Sunday, October 19, 2014

Last Day in Dublin

Friday was our last full day of research here in Dublin. After wrapping up my project examining County Kerry tax records at the Valuation office, I met my husband for dinner—he had just spent the entire day on a trip to Newgrange—and then we retired to our hotel room. There, I took the time to gather my thoughts on the day's progress and prepare the next day's blog post. Inevitably, after answering email, following online links and organizing notes for the next morning's blitz through my last microfilm roll, the evening was spent. The time was nearing one in the morning.

Shutting everything down for the night, we unplugged the laptop and set the iPad and phone up to charge. Just as we turned out the lights, there was an unusual sound from the electronic devices, so my husband went to check everything out. Apparently, the noise was to alert us that the devices were no longer charging. As he unplugged and then re-inserted the converter into the outlet, something in the wall popped—sounded like a small explosion to me—and there was the smell of something burning.

I screamed—not a wise move for that time of night. But hey. Every research trip needs a little excitement.

On Saturday, I had just three hours to crank through an entire decade of Catholic baptism records from the 1830s. It didn't help that the day started out with glorious sunshine. It's been culture shock for this California resident to spend so many hours under cloud cover. I hadn't realized how much my subconscious registered this deprivation until I actually saw real sunlight on Saturday.

Not to worry. I powered on. Fifteen minutes before closing, I realized I had only made it to 1834 in the County Tipperary parish—I had started at 1832—and if I were going to capture a copy of our John Tully's baptismal entry, I had better fast-forward to the appropriate spot and grab my opportunity now.

I do have to say, the journey through that Ballina parish register was informative. My hope had been to connect the dots between any Flannerys and Tullys in the area and our own Margaret Flannery and Denis Tully.

If you recall my consternation over the ink blot unserendipitously deposited upon the precise spot on the page of the 1851 Canada West census which contained relatives of our Flannery line, you will be happy to note that the name was Edmund Flannery after all. I came upon his son Cornelius' baptismal entry Saturday morning.

I'd like to say I hated leaving the rest of that microfilm roll behind at the sound of the closing bell, but I really can't say that. There was, after all, sunlight awaiting my emergence from the rotunda of the National Library. I joined my husband who, along with what seemed to be the entire residency of the city of Dublin, was out enjoying this novelty called sunshine. We walked along, taking in the sights of the city in which I had spent the last week sequestered indoors.

The afternoon presented a bonus, in that our research trip was deftly designed to coincide with Dublin's Back to Our Past conference. The DNA lectures there included a keynote presentation by Spencer Wells of National Geographic's Genographic Project. Being so far from home, I found it a treat to run into the familiar face of Katherine Borges of ISOGG, and even Maurice Gleeson, whom I had met and discussed this trip with, back at the Southern California Jamboree last June.

On today's agenda is nothing but time to enjoy the sights of Dublin and relax. Then pack. Tonight—if all goes as planned—we will be joined by our daughter, who once again will take the train from Cork to spend this last evening with us. Early tomorrow morning, we'll be off to the airport and the long trip back home.


Photograph: Looking into the ruins of the Aghadoe Cathedral in County Kerry from an outside wall of the building. Photograph courtesy of Chris Stevens.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Race to Finish

Today is the last day I'll be able to do any genealogical research in Ireland. We leave here Monday morning.

When that thought sank in yesterday, I was torn between completing two tasks: finish slogging through the microfilm of Tully family possibilities in County Tipperary, or try my hand again at property records.

If you think looking at property records for genealogical research hints at the possibility of landed gentry for our family, think again. It took passage of legislation before any possible other descendants of our Irish ancestors were able to buy a chip off the old block of estate property. It is, however, one way to detour ye olde brick wall and discover possible distant cousins in the process.

The drawback to this alternate research plan entailed a long walk through the rain to the Valuation Office. Again. I had done this very process the other day—that time, seeking Flanagans in County Limerick—but I thought it might be worth my while to attempt the same technique on my Kelly and Falvey families in County Kerry.

Of all our eight lines of Irish ancestors, the County Kerry couple had been the last to leave Ireland, so I hoped there might be more recent records with additional detail to help push back another generation. The trouble was, as everyone realizes, Kelly is a common surname in Ireland, making differentiations a challenge. Plus, the few birth records I've been able to find hint at either a family that moved from place to place—or couples with the exact same names.

