Driving in Ireland

There are more benefits than draw backs to driving in Ireland.

Driving on the opposite side of the street from what we are used to is nerve wrecking.

What we consider a one way street, Irish people will happily use as a two way road, and they drive fast.

The town streets are narrow and many of the roads in the outlying countryside are so tight you have to pull into the bushes or back out to an intersection or open field.

The countryside is beautiful. There are rolling green hills everywhere you look filled with sheep and cattle.

And the coastline is breathtaking.

There is greater freedom to see the country with a rental and much cheaper than hiring a private driver or paying for tours.

Gasoline is expensive compared to our gas prices at home. It is priced by the liter so be prepared to spend closer to $70 per tank verses $50.

If you can get a vehicle that runs on diesel you will save some money.

Fuel costs in Ireland

https://www.theaa.ie/aa/motoring-advice/petrol-prices.aspx

In the five days we drove 1,650 kilometers (or 1,025 miles). We spent €100 on diesel fuel ($110).

After five days of driving I felt better about it and I was able to see more of the surroundings rather than focusing so hard to stay in my lane.

Tips

Here are some things to consider when renting a car.

> Know that automatics are scarce.

Upgrades will be offered because most of the cars in Ireland are manual. Keep in mind that your upgrade will most likely be a larger vehicle which can make the tight roads even tighter.

> If you are offered an upgrade on your rental consider not taking it. Especially if the vehicle is a full size SUV.

Some of the countryside has very tight roads and a lot of rolling hills which is a little scary when you cannot see who is coming over the hilltop.

> Consider using your Google Maps app instead of paying for the rentals’ GPS or Garmen.

Their maps are not always updated. Even when they say they are.

You may want to update your app on your phone to include the latest maps before you leave the States.

> Don’t worry about driving slow. The Irish are used to foreigners’ timid driving.

> Consider picking up your rental outside of the larger cities like Dublin.

Driving in the major cities is a greater challenge due to the obvious… more traffic.

There are roundabouts everywhere in Ireland. Especially in the cities where you may have five or six exits off a roundabout.

Have fun and enjoy the adventure.

Additional reading

https://shershegoes.com/renting-a-car-in-ireland/

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In Search of Michael E. – Part 4

I was really struggling letting go of the opportunity to see the real property since we came so far.

I decided to call Josie and she was so gracious and accommodating.

We meet Josie back at the Church on our way out of town.

The Sexton Farm

She led us to the Sexton farm about seven kilometers away which covers 32 acres in Aghamore Upper, County Longford Ireland

Josie was born in the old house and moved into the new house in 1975. It was only she and her parents in the new house then. She has never lived anywhere else and has always been single.

Josie seldom goes down to the old house these days. She said to me, “Ya gonna need ya boots in all the muck Michael Edward.”

The property has always had cattle, calves and sheep on it and some of the acreage is now rented by a cattle farmer.

Who knows? There is a good chance that James and his father Patt were Cattle Farmers or Ranchers (or Cowboys as we call them in the States).

A Hard Life

Most of Patt’s life and all of James’ life were living on the farm as farmers or laborers. They worked for the landowner in exchange for a roof over their heads and food to feed their families.

Here is a sample of what a farmer or a Laborer’s house may have looked like in the 17 and early 18 hundreds.

Bothan Scóir, was a typical one-roomed house of a landless laborer who worked for a local landlord. Many of these houses, with their thatched roofs, disappeared along with their tenants during the Great Irish Famine.

Maybe that’s why Michael E made his way to America in 1891 at just 18 years old. He just didn’t see himself living the farmer’s life.

(Stayed tuned. There’s more to come.)

In Search of Michael E – Part 3

Today we headed into Longford Township to meet with local Historian Martin Morris.

Using the free ancestry website www.IrishGenealogy.ie Martin was very helpful pulling up civil records. He was also able to identify the Parish and Cemetery where my great-great grandfather James was buried.

Finding the cemetery

Using a hand drawn map of the cemetery we were able to locate James Sexton (1831-1913) as plot #296.

On the sides of James’ headstone was his oldest son Bernard (1864-1950) and his grandson James (1924-1996).

Meeting Josie

This is a classic divine appointment.

After visiting St. Colmcille Catholic Church and Cemetery in Aghnacliffe, County Longford we headed up the hill toward Dunbeggan in search of locals that might give us some insights and possibly identify distant relatives still living in the area.

At the top of the hill were two pubs and a fast food place.

I asked the two women behind the counter and a customer in the restaurant if they could point us in the right direction to Aghamore Upper.

The customer, a petite woman named Patricia Boyle, immediately chimed in and asked why Aghamore Upper?

