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!
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.
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 .
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”!
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…
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?
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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
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
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 !!
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.
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
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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
Thanks for this Colleen. As far as I know the McGilway Family Tree is the only one on Ancestry.co.uk , relating to my ancestors. Best Wishes. Frank.
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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.
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Hi Joy, thank you for getting in touch. I haven’t traced my Beattie/Beatty family to Fermanagh yet. Oddly I have Beattie/Beatty’s on both my maternal and paternal lines. Do you have any Berry family connected to your Beattie’s? You can also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. So, it would seem we are both transplants! 😀