Saturday, 31 October 2009

Ballybrennan inscriptions - Bryan Fitzhenry and Mary King

This stone lay on the ground adjacent to the Long Flat Stone and is of the same length. I expect it originally was also designed to mark a family grave, but the inscription only took up about the top third as it only commemorated two people. It was broken across the writing but this was easily readable and here's a photo.

Underneath lieth the body of
Mr Bryan Fitzhenry of Ballymack'y
who died August 16th 1770 aged 71 years

Also the body of Mrs Fitzhenry
alias Mary King who died Feby 27 1779
aged 87

May they rest in peace
Given these dates, Bryan was born in 1693 and Mary in 1692.
Ballymack'y is an abbreviation of Ballymackessy.

So why didn't they have the rest of the family buried with them? Bryan and Mary were the parents of William "Billy" Fitzhenry and grandparents of Jeremiah. These two men are buried (with others) under the stone surrounded by the iron railings. Perhaps the elevated status of the Fitzhenry family at this time led to them having a more up-market grave. Here's more about this family from a previous posting. The gravestone of Bryan and Mary lies at the head of the railings and their relative postions can be seen here.

Next post: The grave of Jeremiah Fitzhenry

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Friday, 30 October 2009

Ballybrennan inscriptions - "The Long Flat Stone"

.... so named as it was a long bit of stone lying flat on the ground. It takes up three photos on the webalbum.
They crammed a good few Fitzhenrys into this plot.

Here's the inscription and this one gave me a few problems - it looks very easy to read from the photos. Nice carving, words didn't break across the lines and relationships nicely explained - a researcher's dream.
BUT me and the Bree Parish website had a few differences especially over the use of the number 4
AND my last few burials were out of time sequence.
That's when it struck me - since the Bree parish transcriptions had been made, the lichen had done it's job and filled in most of the fainter diagonals on the number fours in the carvings. So where I had the last five deaths initially as in 1812, 1815, 1811,1815 and 1865, looking at the ages of death of these people (and readjusting the age of one from 18 to 48) gave the much more satisfactory transcription below. I stand by calling the third person MILER instead of MILES though - that's definitely there on the stone and you can see for yourself in the first of the "Long Flat Stone" pictures.

I don't know what the relationship between the first two people (Mary and Nicholas) are to each other or to the family described on the rest of the stone.

Here lies the Body of MARY FITZHENRY
who died May the 7 1778 aged 17 yrs
Here also lieth the remains of
who died August the 10th 1793 aged 71 years
here also lieth the remains of MILER
FITZHENRY of Rathiurun who died Feby
1 1816 aged 73 years also his wife MARY
FITZHENRY who died July the 9th 1829
aged 75 years Also his daughter
who died Sept the 18th 1812 aged 28 years
Also his son MICHAEL FITZHENRY who died
June the 9th 1815 aged 33 years
Also his daughter ANNE FITZHENRY
who died July the 19th 1841 aged 48 years
Also his daughter ELLEN FITZHENRY
who died June the 22nd 1845 aged 52 years
who died April the 9th 1865 aged 73 years

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Thursday, 29 October 2009

Ballybrennan inscriptions - Edward and Ann Fitzhenry

I transcribed what I could read from the gravestones at Ballybrennan graveyard, knowing that I already had a version of the transcriptions from these stones on my database. The lovely local history group from Bree parish had already put them on their website and I had found them some time ago. They are an invaluable addition to what I could read (or not!) but there were some minor errors in their transcriptions which had an important bearing on some people's dates. And it was really exciting to know that these people were the kin of Jeremiah Fitzhenry and that I had made another link.

The stones of Edward Fitzhenry and Ann Fitzhenry were the oldest stones of the Fitzhenry group in Ballybrennan graveyard. They are very rough hewn, the carving is quite basic and the mason (it seems like the same mason for both stones) had decided that if you reach the edge of the stone when you are only half way through a word.... you just continue that word on the next line.

