A Full Circle Moment!

MY Sweeney’s of Garryharry, Co. Donegal…

For years I didn’t know what the initial “S” stood for when my father was signing his name.  After quite some time I discovered he was named after his paternal grandmother Lizzie Sweeney.  As very little was known about my Sweeney’s, other than that they were from Garryharry, Co. Donegal; I’ve spent much time researching them.  In the Spring of this year I had some help from Boyd Gray of West Ulster Genealogy Services who helped me locate the home of my great great great grandparents via the Griffith Valuation.  Not only did Boyd send me the valuation records, but also a Google image of the property.  I thought Christmas had come early!

RocketLife doc 1

Several weeks later I was surfing the net and came across a Sweeney phone listing for the same area.  After about a month of trying to convince myself to make the overseas call I took a leap of faith and dialed the number.  After all they would either speak to me or not!  Not only did Mrs. Sweeney speak to me she was as excited as I was.  We ended the thirty minute call with her saying, “You better not leave this country without coming to visit us”!  The likely hood of that happening was zero!

Fast forward to August 2014, and my most recent and very successful jaunt “back home”! My little family and I, along with Boyd Gray of course, were headed to Garryharry, Co. Donegal to visit with my Sweeney family and the homestead of my great great great grandfather, James Sweeney!

RocketLife doc 2

We had arrived!

RocketLife doc 3

To quote Boyd, “This is my great great great grandfather, James Sweeney’s (McSwyne’s) homestead now, as so often, used as a barn or outhouse at one of the current Sweeney residences.  This is where my great great grandfather, also James Sweeney, would have been born.  The same home he left in 1859 to marry my great great grandmother, Fanny Robinson from Ballyarr at 1st Ramelton Presbyterian Church.”

We had the pleasure of meeting Bill and Margery Sweeney and Bill’s sister Tillie.  Bill and Tillie are my 2nd cousins 1x removed, which sounds quite remote – however, it means that their grandfather and my great grandmother where siblings!  It the big picture of family it’s really not so distant.  We shared stories about family… they knew that my Murdoch’s were related to them they just weren’t sure how.  They also had memories of my great uncle, Gilbert Murdoch, visiting with them.

RocketLife doc 4

We were made very welcome at the Sweeney home and greeted with hugs and kisses! Tea was served, along with Margery’s homemade wheaten bread and jam, and we were even gifted some jam as we were leaving!  It may seem rather strange, but … I felt as if I had been there before.

The story with this particular “Crooked Branch” of my family tree is certainly not over yet!  There is much more to tell – stories for another time!

RocketLife doc 5.jpg

Decades after discovering what the initial “S” stood for in Ireland when I was a little girl; to over 40 years later, and once again being in Ireland… it most certainly was a full circle moment for me! I truly look forward to spending more time with this particular branch of my family during my next trip!

“Family, like branches in a tree, we all grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one.” – Unknown

Copyright (c) (2014) (https://twistedlimbsandcrookedbranches.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. Donegal, Family History, Geneaology, Ireland and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to A Full Circle Moment!

  1. Amy says:

    Wonderful story! I love to hear about these reunions.


  2. Gladys Baart says:

    I wonder if the magic of meeting and discovering family is that the love flows so freely. One can have similar experiences with old friends. I loved reading about your Sweeney connection.


  3. Rachelle says:

    So happy for you! There is nothing like seeing where our ancestors lived in person and when you get to meet relatives too it’s incredible. You know the spirits of your ancestors are celebrating too!


  4. reg Elliott says:

    i think my elliotts came from fermanagh,Ireland,my gr gr granfather, later married a carscadden from there in port hope area,ont., canada, his son thomas his name was william by bthe way ,but thomas married margaret Robinson in kendal ,durham c.o in 1877…her dad & mom came from irreland james Robinson b:1818, his wife Jane Steinstrom b:1832 / reg.elliott074@gmail.com


  5. Pingback: Census Sunday – The Robinsons of Ballyarr! | TWISTED LIMBS & CROOKED BRANCHES

  6. Pingback: From Garryharry, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal to Montgomery, Pennsylvania, U.S.A! | TWISTED LIMBS & CROOKED BRANCHES

  7. Maire Whipple says:

    Colleen, Love reading all your stories! I am from Carrigans/Newtowncunningham area of the Lagan Valley, Donegal, my maiden name is Holmes. I have lived in Kansas and now living in West Chester PA with my husband and kids. Last year I was able to track down relatives in New Jersey!! Their ancestors (Doherty) had come to the area from St Johnston in early 1900’s, and the last contact from them had been in the 1950’s. It was a memorable reunion for us all .

    Maire Holmes Whipple.


    • CJ Murdoch says:

      Hi Marie,

      Sorry for the delayed response, I completely missed your post. As you know I’m sure it’s a really great feeling finding and meeting new family. I’m truly looking forward to my trip back home and spending more time with my Sweeney’s. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and posting about your own experiences. I really need to write another blog soon… my days are much too short! Take care, Colleen


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