We are still in a state of amazed wonderment over today's adventures. What we had can only be called a magical Irish day. We traveled to Linsmore to see where Rick's great grandmother was born. Linsmore isn't that large and has a small population and we found ourselves wondering if we might be able to find an actual connection. As we drove around the village we stopped a lovely woman walking her dog and asked if she had any ideas for us, perhaps the parish offices might be located in Linsmore. She thought a moment and suggested that we speak with Pat Ryan, the Funeral Director for the area. She felt sure he might be able to help us. She explained in great detail how we turn right then left and drive down the street and find the prettiest house on the block. Off we went.
As we knocked on the door it was apparent that no one was in (it was extraordinarily easy to find the building). While we were knocking another lady stopped to see if she could help. We asked for Pat Ryan and explained what we were trying to do. "We are hoping to find a connection to any families known as Heafy," informed my husband. "Oh I would certainly think so! There are many Heafys in the area!" Our lovely lady turned out to be Margaret O'Brien, born and raised in Lismore, who insisted that she take us to Pat Ryan's home. We convinced her to join us in our car and off we went.
Pat Ryan, himself, was home and after asking Margaret how she was doing said he could shed no light. "We only have records for the last 30 years or so." After musing for a bit with Margaret they both came up with the idea that we should go see Father Mike at the local Catholic Church but that first we should stop by and see John Sullivan as his very mother was a Heafy wasn't she.
So off we went to see if John Sullivan might be home. "He is such a lovely man, newly retired," noted Margaret, "but he is known to take a walk, so he may not be home." But home he was. John mused and expressed his doubt. "The family goes way back, it is doubtful that there is any connection. Besides, my mother's family isn't specifically from Lismore but more from Ballyheefy." Rick started- "But that is where many members of my family are from!" I was looking carefully to see if I could see any family resemblance. John agreed with Pat Ryan and said - "Go see Father Mike."
Off we went with Margaret to St. Carthage's Church to visit with Father Mike. Margaret insisting every step of the way that this was her pleasure and that we were not taking away from her day. We timed our visit with Father Mike with the end of Mass. Our hopes were pretty high at that point, we were hoping there might be Church or Funeral records.
Father Mike cut us off very quickly. "I am so sorry not to be able to help you. I do not assist with genealogical searches, I just don't have the time and you'd be surprised how many requests I receive. I am sorry but I don't even have time to visit with you today as I have many pressing matters." Of course we understood and appreciated the leads he gave us to explore our search further. He then proceeded to spend about 45 minutes with us showing us the Church and all the improvements that had been done. I was so struck by one thing that Father Mike stated, "Rigidity in religion doesn't work. It flows between faith and doubt and that is only natural. If you try to force faith you simply lose the connection in the relationship." Go Father Mike!
Margaret then insisted that we join her back at her lovely home for a cup of coffee. We then spent another hour with Margaret in her tiny kitchen. At one point she answered the phone where she learned that her friend Seanie was leaving town. She was very distressed as he was going to a place that was so dangerous and that he had to be sure that he came home as everyone needed him so much. I was thinking that her friend might be going to Afghanistan and was alarmed for her as well.. and then.. I heard her say - "But that place- Man-hattan can be so dangerous." Needless-to-say, we did our best to assure her that her 26 year old lawyer friend would do just fine in Manhattan - and yes, I, of course, promised that one of my Manhattan cousins would be welcoming him to New York.
We thought to have been in Lismore for perhaps two hours.. well - it was more like four hours with our new friends. It was special indeed, to think that we were walking the very streets that Rick's relatives walked as early as the mid-1700s. It was just a magical day, to be welcomed in, sharing thoughts and ideas and realizing that through spirit or blood we are all truly connected through the heart.
Tracy Salkowitz is a Consultant,activist and the former CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona.