The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

My name is Maggie. I would love to hear from you. My passions are family history research and photography. I do hope you will enjoy travelling alongside me through my webpage.

I have just returned from Ireland. My journey took me along the Wild Atlantic Way.



Associated with our Shaughnessy families – Connemara was traditionally divided into North Connemara and South Connemara. The mountains of the Twelve Bens and the Owenglin river, which flows into the sea at An Clochán/Clifden, marked the boundary between the two parts. Connemara lies in the territory of Iar Connacht, “West Connacht”, which is the portion of County Galway west of Lough Corrib and the portion of County Mayo, townlands Cloonee, Ballinrobe and Creduff, in the barony of Ross.

Day 5 morning found me in Westport before visiting the award-winning Connemara Heritage Centre to gain a unique insight into Ireland’s past.

Our little group were blessed with the stories told by Martin Walsh. Martin is a wonderful storyteller and listening to his Irish brogue, the stories certainly come to life.

Martin, Nora and their family run a hill farm in the heart of Connemara. In 1992, they diversified into agri tourism and at the Heritage Centre, the family share the history, heritage, culture & traditions of the Connemara. The farm has cattle, sheep and the world famous Connemara Ponies with a few friendly donkeys & chickens.

The centre is based around the restored pre-famine cottage of Dan O’Hara a tenant, forced to emigrate to America in the 1840’s when he was evicted from his home. Martin Walsh is related to Dan OHara and this is part of his story.

Dan O’Hara’s homestead is built on the original site of the home of Dan from Connemara, a renowned Irish ballard all over the world.

O'Hara Family Fire Place

Dan O’Hara lived with his wife and seven children in a cottage shadowed by the Twelve Bens. The mountain range is breathtaking. Many remains of human presence can be seen in the Park. The oldest are megalithic court tombs some 4,000 years old. It is an ancient landscape.

The twelve Bens are a group of small mountains that are the dominant feature of the Connemara countryside.

Dan from Connemara is renowned as a popular ballad all over the world and the words represent all Irish tenants that where evicted from their homes by the landlords.

Sure it’s poor I am today
For God gave and took away
And He left without a home poor Dan O’Hara
With these matches in my hand
In the frost and snow I stand
So it’s here I am today your broken hearted

Achusla geal mo chroi*, won’t you buy
a box from me
And you’ll have the prayers of Dan from Connemara
I’ll sell them cheap and low, buy a box before you go
From the broken hearted farmer Dan O’Hara

In the year of sixty-four
I had acres by the score
And the grandest land you ever ran a plough through
But the landlord came you know
And he laid our home so low
So it’s here I am today your broken hearted

For twenty years or more
Did misfortune cross our door
My poor old wife and I were sadly parted
We were scattered far and wide
And our children starved and died
So it’s here I am today your broken hearted

Though in frost and snow I stand
Sure the shadow of God’s hand
It lies warm about the brow of Dan O’Hara
And soon with God above
I will meet the ones I love
And I’ll find the joys I lost in Connemara

*Achuisla geal mo chroi: Dear brightness of my heart

Visit Ireland 2018

My trip to Ireland September to October was to gain an understanding of the people, the culture and history of my Irish Shannassy, Begley, Fogarty, ONeill people. I was particularly interested in Mayo, Donegal, Derry. These where the counties that my mothers side of the family came from.

During my journey I made it my mission to visit various small villages along the Wild Atlantic Way.

However, to start, I now write about the other county I visited which was Killkenny in search of the church lands where MARY PIDGEON born and baptised 1831. Mary was the only Irish person in my fathers tree line, with all others coming from Shetland. Her baptism image is from the Gowran townland and found in a genealogical site Find My Past. An excellent site if interested in being able to download an image.

It was toward the end of my trip that I located the church land and was able to photograph some beautiful images. St. Mary’s Collegiate Church Gowran (Gaelic/Irish: Eaglais Mhuire), also known as the Church of the Blessed Virgin of the Assumption, is a church in the centre of the town of Gowran, County Kilkenny, Ireland. It is an ancient site and a National Monument of Ireland.
The local people told me that there are “over 9000 souls in the ground”.