We told her of our journey and and as God would have it she knew Josephine Sexton who lives in Aghamore Upper. “In fact,” she said with her thick Gaelic brogue, “she goes to church right down the way here. Let me go to the church and point her out for ya.

So she grabbed her food and before we knew it she was in her car and off she went. We caught up to her in front of St. Colmcille Catholic Church (were we just came from) and she scurried into the church where there with eight or ten older folks praying the Rosary.

As she search for Josephine she realized she wasn’t there yet. She suggested we wait since the Mass was starting at “half past 7.

20 minutes later, A sweet older woman with glasses came walking up the drive to the church. Patricia described her perfectly.

Within five minutes she tells me, “Call me Josie!” Quickly followed by. “Tell me. Who are ya now?

As it turns out, Josephine Sexton’s great-grandfather is James (born in 1831).

This makes us Second Cousins one removed. I think?

Josie shared with us that she was the only Sexton still living on the Aghamore Upper property and the original house could not be reached.

Since she was going to Mass we let her go thinking this was the end of our time together and bid our farewells.

We went up the hill toward Aghamore Upper to where we guessed the property might be. We knew we were close.

(Continue on to In Search of Michael E – Part 4

In Search of Michael E – Part 2

We have had a productive couple of days in Dublin and enjoying the Republic of Ireland’s bustling capital.

Today we head Northeast of Dublin to Longford where we will continue our search for Michael E.

My wife, Lisa, and I are heading to Aghamore Upper in County Longford hoping we find the property and cemetery for James & Bridget Lee (Michael E’s parents).

Finding exact locations, addresses or coordinates have been a challenge. We are getting closer.

It seems a part of our journey is realizing that the Irish are great story tellers and the stories are not always factual. It depends on what story the story teller heard or how much Guinness they’ve consumed when telling the story.

Record keeping is similar and sketchy due to merged family names and terrible penmanship. Again, it may be the Guinness.

From what we have gathered so far, it appears that Michael E’s grandfather may have been Patt who worked the farm in Aghamore Upper before his son James bought a portion of it. Any clarity on that will be welcomed. All we have to this point is Lot 14B on a Valuation map.

From County Longford we plan to head southwest through County Roscommon. Somewhere in this region is the home of Mary Gallagher who Michael Edward Sexton married in Lower Manhattan years later.

The biggest challenge thus far is identifying where to find accurate records; properties, cemeteries, church name and locations for marriages and baptisms, etc.

From Roscommon we head to Cobh (formerly Queenstown) to see what sailing records we can find. We are assuming that Mary Gallagher (who sailed in 1888) and Michael Edward (1891) went to Castle Gardens in NY from Queenstown rather than from Galway.

Queenstown is where the majority of journeys to America began for millions of Irish men and women.

(Continue on to In Search of Michael E – Part 3)

As we head out of Dublin later this morning, please send up any prayers since this will be my first time driving on the left side of the road. Pray for the others on the road (and sidewalks) as well

In Search of Michael E

While embarking on a journey to Ireland in search of my family’s heritage I am reminded how lucky and blessed we are to live in the United States of America.

We are rich beyond compare. Especially when we reflect on what our forefathers had to endure to insure our freedom. We are free because of their bravery.

In researching the plight of Ireland and the conditions they worked and lived in, it is amazing we can simply get on a plane to fly to the Old Country.

When our Irish grandparents and great grandparents came to the New World it was a minimum seven day voyage.

SS Alaska

On the sailing vessels pre-dating the great steamers it was a three month adventure across the Atlantic.

I am Michael Edward Sexton (born in 1956). Son of Robert William (1923-1994) of the Bronx and grandson of James Jerome (1898-1975) of the Bronx.

James Jerome was the first generation Irish-American in our lineage.

His father was Michael Edward (1873-1940) who came to America in 1891 on a journey from Ireland.

At just 17 years old he had to be eager for a new life in the new world where millions of Irishmen emigrated to. The journey from the northern hills of Ireland to the docks of Queenstown must have taken him weeks or possibly months to find the ships heading to America.

From what we have been able to gather through genealogical research Michael E was a laborer and son of a farmer in County Longford.

We also know that Michael E married an Irish girl he met in Lower Manhattan and had seven boys and two girls including their first, James Jerome.

Her name was Mary Gallagher (1870-1956) from County Roscommon and she sailed to the new world in 1888. She was just 17 or 18 years old.

Our next seven days in Ireland will hopefully shine new light on where they came from and how we got to where we are today.

(Continue on to In Search of Michael E – Part 2)

Easter Is Coming

We all know that Easter is coming and signs of Spring are blooming everywhere.

Coming out of the dark and cold of Winter is energizing with the sun shining brighter and the days getting longer.