Here's what on the stones as the words are written (slightly different to how they appear on the Bree parish website)
25 1753 AGED 43

There's two interpretations of this - she was either Ann Fitzhenry who married a chap called Roch, or she was Ann Roch who married a Fitzhenry. Either could be true - she could be the wife of Edward, hence the similar gravestones and buried in proximity, or she could be perhaps a relative of Edward who married a Roch but was brought home after death to be buried in her own family plot.
Either way she was born around 1710.
And Roch was probably spelt Roche.

17** AGED **

Edward is a bit more straightforward for his family origins. He's a Fitzhenry.
But the year of his death was virtually illegible, as was his age which looked to me very much like 22.
I expect that the year is somewhere around 1750 (assuming that this is the same mason and allowing for the fact that these two deaths have happened within the mason's working life).
If he was aged 22 at death he could have been Ann's son, a very younger brother or her husband that she lost early in their marriage.

These two are "orphans" in my Wexford Fitzhenry family group (not linked to anyone at all), so if anyone has any information as to who I can link them to, this would be very gratefully received.

Tomorrow: The many Fitzhenrys of the "Long Flat Stone"

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Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Wexford Road Trip - finding Ballybrennan graveyard

To recap... I spent a couple of hours at Wexford County library where I was delighted to find two articles about the family of Jeremiah Fitzhenry of Boro Hill (written by members of the Wexford Historical Society) and a book about Templeludigan in which I found some Fitzhenry priests.
The main article about Jeremiah Fitzhenry said that he was "buried in Ballybrennan (Bree) graveyard. An iron railing surrounds his grave...around him lie his kinsmen, the Fitzhenrys of Ballymackessy, Rathurtin and Gobbinstown"

We found Bree on the map and away we went up the R730 from Wexford to Kiltealy. The road off this to Bree was a single track road leading to the small village. The church had a very neat and compact graveyard - and no Fitzhenrys. The new cemetery a few hundred yards down the road was too new to have the grave we were looking for. Andy rolled his eyes in disbelief as he could sense another fruitless search (he's put up with a few of them over the years....). Luckily the people in the village shop knew exactly where we were looking for and sent us off down another single track road... back onto the R730, only a bit further north from where we had turned off it in the first place.

So Ballybrennan graveyard perhaps once had a church - there's certainly a ruined something in the middle of it - but it stands in glorious isolation to one side of the the main road. It doesn't seem like it's had a recent interrment and the only way in seemed to be a set of stone steps leading up to a gap in the wall through the hedge. The graveyard was surrounded by open county and was gloriously full of rabbits - in fact rabbitty burrowings seemed to have been the cause of a lot of gravestone subsidence. Some of the earliest headstones were from the early 18th century and the carvings on them were quite primitive looking with depictions of the crucifixion, the tree of life and the sun.

As there's not space to put all of the photos here in the blog, you can find them here in my Picasa webalbum by clicking on the photo below:
Ballybrennan graveyard.
The light wasn't brilliant for showing the words on grey granite covered in lichen, but I hope they give you a feel of the stones.

The small collection of Fitzhenry graves does merit a picture here on the blog. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see that I've annotated the stones with who they belonged to. As described, Jeremiah's grave was one of the few in the graveyard with railings around it although the rest of his family had no such ornamentation.

Coming up the next couple of postings - the gravestone transcriptions.

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Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The result of the third DNA test in the Fitz(-)henry surname study

It's what you've all been waiting for.

Last year, my Dad was the first Fitz-Henry male (from family group 1)* to be tested in the Fitz(-)henry surname study.
You can't tell anything from a single test though.

So Ann persuaded her husband to take the test. Ann's husband is descended from the legendary Enoch Fitzhenry (Family group 2) who reputedly came to America from Armagh in Ireland sometime in the 1760s, but his past has always been shrouded in mystery.

The results were very disappointing - they were so unlike each other they could have been the results of two random blokes walking in off the street.

