This morning, Linda had to return to the library to do a quick scan on a couple of documents she saw yesterday. She ran into the Vicar of the Cathedral on the way who asked what she was doing in Armagh. After taking a couple of photos (everything is so picturesque!) we all met up and left for Middletown with Terry at the wheel. It's only 10 miles from Armagh, next to the border between Armagh and Monaghan. The area sits amid greed, rolling hills. Middletown is the place our great, great grandparents lived before immigrating to America in 1847. St John's Catholic Church graveyard was the first stop, where we looked carefully at the many Hughes & McArdle tombstones. One of the tombstones had "Roe Hughes" engraved on a seperate small stone. THe Roe Hughes family lived just across the border in Killymonaghan townland, County Monaghan. Our great, great grandfather, Thomas Hughes carried the nickname "ROE", meaning redhead. He married Bridget McArdle in February of 1830 in this parish. They lived nearby in Shantally Townland. The church was open so we checked out the inside. It was built before the famine in the mid 1840s so our ancestors, Thomas Hughes, etc) attended this church. They lived very close...a walk of several minutes. Inside, we were surprised, and a little disappointed, to find it had been completely remodeled--very modern, stark white walls, all light and bright.
The church is just on the edge of Middletown. It's a small village; about 250 people. Main street is only a few blocks long. It extends right to the border with County Monaghan which is in the Republic. We took that road to Monaghan City for lunch. On the way back to Middletown, we tried to find Killymonaghan. There are no signs to identify townlands but we were on the road that runs right past the original Roe Hughes homestead.The area is beautiful. It sits high with views over that part of the county. Green hills. Very rural.
In the 1970s, 80s and 90s, it was "occupied' by the British Army. They had an installation there, check points on main street and foot patrols of soldiers here, there and everywhere. The police station was bombed by the IRA. Linda saw it in the mid 1990's. It was a pile of ruble by that time.
We took in the sights on the street; a post office/gift shop, the remodeled Market House now functioning as a sort of community center and a small monument to the local doctor from famine times who ministered to the sick and dying and lost his own life as a result. One of the main buildings on the street is the Hughes Pub, which was our next stop. We all had a Guinness and before long, Brian Gilmore arrived, as well as his brother Sean and Paedar and Bernadette. They brought a huge family genealogy chart for us to look at. We spent the evening getting to know each other and talking about our family connection. Sean is a mushroom grower. Paedar and Bernadette live in Killymonaghan, on the road we drove earlier today. On their property is the Roe Hughes homestead, which we will see tomorrow. Terry displayed the patience of a saint. He fit right into our little reunion as though he were one of the family.