The marriage record I had found showed John Kelly to be from Knockauncore, a townland in the parish of Kilcummin—one of the microfilms still awaiting my return to the National Library. Checking Griffith's Valuation, I noticed there happened to be two women renting property in the 1850s who might be of interest: Anne Falvey and Mary Kelly. What would be the chances that they were related to our soon-to-be-married Johanna Falvey and John Kelly from that very same townland?

The virtue of checking the subsequent valuation records is that a researcher may then trace the changing of hands from one renter to another, pinpointed to within at least two years range. The changes are marked directly into the valuation records, color coded as to year in which the change was noted. Our research guide, Donna Moughty, explained this in her blog the other day.

In my case the other day, I (hopefully) found our family's renegade William Flanagan in the primary valuation in 1853. At the Valuation Office the other day, I had continued the chase with the book that began in 1855. The same property number—7f in the townland of Cappananty—now showed under the name Catherine Flanagan. William was gone, presumably either serving his sentence in a jail in Ireland, or on his way to Australia.

Catherine Flanagan continued as the entry at that 7f property designation for a number of years, but eventually, her name was lined out in red ink in the book dated 1866. Above her name was inserted the name James Flanagan, and in the right margin in the same corresponding red ink, the date was noted as "68."

Presumably, at that point, either Catherine died, or was no longer able to maintain her position as the responsible taxpayer for the property. Again—we can only presume here—James Flanagan could have been a relative of hers, taking over responsibility for the property of his mother or sister.

I followed the books through the years of cancellations—each volume containing multiple color-coded revisions until anywhere from two to several years later, a new volume was issued—to trace tenancy of that same "7f" property.

I witnessed the stamp in 1906 indicating that James Flanagan was finally able to purchase the land upon which he had lived all these years. And I noted the green entry dated 1939 which indicated the property was in probate—James had likely died. A final entry in red ink in 1941 noted, "in ruins," and the valuation adjusted to reflect the value of property only.

Encouraged by those findings, yesterday I had hoped to do the same for my Kelly and Falvey families in County Kerry. Genealogical lightning, however, seldom strikes twice. While Anne Falvey and Mary Kelly remained neighbors only a few doors down from each other—well, at least until Mary's name is replaced by Catherine Ryan, and then Timothy Connor in quick succession in 1863 and 1864—there was precious little about the succession of property tenants to reveal any possible relatives' names. The only change—a brief one—lined out Anne Falvey in 1899, and replaced her with the name Mary Falvey. Mary's name was removed, lined out in blue ink with a comment inserted, "1907 ruin."

Could Mary Falvey be related to Anne Falvey? Could Anne from County Kerry be part of our Falvey line? What about the property in County Limerick that passed from William to Catherine to James Flanagan?

I have so many pages of notes compiled from this week's work. When I get home, I'll need to sort through it all and see if there are any trends—or at least possibilities—hiding within these records. For now, though, I have only this morning between 9:30 and 12:45 to wrap up my work in the National Library. How quickly that time will disappear!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Awe-Inspiring Moments of Research

I miss my genealogy society buddies. We all understand the need to share what we find in our research projects. Some things are just not meant to be experienced alone.

Take yesterday's episode at the National Library of Ireland. I had decided to continue slogging through those unreadable microfilm records from the Catholic Church parishes of County Limerick (for our Flanagans and Malloys) and County Tipperary (for our Tullys and Flannerys). After a late and leisurely breakfast—with three weeks of sleep deprivation catching up to me, believe me, I needed a break—I took the morning to finish up the parish Ballyagran records.


I drowned my disappointment in a small cup of mocha at a noisy coffee shop over an art gallery near Kildare Street, then came back to the library for more drudgery. You may think I am a glutton for punishment, but at this point, I only wanted to say I had finished a microfilm roll.

My final task for the day was to pick up where I had left off on the parish records for Ballina in County Tipperary. Granted, anything I could find there would not add much to what I already knew. Thanks to overzealous relatives of the past few generations who saved everything, I had already unearthed a letter from a parish priest, who several years after the fact had provided written verification of baptism for my husband's great-grandfather. But I still wanted to see it in the original record.

The microfilm I had been working with, as I mentioned to you before, was in horrible shape. Not only were the original records apparently greatly faded, but the film itself was scratched from repeated wear. Then, too, the priest's handwriting had been a particular challenge for my eyes. Not to mention, the film itself was torn, both at the beginning of the reel, and then at the middle, where the strand was broken in half.

