In a short informal ceremony yesterday, some of my first cousin Ryan Byrne's ashes were scattered on the grave of his great-great-grandparents Richard and Julia Cullen in Gorey, Co Wexford, Ireland. Ryan had always wanted to come to Ireland to see the land of his father and meet with his Irish family - he finally made it.
I never met Ryan - yet he is my first cousin. His Dad Brendan, and my Mum Phil, are brother and sister. Ryan lived all his short life in Canada and was just 29 when he died. His dad was born and raised in Temple Cottages near Dominick Street in Dublin City Centre but he left Ireland with his family in the summer of 1958 for a new life in Canada. Ryan's grandmother Kathleen Byrne's maiden name was Cullen - much of the Cullen family lived in the Gorey area until the 1960s. Her father, Richard Cullen, lived in Dublin. It is his father, also Richard, who is buried in the grave in the photos below. The grave also contains his wife Julia (née Browne), and their sons Bryan and Patrick. Richard and Julia are Ryan's (and mine) great-great-grandparents.
It was a sad but also happy feeling to be at the graveside when Mum scattered Ryan's ashes. It was his wish to come to Ireland some day, and it was also his dad Brendan's wish that some of his ashes be scattered on a family grave in Ireland. Neither Mum nor I were at Ryan's funeral, so in a way it was our goodbye to him. We don't know where our Byrne great-grandparents are buried (though I do know that our great-grandmother Margaret (Coburn) Byrne is buried in an unmarked plot in Mt Jerome Cemetery in Dublin). So St. Michael's Cemetery in Gorey it was for our ceremony. Several of Ryan's ancestors are also buried in St Michael's. There are about 40 Cullens listed in the cemetery's register (see http://www.stmichaelsgorey.ie/listofgraves.html).
Rest in Peace Cousin.
|My Mum (Phil) scattering Ryan's ashes on the grave of his great-great-grandparents.
|The Cullen Graves.