Monday, July 22, 2013

Connecting to a County Kilkenny Past

My friend and yoga instructor reveals her identity and shares some photos of her Irish homeland in this guest blog, kindly written after her June 2013 trip to Ireland.

Near Freshford, County Kilkenny

At the beginning of March of this year, my friend Judy Fox and I struck up a deal.  I would trade private yoga instruction in exchange for genealogical research into my immigrant ancestor.  I wanted to find out where he came from before my trip to Ireland in June.  Through Judy's tireless research, hours of straining neck and wrist muscles and no doubt eyes glazing over from staring at a computer screen, she was able to achieve what I consider the impossible: the exact spot where my great-great grandfather was born in County Kilkenny,Ireland, in the year 1829.

Although the goal of our arrangement was to find the origin of birth of my Irish ancestor and some flexibility for Judy, we came to find so much more.  Through yoga poses and mugs of hot cider, we also discovered a genuine and caring friendship with each other.  Each week as we met on Judy's living room floor I would applaud her latest discoveries, and she would go into a pose and say, “I'm going to feel this tomorrow.”
A walking trail named the Freshford Loop winds through fields, over walls, past a stream and into the woods.  It really felt magical and I felt for sure we were near to our ancestral homeland.  This ruin lies at the edge of a plowed field.

Because of Judy's research I was able to visit the exact townland where my family originated.  As I walked through woods and fields on the Freshford Loop, I was able to imagine what life might have been like for my ancestors living in such glorious countryside.  Breathing in the fresh smell of grass and hearing the sounds of a gentle brook while climbing over stone walls, I had the sense of coming home.  This is what we are probably searching for when we decide to trace our roots.  It’s a way to feel connected to the people from our past who had a part in creating us, even though we never met.
A contemporary thatched cottage

My trip to Ireland was filled with beautiful sights, history, interesting characters and music.  The highlight was Kilkenny City where I strolled the streets, toured the castle and the 800-year-old cathedral, and enjoyed a pint along the River Nore.  I would like to thank my friend, Judy for giving me this gift.

--Roxanne Buggy Thomas, Roxanne Thomas Yoga