Friday, November 02, 2001

Walking Dublin Bleary Eyed

Walking Dublin Bleary Eyed

Last night was a poor sleeping night. The man in the next room woke both of us up at 4:30 am with laughing and talking to his company. After awhile Ron knocked on the wall, but since it takes me at least an hour to fall asleep when I am tired, it took even longer after being awakened. It seemed like minutes before the alarm clock was chiming its greeting.

Since we were close to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and it was so gorgeous at night, we had to have a look at the insides. This cathedral was once Catholic, but during the Reformation, when Henry VIII decided to create the Church of England, this church was confiscated. It is a Church of Ireland now, which is under the auspices of the Church of England.

The church was built in 1192 on the site that St. Patrick baptized the first Celt converts in the fifth century. St. Patrick himself was kidnapped and brought to England where he was made a slave. Upon escaping a few years later, he was spiritually aimless. He had a dream about a man who called himself Victorius and this dream character led him back to his homeland of Ireland and to the priesthood. Within the church there is a self-guided tour on picture boards of the history of the church as well as St. Patrick and the other famous guest that is buried there.

Jonathon Swift’s tomb is also within the confines of the church. You will recognize his name as the author of Gulliver’s Travels. He was the Dean of the church for a number of years. The Churches of England, Ireland, and Scotland are dramatically different from the Catholic churches, because they do not have the statues and other religious figures around. On the walls of these churches are plagues of marble, brass, and other metals that commemorate the life and death of various people. Not all of these people are necessarily historical figures, but are of wealth or have family or friends of wealth who can pay to have the honorarium created and placed on the walls.

Ron has wanted to go to the library to do some genealogical research. They have a library specifically for this purpose. There are two librarians that can assist you with this, if you have some information to go on. What they mainly have are land deeds, baptism records, marriage certificates and the such, but you need to know specifics and dates. On the computer they have all of the names, counties of residence, and dates of birth and death of residents, but the time frame is 1835 to 1849 or some such small range of years.

I thought it would be fun to see what I could find out also. We knew that my father’s paternal side had started out in France with William the Conquer and followed him into Britain during his invasion. Ron was sent upstairs with the number of a microfiche to check out certificates and the librarian tried assisting me. All she could do, without specific information was to help me trace the name French, in Ireland. For those of you who are not familiar with this story, French was my birth name and I changed it to James, years ago. Unfortunately, Ron was not as fortunate in locating information. The records on microfiche were copies of handwritten records that were difficult to impossible to read. The dates he was looking for were missing from the records. The librarian did suggest the Mormon web site for genealogy, saying that they have done extensive work with the Irish.

This is what I found. French comes from the name de Freyne. Sometimes it was spelled with two ff’s and this was due to ignorance of the common practice of the 16th and 17th century form of calligraphy where ff was used to mean a capital F. Originally, the name was Norman and came from the Latin fraximus, which means ash tree. The de Freynes went from France to England with William the Conquer. The name was changed to French to mean of French descent.

Irish bearers of the name French are said to be descendents of Theophilus de Frensche, a Norman baron who accompanied William the Conquer into England. One branch of his descendents settled into the Wexford area around 1300. Some settled in Roscommon around 1620. This branch produced Field Marshal Sir John French 1852-1925, Commander in Chief of the British Expeditionary Force of World War I.

Some of the Wexford Frenches migrated to Galway in 1425 and were recognized as one of the twelve tribes of Galway. William French was a Sovereign of Galway in 1944. Two of the Galway Frenches were members of the Supreme Council of the Confederate Catholics of Kilkenny. One Galway French, Reverend Peter French, O.P. (d. 1693) worked as a missionary with the Indians, in Mexico for thirty years. The Most Reverend Nicholas French (1604-1678), was Bishop of Ferns and the author of The United Deserters. He was from Wexford. Percy French (1854-1922) is a well-known author, poet, and musician. The Roscommon group became the Frenches of French Park.

Across the walk from the library is one of the National Museums of Ireland. They have several devoted to different aspects of Irish heritage. This one was based on the story of the Irish people from pre-historic times to the 19th century. We only had an hour before it closed, so we did a run through quickly. The second floor was the Viking influence in Ireland, but we did not have time to investigate that area. If we have the time and energy, this will be a place to return to.

Later this night, we went to the Internet café and Ron was able to reach our friend Michael who we had met on the Nile cruise. He was feeling better and wanted to have us come visit. We will be heading to Manchester for a couple of days after leaving Dublin.

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