Yes, we may celebrate Easter with a Reese’s chocolate and peanut butter Easter Bunny. These reminders are woven into our daily lives as soon as the first petals appear on the Cherry Blossoms.

For me though, this time of year is a great time to reflect on the Cross.

What we tend to forget is how we got here and who saved us.

Jesus Christ was anticipating our freedom and our salvation as Easter drew near. He was excited for all of His believers knowing that we were being given the gift of eternal life.

He also wanted to show His love to the entire world so He chose to extend forgiveness and to offer everyone salvation.

He chose a brutal death in a brutal time in history. Why not by “guillotine” or “lethal injection?” Those methods are much quicker and much humane then wearing a crown of thorns and experiencing excruciating beatings, scourging and suffocation.

Luke’s depiction of the crucifixion (http://bit.ly/2VngHXI) captures the agony of the Cross much like The Passion (http://bit.ly/2CZoHa2) does of the scourging Christ took at the hands of the Romans.

The fact that Christ chose to surrender himself to go through this hell is just another example of how much He loves us.

Considering what Jesus went through and how He suffered for us, please remember how He forgave us of our sins, was ridiculed in the process, and surrendered Himself to our Father in Heaven.

And on Easter Sunday morning celebrate His Resurrection because He rose from the dead and today He is alive seated at the right hand of the Father until the day He returns.

Hallelujah.

Glorious Day – Casting Crowns
http://bit.ly/2VvgNMM

Carry My Cross – Third Day
http://bit.ly/2CSu4YL

Forever – Kari Jobe
http://bit.ly/2D1pWpj

GOING DEEP

What is scourging?
http://bit.ly/2CZoHa2

Crucifixion
http://bit.ly/2VkGMGM

It’s A Miracle

Twenty seven years ago today my life was changed forever. At 35 years old, and just six weeks from my 36th birthday, I married Lisa Burrell. To have and to hold.

Neither of us had been married before so this was brand new territory for us both.

The difference was that Lisa had Jesus on her side. I didn’t… yet. She had an eternal mindset. I was just jumping in the pool not knowing how cold the water would be.

Lisa had an amazing journey with God that started just 18 months earlier with an abrupt move from the suburbs of Chicago to the shores of Long Beach, CA.

She knew she was delivered and she knew God had a plan for her new life. It was apparent to Lisa that I would be a part of that plan shortly after I walked into The Reef.

Lisa just started working there a few weeks before and God provided her a hot meal everyday. He was showing her the He was her provider.

I was looking for a set to film an episode of China Beach and had no clue that my life would be changed the moment I saw her.

Three months after our wedding day we decided to move away from Los Angeles and after listing several cities we felt we could live in we settled in Charlotte, NC.

Less than a year later we were on the brink of disaster. Lisa was working and I was floundering. She had a support network with the friends she made at work. I was drifting through odd jobs including selling produce, Christmas trees and bar tending.

Lisa was praying for me every day while I was drinking. I was falling deeper into my demise which manifested into depression and self pity.

We were going to a small church with a handful of charismatics and with Lisa’s prompting, the men invited me to a men’s retreat. I reluctantly agreed.

Looking back it now makes sense why Pastor Geoff wanted to play tennis so much. Lisa was calling him asking him to reach out to me.

Neither one of us knew at the time, but Lisa’s prayers and her diligence in witnessing to me, God was setting me up.

The night before the retreat I was bar tending in a local pub. Lisa was back in California for a conference.

It was February 19, 1993. It was 17 degrees that night and God decided it was time to get my attention.

Most nights I would have kept my coat with all of my personal belongings behind the bar. This night I hung them just inside the back door.

At closing time I could not find my coat since someone took it home with them. It was 2:30 AM and the locksmith told me they could come now for $200 or come in the morning for $40. Even in my inebriated mind that decision was an easy one.

I called my drinking buddy Joe to stay with him. My keys were gone so I couldn’t get into my house. Joe said “Come on” so I walked a couple of blocks to the produce store he lived in.

Joe had a cot and a sleeping bag he used. Nothing more. I settled on the concrete floor in the 17 degree temperatures with no coat, no keys, and no identity since my drivers license was gone too.

God spoke to me at that moment letting me know that He gave me everything. My car. My comfort. My identity. My wife and my life. And He could take it ALL away in an instant.

I went to the retreat later that day. Hung over and humbled.

I have no idea what Peter Lord said in the opening session but I found myself surrendering my life to Christ. From that moment my life has never been the same.

God freed me from myself that day. Freed from drinking and depression. And with Lisa’s help, He saved me.

Now 27 years later I realize that I not only got married but I was given a wife who literally saved my life.

Thank you Jesus and thank you Lisa.