Sunday in Northern Ireland is quiet. Most places are closed or don’t open until noon. We had a leisurely morning, leaving the hotel around 10am. Brian wanted to stop in Lisburn at 22 Castle Street to see the townhouse where his grandfather’s family lived just before emigrating to Canada in 1925. The townhouse has a flower shop on the main floor but as it wasn’t open, we couldn’t go in. There is a tiny entry beside the flower shop which leads to the Church of Ireland, Lisburn Cathedral, where the first church found on site was dated 1623, so we headed around the church for a walk. Brian could imagine his younger great uncles, Tommy, Jack and Charlie, playing in the church yard, while the older brothers Sam and Brian’s grandfather, Bill, worked in the family drayage business, hauling coal from Belfast to Lisburn. I found it fascinating that the names on the headstones in the graveyard, McHenry, Crossley, and Birney are the names of people I know in Canada. My thoughts were of how many Irish people from the same areas in the world find a kinship without even knowing how far back they really are connected!
Back in the car and off to Hillsborough Castle. We had coffee at a tiny cafe called ‘Humble Pie’ and my apple cinnamon scone was delicious.
We arrived at the ticket booth at 12:10 and were told that if we hurried we could join the 12:00 tour. We were initially refused at the gate, but after requesting to see the officer in charge, a retired police officer, who was delighted upon hearing that Brian’s grandfather from Lisburn had worked as a Policeman in Regina for over 39 years, we were personally escorted to join the tour!
After the tour ended, we went back to the Greer homestead, picked up Graham, May, Robert and Ruth and set off for Armagh City. There we took in the magnificent St. Patrick cathedrals, one was Church of Ireland, one Catholic. Both are magnificent and within a five minute walk of each other! The great King of Ireland, Brian Boru, who was murdered in the 11th century, was buried very near the site of the C of I Cathedral. As it was Sunday, we headed back to the homestead stopping for apple tart in Gilford, and Ice cream in Moira, which we had back home with tea, joined by Graham’s daughter, Dianne, two of her children, Katherine and Craig, and Robert and Ruth’s children, Rachel and David.