A Dream Of My Fishermen Ancestors Anchored In Truth

Image by Tú Anh from Pixabay

Yesterday I shared some pictures with you concerning my first dream before Christmas. Today, as indicated by me I will now review my second dream very quickly to refresh your memory.

I’m just home from Limerick city but what sparked the sudden interest in that trip was a dream I had two weeks earlier. In the dream I’m in a big graveyard surrounded by an old grey square wall. The sun is either rising or setting, there’s some rain (very slight) and the sky is a nice color of pink, orange and red. The grass beneath my feet is not very green and looks as if scorched by the Sun.

In the dream I’m consciously aware I’m looking for a grave of my ancestors. There’s broken and ancient graves everywhere and it’s a bit desolate looking and very old. There are also smallish hills in the distance and it’s on a height. I stop on the Hill and press down with my foot on an invisible spot with no marker on it. “It’s here” I shout to my wife who is standing at the far back of the wall. Not far from her I spot a large tombstone up against the wall. It’s really ornate and large to be that of a poor fisherman.

On closer examination carved out of the stone on the tomb are two very large anchors pointing towards one another. They’re leaning towards one another just like the pick of the couple who photo I chose for this article which is why I picked it. Now, I’m thinking in the dream, “This is them, they’re here.” It’s at this point I wake up.

Long story shortened we make the trip down to Limerick. Before I decided to waste all that money on hotels, petrol and my time, I look up old graveyards prior to the trip. I revisited an old facebook post I’d saved where I’d inquired about old graveyards in Limerick just before Christmas. In it a man gives me a few.

I look them up on google maps getting the grid view. I decide to a look at this ancient graveyard called, “St.Patricks” first because it was close to the one my great grandmother was buried in and not far from where the McElligotts would’ve lived.

I take a look on Limericklife.ie and see one photo of it and I decide it looks very like my dream. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to get a street view of the graveyard if I could. Again, it looked very like my dream but I couldn’t get inside. So I decide to make the trip, roll my dice and take a chance on it.

I thought to myself on the way down there that the tomb will not be identical, but left room for the absolute amazing to happen. But what I thought was the tomb in my dream of the two anchors on it was symbolism to let me know they’re buried there. The anchor plays a big part in the life of a fisherman so much so that my McElligott ancestor Patrick McElligott military records describe him as having tattoos on their forearm of two anchors one on either side of the forearm. He lived on meatmarket lane same as my 2nd great grandfather Martin but Martin was not down as his next of kin only John McElligott.

I know that Martins first son was Patrick before he had my great grandfather John. Meatmarket lane was incredibly tiny so the record confused me and so I’ve deduced from it that he’s a nephew or some sort of relation of martin because all McElligotts lived together in the fisherman quarters of the abbey area and were very close.

I’ve tried to search for the record again on ancestry but cannot find it. If I do, I’ll keep you posted, but I recall reading it in thorough where the military record describes his build, color of his eyes and hair and the two anchors for a tattoo on his arms. Interesting, right? Two anchors.

I’m on my way into Limerick and on the brown painted sign for Limerick City as we enter has a big white anchor painted on it. I make my wife aware of it and say, “see? symbolism. I’ve a good feeling about this.” Over the coming days I thought about his the two anchors symbolized Martin and John his son and my great grandfather who died at the age of 30. The two anchors could be Martin and John saying, “we are buried here”.

In the dream my children were not there. It was only me and Audrey and it very nearly was only for my youngest cried so much at having to stay behind we decided on the new strategy of taking them. Without the kids I’d decided on entering the city the first thing I’d do would be visit the hotel, unpack and visit the graveyard for sunset. It didn’t happen.

Upon arrival the children wanted to eat and visit the pool. I instead took a stroll out of the hotel and towards the river Shannon to view that place my ancestors sailed up and down in their fishing boats. The sky turned a lovely pink, orange and reddish with slight skits of rain just like my dream. “Ha!” I laughed to myself, “We were supposed to be there tonight at the graveyard just me and her.”

I didn’t let it put me off. I patiently waited until my wife and kids had decided they’d seen enough castles, museums and bookshops for one day. That Friday night I sat and thought about the day we’d had where we went out on the town and visited all those places of interest. During our travels we come across Saint Mary’s Anglican Cathedral. We go inside and see a bench of an abbey fisherman Jackie Clancy (1907-1986). It was beautifully carved by his brother Jimmy Clancy many years ago in his memory.

Jackie sister sent me his book in which he mentioned my father Martins great grandfather Martin McElligott as being 64 years of age and helping him make his first boat and paddle. Wages were scarce in those days explained Jackie so the young lads were often paid in drinks. Jackie was 17 in 1923. I knew it was my 2nd grandfather as there was no other Martin McElligott that was a fisherman of that age in the vicinity plus the age of around 64 in 1923 matched his baptism record of 1860 and all the places he’d lived.

