kids for so long, and having to live and work in a whole new world was exhausting, but exhiliarating for her.  When I was recently cleaning out her house, I found many, many, many reminders of that year.  Keepsakes she had kept for more than 20 years.  Funny that I think of it now, that she died exactly 20 years after her year in the USA.

I saved my pennies and got a loan from my Uncle, and went to visit with a one way ticket, not knowing how long I would stay.  I was 22 and in a serious relationship, which was heartbreaking to leave, for an unknown amount of time.  I was there for a total of three months, if only I could go back and tell that 22 year old self of mine to hang in there and stay for the rest of the year.  So many more precious memories and exeriences I would have to draw on now.  But, it was not to be, I had a life to return to, and Mum always knew and encouraged us to lead our own lives, regardless of how selfishly she wanted to hang on to us to make things easier for her.  I really appreciate how hard this must have been now I am the mother of a 10 year old boy.

A month or so in to my trip, we had visitors, which was great fun.  Dianne (the friend referred to earlier in this post) and my friend Leanne and my older brother Cullen and his wife Sylvia.  Great fun and laughter was had.  I remember celebrating the 4th of July, and so it was definately around this time of the year.

Mum and Sylvia had a conference to attend in Dublin, Ireland, and lucky me got to go along.  Mum and I made our way there and met Sylvia in Dublin.  When we landed in Ireland we found the college we were staying at and decided to have a bit of a rest.  We were exhausted travelling all the way across America, transferring at JFK Airport in New York and then flying to Dublin.  Funny now I think of it compared to the 20 hours of flying to Inverness, Scotland from Adelaide.  So our rest turned in to a full blown sleep with a sleep in and when we woke up, the sun was up and it was 10.  Wow, we couldn’t believe we slept all night and then slept in so long in the morning, but we were tired!

So off we went exploring to find some breakfast as we were pretty hungry after missing dinner.

How odd it was here, every shop or cafe we found was shut, but every bar we found was open and full of revellers.  What?  At 10am??  Shouldn’t people (at least some of them) be at lectures/tutes (we were at a uni after all, and I knew first hand that the life of a uni student is not all about bars and partying).

It took half an hour or so of this before it dawned on us.  It was twilight, and it was actually 10pm, which is why the shops were shut but the pubs were full.  Alrighty then.  So, it was a late night snack we were looking for, not breakfast.

Sylvia met us the next day and for the next few days they were conferening and I was plannning the rest of our trip during the day and we went exploring in the afternoons/evenings.  We had a great time.  We found some great pubs, some very funny signs, some great spots for shopping and immersed ourselves in the big city life of Dublin.  Then the conference finished and Sylvia went home, leaving Mum and I to explore Ireland.  We had decided on a three week vacation, so we had two and a half weeks left.

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Twenty years is a long time ago.  I am struggling to remember details (which is why I knew that I needed to start blogging to jot down memories as they came to me).  What I do know without thinking too hard at all was that it was a time where there was no internet or mobile phones.  No Google Maps, no Booking.com, no Trip Advisor. Planning a trip around Ireland was much more difficult and time consuming in those days than it is now.  We had to visit Tourist Information Offices and trawl through pages and pages of information and maps to work out the best places to visit, to stay and to eat.  I took most of this responsibiity on happily, being the born organiser that I am (not to mention somewhat of a control freak) it suited me.  Mum was loving not having to think so hard and make every decision that she had grown used to doing, living in a foreign Country, so it suited her too.  So, a great deal of the time was spent by me coming up with a plan for the next few days, which way we should head, what we wanted to see and how we could get there (did we catch a bus or train, get a ferry, a taxi or hire a car)?  So many options.

I have lots of great photos, which I’ll need to add once I’m home that helps demonstrate our experience. I know Mum took a photo (at least one) of me looking through travel information and she wrote a caption “My little travel organiser”.  Mum and I had been referring to me being the Mum in the relationship because I was doing the hard decision making and Mum being “baby” where she didn’t need to think about anything, just follow me.  I clearly remember getting to a point of exhaustion though and asking Mum to help with some planning.  Her response “but I want to be Baby” to which I responded louder “BUT I WANT TO BE BABY!!!”.  She laughed raucously and duly handed over the mantle of Baby, just for a little while, and I revelled in not having to think.  Ahhhhh.

We had a large suitcase each, which we had to lug on and off buses, trains and ferries and in and out of Hostels and B&B’s. We worked out pretty quickly that this “backpacking” with suitcases around Ireland was not the best idea, and we vowed we would actually have backpacks next time.  We both lived up to this.  Mum returned the next year in 1995 by herself and I have a precious diary she wrote and she refers to the backpack she was carrying.  This trip that I am on currently I was adamant (even though every person I told tried to tell me I was crazy) that our bags needed to be carried on our backs and not dragged behind us.  Boy was I right.  I say each and every day what a great decision bringing backpacks was as we are walking along small, uneven or busy footpaths, on and off trains and buses and up flights of stairs.  Bruce and Jay totally agree and laugh every time that I say it because I was so adamant having done it with Mum that we would not have suitcases this time.  I doubted myself a few times when so many people were questioning our judgement, but thankfully I stuck to my guns and we are reaping the rewards now.

Of this trip so far, this town, being Galway is the first town that I have been to before.  Mum and I loved Galway and we ended up staying for three nights, which was a lot on our trip as we had a lot that we wanted to do in the two and a half weeks.

Walking around Galway yesterday, it was vaguely familiar.  I recognised the train station and I knew which way to walk to head in to the centre of town.  I remembered though that Mum and I stayed out of town (a 20 minute or so walk), which I believe was at Salthill, and so most of our time was spent at the B&B and the pub next door and the cafe two doors down.  I remember lots of relaxing and walking along Galway Bay and the wind coming across the bay being so cold it made my ears ache.  I fondly remember the guy in the pub making fun of my accent when I ordered a “Baileys” as I knew that I wanted to drink something Irish but could not bring myself to join Mum in a Guiness (even though the signs around the streets kept telling me “Guiness is Good for you”..  I remember the people were very friendly, often they would stop when they heard our accents and asked us if we were enjoying our holiday and give us travel tips on where to go and how to best enjoy their Country that they were so proud of and wanted us to love as much as they did.

Today Bruce, Jay and I are off to explore Galway our way.  Nothing we are doing today will be the same as what Mum and I did, but I’m sure I’ll feel her presence each time I see a familiar building or another memory comes to me.

I am pleased that mostly the memories bring me happiness for the fact that I have them and I shared such a wonderful experience with her, rather than being overwhelmed with the the sadness I feel about the fact that I can’t share this experience with her.  She would be so happy to know that we are here.  It feels like it was meant to be.

But jeez I miss her.