And then..... Drum roll... we were very pleased to be approached by a Fitzhenry family in Australia - in fact a branch of Wendy Rutter's family tree descended from Albert Fitzhenry, the fourth child of William Fitzhenry and Louisa Coward (Family group 20)
One of their chaps took the test and we were gobsmacked when it came back as a match on 36 out of 37 markers to Ann's husband. This is as good at it gets for a match when we know there hasn't been a common ancestor since at least the 1750's, and we were all very surprised and very delighted by it.

We know that family group 20 can reliably trace their ancestry back to John Fitzhenry and Elizabeth Atkin of Oulartwick, County Wexford. So it's likely that Enoch's family also originally hailed from that area and gives us another line of enquiry.

So we have family groups 2 and 20 linked genetically, and family group 1 is so far unmatched.
We also know that family groups 2 and 20 were historically Protestants, and family group 1 were Catholic.

So what's next? This is very exciting but until more Fitz(-)henry men join in the DNA study we just have an interesting trio of results. With more results on the database, I'm sure we can join up previously unlinked family groups and show whether there is a distinct Catholic / Protestant genetic grouping.

Anybody who is interested in finding out more about DNA testing for family history research, please drop us a line.

* The family group numbering system is in order that I put them together or they were sent to me. Over time some of the smaller groups have merged as we found a common ancestor. We have 53 family groups from all around the world on the database at present.

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Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A post-script to the Edgar Fitz-Henry story

Here's a photo which Wendy sent me.
The family group shows Wendy's great grandmother Louisa Fitzhenry (nee Coward) and five of her seven children in about 1900.
Standing from left to right:
Louisa Fitzhenry (Wendy's grandmother born 1878),
Edgar Fitzhenry (the youngest child born 1883)
Fanny Fitzhenry ( born 1869, married Frederick William Borrell)
Frederick Fitzhenry (born 1871, married Agnes Henderson)
Ada Fitzhenry.(born 1880)
Not present in the photo are Ernest Edward Fitzhenry, the eldest child born 1867 and Albert Fitzhenry born 1877

And a letter from Edgar Fitzhenry to his family which mentions the Fitz-Henry family which Rodrigo Palacios Fitz-Henry is descended from:
My dear Ada .....I have not written since writing to Fred, as I have been very occupied with the purchase of Senor Figueroa's shares and have had to borrow to make up the amount. Everything is practically settled and I am shipping gold and copper minerals, the first 50 tons goes out this month. This has been hand sorted from the waste piles or dumps thrown away by the ancient miners, the mineral assays 1oz gold per ton, 8ozs silver and 10% copper per ton.Two or three shipments will clear off all the debts and I will then be free to sell or reform the Company without consulting any one. When this is done and we have an honest engineer and manager to look after things Isabel and I have agreed to first visit her family in Peru and then go on to Panama and N.Z.........

I wonder if any of you can remember anything about the youngest of Dad's brothers, Michael, whether Dad ever mentioned where he had settled, because the FitzHenry Family in Valparaiso have a strong resemblance to us. Their father was named Michael and the eldest son who died a few months ago, was also called Michael after the Father. He was manager of the Bank of Chile and the rest of the family are well connected here professionally. When you write to Ern, Albert and Louie please ask them about the above and send them our best wishes for 1934.The year in which, I hope once again, will see us all united if possible.......

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Monday, 19 October 2009

Edgar Fitz-Henry - New Zealand to Chile (Part 2)

So continuing from the previous post, Wendy writes:

The following information is held in the Australian Archives, of which I have requested the contents of a further file
In February 1946 my grandmother Louisa (Edgar’s sister) wrote to the Australian Prime Minister seeking help in finding her brother in Chile.
Obviously the family here in Australia and New Zealand were worried that something had happened to him, probably because his letters had ceased.
It wasn't until 30th July the following year that she was told the following...
Dear Madam,
Furthur to my letter of the 24th September last, regarding your enquiries concerning the whereabouts of your brother, the following is a copy of a memorandum received from the Australian Legation in Chile, on the subject:
"Mr. Edgar Fitz-Henry died at the British and American Hospital, Valparaiso, on 22nd January, 1945, and was buried on the following day at No. 1 Cemetery,Valparaiso. Mr. Fitz-Henry's postal address was Casilla 48, San Francisco de Limache. His widow was recently, and probably still is, residing at a mining property - Minas de la Campana, Los Granizos, via Olmue, Chile.
We are informed that Mr. Fitz-Henry's estate consisted of mines, the chief of which has been proved to contain a large body of gold ore which, with suitable equipment, would be a very valuable property, but unfortunately, he died owing over 2,000,000 resos to his creditors (£A.20,000). The chief creditor is the "Caja Nacional de Ahorras" (National Savings Bank). It is understood that his widow endeavours to raise money by selling material, etc from the mines, but unless some entity is willing to put up the necessary capital to work the mines, their value will never be realised."
I don't know what transpired in the months following the above letter as the next letter from the Prime Minister is dated 2nd November 1948...

Dear Mrs Charles,
I am in receipt of your letter of the 26th October in which you ask whether it would be possible to secure information concerning the widow of Mr. E. Fitz-Henry of Chile. I will make enquiries into the matter and advise you later.

Then 28th January 1949.....
Dear Mrs. Charles,
Further to my letter to you of the 2nd November, the First Secretary at the Santiago Legation has advised me as follows:- "As far as is known to this Legation Mrs. Isabel Fitz-Henry still lives at Olmue, where she is undoubtedly living very cheaply, as she is almost certain to have a small farm attached to the mine property. I expect to be in the district in February when I will endeavour to obtain further information about Mrs. Fitz-Henry."

A few more letters are exchanged, one states that photographs of the mine were sent to Mrs Charles (grandma). But the following one from grandma was most interesting and I wonder if she was sincere in her thoughts for Edgar's widow or that the $ cost in persuing a claim on the estate changed her mind .....
May (5 or 6th) 1949.
Dear Sir,
I am very much obliged for your letter received yesterday with copy of a memorandum received from the Australian Legation in Chile regarding the estate of my late brother in Chile. I am also indebted to the Australian Charge d'Affairs for considering my interests in the matter.
In the limited time before the Legation closes, ie 16th May 1949, I am unable to consult the sole remaining member of our family besides myself, in New Zealand, re protecting our interests in the estate. However I feel that it would be robbing his widow were I to put a claim (though in his letters he always wanted us to share) and asked for the names of all his nephews and nieces so as to include them in his will). She has shared with him all the trials and tribulations, financial worry and frustrations through all the years. I may have a legal right but have I a moral one? I would like to hear what eventuates, but there seems to be no way now except by communicating with the lawyer - Mr. Juan Eduardo Barrie M.
Thanking you,
Yours sincerely,
(Mrs) L. Fitz-Henry Charles.

So, that is the story thus far. Most importantly I now have Edgar's death date and where he is buried - a closure, to his life.

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The biggest news so far this year - the result of our third DNA test

We're buzzing here at Fitz(-)henry Towers - the result of our third Y-DNA test in the Fitz(-)henry surname study has come through.
While we're letting the amazing result sink in, you have 2 more installments of Edgar Fitz-Henry's exploits in Chile.
All will be revealed on Wednesday.

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Sunday, 18 October 2009

Edgar Fitz-Henry - New Zealand to Chile (Part 1)

Wendy Rutter's Fitz-Henry family came to Australia from Oulartwick in Wexford Ireland. Some of them went further East and settled in New Zealand.
We have featured them before on the blog as Wendy has done a lot of research about them.
Now she has found out more about the enigmatic Edgar Fitzhenry who left his homeland and became a mining engineer in South America.

Previously Wendy hadn't found out what befell him there, or whether there was any relationship with the Fitz-Henry family of Rodrigo Palacios Fitz-Henry of Valpariaso, another of our correspondents. This new information (in 2 parts - concluding part tomorrow) starts to fill the gaps

Wendy writes:
One of the interesting points is in his name... He calls himself Edgar Egbert, yet his birth certificate states one name only.

New Zealand Archives
Edgar Egbert Fitz-Henry enlisted in England on 13th May 1918 (his birth certificate does not mention the second name of Egbert) joining the NZ Engineers No. 1 Field Coy and was discharged England 10th April 1919. He nominated his father William Fitz-Henry of 404 Gloucester Street, Christchurch, New Zealand as his next of kin.
Medical History – aged 33 years, 5ft 5in tall, 10st 1 lb weight, fair complexion, blue eyes, fair hair, physical development –good, 3 vaccination marks on left arm, scar from Butura Fever – Peru.
The papers mention Headquarters London, New Zealand Expeditionary Force, NZ Engineers and Christchurch. Hampshire England (not to be confused with his home of Christchurch New Zealand).
There is also another address mentioned - Minerals Separation Ltd, 62 London Wall EC.
He spent 333 days as a WW1 soldier and received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Edgar was a mining engineer living in La Pas, Bolivia, South America when he travelled to London and enlisted and after his discharge he wrote to the authorities seeking compensation for the cost of his travels in getting to London (it was declined).
He said he had graduated from the Butte School of Mines, Montana, USA. However, he of course did not mention that he was in a Kansas Penitentiary during the 1910 US Census.... His papers also mention that he had suffered with "Butura Fever" in Peru. Which is very interesting, as I have one of his letters to his family in NZ saying
I am feeling much better now, this Pacific Ocean breeze is taking all the yellow colour out of my face and purifying my blood so that in a few months I will be entirely well again.

From the UK Incoming Passenger Lists
Edgar Egbert Fitzhenry, miner, aged 36 left Coronel, Chile and arrived 11 Sep 1920 Liverpool, England on “Orcoma”
Ports of Voyage = Valparaiso, Iquique, Antofagasta, Arica, Callao, Crista Bal, La Pallice

We know that Edgar married a woman named Isabella in Chile when he returned there, but what happened to him next?
Part 2 is tomorrow.

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Friday, 16 October 2009

Wexford Bridge 1795

Edward Hay, the Irish Historian and member of the Royal Irish Academy wrote of the old Wexford Brdge:
The remarkable wooden-bridge built in 1795, over the mouth of the Slaney, leading northward from the town, is undoubtedly a very great curiosity, being fifteen hundred and fifty-nine feet long, with a portcullis, and thirty-one feet wide through its whole extent, with a toll-house at each extremity.
On each side are foot-ways, ornamented with chinese railings supported by strong bars. There are also two recesses, with seats for shelter against sudden showers for it is the beau walk of the town, and thus contributes much to the tolls collected to defray the expence of the building
History of the insurrection of the County of Wexford, A. D. 1798:
including an account of transactions preceding that event, with an appendix
Edward Hay
Printed for the author, by J. Stockdale, 62 Abbey Street, Dublin. 1803

You can read the whole book on Google books.

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Thursday, 15 October 2009

Jeremiah Fitzhenry and Boro Hill

Continuing from my last post, here is a precis of the other article from the Journal of the Wexford Historical Society. Entitled "The House that Jack, Bryan or Jeremiah Built" it looked at the history of Boro Hill, the main house of the estate that the Fitzhenry family held from the Carews. Tom McDonald has thoroughly researched the history of the house, and here are the edited highlights of an excellent article.

Jeremiah is described as the "wayward and notorious son" of William ("Billy") Fitzhenry, the tennant of all Ballymackessy and estate agent to the Carews from about 1750 to his death at 83 in 1811.

Until 1745 Ballymackessy was leased to Jack Hogan, who ran into debt and lost the tenancy. From 25th March 1746, the Carews leased Ballymackessy to Bryan Fitzhenry, father of Billy. Bryan was married to Mary King of the wealthy Macmine family. Tom McDonald speculates that he could be the same Bryan Fitzhenry living at Killegney who was given a lease of Clohass by his father John Fitzhenry in 1736.

