TRIP TO IRELAND & ENGLAND
Persons Involved. Alonzo Joseph Sherman of Oscoda MI; and Eleanor Josephine Sherman of Flint MI. Twins, born June 12 1927 in Genesee County Michigan:
Why The Trip. My sister Eleanor surprised me at our birthday party in June 1998. She gave me a trip to Ireland, to do research on our mother's ancestors! I surprised her when I said I would not go without her. She said she did not plan on going, but it took her less than two minutes to change her mind. It was decided we both would go. Neither of us had been to our ancestral homes in Ireland and England before, although I had visited London in the 1952.
The reason she offered the trip was because, on and off over the past year, I had been doing repairs on her house to get it in good condition to sell. She, as a divorced woman, had lived in this house for about 30 years, and raised her seven children and two grandchilden, all this without a husband or handyman near by to maintain the place. It needed much work.
When she finally put the house on the market it sold the first day, at her price, with no questions asked.
The Trip. At first the trip was only to be to Ireland. Then, we realized if we drove to Boston and then flew Aer Lingus to Shannon Ireland, we could visit some of our American ancestors along the way to Boston, a trip we had planned for several years anyway. While planning the trip we talked casually about also going to England. Then one day my sister said, "England is a must." Great thinking! The final plan was then to see some of our American ancestors, see our Irish ancestors and see our English ancestors. By the way, several of our family members participated in the trip in a passive way; they enjoyed watching our flights while they were in progress on the Internet on www.thetrip.com.
ANCESTORS BETWEEN MICHIGAN AND BOSTON
We stayed a few days at Eleanor's daughter Theresa's home in Kingston NY, which is about a two-hour drive to Boston. We stayed with Theresa a couple of days both before and after our trip to Ireland/England. Eleanor had several other children living in or near Kingston NY, so we had several parties. We left the car with Eleanor's daughter Cathy, in exchange for driving us to, and picking us up, at the Boston airport.
Following is a list of Sherman ancestors we visited on this part of the trip. We had previously visited all of them, except Jabez Sherman.
1. We visited the farm in Norwich Township, Oxford County, Ontario, Canada, of our 2nd greatgrandfather, Alden Sherman (1801-1881).
2. We visited the farm and possible burial location, in the ghost town of Mooshine NY near Aurora NY in Cayuga County, of our 3rd greatgrandfather, Elihu Sherman Jr (1777-1841).
3. We visited the cemetery in Williamstown MA, of our 4th greatgrandfather, Elihu Sherman Sr (1746-1817). He had served in the Revolutionary War.
4. We visited the cemetery in the village of Padauaran MA, near South Dartmouth MA, of our 5th greatgrandfather, Jabez Sherman (1700-1774). We got there after dark on Halloween evening and were looking for the markers with a flashlight, a cigarette lighter and the car lights. We had about given up finding them in the dark, when Eleanor found his marker the hard way, she tripped over it!
Besides reviewing what I had written about our Irish and English ancestors, I spent quite a bit of time on the Internet, looking at airline flight schedules/prices, car rentals/prices, bed & breakfast and their prices, etc. I was in every library in Ireland searching their card catalogs on the Internet. I posted many messages on bullentin boards. Sent several E-mails to people that might help with the trip. One of the most helpful Internet sites was www.cyndislist.com that has over 40,000 genealogical sites.
In August Eleanor and I, after attending a Sherman family reunion in Tiffin Ohio, drove over to the Allen County Public Library in FtWayne Indiana and did two days' research for the trip. Next month I spent a day in the State Library of Michigan in Lansing Michigan doing more research for the trip.
I prepared an introductory flyer about Thomas Culhane (1805-1885) our oldest known Irish ancestor, and mailed it widely to many places and people in Ireland. We always carried copies of this flyer when in Ireland so we could hand them out. I also took out an ad in the Limerick Leader Newspaper that was published the weekend before we arrived, making these arrangements over the Internet.
