My husband and I took a trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland last year. We enjoyed lots of beautiful scenes of rolling green hills dotted with sheep, weather changing hourly, and dramatic coastal views. In between all these delights, we made our way though out-of-the-way villages and towns and to cemeteries and houses that are connected to our ancestors. After spending a couple days at the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, our first genealogy-related-stop was Randalstown, County Antrim, a small market and post town interwoven with my ancestor’s family.
My ancestor, John Adams (ca. 1842-1807), had at least three brothers — William, James, and Thomas. William and Thomas lived in the town of Randalstown, County Antrim, Ireland, and John and James lived about 24 miles north, working farms and weaving linen. William owned a shop and Thomas was a physician.
John’s eldest daughter, Mary, married James Bones, who grew up near Randalstown. James was a farmer and a linen bleacher. It’s possible that James and Mary met in Randalstown.
When we arrived in Randalstown, the only thing I was sure of was visiting the church where Thomas Adams and several of his children and one grandchild were buried. I wanted to walk the town, but wanted a better understanding of what buildings existed when my ancestors lived and worked there. I kept getting the feeling that we should try the library.
After breakfast, we walked around the corner to the library, housed in the old market house. Explaining to the librarian what we were looking for, he presented us with several black archival boxes of local history. They were not organized but we found lots of gems, including a building survey with dates.
Armed with this information, we took a walking tour of Main Street in the drizzling rain, finding several buildings that stood when my ancestors were there. One of these early building was completed in 1750 as the O’Neill Arms Hotel and Posting House. It served as a coach stop for hunters and fishers visiting Randalstown. Over the years, it was used as a home, a police station, and today it holds several businesses. The original use of other buildings in the survey can only be imagined. Perhaps my ancestors lived or worked in one of these buildings. Our visit to the library helped me connect to the town and my ancestors.
This post is part of my Ireland Genealogy Trip series.