On 3rd February 1756, Bryan Fitzhenry and Luke Hegarty (of Kilcoletrum, Co. Carlow) made arrangements for the upcoming nuptuals of their children Billy Fitzhenry and Kitty Hegarty (although the actual year of the marriage is not stated). Bryan demised Ballymackessy to Billy and in parallel, Myhill King of Macmine (Billy's uncle) demised to Billy one half of the town and townlands of Courtnacuddy. Kitty brought a dowry of £200 to repay Myhill King for the lands. The significance of this arrangement was that if Billy died, Kitty could not bring a second husband to the estate and that the lands would transfer to any issue of the marriage.

The first son of this marriage Bryan, died in childhood. As well as Jeremiah born in 1772, the Carew estate ledgers suggest there were two other sons Myles and Luke, and possibly a John.

Jeremiah was married sometime just before the Rebellion of 1798 to Mary Catherine Colclough sister of John Colclough of Ballyteigue castle, the executed leader of the United Irish. He leased lands from his father, possibly the equivalent of Boro Hill farm but these were demised back to his father when he went to France after the Rebellion.

Billy also had a daughter Mary, who married William Evans a widower of Ballymacwilliamroe County Carlow in 1812. Billy had made Mary "devisee and sole legatee" of his will, and in anticipation of the marriage he directed that the Fitzhenry coat of arms be amalgamated with the Evans coat of arms and that henceforth that William Evans should be known as William Evans-Fitzhenry.

Billy Fitzhenry died in December 1811, and as we saw from the other journal article about Jeremiah, it was April of that year when he deserted from Napoleon's army. The pressing need to sort out the family estates may have had something to do with his decision. It seems that Jeremiah and Mary were in bitter dispute about the lands and also the money that had come into the Fitzhenry estate from their mother's dowry. In 1816 when Mary and her husband had run up debts after prolonged litigation, they had to remorgage, amongst other estates, Ballmackessy. In 1818, Jeremiah bought out the mortgage and this is when his permanent residence of Boro Hill began up to his death in 1845.

THe full text of this article is due to be available on-line through the Wexford Library service. So far, they have reached volume 17 of the Journal and this is from volume 19. I will add a link when it arrives. It's well worth a read.

The House that Jack, Bryan or Jeremiah Built
Tom McDonald
Journal of the Wexford Historical Society
Number 19 2002-3

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Hot news!

The "Wexford Road Trip" series will be back next week.
The next few posts will be taken up by some new and exciting news that Wendy Rutter has sent us about her ancestor Edgar Fitzhenry's activities in South America.

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Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Jeremiah Fitzhenry- Irish rebel who fought for Napoleon

The first of the articles form the Journal of the Wexford Historical Society which I obtained from Wexford library was about Jeremiah Fitzhenry, one of the leaders of the 1798 rebellion. Here's a summary of his history. When the full text of this article is available on-line via the Wexford library (the digitisation process is happening at the moment) I'll add a link.
I'm indebted to William Sweetman, a member of the Wexford Historical Society who wrote this article as it gives us more information about the Wexford Fitzhenrys. As he said:"During the commemoration of the bicentenary of the 1798 rebellion, no mention was made of Jeremiah Fitzhenry: this article attempts to redress that omission"

Jeremiah Fitzhenry was born in about 1772, the son of William Fitzhenry and grandson of Bryan Fitzhenry of Ballymackessy. The Fitzhenrys were tennants of Lord Carew of Castleboro and Bryan held about 300 acres.
In 1790 the lands were divided and the part held by Jeremiah was named Borohill.
In his mid-twenties, he married Mary Colclough, sister of John Henry Colclough of Ballyteigue, who was executed by the English for his part in the 1798 rebellion.
In the spring of 1798, Jeremiah was made a freeman of Enniscorthy.

