The Rock at Midleton

My Pritchard ancestors lived in Midleton (sometimes Middleton) Parish in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. They were most likely of English descent, but it’s not known when they first came to Ireland. They seem to be well established in Midleton, neighboring Rathcoursey, and Cork City before 1691. Records list members of the family as farmers, sadlers, and gentlemen, indicating some property and wealth. A few generations later, some were expert ship makers, building some of the finest ships in Cork Harbor and later Charleston, South Carolina.

The earliest entry in the parish records is for the death and burial of Will Pritchet (an early spelling of Pritchard) in 1703. Will and his wife Ruth had at least five children, including Peregrine, my 8th great-grandfather. Peregrine is listed as a church warden in 1711-1712 and signs the minutes in the vestry book through 1743, when it’s said his signature was “that of a feeble old man.” Peregrine married Alice Wright in a neighboring parish, but the births of their seven children, and subsequently many grandchildren, were recorded in Midleton Parish.

We only had a few minutes in Midleton when we passed through last year, much of our day being spent at St. Colman’s Cathedral and Sleeven House. The only place I knew that might be connected to my family was The Rock. I’m not sure the history or significance of The Rock to the local community, but it’s said that Peregrine Pritchard’s grandsons sailed to America on a ship called The Rock. While I can’t verify that information, I still wanted to see it.

Before the trip, I had found the spot on Google Street View so we knew right where to go. In the town of Midleton, The Rock is on the Youghal Road where St. Mary’s Street branches off. It is visible from the street and has a garden wall built over the top of it. Much more of The Rock spills into the yard behind the wall. (Pictures of the yard can be seen in this listing.) Houses near the intersection on both streets are sometimes addressed with a house number and The Rock as the street name.

Seeing The Rock made a small part of the story of my ancestors come to life. Finding a local landmark or natural structure related to your family’s story can help connect you to the place your ancestor lived, even if the connection is only through family legend. Those legends are part of your family history, too.

This post is part of my Ireland Genealogy Trip series.

Houmes, T., & Houmes, G. A. (1986). Bubbling spring: The Edward Kriegsmann Pritchard family history: A direct line study. Charleston, SC: Professional Research Pub.

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