Fond memories and exciting new research

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.


Ennis Weekend

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.


David Hasslacher


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……………….

Bairnsdale Advertiser

Enniscorthy Guardian

Jindabyne News



A Princess in Enniscorthy Castle.

Tuesday 30 May, 2017

Every little girl dreams of being a Princess in a Castle. We grow up with stories of Snow White and Cinderella but no one really believes that they can live in a Castle – even for a short time.

Today I felt like a Princess. As I watched the tables being laid, the flowers being arranged, the food being plated up and people running to and fro to ensure that everything was ready for my High Tea to take place in Enniscorthy Castle, I felt like a Princess.

I had to keep pinching myself that this was really happening. I was so excited. Continue reading “A Princess in Enniscorthy Castle.”

Taking Tea at Enniscorthy Castle

Tuesday 30 May, 2017 Morning

The sun is shining, the birds are singing. What could be a better way to start the day for such an historical event? High Tea at Enniscorthy Castle.
Whilst serving me yet another delicious breakfast, Moira greeted me with a “Good morning bride”. And, yes I do feel as a bride does on her special day.

Just as a wedding day takes many hours of planning and there are many people involved, so has the High Tea celebration that will be held at Enniscorthy Castle this afternoon.
There are a number of people who have been involved that I would like to thank.

In Ireland –
Firstly Mary O’Higgins of Enniscorthy Castle who was delighted for me to host the High Tea in the Roche Room of Enniscorthy Castle.Without Mary, this event would not be happening.
Cathy Keane of Wexford Historical tours for all her support. Cathy has allowed me borrow her TV to screen the two videos that will be played today. She is in charge of the technology and photography.
Maria Nolan local Enniscorthy Reporter and photographer who will record and report this historical event.
David Hasslacher, member of the last family to reside in Enniscorthy who is delighted to be taking my guests on a walking tour of the Enniscorthy Castle along with his two friends Betty and Bernadette whose families were staff at the Castle when David’s family lived there. Their memories of life in the castle will be very interesting.
William Kinsella of Wildflower Cafe who will be creating the most delicious and beautifully presented High Tea treats and has gone “over and above” to visit the castle on several occasions to Email photograph of the room to me and also to meet with me to discuss the menu.
Annette and Nessa of “Annette’s florist” who are arranging some beautiful flowers for the Roche room as I write.
The always happy and helpful staff of Enniscorthy Castle, Mary, Greta,Mary and Moira who have been in a flurry to get everything organized for today’s celebration.
Aer Lingus for allowing me “Priority Check in” to ensure my gifts from the Mayors arrived safely.

In Australia –
Mayor of the city of the Hawkesbury Mary Buckett-Lyons for taking the time to meet with me and offer words of encouragement and the lovely gift to present to Cllr. Paddy Kavanagh
Administrator of the Snowy Monaro Shire Dean Lynch, who on such short notice, met with me during my visit to Cooma and penned a warm letter to Cllr. Kavanagh. He also sent me with a beautiful book featuring the Snowy Monaro region.
Mayor of East Gippsland Shire, Joe Rettino who made a special video with his warm greeting from the people of East Gippsland to the people of Enniscorthy. He also sent me with a lovely gift for Cllr. Kavanagh
Mayor of the Whitsunday Regional Council, Andrew Willcox who although under a great deal of pressure so soon after Cyclone Debbie struck, still made time to see me to inscribe a lovely Airlie Beach book and write a warm and welcoming letter to the people of Ireland.
Alissa Fitzsimon of the Australian Embassy in Dublin who emailed me to wish me all the best for today
My darling Mum Lorna Prendergast who made sure that I packed one of my dad Jim Prendergast’s fabulous “R.A.A.F Bairnsdale” books to present to Cllr Kavanagh, my Irish Grandmother’s Rosary beads to keep me safe and $50 for anything that might pop up.
And last but not least, Barry my wonderful husband and blog master who, even though he is thousands of miles away, compiles my words and photos to post on my blog every day and skypes me every night.
Thank you so much to all concerned, your love and support is greatly appreciated.