Jeremiah's part in the rebellion is unclear. Miles Byrne, (whose autobiography is now digitised on Google books) and who like Jeremiah, went to fight in the Irish Battalion of the French army, wrote

I met Jeremiah Fitzhenry in Paris in 1803. He had taken an active part in the County Wexford insurrection in 1798 being with Bagenal Harvey at the battle of New Ross on the 5th June. After the execution of his wife's brother... he came over to France with his wife and two little girls. He went to live at St. Germain-en -Laye... Fitzhenry's wife was brought to bed of another little girl at St. Germain and he, seeing hostilities were on the point of breaking out between England and France in 1803, hastened to send his wife and three childen back to Ireland.
Mrs Fitzhenry took a house at Ballyteigue and then moved to her in-laws at Ballymackessy in 1804.

By 1807 Jeremiah had joined the Irish battalion fighting for the French (under Napoleon) in Spain. Byrne describes him thus:
No man rode better than he did... He was a very handsome man, six feet high and about thirty six years of age
However Fitzhenry was passed over in promotion, and in April 1811 he deserted from the French army. He was received into the camp of the Duke of Wellington at Salamanca and returned to Ireland, not having seen his family for 8 years. He was granted a Royal pardon both for his participation in the 1798 rebellion and for fighting for the French army.
He returned to Ireland to spend the rest of his days at Borohill with his family. He died on 25 February 1845 and is buried in Ballybrennan graveyard.

The full text of the article is from:
Jeremiah Fitzhenry - a chief who knew how to command
William Sweetman
Journal of the Wexford Historical Society:17 (1998-99), 144-158. ISSN 0790-1828.

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Updating the Google map links from the last post.

Apologies to all those who got a "Error 440" message from the Google map links in the last post. Some glitch in the code didn't translate.
It's now sorted.

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Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Wexford Road Trip - the Wexford Library

I had phoned the Wexford library before I started my holiday, to make sure that they would be open and also that I would be allowed to use their facilities. As I have come to expect from librarians and archivists, they couldn't have been more helpful. I had expected the library to be a large modern building befitting the county town of Wexford, but in fact it was a (very) small and homely single storey building tucked away in the middle of Wexford city itself. Significant Other was dispatched off to amuse himself in Wexford for an hour and I settled down to find Fitzhenrys. One end of the reading room was taken up by a crowd of elderly ladies having either book club meeting or a parish council meeting (tea and biscuits provided). I found myself a small desk next to the microfilm readers and chatted with a late middle aged man from London who was trying to find the family of his illegitimate grandfather who had been adopted out as a baby.

I had gone to get copies of two articles about Jeremiah Fitzhenry, one of the leaders of the Irish uprising of 1798, published in the Journal of the Wexford Historical Society. By chance, in the local studies section, I also found a book* written and published by the people of Templeudigan or Templeludigan about their village. Here's where it is on the map.

One of the chapters about the priests of Templeudigan had two Fitzhenry mentions
Rev. James Fitzhenry was a native of Monamolin. Born in 1846 he was son of Michael Fitzhenry and his wife Mary (nee Meyler, Adamstown). Ordained to the priesthood, he ministered to the Cape Colony South Africa and died in Grahamstown on 30 April 1919. In August 1888 he donated the 14th station of the Cross to the new Catholic church at Templeudigan in memory of his parents.
Rev. Walter Fitzhenry was a nephew of the above Fr. James Fitzhenry. He was born on 22 December 1904 in South Africa, the son of Edward Fitzhenry and his South African born wife Mary J Coughlan. The family returned home to Monamolin. He was ordained to the priesthood in Rome in 1928 and was a member of the Order of St Augustine. He died at St john's Priory Dublin on 5 February 1961.
I hope I can get permission from the book's authors to put the pictures of these two priests on this website as Father James is just the spitting image of my Dad as a young man - there must be some shared genes in there!

