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!
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!
We had arrived!
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.
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!
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!
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