County Cork

My Pritchard and Wright lines have a history in County Cork that may have started in the late 17th century. Several of my ancestors appear to have benefited from Williamite Wars, obtaining land confiscated from Irish landowners that was sold or given to mostly English Protestants. The Pritchards and Wrights thrived as farmers and tradesmen, often listed as gentlemen in official documents.

On our trip we visited three spots related to these families.

Haulbowline Island

On the southern coast of Ireland, in County Cork, is Cork Harbor. Almost completely surrounded by land, the harbor’s deep waters made it an ideal place for ship building and royal navies.

Within the harbor, just across from the town of Cobh (pronounced Cove), is Haulbowline Island. My ancestor’s brother was “of Haulbowline Island” and was a ship builder. The trade seems to be passed on through the family, as two generations later, my ancestor, Paul Pritchard, was building ships there.

Since the island is mostly occupied by the Irish Navy, we decided that viewing it from Cobh would be the best option. After touring the city, we drove to a public area on the west side of the harbor. This seemed to be the closest spot to the island. The shoreline was covered in smooth rocks, seashells, and sea glass. We stayed a few minutes to consider the ancestors that lived and worked there and skip a few stones.

Sleeven House

The following day after spending time in Clyone, we drove 3 miles east to Sleeven House. It was the home of Stephen Wright, my 9th great-grandfather.

I had prearranged the visit by sending a letter to the house a few months before the trip. I received a kind email from the daughter of the owner of the house, welcoming me to come visit. A few days before the visit, the family was called out of town, but arranged for one of their employees to meet us there and answer any questions.

We parked in the driveway, surrounded on three sides by old, whitewashed buildings. The building in the middle was the main one-story house with a modern two-story edition facing the road. The other two buildings were stables and storage. On the other side of the driveway was a whitewashed wall. We wandered around the outside of the house and peeked in a few windows of the older part of the house, noticing the thick window wells that reminded us of the Carmichael house in County Derry.

Ballymaloe House

Lastly, we went to Ballymaloe House, the home of my 10th great uncle. The house is now used as a hotel, restaurant, and events venue. A related cooking school is located a few kilometers from the main house.

The stone house was covered in wisteria vines and was one of the grandest man-made things we saw during the trip. There were people on the front lawn pushing prams, playing lawn games, and enjoying hors d’oeuvres, dressed in pretty dresses and suit coats. We felt a little out of place in our jeans and hiking boots.

At the front desk, I asked if it was OK to look around. We wandered through elegant rooms with high ceilings and roaring fires. Later we realized that some of the potato crisps we had enjoyed during the trip were made with relish made by the owners of the house.

This post is part of my Ireland Genealogy Trip series.

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