Sidestepping all those hazards, I proceeded beyond the place where I had left off the other day. Discovery number one was the relief upon realizing that part of the reading difficulty was due to an ineffective machine—I wanted to cheer on account of the brighter readout, but there seemed to be a no-talking policy in place, so I minded my manners.

I keep rolling past my starting place, watching the dates slip away from my target--marriages moving into the 1860s, then 1870s, much too late for the generation I was seeking. I was sure this would be another empty attempt.

And then, without warning, the next page on the microfilm not only switched abruptly from marriages to baptisms, but skipped from February, 1872, back to March, 1832. The quality of the film changed, as well. While complete pages—admittedly filled with chicken scratch, but at least completely present on the readout—had been the fare for the rest of the film, suddenly the images were of smaller, darker pages with all the edges crumbled, torn or worn away. The left margin, where a date and first name of the baby should have appeared, there was nothing. The paper was gone.

I tried to read through the records anyway. Despite the increasing difficulty in deciphering the names listed, not far from the top of the page, I thought I made out the words, Denis Tully and Margaret "Flannary." Was this our Tully line? Sure enough, the next line provided enough for me to see "--ke tully and Kitty Flannary."

I already had a baptismal note like that—it was for the Ryan family branch of our Tully family, which started with Johanna Tully, our John's older sister. Still, I was overwhelmed with this sudden sense of awe. Even though I was looking at a microfilm of the original document, I had this instant feeling of connection with the past—our family's specific past.

I wanted to tell someone. I looked at the woman sitting next to me. Someone whom I hadn't met, she was engrossed in the struggle of making her way through her own illegible assignment. I looked around the room, but there wasn't even anyone from our own research group with whom to share my small victory. All I could do was sit there, sigh heavily, and consider how incredible it was to have even this small connection with someone who was once part of the family I know now.

Wishing I could memorialize the experience—I know; I was desperate for some way to share it—I grabbed my pencil and wrote the date and time in my notebook. It was 4:23 p.m. on October 16.

Perhaps a sniffle alerted my desk-mate to look up. Glancing at me with an inquiring look, she gave me all the opening I needed, and I told her what I found. We exchanged war stories and complaints about horrid microfilm samples, and then she packed up and called it quits for the day.

I had just a few minutes more to work before closing—just enough time, in fact, to discover one more hint about the other John Tully I keep finding in family records—before staff came in to unceremoniously announce that the library was closing in fifteen minutes and everyone needed to leave. Now.

I didn't get much more done on that microfilm yesterday, but that's okay. I still have today--and even Saturday morning, if necessary. But some things you can't just rush. When you can't find anything, it can be a drag. Our tendency is to hurry past those moments.

But when you find something, you can't just soldier on. Those are the moments when you absolutely need to stop and savor the victory—to let the reality of the realization wash over you. The stark recognition of what these discoveries mean can stop you in your tracks.

These are the moments we are in a hurry to find. But when we find them, all Time seems to stand still. In that timeless moment, what we find is meant to be shared.


Photograph: The close-up, above, of the 1832 baptism of an unnamed child of Denis and Margaret Flannery Tully of the Catholic parish of Ballina in County Tipperary is followed, below, by the picture of the microfilmed page from which it was extracted.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Walking the Rainy Streets of Dublin

If archaeology students in Europe can suffer from castle fatigue, can genealogy researchers succumb to foreign government repository fatigue?

So far, our group of researchers has stuck our collective noses in books at the National Library of Ireland, the National Archives, and the Valuation Office—not to mention the many microfilms and other forms preserving decades-old documentation.

I've currently been working on some hunches about sidestepping my Flanagan and Malloy brick wall in County Limerick. You may remember that my husband's great-great-grandmother, Anna Flanagan Malloy, had received that fateful letter from her husband in 1849, announcing his hasty departure from Liverpool—however he had ended up there from their home near Ballyagran in County Limerick—to Boston. Meanwhile, Anna's brother, William Flanagan, had gotten himself arrested in Cork and sentenced to transportation to Australia. At that time, Anna herself was mother of a young daughter, Catherine.

After I attended the orientation session at the National Archives, I had learned about the Petitions files—requests for clemency, which often had sob stories included in the official files, complete with details of family names and conditions. I thought perhaps that might be a way to figure out what had become of Anna's brother William. After all, both siblings—plus Anna's daughter—had found their way to Chicago before the time of the 1860 census, so something might have been changed on William's sentence.