I will include some photos of the church land and some of the grave stones after I get myself organised. In the meantime here is an example:-


The pub was just across the road and the older people were interested in the family names. I was astounded. I must admit I spent hours wandering around the grave sites and taking in the feelings associated with finding a precious link to our family story.

This person from across the world popping to a little local pub was welcomed with open arms. A young couple took me under their wings and invited me inside where it was warm and cosy. I listened to their story and they listened to mine. Why was I here so long away from my home? I told them about my family and Mary Pidgeon being a first family settler, arriving in Sept 1852 at Point Henry, Geelong, Victoria, Australia. They knew exactly the right question to ask when I mentioned the name married to KENNETT. Was he in the barracks? Well yes he was. The Kilkenny Journal, 25 July 1849 and The military in Kilkenny 1800-1870 by Liam Böiger B.A. Thesis for the degree of PhD Department of History National University of Ireland Maynooth will allow you to read the history.

Thomas Trevanian Kennett served in a Dragoon Guard component for a short while, before returning to England and then leaving for Australia.

He married Mary Pidgeon in 1852 and their second child MARY EMMA KENNETT was my fathers grandmother.

Jindabyne in the high country

Years ago I went to Jindabyne in the high country of New South Wales. I still have very fond memories.

I spent a couple of weeks walking in this lovely area in the high country several years ago. This was a challenging trip.  I ventured to this area to help recover from a difficult work environment. I received a taste of bushwalking and stayed at a little cottage at lower heights and spend many days enjoying the clean fresh air of the Snowy Mountains.  Such a beautiful place to be.

I observed nature; went fishing for trout and thoroughly enjoyed the peace and clean air. I also spent time laying on the various rocks, watching the skinks sunnying themselves. It was warm weather during this trip.

Jindabyne, NSW High Country

Much to my surprise I also achieved some abseiling under the watchful eye of a professional climber.

Jindabyne Rock was okay for me. Not too tough. I must admit that I was exhausted by the end of the day. This climb was mid morning. I finished off the day with short swim in Lake Jindabyne.

Walking with Camels – Flinders Ranges, South Australia

The first humans to inhabit the Flinders Ranges were the Adnyamathanha people (meaning “hill people” or “rock people”) whose descendants still reside in the area and the Ndajurri people who no longer exist.  Cave paintings, rock engravings and other artifacts indicate that the Adnyamathana and Ndajurri lived in the Flinders Ranges for tens of thousands of years. Occupation of the Warratyi rock shelter dates back approximately 49,000 years.  (courtesy Wikipedia / Flinders Ranges)

A personal experience – I gave myself a gift to clear my head after leaving my passion of working with the elders in aged care.    I walked the Flinders Ranges, South Australia.

If you have the opportunity to visit the Flinders Ranges you will find clean fresh air, magnificent rock formations, flowers in unexpected places.  You will also come across walking tracks and wildlife.

I camped in a swag and enjoyed the beautiful, crisp, icy mornings as well as stunning sunsets.  I took many photographs and here an edited version of one, a couple of the camels.

They are aloof animals.  They enjoy their space, can spit, and can ark up if another one of their kind gets too close.


Even today it is a remote place.  As I was mounting the saddle on my camel one of her friends tried to bite my ride.  Of course, my camel took offence and quickly started to stand up, knocking into my rib cage.  I came off the saddle too.  I was a bit sore that morning and wrapped by rib cage around several times with my long scarf.  That night I slept with quite a lot of pain.  Thank goodness for my travel scarf which I just happen to carry where ever I go.   It always comes in handy for something.

The people I was walking with called the hospital, using satellite technique.  The hospital was miles away.  They reported there was no doctor was on deck and wouldn’t be for days.

It was even difficult getting into the swag.  Days past, I continued to walk.

Continued on my journey, slept in pain, couldn’t lay flat in my swag, heard some gurgling sounds coming from my chest and decided it was best not to move around in the swag at night.

I was bruised and sore.  It set me back somewhat, however, I loved that walk and campfires in the evening.

When I arrived back home in Victoria, I sort medical advice.  Yes, I had several cracked ribs.  There wasn’t much that could be done for that though.  I had handled my injury in the best way really, by wrapping my scarf around my rib cage.  Cracked ribs heal themselves.  It took a while.