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.