The verdict on that hunch turned out to yield nothing. If the William showing in the Archives' database were indeed our William, it appears his sentence was cut short, but more likely that decision was on account of administrative convenience, not governmental mercy. According to one knowledgeable archivist on staff there, the British reliance on transportation sentences to rid the island of troublemakers was getting the chill from protesting Australian colonists, who didn't appreciate their land serving as dumping ground for undesirables. Understandably.

So what might William have done, if his sentence was shortened? Perhaps that was his cue to get out of town and head for America.

One way to check—albeit an indirect way—was to trace the property records for the one William Flanagan that showed up in the Griffith's Valuation in his native County Limerick. While there are a number of ways to see that, using online resources, what I can do, now that I'm here in Dublin, is walk to the Valuation Office and follow the property tax records forward, through the years, all the way up to the 1970s. That way, I can see if the plot of land where William once lived remained in his name, or if there were any notations revealing when he may have moved away. Further, once he left the property, if another Flanagan assumed responsibility for the land, I can draw up a paper trail of family members, which can then provide clues for other research efforts.

The process was successful, at least in the case of this Flanagan plot. While William showed as the taxpayer for the date in which the original Griffith's Valuation was conducted for County Limerick, the very next record book, dated 1855, showed that property under the name Catherine Flanagan. Catherine's name remained on the tax rolls in the townland of Cappananty until 1866. By then, a James Flanagan, who had been showing on property in the nearby townland of Cappanihane, had his name lined out in 1868, and instead inserted in Catherine's plot.

Whoever Catherine was, at this point, I can only hope she was somehow related to our William and Anna. I have no way of confirming that yet. Of course, knowing that Anna named her firstborn daughter Catherine—presumably following Irish naming patterns of the time, after the name of the child's maternal grandmother—gives a slight glimmer of hope.

With the older Catherine's name being removed from the tax rolls in 1868, the conjecture is that the woman had passed away that year—or at least no longer was able to bear the burden of responsibility for payment of property taxes. With the arrival of James at that address, we might presume that he was somehow related to her—but we still can't be sure.

James Flanagan remained at that same property—once the home of William Flanagan, then Catherine Flanagan—until 1939. Somewhere along the way, thanks to legislation changes, he was able to purchase his property. Notations in the margins dated 1939 indicate that the property was then in a form of probate, providing an approximate date for James' passing.

Was James son of Catherine? Brother of William and Ann? Hard to tell at this point. Catherine's passing occurred after the institution of civil registrations, so there would have been a death certificate, but at that point, it would have provided little information other than to certify that, yes, she was dead. James' more recent date of passing would mean his record would include more detail—but whether that detail would reach back far enough to help me glean his parents' names and origins, I'm not yet sure. To determine that, incidentally, would entail a visit to a different governmental office.

Having had such a clear line traced for this Flanagan property—hopefully our Flanagans—I was encouraged to try the Tully and Flannery records in County Tipperary. After all, I knew exactly where they had originated. But unfortunately, every last Tully I had found in the original Griffith's Valuation had left without a trace before the books resumed in 1855.

By this time in the afternoon, all but one of our group had left the Valuation Office. We were all mostly on our own to find our way back to our hotel, or to return to the other repositories we had already visited.

One glimpse outside the office window told me the weather was turning nasty. I decided to head for the library while I could, but the wind whipped up and nearly collapsed my umbrella on my walk back across the Liffey, so I pulled into a Costa's coffee shop—there were precious few Starbucks or Peets Coffee shops to be found over here, and even the Irish rage, the Insomnia Coffee establishment, was nowhere in sight. I settled in to wait out the storm with a small mocha and a wifi connection—thankfully not yet having caved to the obligatory post-storm downing of service—and pulled up a map to re-orient myself to this maze leading to the government offices scattered about the city. Just as we had experienced with those castles and ruins, I was beginning to feel that dazed sense settle upon me, thinking, if I've seen one, I've seen them all.

Photograph: Line 7f shows the entry for Catherine Flanagan, renting property in 1855 from one John O'Brien in the townlands of Cappananty in County Limerick.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Luck, Guardian Angels and the Irish

I was reminded, by a comment from Far Side on Monday's post, that I hadn't finished my saga of the upset that greeted us upon our arrival in Ireland. Since then, I've had half a month to see things change in my favor considerably.

