Monday, 18 August 2014

New Ross

Monday 19th May.
Departed Dublin around midday, with a certain degree of anxiety about navigating my way out of Dublin onto the Naas Road.  A few wrong turns and back-tracking a couple of times, and I was away! I had wanted to do the 1916 Rising Walking Tour in Dublin at 11.30, but I was the only person who turned up for it, so it didn't go ahead, unfortunately.

I took a leisurely drive down to New Ross in county Wexford, arriving late afternoon, and looking forward to exploring the town the following day.
Today was our wedding anniversary, and I confess to feeling a little lonesome as I drove, for the first time wishing I wasn't travelling on my own.  Eating a solitary dinner washed down with a half-bottle of an Australian white didn't help ease the homesickness either! 

My interest in New Ross relates to the Elly family, Quaker merchants and ship-owners, whose life in New Ross began with my 5x great grandfather, John Elly (c1651-1733).  John Elly was born in probably Yorkshire, England.  He came to Ireland with his mother after his father fell in the battle of Worcester.  A second marriage in 1691 to Deborah Sandham founded several generations of Samuel, Sandham and Sarah Elly's.  I am still trying to sort out how many of each there were, and how they all connect.  But John's grand-daughter Sarah Elly (1761-1805) became my 3x great grandmother when her marriage to Henry Osburne M.D. of Cork, produced Henrietta, one of 7 children born to the couple.

Waterfront at New Ross

Tuesday 20th May
Awoke to a fine morning after sleeping in the most comfortable bed of the trip so far.  Big, old-fashioned furnishings and a soft bed and bedding at Innishross House - very cosy!

Innishross House, New Ross

First stop after breakfast was the Dunbrody Famine Ship & Museum.  The Dunbrody is a replica of a ship built in Canada for William Graves of New Ross in 1845.  William Graves was married to Sarah Elly, the niece of "my" Sarah Elly who married Henry Osburne.  William was formerly a business partner of Sandham Elly, my Sarah's brother.  Sandham and his brother Samuel were also ship-owners.  They and the Graves imported timber from Canada, and offered passage to emigrants on the return voyage. 

The Dunbrody is a working replica - that is, she is capable of sailing, and did sail when she was first built.  But as our tour guide pointed out, she can make a lot more money bolted to the dock, so doesn't sail anymore.  The tour and exhibition were really well done, they do a good job of portraying conditions as they would have been.

Dunbrody Famine Ship at New Ross

From there, just across the road to the Ros Tapestry Exhibition.  Wow, what an amazing project!  Fifteen large panels measuring 6x4 feet, worked in crewel embroidery with woollen thread, depicting the Norman history and founding of New Ross.  The project began back in 1998 and the last three panels are still being worked, but there were full-size colour sketches of those panels on display.  I was told the local church commissioned a tapestry to cover a damp patch on the church wall, and the project grew from there.  Unfortunately, not able to take photos of the exhibition, but check the link above.

Then came the highlight of the day.  I downloaded to my phone a map showing a historic walking trail around the town, and set off to walk it.
After viewing places such as the Tholsell, the Priory, remanants of the old city walls & gates along the way, I must have taken a wrong turning, because I found myself lost.  So while trying to get my bearings with the map, I suddenly found myself looking
at an iron gate set in a stone wall surrounding an overgrown plot of land.  As I looked at it, I suddenly recognised it from a picture I had seen on-line.  It was the old New Ross Quaker burial ground, where 24 members of the Elly family are buried between 1733 and 1845.  There is nothing marking it as such, and no sign of any markers in the long grass.

Quaker Burial Ground, New Ross
Walking back, I found the site where 'Elly Walks', the Elly family home, was located.  It is in an area known as Marshmeadows, which is now an industrial area.  The site is occupied by a transport company, and it looks like nothing remains.

In the afternoon the weather turned, and it began raining quite heavily.  I drove down to Hook Head Lighthouse at the entrance to Waterford Harbour.  The lighthouse was constructed 800 years ago, and has walls 12 foot thick at its base.  The tour through the lighthouse was very interesting.  Unlike other lights, this one was actually lived in by the light-keeper.
Hook Head Lighthouse

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