Spent a lovely afternoon on Tuesday, 28th May with three sisters of the Doherty Family from New Zealand. They told me at our initial consultation that their Irish link related to their Great Grandfather who they believed had travelled from Ireland to Aukland, however they weren’t sure when. They were keen to find out more and to make a tangible connection with the country they were visiting, albeit for the first time but one they felt a strong affinity with all the same. In short, they felt like they had come "home".
Armed with the few scanty details that they could provide me with, I uncovered a treasure trove of information to their excitement. It was in fact their Grt GrtGrandfather, Joseph Dougherty who left Ireland in the late 1840s for a new life in the southern hemisphere with his wife and family.
Their family story is very interesting and something that, with further research, I'd like to write much more about. It goes to show that we as genealogists have only really scraped the surface when it comes to the various groups of the Irish Diaspora which left these shores for a better life. New stories of emigration, and the self-preservation that came with leaving the life they knew behind in Ireland, come to light weekly and it is never safe to assume that people only emigrated during the Great Famine of 1845-1849.
The ladies were only in Inishowen for a couple of days but I managed to find out a good deal of information for them at very short notice including the date of departure from Ireland and arrival in New Zealand, and the name of the ship on which they sailed. I also found their Grt Grandfather’s DOB of birth in New Zealand (the first of his family born outside Ireland) and the fact that he was a twin. All this information was news to the ladies and they were delighted.
We spent some time in Moville and I took them out to see Northburg Castle in Greencastle and we had fun exploring the ruins there.
This is just the beginning of looking at the Aukland-Doherty's family history story in Ireland and I know I am going to enjoy doing more resarch for them both here in Donegal and of course in New Zeland also.
The Fort, Greencastle
Extract from "Ancient Monuments of Inishowen, North Donegal" by Sean Beattie
In 1305 the Red Earl of Ulster, Richard de Burgo establish a base for Norman power in the Northwest with the building of a castle at Greencastle. It was at that time known as Northburg or Newcastle and in Irish Caislean Nua. This historic event is recorded briefly in the Annals of the Four Masters.
It was not long before the new castle was put to the test. In 1316, a fleet led by Edward Bruce (brother of King Robert I of Scotland) set sail from Scotland with the intention of invading Ireland. One of the first places they attacked was Greencastle. They succeeded in taking it and Bruce was crowned King of Ireland in 1316. He fell from power later the same year and the castle was then returned to de Burgo. He remained in possession until 1333. In that year Richard de Burgo's grandson, William, the Brown Earl was murdered and Norman power in the Northwest came to an end.
The castle later fell into the hands of the O'Dohertys, but in 1555, their power was threatened by Calvagh O'Donnell who brought an army of mercenaries from Scotland and declared war on Tir Connaill. He attacked the castle with a new weapon called the 'gunna cam' (crooked gun in Irish) and then laid seige to the castle at Enagh, just outside Derry. Both castles were very badly damaged in these attacks. The incidents are recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters and they state that the two castles were demolished. The fact that the castle today lies in ruins is largely due to these attacks.
Attempts were made to restore the building in the early 1600s. It then became the property of Sir Arthur Chichester who carried out some repairs and made it habitable for some troops. Later it was leased to a William Newton but by the year 1700, it was a total ruin. In 1835, it was described by the antiquarian, John O'Donovan as follows:
"The ruins of this castle still remaining show it was one of the strongest and most important fortresses in all Ireland."
The Castle has stood for almost seven hundred years but has undergone many reconstructions. A number of features are clearly visible. The Gatehouse Tower at the Southwest end dates from the fourteenth century. It is a seven-sided structure and from here a vaulted passage led into the castle centre. The remains of a circular stone stair can be seen inside along with a garderobe. The remains of seventeenth-century ovens can be seen on the right within the gatehouse; these were used by the Chichester garrison.
The Polygonal Tower at the North end has walls twelve feet thick. The remains of narrow slit windows can also be seen. A Large stone tower juts out from the North wall and this was one of the structures added by O'Doherty in the sixteenth century.
No excavation has been carried out on this site.