Yee-hah! I’m off to Colorado to meet my newly-found cousin

A sixth cousin has connected John Arnold's DNA to a relative in America's cowboy country - now he may pay them a visit
Yee-hah! I’m off to Colorado to meet my newly-found cousin

HOME ON THE RANCH: John Arnold has found a family connection to the cowboy state of Colorado in the USA

WE have one of them external hard drive yokes for the computer.

Now, I’m not very well up on technology but can manage the computer fairly well. The whole concept of how ‘memory’ is stored, well, let’s say some things are mysterious and some mysteries are just beyond me.

It’s few years back since I saw a little ‘window’ below in the bottom left hand corner telling me the mailbox (presumably on the computer as we don’t have one in the house) was 99% full.

Not being familiar with such terms, a simplistic explanation was offered to me; ‘technological constipation’ -too much inside and no more room to add anything.

Well, twas then we got the External Hard Drive (EHD), I presumed, being External, it would be bolted onto the gable end of the house or near the back door. Having grown up in the last century, my grasp of such concepts has never materialised.

The EHD was installed and I was stunned to see it’s no more than a small black box which, unlike myself and most humans, seems to have virtually unlimited capacity. So the stuff on the computer is transferred as if by magic to the black box and there it remains and can be recovered apparently at the press of a button!

Sounds too good to be true, but there you have it. I’m a bit like Doubting Thomas and wonder still ‘how one small box can carry all it knows’! What if there’s a global crash? What if there’s an information black-out caused by an asteroid colliding with a paranormal digital freakish electrical gravity loop? Or a worldwide memory virus?

I know, you might say, if we considered all those possible computer glitches and doomsday scenarios, no one would ever put a finger on a keyboard, never mind trust an app or an android.

I’m old fashioned and not ashamed or embarrassed by that condition. For that reason, I still place my trust for collecting and storing information with the tried and trusted pen and paper. Maybe stories and yarns and snippets of trivia look better when written down.

A sixth cousin of mine was on to me during the week after someone in America did the DNA test and was coming up as her relation, but they couldn’t find the ‘missing link’. They were looking for a marriage in the 1850s of a man from hereabouts and a woman from Ballyhooley. I knew some time above in Dublin in the 1980s, Billy Barry, another cousin, had told me of such a marital union. The words of Kris Kristofferson’ Sunday Morning Coming Down came into my head.

And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin’

And it echoed through the canyons

Like a disappearin’ dreams of yesterday

So I took out my old, big, bulky files from nearly 40 years ago and, sure enough, I found what I thought was there - which means I’ll probably be heading to Montana and Colorado next year to meet my ‘new’ old cousin!

So, as I leafed through the pages of not one, but five, ring-bound ledgers, nostalgia swept over me as I recalled the times I’d ‘picked up’ so many lovely stories.

Patsy Daly, of Ballincrokig near Whites Cross, was born around 1848 - it’s thought the family were evicted at one stage from land near Carrigtwohill in East Cork. By all accounts, they were great men for the faction fighting, so popular back then.

Anyway, in this month of December in the year of 1928, 94 years ago, Patsy was failing and he died two days after St Stephen’s Day, December 28. The family burying place was in the hilltop cemetery of Gortroe between Rathcormac and Bartlemy. So on a freezing, snowy Sunday, December 30, the horse-drawn hearse bearing Patsy’s coffin made its way on treacherous roads down through Watergrasshill and on to Gortroe. A journey that would normally take an hour and a half took nearly double that.

The presiding clergyman, a PP and Canon no less, had come on to the cemetery on horseback, where he waited and waited and froze and froze until the sad procession eventually arrived - ’twas nearly dark.

After a quick burial and faster prayers the widow, Mrs Daly, asked “What do I owe you?” and the clergyman snapped “Two pounds or nothing!”

Another woman I heard of was a great person to attend every single funeral of neighbours and friends. Afterwards, she’d always ‘class’ it a great funeral or a very bad funeral, depending on the chat, the people she’d meet and the hospitality of the bereaved family.

One fierce hot, baking warm summer’s day, she was at a funeral of a neighbour. They used to keep to themselves a lot, not great for socialising. There was no chat or talk after the burial, people didn’t stay around for long - no tea or refreshments of any kind.

“Do you know what” she said that evening “it was the coldest funeral I was ever at!”

It takes all kinds to be farmers, and one time a ‘new’ farmer and owner came to Ballyglissane House, not far from here. He tried different farming enterprises including fattening pigs -he was only middling successful as he had no previous experience.

Well, he took a creel of pigs to the Fair in Midleton one day. Naturally, with all the hurly burly, the pigs were screeching a bit as they would. Didn’t someone come along and say to the ‘farmer’: “God help us, them poor pigs are starvin’.”

Well, on hearing that he went in to a shop and bought two packets of Marietta biscuits which he fed to the pigs! I never heard if he got a better price for them!

Many years ag,o the late Willie Walsh, master carpenter and tradesman from the parish of Lisgoold, was telling me about life and times near Templeboden - Willie’s widow Eily was buried in the cemetery there two weeks ago - may she rest in peace.

Anyway, Willie said there were three Casey brothers there one time, two were blacksmiths and the third was a nailer - he made nails and was top class at the job.

When a ‘vacancy’ occurred in the forge at Templeboden, one of the two Murnane brothers from Midleton came to work there. “He was fierce fond of the drink, shure once he’d get the price of a set of shoes he’d be of to Smart’s pub.”

About 15 years ago, I was at a wake in Watergrasshill and as the hours went on, stories were told of days gone by. One man said he heard his father saying that long ago in the townland of Monananig (in the parish of Bartlemy), explosions would regularly be heard on a certain farm in the month of July -caused by the huge heads of cabbage on that farm exploding as they swelled!

Mangolds (a bit like turnips) were regularly grown and on that same farm they’d be so big that just two would fill the butt pulled by a horse!

Today we hear of poverty, it’s still all around us, but long ago, when there were absolutely no social welfare benefits of any kind, no subsidies or grants, it must have been just terrible.

There was a family in this parish, 14 children, working a small farm. The father was over-fond of the drink and died young.

At this time of year - if the pigeons would allow - they used collect berried holly on their farm and take it by horse and butt to the Coal Quay in Cork. If they made a few shillings Christmas would be better, otherwise the generosity of neighbours was all that kept hunger from the door.

I suppose, for many, these old stories are relics of a long time ago, but I still think they should be written down and kept.

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