Searching For My Great Grandmother's House in Donegal

oil painting of old deserted fireplace by Eoin Mac Lochlainn entitled: Tinteán Tréigthe no.19, oil on canvas, 2016

Tinteán Tréigthe no.19, oil on canvas, 2016

Now if you’re searching for your great grandmother’s cottage in the country, you can follow the map to a certain extent, but, in the end, you just have to ask someone. So, after driving a crooked mile up a crooked mucky roadeen, searching for the dot beside the ‘S’ of Newtown Springfield, we ground to a halt outside the house of kindly Mrs. Sweeney.

Up there on the windswept peninsula of Fanad in County Donegal, she assured us that we had come to the right place.  We had only to don our wellies, climb a steel gate and clamber down to the ‘clachan’ that was huddling amongst the trees by a little stream – and there we would find the remains of the cottage where Emily McGloughlin, half-sister of Patrick Pearse, the Irish Revolutionary, once lived.

A ‘clachan,’ by the way, is a cluster of little stone cottages, not quite a village, often situated in a hollow in the landscape to protect from Atlantic gales.  Mrs. Sweeney told us that the house on the right was the McGarvey homestead and the one on the left was Nurse McGloughlin’s … My great grandmother was a nurse / midwife from Dublin. My, but she was a long way from home.

It had taken us six hours by modern motorcar to get here. My art exhibition titled: "Tinteáin" was opening at the weekend in An Gailearaí in Gaoth Dobhair, with paintings of old fireplaces in derelict houses so, as you can imagine, I am well used to clambering over old stone walls and wrestling with clinging brambles and stinging nettles, but it was different this time. It was very nice to be there. I think we could feel the gentle spirit of Emily smiling on us. Who knows now but I think that this must’ve been a happy gathering in the hills of Donegal . . .  and there was an ancient old apple tree growing outside of Emily’s house!

photograph by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Fionnuala and I outside the McGarvey cottage on the Fanad Peninsula in Co.Donegal

Fionnuala and I outside the McGarvey cottage.

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn taken outside my great grandmother's house in Fanad, Co. Donegal
Myself outside my great grandmother's house in Fanad, County Donegal.

Your comments are always welcome -- just click on the little brown speech bubble up there. You can see more of my paintings at the links below.

Views: 1634

Tags: Arts, Exhibits, Folklore, Genealogy, Living History, Visual Arts

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Comment by That's Just How It Was on April 27, 2016 at 9:07am

Oh Eoin MacLochlainn ..  I bet the hairs were standing up on the back of your neck and there were goose-pimple's all over as  this wonderful scenario  unfolded in front of your eyes.  ..

Was it her land... can you claim it ?? .. You are truly blessed. 

Comment by Eoin Mac Lochlainn on April 27, 2016 at 9:26am

No, it wasn't her land... She was a nurse/midwife and she lived in various places in Donegal over 30 years, from around 1900 (she was actually from Dublin and she was renting this place)  but yes, it was wonderful to have found the place, lovely to be standing there... thanks for the comment, eoin 

Comment by Ann McLaughlin on April 28, 2016 at 12:11pm
How amazing. One day I plan on visiting the land of my amazing ancestors. I'm just trying to find a piece of history from my McLaughlin line to have a go to point. Searched many records to no avail. I know they took a boat called the Moravian from Londonderry in 1867 with 5 of their 8 children, and paid 1 (lb) per ticket. Why would they leave 3 children behind? So sad. I think they thought the young children were free ( infants were) so the 3 oldest teens stayed behind. The young teens names were on the passenger list but did not travel. 2 went over later, one unaccounted for. The dad's name, Edward McLaughlin, was the last one on the ship. Maybe he was negotiating till the very end or just saying goodbye....
Ann McLaughlin (Quebec)
Comment by Mark Ellis on May 1, 2016 at 9:53am

Eoin, what a lovely story and great photos. I really like your painting of the fireplace that opens the story, it is beautifully done. You have inspired me to track down the homesteads of my great grandmother and grandmother in Westmeath and Cavan,

Comment by Eoin Mac Lochlainn on May 1, 2016 at 10:52am

Ann McLaughlin That is such a sad story about your family. Thank you for recounting it. I hope you find your go-to point, all the best, eoin


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