I have an Irish ancestor. Edward Mulligan was a young man when he was arrested and tried for stealing from a bleach green. He was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and sent from Dublin to Port Jackson as a convict. Edward eventually won his ticket of leave, and some years later he married my great-great-grandmother Mary Harris, with whom he had five children before his sudden death. When I was researching the family history and writing a book I really wished I could go to Ireland and look for his origins.
A year later in 1995 I was driving home from town and saw a young couple hitchhiking by th side of the highway …. I had to stop for them …. they threw their packs into the boot and we chatted as I drove. Their plans were to visit places further south, so I dropped them where I had to turn off, but reminded them that if they found no accommodation they could come and find us. Although my directions were rather vague (our little cul-de-sac has no sign) that evening my husband looked out of the window and said “There are people coming up the drive!” Brona and her husband had found us! We had a marvellous time with them for a few days, and as they left they said we must come to visit them in Ireland.
The next year we had the opportunity. First I searched for traces of my ancestor Edward in County Carlow, and using old records came to an area called Lorum. I believe Edward worked here, as a groom on a horse stud. The country was brilliant green, and it is still an area for horse breeding.
I searched through a cemetery, found no Mulligan gravestones, but had a feeling it was land he knew.
Then a few days later we met up with our young Irish friend Brona, who had organised a marvellous tour of historic places. She took us to an ancient monument, many thousands of years older than these headstones in County Carlow. New Grange in the Boyne Valley in County Meath, is a 5,000 year old megalithic structure, aligned to the rising sun at the winter solstice.
We were able to go inside in a small tour group, an awesome experience, to realise you are inside a structure built over 5,000 years ago! With Brona’s joyful enthusiasm we explored our ancient Irish heritage! Now tomorrow we have the pleasure of welcoming her back to Australia, what a joy to have made this lovely Irish connection.