Molly & Steve's Trip to Ireland - 2023

You're Very Welcome Here



Mar 22

We left Carrickfergus and drove south, through Belfast and then to the coast at Newcastle. From there, we had a wonderful view of the Mountains of Mourne. It was still sunny and quite breezy. We stopped at a grocery store and bought two bottles of French wine and the stopped at the Railroad Station (a cafe) for a cup of tea and a cinnamon roll. From Newcastle, we drove south along the coast as far as Kilkeel and around Lough Carlingford (because the ferry doesn't start running again until Easter) and into Carlingford. We checked in to the hotel and then called my cousin Mary McKeown, who had invited us to have dinner with her and her husband, John.


View of the Mountains of Mourne from Newcastle


Percy French, Irish artist, author and songwriter. He wrote "Mountains of Mourne" and dozens of other popular tunes.


Molly, admonishing the statue of William of Orange. He landed at Carrickfergus in 1690 and caused all kinds of trouble.


Harbor at Carrickfergus


Castle at Carrickfergus, a Norman stronghold built in 1177


Carrickfergus Castle


Schoolboys "imprisoned" in Carrickfergus Castle

Mary is my fourth cousin once removed. Her ancestor was David Swift, who was an uncle to my great grandfather, John Connell Swift. John and all of his siblings left Ireland and came to America between 1848 and 1851, but David and his family struggled. (During the 2016 visit I made to Gort with Mom and my sisters, we saw an old document for the 1848 Famine Relief List for Kilthomas parish, and the names of David Swift, his wife and one daughter were on it.)


Famine Relief for David Swift and family

My great-grandfather, John C. Swift, sent money back to Ireland to help two of David's children - John Swift and Kate Swift - come to America. They came to Washington, IA, where other Swifts lived. John Swift stayed long enough that one of his sons was born in Washington, and then he moved on to live in Omaha, NE. Kate married a Washington, IA, man - Fred Tracy - and they had one daughter.

Back in Ireland, David, his wife and two children died during the Great Hunger, but one daughter remained - Mary Swift. She moved to England and married a British soldier. They are the 2x great grandparents of Mary McKeown, whom I met today for the first time. Mary and I have corresponded for years after we learned about each other via Sister DeLourdes Fahy, the local history expert in Gort, but today we closed the circle between our two branches of the Swift family and we finally got to meet in person.

We had a delightful evening with John and Mary. John cooked a fine meal of ratatouille and a lamb stew, and we visited until it was late. Mary and I looked at old photos of Swift ancestors, compared notes, and renewed stories. Around 11 pm, we said our farewell and came back to the hotel. My heart is happy.


Molly with her cousin Mary McKeown


Steve, Molly, Mary and John

Tomorrow: We return the rental car and - if we can manage the public transportation - we'll see a few things in Dublin.

Next: Dublin


Other stuff

This page was last edited on 22-Apr-2023

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