On the bench was written, “Jackie Clancy, 1907-1986.” “Well done thou good and faithful servant”. Also a piece from the Gospel written there also said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt:4:19) Before this I had stood upon the podium and read the scripture readings for the day out of curiosity. It was here the Lord answered my burning question which I asked on my blog in recent days which was, “How did I become so religious from being so heathen?”

The question burned in my mind ever since and I kept saying to myself, “Why pick on me Lord, why? what is so interesting about me anyway?”. Here in this Anglican Cathedral the Lord answered and said,Isaiah:65:1: “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, `Here am I, here am I. ” I laughed a bit. After taking some pics at Jackies bench I laughed again as over the speakers in an Anglican Cathedral they blasted Byzantine Orthodox music. Why is that so funny?

Primarily because I attend a Greek Orthodox Church now every Sunday and also because it was an Anglican Cathedral far removed from either Catholic or Orthodox Churches. It was proof to me that God can speak to us through any Church he wants or any Christian or atheist. If he can speak through the mouth of a donkey in the Old Testament why not to me or you through the most unlikely of people and in the strangest of places?

That night I lay in my bed and posted the picture of me on Jackies bench to the Limerick city Citizens facebook group. In it I explained the significance of Jackie clancys book and how it mentioned my grandfather who was the first to help him how to make a boat and paddle. I thought about how nice it would be to become the first of my lineage since the 1930’s to take a spin on the Shannon river so I threw in a request for any fisherman interested in taking me out. I got a huge response. That night I fell asleep and awoke Saturday morning at 4:30am and could not go back to sleep.

Around 9ish I get a phone call from a man called Pat Lysaght. We spoke on the phone and he lives right on the river where my McElligott ancestors fished. He told me about seeing the post and would like to take me out. I explained to him that while visiting bookshops yesterday I came across an old bookshop that sold antique books. She gave me a very rare copy of a book authored by a “William Lysaght”. “That was my father” he explained, “I was the one who printed the first copies of it in 1962. It’s very rare not even I have a copy of it.” I told him it was a second edition printed in 1999 and he told me that was his sister who did that. It’s rare also and can’t be found.

“There is a lovely tide tomorrow around 11am. Come see me at 10:30 and we will spend a few hours on the river.” I tried to contain my excitement and couldn’t believe how blessed I was to get that invitation. I will write more concerning the details of how that wonderful trip went later on. Right now it’s important I speak about what happened after we parted our ways over the phone.

I was so tired but I fought it as best I could and went into the city to visit Saint Johns Cathedral. Upon arrival it’s closed. Directly across from the Cathedral I decide to go for a walk along Brennans row where my great grandfather John and his wife Annie lived at the time.

It was the place where my grandfather Martin had been born. I meet some lovely people who tell me a few stories about the area. Then my son looks down and spots a chestnut right outside the area my grandfather lived. I told him, “It’s a gift from your great great grandfather and mother, keep it for life as a reminder of this day.”

Then around the corner the gift of my ancestors that kept on giving we spotted a Chestnut tree in St.Johns Square. I take my umbrella I bought at King Johns Castle with the logo on it and give it a good whack. After all my efforts eventually I got one down. An old Lady comes by. She tells us a few stories about how nobody plays conquers anymore with the nuts because it’s all video games.

After this we follow the old man from Brennan’s row advice and head for this weekly event called the Milk Market. People from all over Limerick open up their stalls and sell anything from cheap perfume, clothes to the most expensive meats and wine. We really enjoyed ourselves and my wife met a woman who lived in the town we currently live in. She said she left that town, came to Limerick and never looked back. We don’t like it either and took the conversation as a sign we should come to Limerick. After it I’m quite tired but I decide I’m going to visit Mount Saint Lawrence cemetery where My great grandmother Annie is buried along my with my great uncle James and Aunt Philomena.

Following the short visit and prayer I put the foot down and take the brief trip to St.Patricks graveyard. When I entered it didn’t look much like my dream until I got to the top of the Hill. I stood in the exact spot as I did in my dream looking at where Audrey was at the back wall. I was spooked again to say the least but it got spookier. I saw that in the distance was the town but also the flat smallish hills in the far distance above the wall. It was the exact same as the dream.

Like the dream the graveyard also had broken tombstones, ancient tombstones and was quite desolate. It was raining so I used my umbrella. Unlike my dream the grass was not yellowish or scorched but very green and vibrant with lots of weeds. I decide to be cheeky and assume the dream was real and looking at my foot where I point to an invisible spot in the dream head for the wall where Audrey is.

There’s a tombstone up against the wall but it’s covered in a thick layer of Ivy and has been consumed by a blackberry bush. By the time I do this my kids and wife have arrived. They’re eating the berries off the bush as they’re abundant and ripe. Audrey and Joseph depart for the car leaving my youngest Christian and myself alone.

