Saturday 19 August, 2017
I am back in the Whitsundays and constantly in awe of the amazing trip I enjoyed to Ireland in May/June this year.
Visiting the National Archives at Kew, I changed trains at Turnham Green Station. This is the very area where King William 111 would have been assassinated had it not been for my ancestor Sir Thomas Prendergast, 1st Baronet. I did not know this at the time but found out a few days later about the Jacobite plot with the intended ambush of his coach at Turnham Green on Saturday 15 February, 1696 and Sir Thomas Prendergast’s role in preventing the murder.
At the National Archives Kew I was delighted to read the details of Sir John Standish Surtees Prendergast Vereker, Baron Kilarton of Gort, sixth Viscount Gort, and the role he played as Commander in Chief of the British Expeditionary force at Dunkirk.
Lord Gort’s promotion to Governor of Malta and Gibralta in 1942 was exciting to read with the often hand written documents and mention of the Prime Minister of England Sir Winston Churchill, Louis Mountbatten and King George V1
Lord Gort is descended from Maurice de Prendergast, as am I.
Clans and Surnames Conference Nenagh
Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would have been given the opportunity to deliver a Conference paper at Nenagh if it had not been for the faith Lorna Moloney showed in my ability.
Not only did I share my research with the Delegates in Nenagh but I was delighted to meet 4 other Prendergast researchers at the Conference. By chance, the evening that I did not join the rest of the group on an outing in Nenagh, I met two Prendergast descendants at the Abbey Court Hotel where we were staying during the Conference. I had not realized how much I had in common to all the Prendergast descendants until we started comparing notes. There were so many similarities. It was uncanny.
At the end of the Conference, Medieval Genealogy expert Kenneth Nicholls spiked my curiosity as under his breath he ruminated “Thomas Prendergast, hmm, he was involved in the 1696 conspiracy to assassinate King William 111” as he handed me my certificate. Of course I couldn’t wait to google Sir Thomas Prendergast to find that he had helped prevent the assignation by a Jacobite plot and was awarded land at Gort for his intervention.
Sue generously shared her friends John and Joanne Boyle and their lovely children with me on the weekend following the Conference when we stayed with them. It was a wonderful way to wind down before the next hectic leg of the trip. Not only were we taken care of beautifully but driven around to areas in Ireland that we would not have had the chance to see.
I was surprised and delighted to discover that we were staying just 15 minutes from Gort and grateful to Joanne and John for offering to drive me to see the Castle that my ancestor build. We enjoyed walking on the land my ancestor Sir Thomas Prendergast, 1st Baronet was awarded at Lough Coutra Castle in County Galway.
I had contacted Marsh’s Library whilst still in Australia prior to my visit to Ireland and was delighted to be shown through this wonderful Library by Jason McElligott who had taken the time to retrieve books and the signature of my ancestor John Patrick Prendergast for me to view.
John Patrick Prendergast is the author of “The Cromwellian Settlement” and I was able to order a copy on line through Biblio. This wonderful text book arrived on Monday and I will learn so much more about Irish History by reading all about it.
At the Royal Society of Antiquaries, Ireland Conor Lucey escorted me through this wonderful repository and Aaron Binchy showed me items that would help me with my Prendergast research.
At the National Archives of Ireland I met Maire MacConghail who is the President of the Accredited Genealogist, Ireland who helped me research the two Wills of John Prendergast and Catherine Prendergast and may well be our John and our Catherine. I have yet to consult with a Legal Genealogist to find out if the contents of the Will prove the connection. Stay tuned!
Wandering around the streets of Dublin after my visit to the National Archives, in the distance I noticed St. Anne’s Church. As I approached I realized that I was in Dawson Street and recalled that I had seen a Deed for a property leased in 1804 by Francis Prendergast, Registrar of the court of Chancery. This property was at 38 Dawson Street.
