The year 2008 was one which concentrated our minds. Our twin brothers had both died quite suddenly leaving, out of a family of five siblings ? Caroline, the youngest and the present writers Eoin and Netta. Robin and Peter the eldest, were twins and always very close to each other. They slept together as youngsters, stayed together through early school, boarding school, hostel life and apartment living as young men. They spent all their adult lives in close proximity in or around Dublin and were probably in touch on most days. It was devastating that they both should die within three months of each other, Robin in August and Peter in November, aged sixty four.
Thoughts of our own mortality prompted us to delve in again to the archive of family material in our possession. Material such as letters, pedigrees and photographs mostly passed on to us from our parents and in turn from their parents and grandparents before. In doing this work we are ?writing? specifically to you, the grandchildren of us five siblings.
We come from an extraordinary family and like most families our ancestors are scattered all over the place. As well as coming from Ireland, England and Scotland we find them also in Europe, in India, Africa, America and Australia. We have come across some quite exotic relations and indeed a notorious one. One of your great ~ grandfathers (we use the symbol ~ to denote several greats) was Governor General of Ireland, another was the Seigneur of Ouen, Jersey, another was Maurice Fitzgerald who came to Ireland with the Normans in the twelfth century and yet another was Treasurer of Ceylon. One more in the eighteenth century, was made a freeman of Dublin and another was charged with murder. A great ~ uncle was a renowned portrait painter and another a high court judge.
Clergymen feature often. One of your great ~ grandfathers was a clergyman in Westmeath. A grand uncle was a Bishop and another was Dean of Adelaide Cathedral. We also had a grand uncle who in the nineteenth century married a Catholic and had to emigrate to America in disgrace.
To more modern times; We will tell you the stories of close family; our parents, Noel and Elizabeth, their early lives, Dublin in the 1930s and 1940s. We will record fifty years of living at Skryne Castle, ghosts and all. We will try to record some of our mother?s extraordinary life, of her childhood and school years. We?ll look at her writings on history and archaeology and give you some insight into this remarkable woman.
We have some wonderful archive material to draw on. Just two years ago, Robin and Kay completed an extensive family tree using a modern computer programme. Our mother passed on to us the Owl Box, a hand painted wooden chest which belonged to her grandmother, packed with letters, photographs and notes on her family, going back, for you grandchildren, in some cases, eight generations. She also passed on a large leather, metal framed trunk packed with papers and photographs with the name Mrs. Clements on top, in brass lettering. Mrs. Clements was the earliest of those eight generations, born in the eighteenth century. Old Mrs. Clements was married to Rev. James Crook Clements and apart from the fact that she was the mother of Emily (our great, great grandmother) and passed us on the box, we don?t know much more about her.
Our grandfather left his diary to our father and in turn he left it to us, a heavy, leather bound, handwritten tome covering his journeys to India, starting in 1876 and going on for half a century. Our grandmother Isabel Baron has some very distinguished and interesting people in her lineage. We have her full pedigree through the Barons and Fitzgeralds of Burnchuch, Co. Kilkenny (sixteenth century), through to the twelfth century to Maurice Fitzgerald, Baron of Naas and Wicklow and beyond. We have access to many of our mothers papers, research notes, maps and others. She published quite extensively and we will introduce you to her writings.
Elizabeth Hickey lived in Skryne Castle for fifty years and mostly alone for the last thirty years. This enabled her to have a separate room for each of her many projects. Papers, spread carefully everywhere.
In the short time she had during her illness, she pulled much together. The house had to be vacated quite quickly after her death. We carefully stored all of her work to be dealt with later. Some we have, some are with T.C.D. Library and some with Meath County Library in Navan.
Granny Elizabeth, as she was known to her grandchildren, was quite a collector. In the 1960s she tape recorded extensively, stories from friends, neighbours and relations. One old man from Skryne, tells her on tape how his father remembered the famine. Our parents were prolific letter writers, she has left us a collection of their passionate love letters from the 1930s. You can read the wonderful tributes paid to our mother in the newspapers after she passed away in 1999. Finally we will set out for you some of the stories which lie dormant in our heads and sleeping with Mrs. Clements and in The Owl Box.
We will fully explain to you where, we five children, brought our names from. Robin Hamish, Peter deCarteret, Eoin Clement Baron, Elizabeth Netterville and Caroline Patricia. As you can see one or two of them do need some explaining.
So, we dedicate these stories to you, the next generations who at the time of writing are quite extensive, namely; Rodhan, Fiona, Aillinn, Jamie, Lauren, Eve, Noah, Cathal, Siobh?n, ?ine, Deirdre, Diarmuid, Geroid, Cara, Peter, Cormac, Christina, Aiden, Niall, Shane, Stephanie, Carla, Charlotte, Roseanna, Aaron, Christian, Nicole, Brian, Andrew, Claire, Andrew, Laura and Valerie.