Wednesday, January 29, 2014

1 29 2014 We found Kathleen O'Rourke's ancestral home, Ballymitty in Co. Wexford!

So yesterday we went on a scouting expedition to further get the lay of the land. This time we adventured toward Enniscorthy by way of New Ross. New Ross is the town where JFK commissioned that a famine ship replica be built and used to give people a feeling for the hardship of the famine emigrants in sailing to America, Australia, and other points. On our trip to Ireland in 2006, we toured the ship - I believe it's called the Brophy, or something like that. This time we only drove past it. It felt strange because we were so focused in 2006 on everything ancient that we weren't even aware of all the newness around us. This time it was obvious and distracting. But that ship is still beautiful and perhaps one day we'll take a pair of missionaries with us to see it again.

Anyway, when we got to Enniscorthy, we attempted to see three branch members, none of whom was at home. But our time was not wasted because a few good things happened after that. One was that we were able to place a Book of Mormon in the Wexford County Library.

For the next part, I need to explain something. Our GPS is programmed so that we have the option of driving to our various destinations either using "faster time" or a "shorter distance". Since we didn't like the way the "faster time" seemed to be working, we switched to "shorter distance". Now, because of this switch, we found ourselves bouncing around on all kinds of side roads. It is my habit, while we're riding (and if I'm not knitting), to read the road signs, and that's just what I was doing when I read the following sign:

I just about jumped out of my seat! This first sign was followed quickly thereafter with this sign:

Many of you wouldn't recognize the significance of this, but I did IMMEDIATELY!! Friends of Kathleen O'Rourke, in the Hillcrest 5th Ward in Sandy, would know that Ballymitty is the ancestral homeland of Kathleen's adoptive family, either the O'Hara's (her adoptive father's name) or her adoptive mother's name, which I can't come up with at the time. Seeing this sign was such a thrill to me because I wasn't looking for it - and I had told Kathleen that we were not likely to see this little town because we thought we'd be serving our whole mission in Sligo - on the other side of Ireland. Anyway, there it was, and we followed the little sign at the top for the one kilometer to find this tiny, tiny town (probably the smallest we've seen). While there we saw the church first (they ALL have churches) and then we came across a lady who was taking her horses in for the night. The little pony at the bottom is her 35-year-old pure shetland. We asked her if she was familiar with any O'Hara's still in Ballymitty, but she said there are none. Oh, well, time marches on.

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