Along with a huge adrenaline rush, a lot of serious prayer went into the hours following my discovery that I had left my iPad in the taxi the very first day we were here. What were the chances that I'd see it again? After all, if I had left it anywhere in New York or Chicago or...well, name any U.S. city, and you can imagine what the outcome would be.

Here in Cork, Ireland? I couldn't really be sure. After all, depending on whom we told about the issue, we'd either get a long face and sad story about how crime is bad in the cities, or an encouraging pep talk. When we called the Garda to see what protocol was in the city of Cork, the sergeant's first words were an immediate and brisk, "Oh, please, God!" That, we later found out, was a common saying around there, not an editorial comment on my chances for recovery.

It wasn't until just before we left for tiny Ballina in northern County Tipperary that I opened my email to find the very note I was hoping for, but thought I'd never see:
I found what I presume is your iPad when I was getting out of a taxi last night in Cork. Not knowing where you are staying I took it with me to Dublin.
Though I was overjoyed—the device had every detail loaded onto it that I would need for my research trip later on in Dublin—I was instantly plagued with doubts. What if this person was from Cork, but wouldn't return until after we left for Dublin? What if she was from Dublin, and wasn't going to return to Cork at all? What if she was headed to Dublin to leave on an international flight? By the time I saw her email, my iPad could have been halfway around the world!

I was so thankful we had a second computer with us on this trip, or I would never have received the good news until our return to the States. I sent my new-found Irish guardian angel a return reply, providing my husband's local cell phone number, as well as confirming she had deduced the correct email address.

And waited.

Just as this mystery person had likely wondered about my slow reply, our roles were now reversed, and I was the one to wait. Being, by now, in Ballina without any online service—an unexpected glitch owing to some severe rainstorms which had somehow affected the local Internet connectivity—I was doubly glad to have already sent a return email which included a phone number.

Two days later, the awaited call came in. Life can be busy and complicated for guardian angels, as well.

This one, thankfully, was quite willing to go through the trouble of shipping my iPad to my daughter's address in Cork. We thanked her profusely, knowing the expense that would entail.

Not long afterwards, the package arrived, as planned. While the iPad made the journey in perfect order, there was, however, one glitch which I have yet to figure out: the return address given on the package, as well as the note inserted within, gave a different name than that provided in the original email. Which leaves me with a quandary: whom to reimburse for the expense? There is no way to write out a check, not knowing the exact name of my helper-in-disguise. Nor could I, not having an Irish bank account.

There are always stories of the hero who steps in, unexpectedly, to save the day—and then disappears before anyone even realizes that thanks are in order. My mystery person is much like that kind of hero. She has certainly saved the day for me—I am now happily researching away at the various national repositories in Dublin, aided by the use of my iPad, as anticipated. The only thing missing for this hero is the hero's welcome which she so richly deserves.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Let the Grunt Work Begin

There are many occupations—even pastimes—which may be considered glamorous or exciting. Not so, genealogy. When it comes right down to it, the only way to find the answer to that question, "Who are my ancestors?" is to go back to the source documents that verify the real story. When those original documents have not been upgraded to digital status, that means heading to the repositories where they are still being stored to take a look.

For many cases, that means cranking through rolls of microfilm. I don't know about you, but it's been a long time since I did any serious slogging through microfilms. And I haven't really missed it—at least not the nausea episodes, although truth be told, that weakness is often brought about when I attempt speed reading while the film is still in motion.

Yesterday was my first day in Dublin, joining up with a group of genealogical researchers from the United States, all hoping to uncover some token to verify specific aspects of their Irish roots. We spent the morning at an orientation session at the National Library of Ireland. After several hours on our own—the hard core of us dutifully researching, others wandering off for some shopping therapy—we reconvened at the hotel for a brisk walk over to the National Archives.

The first task I had laid out for myself at the National Library was to peruse the marriage and baptismal records for the Catholic parish of Ballina—the tiny town in northern County Tipperary our family has already visited twice since our arrival in Ireland. I had the microfilm number in hand, the microfilm reading room was right there, so why not jump right to it?

I had hoped to find every mention of the surnames Tully and Flannery in that microfilm—including mentions as witnesses for weddings and sponsors for baptisms—to see if I could match any new names to our family tree. I started out thinking this would be an easy job, considering the town was so small.

Believe me, those were not the common surnames for that area. I was thankful I wasn't researching Ryan from that location! I didn't run across many of my surnames at all.

