Moving East

Richard and Bridget Seery

Dick and Birdie Seery

My granny married a man from the village. I wonder how they met. Maybe they met at a local dance, or on the steps at the town clock. They probably went to the same school. It’s one of the many things I regret not asking her.

She lived at Kilmalin, the eldest child in a family of three. Her parents Patrick and Maggie were just two years married in 1911, and Bridget was only one year old in 1911. Her younger sister Maureen and brother Sean weren’t born at that stage. Maureen never married, and Sean moved away to England, bringing the McNulty name with him. The young family had settled in the labourer’s cottages built by Lord Powerscourt. Patrick, originally from Glaskenny, was a carpenter on the estate.

Richard Seery was my grandfather. The youngest child in 1911, aged just two, he lived with his six brothers and sister, Lizzie, in the houses at the bottom of Kilgarran Hill, the one next to the old Fever Hospital. His parents Patrick and Mary were married 18 years by then, and with eight children, it must have been quite a squeeze in that little cottage. There was a big field out the back, with a hill down by the side of the house. My uncle tells me they would sled down the hill in the snow, out onto the road. You could do that in those days, he said. There were no cars. Patrick, my great-grandfather, was a bus driver, probably doing a good trade on the Enniskerry to Bray route with his horse-drawn people carrier. Maybe he brought people to view the waterfall at Powerscourt. Family legend says he is the bus man in one of the Lawrence photographs of the village.

So the carpenter’s daughter and the bus man’s son met and married and had their own family. They moved first to Church Hill. Their house is now called Ceres Cottage. My granny had a tea room there in the front room. Whoever bought it apparently asked her if they could name the house after them, but she said no. She probably didn’t want the attention. But they named it anyway, just with a different spelling. They moved to Monastery, where I used to visit my granny. Walking from Kilgarran, I’d walk up the Dublin road, and cross over the pass to the Monastery road up to the house at Monastery. The kettle was always warm. I never knew my grandfather. But when I think of him and his brothers, I imagine they were similar to my dad and his brothers. We certainly all look alike. I like to project back their personalities, back through the generations. We all stand in a particular way.

Great grandfather Patrick’s father was also Patrick, living in Kilmalin at the time of his son’s marriage in 1893. He was as a labourer at Powerscourt. Patrick Junior’s bride, Mary Rourke, three months older than he, was the daughter of James, a carman. James probably helped his new son-in-law get into the bus trade. Joseph Windsor and Ellen Rourke were the witnesses. The newly-weds must have moved to the little cottage on Kilgarran soon after, and they had their first son, Patrick a year later. He was my grandfather’s brother.

Great-great grandfather Patrick married Mary Cassidy and they had at least three girls and two boys, living in their family home at Kilmalin. He was a labourer, born in the 1830s, long before the town clock was built. Seery’s don’t appear on Griffith’s Valuation. They were likely one of a large class of under-tenants that didn’t register on national records. I curse their good behaviour now. An odd drink on the street or a wandering animal would have put them in the local court records. But I do know what great-great-grandfather Patrick did every day of his life for several years, as he is recorded in the Powerscourt Estate workmen’s account books, earning 8 shillings a week. On 7 August 1855, he took Lord Powerscourt’s luggage to Dublin. It must have been a great day away from raking hay and drawing stones. His Lordship was probably on his way to India.

The Workmen’s account books also list a Dan Seery. He was higher on the list, meaning he was there longer. Second on the list after James McCue. Patrick didn’t have a brother Daniel that I can find, but his father was Daniel. It’s likely then the Dan and Pat listed in the Powerscourt records were father and son. So now I can say I know what great-great-great-grandfather Dan did every day of his life for several years too. Like his son, his wasn’t an easy life; six days a week with just a few days off a year – but the steady income must have been useful to Dan’s wife, Elizabeth Sanders.

They married in 1833 and had five children, including Patrick, born in 1834. They lived at Blackhouse, a name that lives only in local memory now, but not registered in the Ordnance Survey. They Ordnance men came to the area when Dan’s son Patrick was just five. Blackhouse was on all of the old maps but the map men must have decided it wasn’t a townland, and the name was dropped. Dan’s best man was John Grimes, who had recently married Dan’s sister, Winifred. As Dan’s children grew up and moved out, they moved east, to Kilmalin, and then the next generation to the village. The lands at Kilmalin and Glencree were being cleared and amalgamated into larger farms. People moved to the village or away altogether. Great aunt Maureen lived in my granny’s family home at Kilmalin. She saw the shift. How’d you get to know them up there, she’d ask, as gate-keeper between the village and the valley. What would she make of it all now?

The mystery of the Seerys of Enniskerry is where they came from and where they went. Most Irish Seerys come from the midlands. Dan and Winifred were from a family of five. While no records exist for their parents, it seems safe to assume that they too lived locally. Perhaps Dan and Winifred’s parents moved here at the turn of the 1800s. There was a lot of new work to be had in building the new village. With so many brothers in each generation, it’s strange to think that there’s not more there now. After the current generation, the Seery name, like many Enniskerry names from previous centuries – Buckley and Miller, Grimes and McGuirk – will disappear. We enjoyed our stay.

Contribute your family’s story by September 1st to be included in this year’s Journal, which will be published in November.

seery family tree

3 thoughts on “Moving East

  1. Interesting Michael, I knew of both families, the Seerys and the McNultys, but never knew they were connected. Descended from large Wogan, Botts and Kelly families (also disappeared) I know what you mean. Sad to think the Wogan name will also one day be gone from the village.

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