In preparation for our trip to Ireland, we used this tool from BYU’s Family History Lab to identify ancestors that possibly came from Ireland*. It brought several lines up that I hadn’t explored yet.
One of the lines identified was the Bryan family. FamilySearch identified Joan Fitzgerald, Countess of Ormond, as my 12th great-grandmother. As I researched her and my known ancestors, I found the connection to be iffy at best. But I found Joan fascinating and continued learning what I could about her.
One thing that I found was that she was buried at the Friary of Askeaton. Since it was near our planned route, I added it as a possibility. I’m so glad we decided to stop.
The friary is reached by walking down a lane and stepping over a low stone wall. As we entered the friary, we came to the cloisters, and it took my breath away. The cloisters were perfectly intact. The halls around the cloisters were colored green with lichen and a few old headstones were propped up against the walls. Looking into the center of the cloisters, the upper level and roof were missing.
Taking the hallway around, we found ourselves in the main part of the church. The roof was no longer there and some of the walls had crumbled. Lots of headstones were found throughout the church, most of them old, some of them carved in the shape of the person buried below. In the yard to the back, large sections of the church were congregated, giving the feeling of being on an another planet.
This post is part of my Ireland Genealogy Trip series.
*The biggest thing to remember when using this tool, which uses the tree on FamilySearch, is to double check the family connections, since the tree might not be completely accurate.