A Strange Coincidence, or Was It?

I’ve been working on my family tree “Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches” for about 3 years now.  Like many, I started collecting information and photos several years prior.  I had spent time in the Knock Road Cemetery in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim in 1997; taking photos of headstones and being amazed at the number of my ancestors who are interred there.  The reality is, if there is a Murdoch who is buried in the Knock Road Cemetery that I don’t know; it just means I haven’t found the connection yet!

Knock Road Cemetery Murdoch/Murdock Graves

Knock Road Cemetery
Murdoch/Murdock Graves

In July of 2012, shortly before my visit “back home;” I decided to rename my tree on Ancestry.  It had the generic name of the Murdoch/ Wilson/ Berry/ Love Family Tree.  Original, I know!  As I follow all of my family lines, not just my direct ancestors; I’ve discovered first cousins who married first cousins and their children married their first cousins.  This seemed to be a common practice in the very early 1800’s.  I’ve often joked that the gene pool had gotten rather shallow; and maybe I should be grateful that no “webbed feet” had turned up yet!  So, I thought “Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches” was a fitting name.

Fast forward two weeks later; we were heading to Londonderry to visit with “living family” and of course, to visit the Derry City Cemetery.

Londonderry The Walled City

The Walled City

The Derry City Cemetery is old, however not as old as some you will find in Ireland; where graves date back to the 1400’s.  The first reported burial in the cemetery was of a 10 month old child by the name of Robert McClelland.  Robert resided on Orchard Street and died on December 10, 1853.  A Visitor’s Guide of the Cemetery, including a brief history; can be downloaded here:  http://tinyurl.com/mpwh8mu .

The Derry City Cemetery 159 Lone Moor Road, Londonderry

The Derry City Cemetery
159 Lone Moor Road, Londonderry

With map in hand; my “baby aunt” and I were on our way to the cemetery to photograph family headstones.  Upon our arrival I was immediately in awe of the number, size and diversity of headstones.  I was also really “drawn” to the trees scattered throughout the cemetery, to one tree in particular; my “baby aunt” thought I was just a little crazy!  To her, they just looked “dead”!

The Derry City Cemetery 159 Lone Moor Road, Londonderry

The Derry City Cemetery
159 Lone Moor Road, Londonderry

After a few hours and great success one grave remained elusive; Grave No. FC25.  We continually returned to the same area, where the grave obviously should have been; but there was no headstone or marker at the site.  We checked with the Cemetery staff who indicated we were in the right location.  We left and returned with our husbands; handed them the map with a “please go find this particular grave”.  They ended up exactly where we had…

The tree with “Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches”! Grave No. FC25

The tree with “Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches”!
Grave No. FC25

There is no headstone on the grave, it must have eroded or was vandalized.  However, the grave does have a VERY significant marker… the plot is to the left of the tree that I had been drawn to when initially entering the cemetery.  The tree with “Twisted Limbs & Crooked Branches”!

A strange coincidence; or was it?

Copyright (c) (2014) (https://colleenjmurdoch.worpress.com). All Rights Reserved.


About CJ Murdoch

Looking For "Dead People"! My Journey Back In Time - Tracing my ancestors and researching the counties, cities and towns where they resided. Taking a “Glimpse” into their lives and stories and the times in which they lived; all in an effort to learn about their “Dash”! “I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of his friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning – to the end. He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the second with tears, but he said that what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.” I have always been interested in researching my family tree and “hanging out” in cemeteries. Like most of us... I didn't ask enough questions when elderly family were still living. Oh, what I would give for 24 hours and a camera with my ancestors… just to sit and listen! I'm researching many family lines, including: Murdoch, Wilson, Berry, Love, Scott, Beattie/Beatty, Hendren, Sweeney, Robinson and Elvin; just to name a few. My families are predominantly from counties Antrim, Donegal and Londonderry. However, it seems that many of them, both maternal and paternal lines, originally hailed from Co. Donegal. I was born and raised in Northern Ireland and now live in Ottawa, Canada, making frequent trips back home to visit with my family. Of course those visits also include treks to the many burial grounds of my ancestors. My most recent trip back home was during the summer of 2019! Looking forward to August of 2020 when I will return. If you are interested in help tracing your ancestors I’d love to hear from you!
This entry was posted in Co. Antrim, Co. Londonderry, Family History, Geneaology, Ireland and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to A Strange Coincidence, or Was It?

  1. heneker52 says:

    What a beautiful place for a cemetery and such an amazing tree. Thank you for your lovely post, I really enjoyed reading it . Cheers Vicki in South Australia


    • cjmurdoch says:

      Thank you so much for reading Vicki; I’m glad you enjoyed it. It is a beautiful place and I’m looking forward to returning in late July! All the best, Colleen


  2. jaggh53163 says:

    Colleen, I really don’t believe in coincidences… I just call them God-incidences. Sometimes we just don’t recognize them for what they are. I believe you were attracted to that particular tree because it has great significance to the family of the person who is buried there.
    Good luck in untangling the roots !!


    • cjmurdoch says:

      Hi, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I, like you, do not believe in coincidences either; “messages from above”. When I realized my family were interred beside the tree, I immediately told my “baby aunt” that was the reason I had been drawn to the tree and had renamed my family tree before leaving Canada. I’m hoping for another “coincidence” like that when I’m in Ireland this summer trying to find my 2nd great grandfather. Take care.


  3. Hi CJ, your articles and photographs are really interesting, as I too hail from Coshquin, Derry and started our Family Tree on Ancestry.Co.Uk about three years ago. You are welcome to view my Tree and see the various relations’ surnames. I do know that my surname is an abbreviation of McGilloway, which originates from Donegal and Derry areas. I don’t recognize any surnames connected to your Tree. We now live in England but like you , we have visited N Ireland for the past 3 years, retracing family haunts. Best wishes. Frank McGilway

    Liked by 1 person

    • CJ Murdoch says:

      Good Morning Frank; I’m so glad that you are enjoying my blog. I just wish I had more time to write; I’ve thousands (of what I find) interesting people in my family. I just wish I could go back in time and meet some of them. I’ll certainly take a look at your tree. I’m finding (surprisingly in some cases) that both lines of my family originated in Co. Donegal. I, along with my little family; intend to spend more time in Donegal on our next trip. If there is anything I can help you with in your search I’d be happy to “hunt” for you. I find just as much enjoyment in finding other peoples “dead people” as I do my own. 🙂 Take care and thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Colleen


  4. Pingback: The Hunters of Donegal & Londonderry! | TWISTED LIMBS & CROOKED BRANCHES

  5. Joy Maze says:

    Hi Colleen; There are/were Beattie’s in Ballinamallard Co. Fermanagh. My siblings lived with this farming family during the childrens’ evacuation event from Belfast in 1939. I was sent to another family because I was too young for them to look after. btw, I live in Southern Ontario now.

    Liked by 1 person

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