Thursday, January 21, 2010

Irish Castles, family history and pretty postcards

JR's granddaddy James came to America from County Meath, Ireland in the 1880s. On the Google map below the county is the orange point. There is a town just about there called Navan. He wasn't really from Navan but dang close.

In 1897 he left the United States for the Yukon where he became a partner in a gold mine. I've written about his time up there in past posts. In 1911 he left the Yukon with a bit of money in his pocket. He traveled to Seattle, by ship, then across the United States to New York, probably by train, took another ship to Ireland, and, I suppose, another train to his ancestral home. A farm near Navan.

He left Ireland a very poor Catholic and returned a very rich one. In Ireland he took care of a bit of unfinished business such as, roughing up his hated older brother and finding a good Irish Catholic wife. Business done he and his soon-to-be-bride left Ireland for the United States, never to return. I get the feeling he burned a couple of bridges along the way.

Over the next 10 to 15 years they received postcards from family (the wife's side because obviously that bridge burning thing combined with stubborn Irishman thing didn't allow for postcard swapping on Granddaddy's family for several years).

Click the photo to go to their website.
This is Slane Castle (purple point on the map) circa 1910ish. It is still owned by the same family that moved in in 1701. There is some sort of to-do about King George IV and one of the ladies of the castle back in the 1820s. From reading between the lines of the history section their website one get the impression that this to-do was of a lurid nature. (maybe not and I just have a sick mind) They host huge concerts, cater weddings and events and pretty much whore it out. You can't really blame them. It's a lovely spot, the taxes must be outrageous, and the money in wedding planning at a 300+ year old castle has got to be good.

The Hill of Slane, where St. Patrick lit a paschal fire (huh? according to Wikipedia paschal fire = holy fire. Who knew?). He was summoned to Tara and then Ireland converted to Christianity. Got to love those conversion stories. Full of high drama.

This is one of my favorite postcards.

Ross Castle (yellow point on the map) is in County Kerry. Built in the 1400s it was until recently in private hands. It is said to be the last castle to surrender to Oliver Cromwell and his band of thugs. Killarney is a national park now and Ross castle is part of it.

Dunmoe Castle is located near Navan (orange point on the map). Cromwell tried his tricks here as well but didn't get anywhere. There is a battlefield near the castle but that is a post for next Friday. Dunmoe is a ruin now. There was a fire in the 18th century that destroyed it. It is the closest castle to the family farm and from all reports they look in about the same condition.

Granddaddy's biggest beef with his brother, beyond over achieving sibling rivalry, was the way he took care of the farm. Maybe, Granddaddy had a point. The farm on the old sod is a ruin while Granddaddy's farm in Montana is still going today and the Ireland farm was less than a 10th of the size of the Montana farm. Do you think he should have hit him harder?

Anyhoo, I hoped you enjoyed the postcards. Check out the link to see how these castles look today.



  1. I LOVE the postcards, and always enjoy your history lessons!

    (Yup - should have hit him harder...)

  2. You must have spent quite a bit of time researching your family history.

    I love looking at old castles and strongholds. Thanks for the links.

  3. He is so lucky to know his Irish family history. My father's parents are from Belfast and that's all we know. I can't even tell you the county my great-grandma on the other side came from. One day I'll find out.
    Love these posts!

  4. That is very, very cool! I love to hear about people's family ancestry. and I love old postcards.

    My Great, Great, Great grandfather was born in Forkhill, County Armagh, Ireland and the family moved to Scotland and then England.

    We have a pic of my Great Uncle in his Scottish Regimental Guard uniform. It might be Irish, but everyone seems to think it's Scottish. Anyway, it's on my Flickr page here if you wanna see him:

  5. Girl, you've got the coolest stuff.

  6. I think it would be so much fun to go on a castle tour!!!!

  7. I supposedly have Irish blood in me. On my Dad's side (Doyle). I've researched all family lines for 42 years and still can't get that line to Ireland. Other lines, yes, but not that one. But I've made it to Ohio...:)


  8. I love collecting postcards. Sometimes I send them to myself when we're on vacation so there's a little surprise waiting for us at home.

  9. Pretty cool site you've got here. Thank you for it. I like such themes and anything that is connected to this matter. BTW, why don't you change design :).

  10. Neat post! Love the postcards.

  11. LOVE the postcards, and all the history. It's so wonderful that those have stayed in the family and have been passed down. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Neat castles, I really get into finding out the family histories too. LOVED you blog, just found it.

  13. "unfinished business", hehe. I love your family history stories!

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  15. I jumped outta my chair (figuratively speaking) when I read this post and gazed upon its photos. The one thing in my bucket is to travel to Ireland and visit REAL castles. It is my DREAM.

    HAHAHAHA. The anonymous comment above. gah.

  16. Love them! My sister collects postcards, and I buy them for her for her birthday and Xmas. I always look for the ones that have actually been written on. We love to read what people had to say to each other 100 years ago. lol