Stories of our people in the old country.
Ardee, Co. Louth
Ardee, County Louth, Ireland
In Ardee it is the River Dee that must be crossed to find the places where our O’Haras farmed before the Great Hunger (1845-1850). You may not be surprised to find that crossing on “Bridge Street.” It leads out of the tight little City of Ardee, through what was farm country, back in the day, along Stonylane, all the way to Rathgory.
Ardee is a small city in the smallest county in Ireland, known since at least 1414 as the market town for rich agricultural and riparian gifts. It is about a third of the way along the ancient highway from Dublin City to Letterkenny in County Donegal. There, in 1790, Ann Devine, matriarch of our O’Hara family, was born. She died three days after Christmas in 1856 and was buried in Old St. Mary’s Cemetery in Little Falls, New York.
We knew she was in Old St. Mary’s Cemetery, because she was on a list of people who were buried there, but none of the Little Falls family knew where her grave was located. With first cousins once removed, I walked the steep hills there, looking for O’Haras, and found loads of them, but not Ann. We would separate, each of us taking a different route, trying to find her. One day, alone, I stood not far from the caretaker’s old stone cottage, up the first hill to the right, and turned around to my left to see, just where the hill dipped into a steep incline, a rounded stone with the name “Ann” near the top. Minding my step on the rutted earth, I came close enough to see that, under her Given Name was a line of letters that was unreadable. We think it must have said, once, “Wife of” because below it was “Michael O’Hara.” Then, “Died December 28, 1856, Aged 66 years. Native of the Parish of Ardee, Co. Louth, Ireland.” At the very bottom, once the weeds were torn away, I could read a prayer that she might rest in peace. I took quick photos of the stone that day, and several times on later visits, thank God. Because this year, on my most recent visit, most of the letters have become undiscernable. I believe she called to me that day I found her. She wanted us to know where the O’Haras came from. Ardee.