Churchtown Reunion

Saturday, 6 October, 2012
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Churchtown Reunion

Meg's great great granddaughter, Claire Donohue, brought her photo from Long Island. Having only recently discovered where in all of Ireland the Erwins had lived, she came with a tree of seven or eight generations of descendants of the seven children of Jeremiah and Ellen Gorman Erwin of Ballygrace.

The Ireland Reaching Out liaison, Annemarie Kalishoek, set up a date with the local historian Noel Linehan to visit the townland and locate the site where the family lived. Through the kindness of cousins Peggy and Edward Thornhill of Buttevant, it all came off as planned and all trooped up the road to Ballygrace to the site of the cabin and the hedge school up the road.

Jeremiah Erwin (Irvine in Griffiths) was a blacksmith. When the family left Ireland about 1852, they settled in Phoenix, New York, on the Oswego Canal which is a spur of the famous Erie Canal. It is thought that he worked there shoeing the ponies that pulled barges along the canal.

Churchtown Reunion

By 1860 the four older children had married. Thomas had moved to nearby Syracuse where he worked in a salt factory, with time out to serve in the Civil War. Meg married Hugh Flaherty and moved with him to Glen Cove on Long island where he found work in a world-famous starch factory. In the 1880s her widowed sister Mary MacCue moved down too, and her son Jerry got work at the starch works. Another sister, Bridget Mead, had also lived in Glen Cove for a time and the three sisters are buried side-by-side in St. Patrickメs Cemetery.

Ellen and Patrick stayed in Phoenix, where she married George Henderson, another Civil War veteran who became Phoenix's Chief of Police. Ironically, Meg's grandson John Donohue was Glen Cove's first Chief of Police; he was succeeded by his cousin Frank McCue. Two of the McCues are still on the force. One of them was here at Easter to visit his daughter at UCC and meet the relatives. Patrick also stayed on in Phoenix where he worked on the boats and then farmed. The fate of the youngest child, Honoria, is not known, but the rest kept in close touch through the generations. There are photos and newspaper mentions of visits back and forth between Phoenix and Glen Cove, and now back to Ireland after a hundred and fifty years or so.