Friday, 24 December 2010

The Prendergast - Fitzhenry letters (3)

The third of these letters is probably the most interesting as far as establishing family relationships goes. This is the letter from Kate Prendergast's husband Edward to her cousin Edward Fitzhenry in South Africa. Again this is a long letter, written in December 1893.

Edward Prendergast (E.P.)started his letter with fulsome apologies for not having replied to Edward Fitzhenry's
(E.F.H.) letter sent in July until now - however he does blame Kate for losing it in the meantime!

EFH was not married at this time, and EP is urging him to do so and stay in farming in South Africa, rather than selling up and coming home to Ireland to farm there. Livestock prices in Ireland were very low and the summer had been bad for crops.

EFH's father (Michael Fitzhenry 1811-1904) had
"come into a good windfall by E Ryan's death, some £300. The other claimants were a shade outside of next of kin or it would not be worth much but they got nothing, your father all."
There was a collection of Ryans on one of the Fitzhenry gravestones at St Mullins. The E Ryan mentioned was probably "Edward Ryan died 1891 aged 92 years". As yet I don't know what relation Michael Fitzhenry and Edward Ryan were to each other.

Kate's brother Patrick O'Gorman, was working as a surgeon in England "at the largest gasworks in the world."
EP continues:
Your people are going on first class. I tell Wat it is with mud he makes Monomolin road and that if the springs of my car get smashed as I go that way to Ballybawn I would pull him up for it.
Old Ned Ryan used to say “Pat and Martin are decent honest fellows but mind yourself of Wat. Wat is an arrant rogue”
This refers to the three Fitzhenry brothers still remaining on the home farm at Monamolin - Patrick, Martin and Walter. All three are commemorated on the newer gravestone at St Mullins along with their sister Margaret. All four of them were still unmarried in the 1911 census when they were still all living and farming together. As a prophecy, Edward Prendergast writes:
I wonder some of your brothers about get married or at least get your sister married. I suppose as Mick McQuaid says “they are not a marrying family”.
Eventually it would only be the recipient of this letter, Edward Fitzhenry, who would be married out of the six siblings.

In the next post, I'll continue with what happened to Edward Fitzhenry in South Africa.

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