Marsh’s Library: a treasure trove of literature

Friday 26 May, 2017

Blessed with yet another glorious Summer’s day, I strolled through the streets of Dublin to keep my 10 am appointment with Dr. Jason McElligott, Keeper, Marsh’s Library.

I love the smell and the sight of historical and valuable books lined up neatly on shelves. People often ask me where I grew up. I reply “In a Library!” My inspiring mum was a Librarian for 40 years in Australia and I spent many happy days quietly wiling away the hours reading beautiful books in the libraries that she worked in.

Continue reading “Marsh’s Library: a treasure trove of literature”

Four Courts visit and National Library of Ireland research.

Thursday 25 May, 2017.

Two hot days in a row! Unheard of in Ireland and yet there we have it. Most of the Dubliners were sweltering. I was loving it, the heat reminded me of being home in the Whitsundays.

I visited the Four Courts where mass destruction happened during the civil war of 1922. This building has stood for over 200 years as a bastion of law in Ireland. Continue reading “Four Courts visit and National Library of Ireland research.”

Antiques, Grave stone Rubbings and Prendergast family Deeds.

Wednesday 24 May, 2017.

At 10am this morning, a warm welcome awaited me at the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland when Aaron Binchy, a relative of my favourite author Maeve Binchy, greeted me at the door of the Society.





Conor Lucey, the President took me on a personally escorted tour around the building and historical garden. The house has been kept in its original state and the garden has been planted in keeping with herbs and flowers of the original garden. Continue reading “Antiques, Grave stone Rubbings and Prendergast family Deeds.”

Interesting discovery in Dublin and at the National Archives of Ireland

Tuesday 23 May, 2017

John Prendergast, my 5x Grandfather died intestate in 1833. In Windsor, Australia, shortly before his death, he distributed all of his possessions to his children. Why did he die without leaving a Will? Was it to save his family the expense of paying death taxes? Was it so that he could distribute his property in the way that he was assured that each beneficiary would receive what he wanted them to inherit? Or, as a United Irishman who was transported to Australia for his involvement in the 1798 Rebellion, had he memorialized a Will in Ireland prior to being arrested in 1799.  Was he afraid the authorities would tie his Australian Will to his Irish Will had he left one in Australia? Continue reading “Interesting discovery in Dublin and at the National Archives of Ireland”

Family day at Cusheen

Sunday 21 May, 2017

Today the weather turned very cold. It was overcast and quite miserable.

The Boyle family gathered for a Sunday roast at lunchtime and the lively banter made up for the cold and cloudy weather outside. Dr. John Boyle is a dab hand with the baking as is his clever son Thomas who bakes delicious cookies.

Later in the day we went for a family drive to Gort, a township quite close to here, just 15 minutes and the area that Sir Thomas Prendergast, 1st Baron was given for the role he played to prevent the murder of  William of Orange during the Jacobite conspiracy of 1696

Continue reading “Family day at Cusheen”

Conference papers and Certificate ceremony

Clans and Surnames Conference, Nenagh, Tipperary.

Friday 19 May, 2017

I awoke bright and early and very excited. Today is the day I deliver my Conference paper ‘The Quest to find Prendergast ancestry”

The day started with Dr. Michael C. Kean who has written a book from Laois (pronounced Leesh) to Kerry.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAkVAAAAJDM0MzYwMWJmLTQyNGEtNGEzMi04NWE2LTc0YmFiM2IxMWI2ZgDr. Penny Walters delivered a very interesting and heartfelt paper “Is adoption the Primal Wound”



This was followed by Jane Halloran-Ryan- Tyredagh Clunes – What we can learn from one family’s journey – From Country Clare to Connecticut. Continue reading “Conference papers and Certificate ceremony”