• Miriam Gallagher

Ellen Fitzgerald, New Line, Lower Grange - Read Her Story!


Some time ago, while browsing a Facebook website called Vanishing Ireland, where people post old photographs and stories about people and Ireland, I came across a photograph posted by a man called Yom (Eamonn) Daly. I was immediately interested as Eamonn posted that the image was of his mother and it was taken in Grange. I was suddenly interested in finding out more about the lady in the photograph.

I contacted Eamonn by text - I introduced myself and informed him about the Grange Book, the Grange Website and our Facebook Pages. I told him that if there was a story to be told around the photograph, I would gladly make arrangements for such a story to be published on our website and on Facebook. Eamonn was enthusiastic about this possibility.

At this point, I should say that the lady in the photograph, Eamonn's mother, was Ellen Fitzgerald of the New Line, Lower Grange. Ellen was born in Grange in 1929 and died in Waterford in 1997. Ellen spent her earliest years in Grange with her parents, Pat Fitzgerald and Polly Ryan, where she had other relatives and friends. She attended Grange National School. While attending national school in Grange with her only sibling, Paud (Patrick), her family had to uproot and relocate to Portlaoise, as her father, Pat Fitzgerald, a prison warden, was reassigned from Limerick Prison to Portlaoise Prison. This was heartbreak for Ellen and her family.

Following the earlier communications between Eamonn and me, he sent me an account written by Ellen herself of her life in Grange and her subsequent years in Portlaoise up to age eleven. Ellen kept detailed notes of her life - clearly, she wished to create records for her family. Eamonn put all of Ellen's notes into a single account, maintaining the integrity of Ellen's words - her use of language, phrases and her colloquial use of specific words. The result was a single comprehensive narrative by Ellen, totally loyal to the writing in her several notes.

Clearly, Eamonn has his mother's gift of recording history in some detail. In order to tell Ellen's story and that of her own family for the years following her graduation from national school,

Eamonn provided me with another manuscript written by himself, which charts Ellen's life, including marriage and rearing her own family in Waterford. Eamonn drew from other of Ellen's notes but also from his own very clear memories of events over the many intervening years. The detail of his recollections is remarkable.

I asked Tommy Hourigan to assist me and Eamonn to develop a single article incorporating Ellen's and Eamonn's writings. We worked with Eamonn until there was a document that fully satisfied him. Eamonn did all the hard work: Tommy and I just provided supports.

Eamonn's article has just been posted in this, the Grange Website. A link to the article is provided hereunder.

We believe that there are still relatives of Ellen (Helen) in Grange - she mentioned a number of surnames in her notes. Eamonn recalls that Ellen visited Grange about a year before her death (1997) and met with relatives. We intend to carry out further investigations over the coming months and to update the article, in consultation with Eamonn, based on our discoveries. We will then post notices on this website and on facebook. We hope to include a detailed family tree for Ellen and her Grange relatives as well as her relatives for her time after leaving Grange. We hope to add more photographs as well.

I should say that we found entries for both Ellen (Helen) and Paud (Patrick) in Helen Clancy's book article, The Pupils of Grange National School. Both students were registered in the 1930s.

Should anybody who reads this blog and/or the full article (link below) have any information at all about Ellen and her Grange relatives, I would be delighted to hear from you.

Finally, I wish to record our thanks to Eamonn Daly for providing us with his wonderful article and permission to publish it. His article adds to the store of recorded history about Grange, its people and its places. Eamonn is now the proud owner of a copy of the Grange Parish Book, and we will be delighted to meet him should he chance our way into the future.

The website article, Ellen Fitzgerald, may be read HERE.

Best Regards to All.

Miriam Gallagher,

Grange Cross Residents Association.

#EllenFitzgerald #PaudFitzgerald #PatFitzgerald #PollyRyan #YomDaly #EamonnDaly

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