Very eventful day today. Firstly I’ve discovered a descendant of Alf Beatty (or rather she discovered me) who has more photos that are sure to help us identify the whole James Beatty family. More next week.
This morning I talked to Mrs. Mac Hale the expert on local Enniscrone history, and through her the authors of two of the most useful books about Kinard and Enniscrone, her son Conor Mac Hale and John McTernan. I came to Ireland to find the books – let alone talk to the authors! I feel very privileged and have some new leads to follow up
Since I now know that our James Paget is the son of James Paget of Knockglass, Crossmolina, I drove over there this afternoon and got soaked scrambling around the churchyard of St. Mary’s looking for the Paget graves.
The old part of the churchyard is an overgrown, slippery mass of roots, stinging nettles and broken and indecipherable headstones. Two of the Paget headstones had collapsed on their faces, and despite being fit from weightlifting “tombstones” at the registry of Deeds I couldn’t shift these. The standing ones are descendants of James’s cousin Thomas Paget.
Determined to find Knockglass House where James Paget junior was born in about 1803 I drove up and down several narrow muddy lanes until a kind farmer told me to keep driving past a ruined gatehouse for about a mile through a dense, ragged forest labelled “Game reserve”, pretty much the first actual forest I’ve seen in Ireland apart from some pine plantations. It seemed a most unlikely drive for a substantial home, and after about three quarters of a mile there was a very new and businesslike locked gate.
Refusing to give up having come so far and there being no “No trespassing” sign, I left the car and climbed over the gate in the rain, and continued up the muddy track through the forest on foot, wondering if such an isolated house might belong to a weird cult or drug barons or someone else unsympathetic to my desire for a photo of the ancestral home and hoping it wasn’t guarded by savage dogs. The ivy-draped trees made sinister groaning noises and I jumped out of my skin when a pheasant (or something) suddenly clattered across the track. Around a last corner into the open and to my relief the house was empty and deserted so figured nobody would mind if I photographed it
I later learned that it is for sale.
I drove back through Ballina where the main streets probably haven’t changed all that much since the Beatty family lived there, the River Moy practically running a banker through the middle of the town. Too tired to take more photos, camera, car and shoes all very wet and muddy, I went home to Enniscrone to dry out. It gets dark by 4.30 here anyway. Back to Dublin tomorrow.