I sent $50 to the Limerick County Branch of the National Archives of Ireland for a search of our ancestors. They only found the records of Thomas Culhane's second Marriage.
Using the Internet www.expedia.com I picked out the airline and flight we wanted. I picked out Aer Lingus because of their direct flights. It was clear ticket prices become extremely cheap on the first of November, as compared to earlier. We had planned to go in October, so we changed it to early November. Aer Lingus has what they call a European Greensaver Pass. If these tickets are bought before leaving for Ireland, it allows a person to fly Aer Lingus from any airport in Ireland/England to another in Ireland/England for $60.00 one way, $120 round trip. The Greensaver Pass is about 1/3 the cost of the normal price. The Greensaver Pass is also available from Ireland/England to any airport in Europe for $99. I considered it best to telephone Aer Lingus to clarify questions and make the actual bookings, which I did. In total we saved $1,464 per person for airfare by doing some planning.
As for car rentals I saw no great advantage in one of the big companies over the others, although the local company called Dan Dooley did have better prices. Since we were not going in the busy tourist season we decided to wait and make arrangements at the airport when we arrived. I had all the planning data ready when we arrived. There was a line of 5-6 people waiting at the Dan Dooley counter, one person was just leaving the Avis counter, and all other counters were empty. I asked at the Avis counter what their price was, and got a better price than any of those quoted over the Internet, including Dan Dooley. Believing I had a reasonable price I rented a car from Avis. Total cost about $39 a day for 10 days, including insurance, and we could return the car with an empty gas tank. Your American car insurance is not valid outside US and Canada, so we purchased a $300 deductible theft and collision policy from Avis. To also purchase a liability policy was almost forbidding because of the price. A second driver added to the car would cost $2-3 more a day, so we decided I would do all the driving.
I found a Bed & Breakfast (B&B) on the Internet located in the little town we were to stay in, Glin, County Limerick, Ireland. Wrote them a letter, because their E-mail address was to a B&B Association, and got back what we thought were good off-season rates. Sent a $100 US check for deposit, paid the balance in local currency when we checked out. B&B was about $18 each a day. The optional evening meal was expensive at nearly $20 each. They truly were first class meals, as was the breakfast. Before we left I found out a cousin had stayed at the same B&B in April 1998, and thought it was a fine place. We also were happy with the place.
During the planning stage it became evident that the normal clothing a man wears does not have enough pockets to carry, safely and conveniently, all the extra items needed for a trip. There are airline tickets, traveler's checks, rental car agreement, passport, maps, several kinds of currency, a camera, etc. I found a vest at Sears with about 20 different sized pockets in it, both inside and outside pockets, some pockets with zippers, some with Velcro flaps, and some just open. It worked very well on the trip. We decided to use throwaway cameras, We bought some without flash and some with flash. The pictures came out good.
We established a joint checking account at a Credit union where I live, and put the trip money into it. The account would be our accounting of the trip. We purchased passports, airline tickets, traveler's checks, and paid the VISA credit card charges from this account. As a backup against loss both Eleanor and I had a different credit card, and each of us carried part of the traveler's checks with dual signatures. I also carried $500 US cash, for mad money. We were able to cash traveler's checks at banks, credit unions and post offices in Ireland, and also cashed them at a bank in England. We used local currency for most small items like meals, and the VISA card for large items like car rentals, hotels and gifts.
We were told we could buy good local maps at local gas stations and party stores. This worked well for us.
We stayed a week in the town of Glin, County Limerick, located about 30 miles West of Limerick on the southern shore of the Shannon River. This is the town from which our mother's grandfather Thomas Culhane (1805-1885) left Ireland. Thomas would not give up his Catholic faith, and was about to be put in prison by the British, so he left Ireland by stealth. About 1839/41 he made arrangements with a sea Captain at the Port of Limerick to pick him and his family up in the middle of the Shannon River, where they would be waiting in a boat. Thomas, his wife and 12 children boarded the ship, which was going to Montreal. Nine of the oldest children by his first wife died of typhus on the trip and were buried at sea.
