Peter Nicholson from Toronto, Canada
Some years I started to investigate my roots in Ireland but I was continually running into problems with the records I had found out that from 1864 there were very little records as some had been burnt in a fire in the Civil war in Ireland in 1922. I met Sean from my Ireland Heritage and expressed my interest in one day traveling to Ireland as I knew that some of my Family came from that part of the world. Having briefly given Sean some details that I had gathered he wrote to me some weeks later and informed me that I had indeed family born in Dublin and that if I ever wished to travel to Dublin that he could build a complete trip around where my ancestors had come from. He did not promise that I would meet any of my Family but that I would after the Trip have a much better appreciation of the People and its Heritage, how right he was.
I traveled over to him with my wife Karen. Sean’s exemplary style in timing was just perfect for us as we are both professional people and timing is everything to us.
Sean met us at Dublin airport and whisked us to his home to meet with his wife and showed us the itinerary ahead in case we wished to change anything. I’m glad we didn’t change as Sean crammed in one of the most wonderful trips we ever had. First on the List was our the Tour of Lower Dublin at Christchurch Cathedral built with the City walls in 1028 AD from there it was a short trip and tour of Dublin Castle which was so interesting. We were not far from my spiritual home at what is known as the Liberties which were manorial jurisdictions that existed since the arrival of the Normans in the 12th century. I was always informed when I was growing up that there was a possible connection in our family with Asenath Nicholson (1792-1855) who during the height of the Famine in Ireland, began her one-woman relief operation in Dublin, organizing a soup-kitchen, visiting homes of the poor and distributing bread in the streets. In a uniquely personal campaign, this remarkable individual traveled the country, aiming to alleviate the starving conditions in Dublin and the West of Ireland and simultaneously ‘bring the Bible to the Irish poor’.
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Sean unfortunately was not able to establish a paper trail for this event but he was able to find some relatives who belonged to me.We were able to establish that my Great Great Grandfather who left school at twelve years of age had worked at Jacobs of Bishop Street and had married at Westland Row Church which we visited and saw the Marriage cert’s from 1873. It was wonderful to see on the marriage cert where they lived at time and we paid a visit to the area known as Hagans Court.
This was when Dublin was a City ravaged with poor and over crowded Tenement Georgian houses. Sean was later able to show us the Restored Georgian house that once belonged to writer James Joyce it gave us a great insight into how 15 families could live in such tight conditions. My Ireland Heritage depicts this whole area so vividly in their Family Manuscript which I purchased as part of the Platinum Package.
Sean knowledge of Dublin was exemplary and we hit all the high points including the Guinness Store, the General Post Office where one of my relations had fought for Irish freedom in 1916 before being housed at Kilmainham Jail. The visit to the jail was both Poignant and difficult to see how the heroes of 1916 had been executed. The selection of the Westbury as a choice of Hotel was excellent as I was solely interested in touring Dublin only .I guess the highlight of my Dublin visit was the personal Tour Sean organized for me around Leinster House which is the seat of Government and meeting some of the Local politicians.
Sean’s research showed that we had a branch of the family known as Keegan and one of that family had been killed at the Battle of Vinegar Hill in Wexford in 1798 and after collecting me at the hotel on the third last day he whisked us down the Motorway for a fantastic tour of the the Vinegar Hill Heritage Center there.
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I had never traveled around Ireland before but when Sean brought me to Gorey Wexford I realized that Dublin did at one time exist as townslands but that they had all sadly intertwined over the centuries and became one big City. My Gorey family connection led me to a small townsland Ballinacarrigh it was terrific to be able to see this. I had hoped to stay in an Irish Castle this was organized also, we stayed locally at Lismore Castle for two days. The best highlights were the Heritage Park this is well laid out explaining how life was really like in this area from actually stepping into Crannog which was a house in the Bronze age and following the centuries right up to Norman Castles. It touches you deeply when you can actually stand on the Quay in Wexford and step onto the Famine ship the Dunbrody and know that your Family paid £3 for their package to the New World. I have a replica of the Ticket used on the Dunbrody built into My family History Manuscript which was scripted by Sean and his Team.