My mother’s parents came here from the northern part of County Cork, in the area around Rockchapel. It’s a small village along the River Feale near the borders of Kerry and Limerick; a beautiful spot, though not the sort of place where the tour buses pass through.
Armed with bits and pieces of information, I left an afternoon open to visit Rockchapel during my Ireland trip to see if I could find any distant cousins.
This was complicated.
My grandmother was named Curtin, as was my grandfather. This seemed odd to me, two Curtins marrying — until until I got to Rockchapel, where I learned that anyone not named Curtin is related to a Curtin.
The quest began at the pub, Paddy Molly’s. Until ten year’s ago it had been called Curtin’s.
It was Sunday afternoon and people came and went as I drank my pint of Guinness, but it was John Curtin — not a direct relation, I don’t think — who suggested I seek out the postmaster, Henry Keogh. “He knows everyone and how they’re all related. There’s a dance today outside town; you can find him there.”