The down side was that the priest's handwriting was slanted, angular and difficult to read. It seemed he dipped his pen in ink which lasted him just about as long as it took to write the date, followed by the phrase, "married by Rev. William Byrne." Just before the priest got around to writing the name of the bride and groom, his ink seemed to fade.

Coupling that difficulty with the fact that the ink had bled through from the other side, showing up quite plainly in its mirror image in the microfilm, meant that I had to go quite slowly to actually spot the surnames I was seeking. That meant no speed reading through moving film.

You know my poor eyes. I had the image magnified to its maximum, and kept readjusting the focus, just in case, but nothing could speed things up for me. The gibberish certainly put a drag on the process.

I did find a John Tully from Tountinna marrying a Kitty Flannery in the Ballina parish, but it wasn't our John Tully. The year my husband's great grandfather was born was only one year after the other John Tully's date of marriage. I'll have to go back and check, but I believe I also found this John Tully in Canada, after our family emigrated. At this point, I have no way to ascertain how this other John Tully relates to our John Tully's family, but I suspect a younger brother to Denis, our John's father.

Of course, I still have a long way to go before I clear the last image in this microfilm reel. At the slow speed I've been reduced to, it may take a while to finish. That's okay, though: it not only reminds me of how much I appreciate the services of organizations like and, but it also gives me pause to reflect on how much those subscription fees I grumble about have really saved me. Not only do they help to preserve those crumbling documents and illegible records, they preserve my eyesight—not to mention my patience and sanity.

Later this morning, our group will return to the National Archives. From our orientation last night, my research horizons have been widened to take in some new-to-me resources at that facility—collections which may help me sidestep a brick wall on my Flanagan and Malloy families. I'm looking forward to putting my strategy into action. There are so many resources available at both the Archives and Library that may make some sidestepping strategies actually work. Here's hoping. A little daylight introduced into the dark corners of my brick walls would certainly make all that grunt work worth it.

Monday, October 13, 2014

And Now, For the Serious Search

Hurtling along the midst of impossibly narrow country lanes of western Ireland has had its charms, I admit, but it has come time to bid adieu to all the wild excitement, board a train and head to staid Dublin for some serious research. No more reliance on memories of the locals, directions-cum-conversations to now-nonexistent townlands, and those serendipitous meetings with total strangers who, nonetheless, are able to add just one jot more of information to help solve the mystery of our forebears.

We are in the big city now.

Now checked in at Buswells Hotel in the city centre—historic treat in its own right—we have regained our bearings, having had a moment to catch our breath on the nearly three hour train ride from Cork. The change in ambience is palpable. It feels almost as if we had crossed the Irish Sea and were now staying in a proper place in England.

This affords us a new city in which to get lost with abandon. Thankfully, on the taxi ride here, I noticed that my main location of interest—the National Library of Ireland—is a short walk from the hotel. Perhaps I can arrange to avoid getting lost this week.

All the material gleaned on this research trip prior to this point may be considered "field work." Now, the tasks will involve inspecting old documents—where any may be found—and ferreting out which of the many subjects of the former British crown resident on this island belong to our family, and which are simply false leads with the unfortunately coincidental name and date of birth. I'm trusting the years of research already poured into this moment to lead me to the right resources for the real people, but there is still that sense of sheer terror that, after all the miles and expense, I will not find what I'm hoping to find.

Then, again, I'm not really sure what, exactly, I'm seeking. The words of the woman at the Nenagh Heritage Centre in County Tipperary still echo in my mind: not many Catholic church records predate the 1830s documents I've already uncovered. Unless there are resources at these national repositories that are not transcribed online, I may discover that I've already found all that's available to be found.

When we left Cork yesterday, we emerged into the sunlight from the bed and breakfast establishment which, coincidentally, was situated straight across the street from the hotel where we began our journey. What drew us across the street from that hotel was the little coffee shop affiliated with the bed and breakfast. Called Serendipity, it became our home away from home when we needed a little more liquid energy—or a way to tap into the Internet when everyone else's service seemed to have been knocked out by the latest storm. Every time we had left Cork on an overnight trip to ancestral places, we had returned to a different hotel, conveniently accommodating our seeming need to get ourselves lost at least once a day. By this last return to Cork, we just needed to feel as if we were returning home.

And so it was that, for that last night in Cork, we stayed at the tiny Anam Cara Bed and Breakfast, and ate our last dinner and breakfast at the Serendipity.

Perhaps this Serendipity will stay with us for these last few days in Dublin. I certainly can use a little bit of that.

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