Looking for O'Nealls/O'Neils/...

After Monasterboyce and Mellifont Abbey, we drove through through the site of the Battle of the Boyne. We then travelled up to Castleshane (not to be confused with Shane's Casle), where we walked up to ruins of castle. Soon, we entered "the North", where we stopped briefly in Armagh, then went on to Cookstown, where the only room we could find vacant had just a single bed! That was cozy.

The next day, we visited Tullyhogue (the ancient Tyrone O'Neill clan inauguration site). We drove around Lough Neagh and visited Shane's Castle in the sunlight

Tullaghoge Lough Neagh
In the distance, the stone where O'Neil kings
were crowned, at Tullyhogue
Beautiful Lough Neagh

Shane's Castle is the family home of the Clannaboy O'Neils, from whom it had been thought we were descended. Normally, one isn't allowed to enter the grounds without permission, but there was a sort of circus taking place there, so we just followed the signs to the circus until -- lo, behold, we were right in front of the remains of the castle.

Speaking of history, we visited Shane's Castle on one of the sunniest and most beautiful days of our stay. Really lucky, there. We wandered around for an hour or more, taking pictures and admiring and, especially, trying to imagine how it had once been. The "black head" is hard to find, but we did (we think). Also looked at French John's mausoleum and the tombstones there, so we'd be in practice to read Brian's tombstone at Skerry, about which more later.

Shane's Castle Shane's Castle
Shane's Castle
Shane's Castle French John's mausoleum
Shane's Castle - waterfront on Lough Neqgh French John's mausoleum at Shane's Castle
Skerry Churchyard
Skerry Churchyard

In hopes of establishing or refuting our descendance from this clan of O'Neils (more on that here), we had been hoping to find some genealogical evidence in the spot where the O'Neills were buried before becoming protestants, but....

Finding Skerry Churchyard is not a simple task.  But we were used to stopping and asking for directions, the more so as everyone was always happy to give them.  We stopped at a farmhouse to ask where Skerry was and the farmer pointed to it.  But actually getting there was another matter.  Steep and narrow, "road" is not the word, rather driveway followed by a short climb on foot to the top of the hill where the churchyard is.  (There's no road, so I wonder how they get a coffin up there.  All the visible graves, outside the vault, were very old, except one from 2 weeks ago, which was still covered with flowers.) The O'Neills were supposedly buried in the vaulted east end.  That had been stoned up, but a hole had been broken in a corner of the vaulted roof, thru which one could see ... empty beer cans, burned-out candles and miscellaneous other junk.  Maybe an archeologist could make something out of it in several years, but I doubt it.  Saw no piece of  anything resembling a gravestone, so our "practice" reading them at French John's mausoleum was of no use.  So, we write off Skerry as a source of info ...  Too bad it's come to that.  Beautiful site, with a view over the gorgeous Irish countryside and towards Slemmish Mountain, where, according to tradition, St Patrick tended sheep as a slave boy.  Very romantic.  And not only we thought so; we met a charming colleen and her two dogs getting their day's exercise by a walk up to the churchyard.

We then drove over to the Antrim Coast and spent the night at Carnlough.

On to Anrim Coast and Northern Ireland or back to Ireland 1997.


Links to Ireland pages: Back to Bienvenu-Welcome