I try to look beneath and to peel it away but it’s not easy. I take my umbrella to feel how wide the tombstone is. Taking the tip of the umbrella I poke near the top to see if I can feel any kind of inscription with it. Yes, I feel something but nothing of great significance. We leave the graveyard and I take one last look and be amazed at how identical it was in the dream.

My thoughts are racing but I’m not surprised I don’t find a tomb with no anchors on it nor am I disappointed because for me they merely appeared in the dream as a symbol to say, “we are buried here.” My ancestors were poor and although it’s not impossible, it’s unlikely they’d have had a tombstone. Only people with money in those days could afford one. But who am I to speculate which such certainty? For all I know they had one.

I go back to my hotel and I’m feeling really dizzy. I’ve been up since 4:25am and going all day with little sleep and no food in my belly. That evening I again get up and absolutely push myself to the limit to check another graveyard across the Shannon River. This graveyard, known as “Leilas graveyard” had also been on a height but I don’t think it is the one because it’s very far across the river. I can’t imagine them being buried there.

However, I’m not going to allow such thoughts deter me from checking it out. Upon arrival the gate is closed and chained shut with a lock so big it was make even the most experienced locksmith tremble if someone lost the key to it.

I ask at the local vegetable shop who ask me to wait until Mass is being said to speak with the priest. No, I’ve no time for that. I’m quite dizzy and just want to eat and sleep right now. I want in now or never. I go over there and return to my car ready to give in. I’m debating with myself as to whether or not I should just hop that large wall but who am I kidding? the fitness I once had in my younger rock climbing years is gone and if I try hopping that with the level of fitness I have combined with no sleep I’ll kill myself.

I jump out and run across the road to ask the neighbour beside it if I could hop his wall or if he could get someone to open it. I knock but no answer. A young boy is coming across the road with his fish and chips and I ask him about it. He tells me that it’s always locked and he’s no idea how to get into it. That was that. I threw in the towel and decided this couldn’t be the place. It won’t stop me from trying again though.

I head back to the hotel and all I remember was eating and struggling to get through it I was that tired. I ate, excused myself and went back to my room alone. I watched a movie I had not seen since my younger years called “unbreakable”. It’s about this guy played by Bruce Willis who is a real life superhero. He’s strong and when he touched people he sees the bad they’ve done. It’s incredible I highly recommend it.

When watching it I remember thinking, “I wish I was unbreakable too, but right now I’m shattered.” That’s all I remember before waking up at 5:30am ready for a new day. I’m much more refreshed, have breakfast and check out of the hotel. We decide to visit St.Johns Cathedral again and alas…it’s closed yet again. We are not meeting Pat until 10:30 and all morning all I could think about was peeling away the ivy and thorny bush from the tombstone.

I hop in the car and decide to burn some time going around to the graveyard again. I go inside on my own, get on my knees and get underneath the bush. I peel away the ivy as best I can with my bare hands and a little tiny breakthrough came where I saw some writing. I get excited and decide to try harder but that was as much as I could do. I’m no good at making out writing so I call my wife in and she says it’s so faint it’s hard to tell.

I’m thinking hard about it. “If I come back in winter all this will be dead and I can see through it.” “yeah,” responds my wife, “That would be a good idea.” “Then I could get a a sheet of paper and draw over it with a large Crayon and it may be easier to read that way.” “Yeah, come on lets go” says Audrey, “we don’t want to be late for Pat.”

Walking back to the car I’m thinking, “You know, it probably isn’t them. But I’m not going to give up on this graveyard and I accept with faith from my dream that they’re buried here. Who? I don’t know. Maybe it’s Patrick from meat market lane with the two anchors on his forearm or Martin and John? I don’t know but my theory isn’t that bad aligning these things with the two anchors in my dream. Hmmm. Yeah, the two anchors is either something to do with the two tattoos of Patrick McElligott from meat market lane or symbolizing Martin and John being buried together along with Martins wife.

Other questions that are raised often by me now is Martin had a son Patrick who was not present in either the 1901 and 1911 Irish census. Why? Was he in the army and if so why was his next of kin from Meat Market lane prior to the census that of John McElligott? Did he lie about his next of kin or go live with his uncle or something? I’ve no idea.

Either way I’m satisfied they’re buried there. . . somewhere. As for that tomb consumed by nature, it may not be them, but I haven’t given up on it either. I’ll be back, and when I am, I’m bringing a machete with me to eat through it until I get answers.

Please enjoy the photos. I’m aware now that I did not take a pic of the tombstone consumed by nature but I have a video of it. WordPress won’t allow me to upload the video but I will try doing it another way and add it at a later date.

May be an image of Stephen Mc Elligott, sitting and indoor

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