With all the preplanning we were still surprised and very pleased to find a considerable amount of written material that was only available locally, and was not in the larger libraries, or in the National Archives of Ireland. Also we met several people who were quite knowledgeable on Glin's history and families, several of which were members of the Glin Historical Society and the Glin Heritage Center, a couple of pub owners, and our B&B owner. We also got the names and addresses of three people from Australia and one person from North Dakota, who were very knowledgeable on the Culhane families in Glin. We have contacted these people since the trip.
With all the new material we obtained, we still have not found an answer to the key question. What are the names of Thomas Culhane's parents?
Glin is full of Culhane families. In the 1960s it was stated there were 30 Culhane families that belonged to the Catholic Church in Glin. The existing Catholic Church in the town of Glin was built in the 1850s. No records of the Catholic Church in the Glin area before 1850s have survived.
We photographed and recorded all the Culhane tombstones in the local area. There were not any tombstones remaining for persons who were born in the 1700's.
We learned of a Donall na Searrach Culhane who in 1600 was the hereditary constable of the Glin Castle owned by the Knight of Glin. A battle with overwhelming British forces destroyed the castle in 1600, and killed Donall na Searrach Culhane and two of his sons. A third son, Donall Bead Culhane, escaped the battle, and produced three sons. These three sons are the progenitor's of the three clans of Culhanes in Glin today. The three clans are called "Ban," "Coille," and "Riabhack." We are most likely descendants of one of these clans, but we do not yet know which one.
We took the Killimer-Tarbert ferry across the Shannon River several times, and each time it was very windy and rough. Undoubtedly we were very close to where our Thomas Culhane boarded the ship with his family to go to Quebec. Eleanor said, "This is a BIG river, it must have taken a lot of nerve to take a wife and 12 children out here in a small boat and climb on an ocean going ship." This ferry is located only a few miles downstream from Glin.
The only problem with going in November for genealogical purposes, was that the Glin Heritage Center was not open during our visit. Reportedly there are some documents in there we needed to look at. However, if you were a tourist you would find most tourist places closed in November. We found some tourist places that decided to stay open in November because the lower Aer Lingus prices have resulted in increased tourist traffic in November. It did rain, but usually in the evening and cleared off nice for the day. The rain was not a problem.
In England we were basically tourists, not genealogical researchers. It rained only the first and second evenings, which cased no problems. The rest of the time was sunny. We visited three towns in the East Anglia area of England, 50-100 miles NE of London. The towns visited were Dedham, Yaxley and Diss, and their respective Churches and churchyards, where our Sherman ancestors lived worked worshiped and were buried. I found that walking the streets and paths of the town, visiting the churches and churchyard cemeteries, and the home in Dedham, where our ancestor lived in the 1400-1600s is definitely a lasting positive spiritual experience. To further this I recommend it be done with a sibling, and especially a twin if you have one: You will double your experience.
Dedham, in County Essex. We spent two nights in Dedham. We arrived midday on a Saturday and the town was over full with tourists. We located the Sun Hotel in the center of town on the main street just across from the church, and we got the last room, with a parking space behind the hotel for our car. Parking is a problem in this town with narrow streets, and they have made several parking areas for buses and auto overflow 3-4 blocks north of town. This hotel was built about 500 years ago. We knew we were in England when we looked out our second floor hotel window directly into the second deck of a double-decker bus.
Our first venture out after checking into the hotel was to walk across the street and visit the Church, which was wide open. The vicar gave us a tour, showing us the "Sherman Window" and the "Sherman tombstone" in the floor. It certainly is a large and grand church. We spent some time walking the churchyard cemetery. We found no Sherman tombstones in the cemetery.
