Sunday, August 03, 2008

Newmarket and a day out with my Dad

Both of my paternal grandparents, PJ O’Loughlin and Kathleen Hurley, were natives of Newmarket in Co. Cork – they moved to Tomacork, near Carnew, in 1929. Dad often speaks about Newmarket and recently we decided that we would go there for a day to see where Kathleen and PJ grew up. The picture to the right is taken from a group photo of my Mum and Dad's wedding on 22nd October, 1958. It shows Kathleen and PJ at the front - my Dad's aunt Eileen Hurley (know to us all as the wonderful Mrs. D) is the lady in the centre.

Tuesday 22nd July was the day out to Newmarket. I stayed with Dad on Monday night and even got in a couple of pints in Jim Byrnes in Carnew where we planned our day. I don’t really remember ever having a whole day out with my Dad – just the two of us, and I was looking forward to the day. We had lots of chat in the car on the way down about grand-parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and O’Loughlin and Hurley family history.

We arrived at about 11.00 and our first port of call was to see Dad’s second cousin Breda Collins (nee Murphy). Breda was full of chat about my grandfather PJ, whom she called “Paddy”. She also told us that the reason he left Newmarket was that another man died in an accident involving a horse and cart for which his family blamed PJ. Breda also treated us to one of the biggest fry-ups I’ve ever had – enormous quantities of black and white pudding, sausages, rashers, and tea. It was very welcome as we had our breakfast very early. Breda mentioned old photographs of Dad as a youngster, but disappointingly she could not find them to show us. We left with promises to come back again for a longer visit.

Next stop was main street Newmarket to see my Grandmother Kathleen Hurley’s old house. This house is across the street from a now disused Protestant church in whose graveyard Sarah Curran (of Robert Emmet fame) is reputedly buried. The Hurley house is now the Newmarket Cattle Breeding Society sub-station.

We then went out to the local graveyard in Clonfert outside the town. We were looking for Hurley and O’Loughlin graves. Dad recalls being at some funerals in this graveyard and had some idea where to look. In no time we found the grave of a grand aunt of Dad – Hannah Murphy who died in 1961.

After this we looked for Dad’s grandparents’ graves. We soon found the grave of Thomas and Bridget Hurley. Bridget, who is my great grandmother, died on 3rd July, 1916. Thomas, who is my great grandfather, died on 20th February, 1921. It’s strange seeing these graves of great grandparents who died long before I was born, and well before Dad was born (1931). I know nothing about them. Apparently they were well off and had a good business in Newmarket. Despite a good search, we had no luck finding any O’Loughlin graves. They are in the graveyard somewhere, but there were a lot of unreadable and broken headstones – no doubt they are buried under one of these. I would have been interested in seeing a grave for a Eugene O’Loughlin who was Dad’s grand uncle. There is also an 1845-1847 Famine Memorial at the top end of the graveyard – the memorial poignantly states “An event has happened upon which it is too difficult to speak and impossible to be silent”.

Following the graveyard we went up to a place (still outside Newmarket), called Barnacurragh to see where PJ O’Loughlin grew up. We had some difficulty finding it and had to ask for directions twice, but once we drove up beside it Dad recognised it straight away. The house is no longer used as a dwelling, but Dad does remember staying there at least once when he was young and the roof was thatch instead of galvanise iron. We peered inside and Dad was able to tell me which room was which. There is a huge open fireplace in the centre – no doubt our O’Loughlin ancestors had many a conversation around this fireplace.

We went back into Newmarket and stopped at a pub called Dan Hourigans. This is home to another of Dad’s second cousins – Joan Hourigan (nee Murphy). The pub is closed during the day time. It had recently celebrated 40 years in business. I also met Joan’s daughter Paulette who is of course a third cousin to me. Her brother, Tim, is mentioned in one of my earlier posts about finding a picture of PJ O’Loughlin in the 1927 Newmarket GAA team. Though we would have loved to have taken Joan up on her offer of a pint in the pub we settled for tea instead. We looked over lots of photographs of the 40th anniversary celebrations and had many cousins pointed out to me.

Our final port of call was to visit with yet another of Dad’s second cousins - Joan Hickey. This was a quick visit, but was still full of chat and reminiscences about the O’Loughlins and Hurleys.

Late afternoon we set off home via Waterford, stopping on the way in Cappoquin for a coffee. We still chatted about our day, and who was who, in the car. It was a most enjoyable day for me. Dad is great company and is full of knowledge about the family – I think he enjoyed the day too. Who knows if I’ll ever be back in Newmarket again – it took me 48 years for my first visit, I hope it won’t be as long for my second.

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