*Templeudigan - Yesterday and Today
Templeudigan Historical Society
ed. Seamus S. de Val

Dec 2001

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Monday, 12 October 2009

Wexford Road Trip - The Bridge

After the disappointment of finding a modern Wexford Bridge on our first night in the city, I started my quest for the old one at the tourist information office the next morning. When I asked about the old bridge, the woman behind the counter seemed pleasantly bemused, but directed me about half a mile upriver "next to the yacht club" but warned me that all that was left of it now were the ends each side of the river.
We took a stroll along the quay next to the fishing boats now pulled up for the day, and passed the shops, the Bullring Square with its statue of the Pikeman to commemorate the 1798 rebellion, we passed the railway station... and seemed to be heading out of town.
There was no sign to the old bridge, but a right turn off the main road took us to the yacht club ... and there we were. The south-eastern end of the bridge was an extension of the yacht club car park. No plaque or memorial. I took a few pictures and wondered why the bridge, the site of so many executions on both sides, seemed to have been forgotten... and why it was so far out of the town centre.

The question was answered when I later took a proper look at the new bridge and its commemorative plaques.

The 1790s bridge which I had been looking for stood on the same site as the modern bridge. The ruined bridge I had found earlier was an 1850s replacement - it had played no part in the rebellion hence no-one had marked its demolition.
The other plaque marked the most notable persons to have been executed on the bridge. Amongst the names
on the Loyalist side was Samuel Atkin from Wendy Rutter's Fitzhenry-Atkin family of Oulartwick. Amongst the names of the United Irishmen was Dr John Colclough, the brother in law of Jeremiah Fitzhenry, one of the leaders of the Rebel forces.

Here are the transcriptions of both plaques:


1795 Timber bridge constructed on this site by Lemuel Cox of Boston
1827 Bridge repaired and strengthened after storm damage

1856 Replaced by a new bridge constructed 3/4 mile upstream by Pierce Brothers

1959 Prestressed concrete bridge constructed by Ascon Limited

1997 Replaced in 10 weeks with steel structure

Main contractor Ascon Limited

Consulting Engineers: John B Barry & Partners Limited

During and after the insurrection of 1798
Wexford Bridge was the site of many executions

Some ninety Loyalist prisoners

were put to death, among whom were
Edward Turner, Magistrate; David Dalton,
Thomas Ganford, Samuel Atkin,

Francis Plumer, William Baubier,

Benjamin Sunderland, George Sparrow,
John Smyth and Kenneth Mathewson.

Amonst the sixty-five United Irishmen

executed were the leaders Beauchamp

Bagnal Harvey, Dr John Colclough,

John Kelly, Cornelius Grogan, Patrick

Prendergast, Fr. Philip Roche, John

Herron, Edward Frayne, Esmond Ryan

and Matthew Keugh

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Sunday, 11 October 2009

The Wexford Road Trip - Wexford City

When me and my better half Andy went to Ireland last month, he thought he was getting a relaxing few days of sight-seeing, good food and whale-watching. I also managed to sneak in a few bits of Fitzhenry family history research which makes up the "Wexford Road Trip" series.

After arriving by ferry from Wales we spent the first night in Wexford City itself. Here's its page on Wikipedia. The old part of the town is very compact and on the south east side of the estuary of the River Slaney. There are a lot of the old buildings (and by old we're talking mediaeval and some old Norse battlements too) all mixed up with the new.
Wexford was the centre of the 1798 Irish uprising against English rule which I touched on briefly in a previous post. I hoped to see some monuments which may have given me some more information about Fitzhenry involvement in the uprising. I knew from previous research that there had been executions on the Wexford bridge of both the Loyalists taken prisoner by the Irish rebels, and the rebels themselves once the English recaptured the town.
So imagine my disappointment that first evening when we walked down the road next to the river and there was a very modern steel and concrete structure going over the river.
Looking at it I confidently said to Andy "They could never have built a bridge with that span back in the 1700s. There must be an older Wexford bridge further up the river at a narrower point. There will be some monument there to the uprising."
Tomorrow's installment is about how we found the bridge. In the meantime, here's a photo of the Wexford skyline taken from the modern bridge on our first night.

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