About 1/2 mile south of the town is a rambling building called "Southfields," sometimes referred to as the "Flemish Cottages," One can walk on a path from down town, or drive around the east side of town to it. This building was first started in the 12th century and it has been added to several times. It was the home and business location of our Sherman ancestors who lived in Dedham, and worked in the wool industry. Currently it is owned by a local resident who is restoring it; he has owned it for 40 years. He now has it divided into about 10 apartments. We walked through the garden and around the fishpond, we walked around the North side where the old Roman Highway was in the older days, and we walked through the courtyard. We did not get inside of the building. There was a sign indicating the public was welcome to enjoy the garden, fishpond and courtyard.
The Public Square in the center of town has a tall monument to the WW-1 and WW-2 dead. But for Shermans, this is the spot where the wool auction took place every Tuesday afternoon in the old days.
The area around Dedham is where the landscape artist John Constable (1776-1837) was born, lived most his life, and painted many local scenes. John Constable is considered the best landscape artist to ever paint. There are several art stores in town, and John Constable is one of the big tourist attractions for the town.
The first night in Dedham we were fortunate in that the church was having a concert. It was the Magnificat conducted by John Ritter. This was a full orchrestra and choir. Regardless how loud they got they did not come close to raising the roof of that church. After all, no one has done it since it was built in 1492 on the site of the old church. The church is very active in cultural matters and schedules many such activities each year.
We attended the 7am services on Sunday morning, and prayed for the Queen what seemed like 50 times during the service. This praying for the queen is a new experience for a couple of farm kids from Michigan. But attending services in the church where our ancestors had attended was certainly a lasting spiritual experience Yaxley, County Suffolk. After service on Sunday morning in Dedham, we ate breakfast at the Sun Hotel and drove to Yaxley. Yaxley is the smallest of the three towns we visited; in fact it is very small. Parts of the Church have been at the same location for over a 1,000 years. The earliest church registers did not survive; the earliest one in existence today is for 1684. The church has been added to and modified several times over the years. Right now it is going through another repair and modification. Scaffolding was all over the outside and inside of the Church. The church was open, and had very informative brochures available. We walked through and around the church, and walked through the churchyard cemetery. The church is of a smaller and squarish Norman style, in comparison to the very large Gothic Style church in Dedham.
After visiting the church we drove around the town and found an Antique Market being held in what appeared to be a community building. We went inside and enjoyed viewing the exhibit and talking to the dealers. Before we left we took good advantage of all the homemade sandwiches and sweets, and of course the cup of tea.
Diss, County Norfolk. After visiting Yaxley we drove to Diss. The very large gothic church is right in the center of town. Diss is the largest of the three towns visited. Unfortunately the church was locked. We were able to look inside and observed the beautiful interior and windows. We then walked around the church's lovely garden and the churchyard cemetery. The church is very lovely and in very good condition. A new modern one-floor addition has been added to the North side, probably used for offices, classes and special events. We went in the new area but found the doors to the church proper were also locked, and we found no one around we could ask to let us inside the church.
We did a lot of window shopping in Diss. Especially interesting were the large amount of amber jewelry on display. We also did a little real shopping in Diss. Then we drove back to Dedham for the evening.
MISTAKES MADE ON THE TRIP
1. Road markings were bad for most roads in both Ireland and England. We were not prepared for the lack of good road signage on most roads. We learned to look only at the exact corner for directional signs, and to look on the buildings for street signs in the towns. In the town of Glin Ireland were we stayed there were not street numbers for any of the buildings. We were lost half of the time. We were prepared for the numerous and famous roundabouts, and we handled them quite well. Driving there is like the tango, because it takes two, one to drive and one to navigate!
2. The loop road around London called the N-25, is a true interstate and is well marked, but it is jammed full of impatient speeding drivers. It is like driving through Los Angeles at rush hour.
3. Two times I realized I was driving on the wrong side of the road. Both times it was early in the morning in small towns without anyone else around. But another time I tried to drive around a busy town square the wrong way, and was helped by a friendly Irish policeman to get turned around. I had driven on the left for two years in Japan several years ago with a left hand drive car. In Ireland and England I drove right hand drive cars, which was much easier to adjust to because it is natural to keep the steering wheel next to the centerline.
