I don’t remember documenting this on my blog but I did mention it on social media. In 2020 during the lockdown I began research on my surname McElligott and all the family members related to me via this name. In the process of my research I discovered my great grandmother Anne Reddan who was formerly married to her first husband John McElligott. Sadly, John died of the TB at the tender age of 30. Anne then wedded her second husband John Reddan two years later.
I could not find a photograph of her but one day stumbled across it on an ancestry website where one of her great grandchildren had it placed on her profile but under her maiden name of “Slattery”. I couldn’t believe that I was the first McElligott ever to see her as not even her direct grandchildren such as my uncles and aunties have ever seen her.
After meeting cousins I’d never knew about before Christmas was approaching. I went out Christmas week to bless the graves. It was the night before Christmas eve or Christmas day or something when I had a dream about Annie. In the dream I got out of the car and I’m standing in front of Mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery where she is buried. I’ve never seen the cemetery before in my life until now in this dream.
In my dream I was visiting mount Saint Lawrence Cemetery. When I got out of my car along a stone wall I saw the spire in the distance over the tops of the houses and buildings in the city. I then turned towards the wall and there was a sign on it that said mount Saint Lawrence cemetery. There was a small side entrance and when I entered I became scared because there were so many graves. In the dream I’m thinking I would never find my great Grandmother Annie.
I took it as a sign that Annie along with my great uncle James and aunt Philomena (all buried in the same grave) were calling me for a visit and prayer. I remember laying in the bed saying to her, “I’m not coming down now it’s Christmas eve I will call down in the summer.” True to my promise I did just that. When I stepped out of the car I almost lost my mind and felt shivers all over because like my dream, the exact stone wall was there and the spire of John’s cathedral (where she married her first and second husband) stood in the distance identical to the dream.
Realizing what was taking place it was at this point I thought, “oh no, you’re going to turn around and see a sign on the wall just like the dream, be prepared.” I turned and there was the sign and beside it the exact same side entrance as the dream. The only thing that was different was that this time I came prepared knowing generally what area the grave would be so the divil had nothing on me there.
When I went looking for it I actually admit I became a little overwhelmed as I did in the dream. The reason for this is because while I knew the grave was L224 I had no idea what that meant. When coming into the graveyard there was a map with L on it but no 224 or extra guidance. Armed with this knowledge I would have to check over 100-200 graves in that section. This is why I began to panic a little because I had booked us in to see Bunratty Castle in Co.Clare that day and did not want to be late.
I looked at one old grave that someone freshly washed and engraved and said to myself “that’s what I wanted for my great Grandmother in Dundalk but the job they did was horrible”. Then I turned around and there was my great Grandmother Annie’s grave staring back at me with a picture of my great uncle James who was a double for my father when he was in his 50s. I was very happy but disguised my excitement so as not to make too much of a scene.
I took my holy water blessed the grave and left the still half full bottle behind the grave for others who visit and wish to bless it. I then took my large St.Benedicts exorcists medal and buried it under the stones. We said a prayer and then was approached by a local grave digger. He started going on about music and all the band’s he liked happened to be similar to our own taste in music so there was a common interest there.
Then he asked us to wait because he wanted to give us some CDs. He ran off to his house to fetch them and I was impatient and wanting to make it on time to Bunratty castle. I didn’t really want to wait on him and decided to leave but my son would not budge and decided to honor the mans request for us to wait for the music. We were half way down when the man came back and gave us the CDs.
The CDs he gave us was The Waterboys, Bob Seeger, John Fogarty and Creedence Clearwater revival. The whole dream thing knocked me over and I still can’t erase this dream come true from my mind, but I kept my promise to my grandmother and paid a visit.
A few days later I visited my grandfathers castle who lived in the 1500s which is the century the name “McElligott” began to appear. Before then it was Elias, Elyoth etc etc. I will talk about this in a follow up blog post so keep an eye out for that one it’s a really interesting story.
My Sons thought we were going for a holiday but I had other plans which is to come and tackle the demons and rescue my relatives and ancestors who called to me from the flames of purgatory. That’s why I went to Ballymacelligott castle and why I stopped off at Johns Cathedral to pray for all my relatives who were baptized and married there. But, you know, the lads still had a nice holiday all the same. And on the way home we blasted the Waterboys in the car and their famous song The Fisherman blues .
We all laughed, you know why? Because my ancestors were all Fishermen who fished the Shannon. The McElligotts were known as the town wall fishermen. Yes, we laughed and also thankful to our ancestors for reaching out. We were only more than happy to come down, pay a visit and say a few prayers for them.
We will definitely be back. We have not quite done it all yet. Sometimes there just isn’t enough hours in the day, right? The story of my life.