Friday, 17 June 2011

Before We Were Irish

It's hard to say how pure any of our roots are, and how deep they go. Empires rise and fall, countries are conquered, theologies are spread.

Ken's Irish heritage goes back to the spread of Protestantism. His British ancestors (of Normandy descent) were some of the first Protestant settlers in Ireland in the mid-late 1500's. Which is how Ken's relative, Major Hugh Harding, came to tend Ballymacshanero, a Tower House built by Oliver Cromwell - which puts 'us' on the wrong side of Irish history. Though if I learned anything on this trip it is that Ken's ancestors had the political savvy to know when political tides were turning and how to stay on the good side of whomever was in power. (There was the occasion surname change to facilitate things.)

Ballymacshanero now sits in the side yard of Ashgrove House. The current resident warmed up to Sue immediately when she reminded him she'd visited 20 years earlier and recalled the name of his dog at the time (Max). We were graciously allowed into the tower.

(Tower staircases were designed to be uneven on purpose "stumble steps" to give advantage to the person most accustomed to that staircase over a potential attacker.)

Ballymacshanero is now a garden shed. How do you like that? It looks pretty similar to the shed under the deck in my own backyard, minus the history.  Standing in Ballymacshanero, Matthew 6:19-20 popped into my head:

 19¶Lay not up for yourselves atreasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves bbreak through and steal:
 20But lay up for yourselves atreasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor bsteal:

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