4. Most of the planning was done for Ireland, and not enough was done for England. We probably would have been better off to enter England at Gatwick Airport SE of London, rather than Heathrow W of London. Both airports are near the N-25 loop around London. Heathrow was just too big, too busy, too confusing, too congested, and too expensive.
5. Arriving at Heathrow we were too anxious to rent a car and get on the road in front of the Friday evening rush hour traffic. We went by several money exchangers inside the airport but we wanted to get our car first, and were on the road when I realized I forgot to exchange money. And added to this problem after driving about a half-hour we realized we were going counter clockwise on N-25, instead of going clockwise as we planned. At that point it did not make any difference as far as distance was concerned so we kept going. What did make a difference is, we came to a sign that said "Tunnel Toll 2-pounds," so we got off at the next exit at Dartford. We found a very nice and reasonable priced Campanile Hotel, with a bistro. This is a French chain that operates throughout Europe. They took credit cards, but would not accept traveler's checks. We each ate their buffet de hors d'oeuvre, and Eleanor topped hers off with the sweet buffet/glace. Early the next morning we went down town in Dartford to the bank and cashed some traveler's checks. This was Saturday and market day in Dartford, the streets were one big open-air market and were closed to cars, there was a very large crowd and all the stores and banks were open. I found an Avis Car Rental place near downtown, and walked 5-6 blocks to the downtown, and found a bank. I bought two takeout breakfasts at the biggest McDonalds I had ever seen. Then we headed through the tunnel to Dedham.
6. We needed to be reminded how quick and how tight a small England town such as Dedham closes up on a Sunday evening. We decided to eat in the Sun Hotel, and found them closed. We walked down the street, past a grocery story that was open and commented maybe we will have to come back and get some snacks. We found Rose's Tea Room open, sat at a table and the menu was something we could not make sense of. We could not even understand the waitress with her accent. We ordered by pointing at the menu, thinking we were getting a fancy sandwich. What came was a fancy delicious desert. We ate it, then went and got our car and drove to a restaurant just outside of town, and they were closed. Coming back through town we saw people eating in another hotel, so we went in and sat down, only to be told they were closing. That waitress said she knew of nothing open Sunday evening, except maybe, just maybe, a place about 20 miles away. Now it seemed a quick stop at the Grocery store was in order, but they had closed. Looking through the car for snacks I found one candy bar that we shared. The desert and candy, and a cup of tea loaded with all the creamers in the hotel room was the evening meal. After the store lights went out, there being no streetlights, the only light was a night light on the Vicarage across from our hotel. That is one dark town! Breakfast came none too soon.
7. We were not ready for the sticker shock in England, everything was unbelievably expensive. Car rental was $152 a day, and it must be returned with a full tank of gasoline. The Sun Hotel (B&B rates) in Dedham was about $120 a day, including breakfast. The Excelsior Hotel near Heathrow Airport was $260 a night (and all hotels by the airport were fully booked by noon). A hamburger in the grill was listed as $40. We walked a few blocks and ate at McDonalds.
8. I should have checked out the leg room in the small cars at home before we rented them. In Ireland there was only one very tight way I could get in and out of the Toyoto Corolla I rented. I nearly took it back for something else. In England I rented a Punta and that was much easier getting into.
9. The next time we will only buy the throwaway camera with the flash. It became too difficult to keep track of two cameras, on without flash and one with flash.
10. I took too many clothes, some I did not use. Suitcase was too heavy.
We have put all our photographs, brochures, passports, airline tickets, car rental contracts, etc into one 3" thick 3-ring loose-leaf notebook. Anyone who can stop by my house is welcomed to look at the scrapbook. This narrative and the scrapbook compliment each other.
Choose a Country to see the photo's from the trip.