In April 1863, Mary Jane Flanigan, aged 9, left her native Ireland and set sail for New Zealand on the ship Elizabeth Ann Bright. She was travelling with a Mrs Ryan. Was this her mother who had remarried? Was Mary in service? We don’t know. In January 1869, aged 14, she married Theophilus George Love, probably an Irishman, at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Auckland.
Mary Flanigan was my great-great-grandmother, my only certain Irish ancestor. On her death certificate in 1941, her place of birth was recorded as Cashel, Ireland, so it was only natural that we should go there and have a look at what is possibly my distant homeland.
Cashel is in Tipperary and is famous for the Rock of Cashel, an outcrop of land upon which sits a 13th century fortified cathedral. Although now a ruin, it is relatively well-preserved, with part of its stone roof still intact.
An attached chapel, Cormac’s Chapel, is even older and you can still see parts of the original frescoes on the walls and ceilings which date from the building’s consecration in 1134. The gargoyles you see on the below photo are reputedly the actual images of the stonemasons who did the work, the equivalent of a medieval photo.
But we found no trace of Mary Flanigan anywhere. An online site has given us a possible baptism record from 20 July 1854, giving her parent’s names as John Flanigan and Ellen Hanly but other records of the time contain no trace of them. So Mary remains as much a mystery now as she ever was.