I walked into a health food shop and asked the attendant if she knew about a large property in Dawson Street that in the early 1800s had outhouses and a stable. The young girl replied that all those buildings other than the Lord Mayor’s house had been built out and that there were no stables left in Dawson street.
I looked so disappointed that she suggested that I visit the Little Museum of Dublin. So I walked to the Little Museum of Dublin where June was in attendance. When I enquired about the property my Prendergast ancestors had leased in Dawson Street, her eyes lit up. “Come with me” she said and took me to a back room where we could see through a window what appeared to be the stables of an excavated building two doors across in Dawson Street.
I asked June if I would be able to take a look at the stables but she said that the property would most likely have no access to Dawson Street.
Undeterred I walked back along Dawson Street and found what normally would have been a blocked off lane way was open but blocked by a car.
Without hesitation, I walked down the lane and on to the property. There amongst the excavation work taking place I could clearly see a blue stables door.
Two staff members from the Real Estate next door looked surprised when I began asking about the property and the young lady seemed to know about the property. She told me that the street number was now 18 Dawson Street but years ago the numbering had changed.
The young man looked so surprised when I told him that I was pretty sure that we were standing on property where my Prendergast family had lived in 1804.
Just then the developer arrived to take a look at the property. When he approached me I asked if he minded if I took some photos as my ancestor Francis Prendergast had lived here in 1804. “We might be related” he said. I was so stunned that I did not think to ask his name or how we could be related.
Since returning to Australia, I have viewed historical OSI Maps and the property as per the description of the Deed appears to be the very property that I was standing on. Now I just have to find out who the developer/owner/relation was.
This is also the property where John Patrick Prendergast, the historian of the the Cromwellian Settlement in Ireland was born. He is the eldest son of Francis Prendergast.
At the National Library of Ireland it was lovely to catch up with Kay Caball who was the Archivist on duty and also one of the experts at the Conference in Nenagh.
They were all so kind – nothing was too much trouble.
I was able to view two Deeds at the Registry of Deeds that I discovered on my bespoke Archives visit in 2015 whilst being accompanied by John Nangle. Having read the content I was able to order them and they have arrived in Australia since my return. They are being transcribed by my clever cousin Mark in Sydney and I will shortly be able to share the details with you.
High Tea Enniscorthy – Princess for a day.
Never in my wildest dreams could I, an Australian born Prendergast with Irish roots, host a High Tea at Enniscorthy Castle. I still have to pinch myself to believe that it actually happened. I enjoyed myself immensely and have received many messages from my guests telling me that they did too.
I am extremely grateful to the Kind and helpful Enniscorthy locals who arranged everything prior to my arrival in Ireland. I could not have held the High Tea without your support and encouragement. You are wonderful.
Also, I could not have brought messages of welcome without the generous support of the Australian Mayors of the Hawkesbury, Monaro, Victorian High Plains, East Gippsland and the Whitsundays who graciously wrote warm letters of welcome and sent me armed with gifts to give to the Chairman County Wexford, Paddy Kavanagh.
I have received so many warm letters and want to share one of them with you.
Dear Jenny and Sue,
A huge big “Thank You” for a memorable High Tea and afternoon in the Castle. It was a wonderful occasion and so enjoyable!!! Little did our forefathers ever imagine that we have now formed yet another important link due to our treasured past!!
Jenny, if you really focus on our “convicts” who were transported for standing up for their/our national rights, being labeled as criminals, this was the way our oppressors thought and acted at the time. However, what they did was to single out the bravest and most loyal Irishmen for standing up for their principles and beliefs, and provide Australia with rich “seed capital” to form the Australian nation. They were very resilient, brave and of strong character as indeed your ancestor John Prendergast proved.
I hope you have a safe journey home and that, whilst your luggage may not be any heavier, that you will bring back “loads” of further memories.
With every good wish from Enniscorthy and its people.
There have been at least 3 Newspaper items written about my trip to Ireland and I proudly share them with you here.
If you would like to read them, please click on……………….