The Golden Gathering August 2014
An Account of the Event by Gerard O’Mahony
This August on the 23rd -24th on a lovely sunny weekend with the countryside resplendent as it basked in a delightful late summer. The harvest fields were golden as the Sun beamed on the stubble indicating that the crops had been saved and the winter’s provisions safely stored.
Golden fields were indeed appropriate as the descendants of the Golden family gathered to see where their ancestors had lived, worked and left this world for a better place. It was good to meet and greet, have a chat and renew friendships. This surely is always so uplifting, we are not solitary beings, we need to interact and communicate. Then, to be among kit and kin sharing family histories that reach back to other centuries and see the ties of joy and sadly sadness that have shaped and formed who one is today. Can we leap forward without looking back, perhaps it’s nice if one knows where family came from and something of their lives.
This account of the gathering is from my own awareness and perception of the memorable event. It is not, or could I write the family history. That has been so ably done by Joan. I am not related to any of the descendants, so perhaps I can take you there and you may feel some of the joy and sadness of a family who lived some time ago amongst our ancestors and probably knew and interacted with many of them. I have known the Joyce family of Aghern for most of my life and met on many occasions the Joyce families of Coole and Glanworth. I knew the late Bill and Batt Joyce and their sister Kit, their mother was Kate Golden.
Joan Stuart, formerly Joan Joyce from Glanworth, now living in England decided to trace her ancestors and share her findings with all of the relatives she could find. She was ably assisted by her husband Bernard and son David, with willing help in arranging the weekend event from the Joyce family in Aghern. Joan is a daughter of Bill Joyce from Glanworth, who was a son of Kate Golden.
The research was meticulous, Pa Barry our own local historian was at his best and people marvelled at his knowledge and its depth. Pa made such a contribution that it would not do him justice to attempt to explain what he did so well in these lines. His work was really appreciated by everyone.
People came from far away to partake in the gathering, England, the U.S.A. and from all over Ireland. The story of the Goldens is no different from many Irish families of that sad period in our history. It is though a compelling and intriguingly documented account of a family that lived and loved, lost and found peace in the face of sadness from a God they believed in beyond all that life delivered.
Local people who are descendants of the Golden family are; the Joyce families of Aghern and Coole, the Connolly sisters of Upper Aghern, Breda Spillane is the only one resident in the area. Christy Murphy is a descendant of the Moynihan side of the Goldens. The Hurley family of Kilclare, the Kenneally family from Kilcoran, and the O’Keeffe & Casey families from Newtown Ballynoe. The Golden Trail started at Aghern Bridge at 2.00.pm. on Saturday 23rd
Then to Rathbarry, Kilmagner school; Coolagown church, Pellick, and Knockmourne graveyard, followed by a picnic on the banks of the river Bride at Aghern where Jack Joyce son of Michael Joyce and Kate Golden lived.
We have had gatherings here before, in 2002 the Hagerty, Uniac & Regan family descendants was a very good event mixed with joy and was really all about a family leaving forever for Canada.
The Golden gathering was different; some did emigrate to England and the U.S.A. The family mainly stayed in Ireland and most not far away from here. We began at Aghern Bridge and proceeded to Rathbarry where Pa Barry gave an account of where the Golden residence may have been and the life of a farm labourer at the time. Then on to Coolagown where Ellen Quirke spoke about the church and families attending mass and baptism etc. This was an emotional place to be as was Rathbarry, especially for the people who came from abroad and were there for the first time.
Then, a hundred yards away the old forge scene where the blacksmith is depicted shaping a horseshoe on his anvil. Paddy Moynihan was a relation of the Goldens, the forge was just back a half mile. Padraig Casey gave a lovely account of life at the forge and the family connections with it. We then moved on to Kilmagner School on the Fermoy/Tallow road. This was where many of the Goldens went to school. Noreen Joyce, wife of Michael, who is the son of Batt, he being the son of Kate Golden, welcomed us all and very thoughtfully greeted each person at the school door, she is the principal teacher.
Noreen and her sister in law Eileen Bracken sister to Michael in Coole spoke of the school going days the family had and presented the role books from the time. This was a lovely occasion indeed and it was a journey back in time to childhood and one could imagine little children gathering for the day to learn and acquire the knowledge that would carry them out to a very uncertain World.
On then to Pellick, now part of the farm owned by the Joyce family of Aghern. There stands the ruins of the old farmhouse and outbuildings. It was here that Kate Golden was born in March 1869 and her husband Michael Joyce lived after their marriage on 31/01/1901. They had six children: Kit, Bill, Jack, Nell, Moll and Batt. Kate Joyce died on October 20th 1908 at the young age of 38, leaving Michael with six children to bring up.
Kate died giving birth from a condition that can be so easily dealt with now and could probably have been then had medical assistance been available. They were different times and it would have taken a doctor far too long to get there.
Michael Joyce remained a widower for forty-eight years until his death at the age of eighty-nine in 1956. These sad events were recalled by Joan Stuart and Michael Joyce of Aghern to the hundred or so people gathered around the home in Pellick. A silence fell as the story was told of a family who lost their mother so young in their lives and a man who stayed single to rear his children. Michael had help from family and neighbours over the years. It was indeed an occasion when the spirits of those gone before us were present as their names were remembered by those closest to them, now there to remember them. It is always good to remember, it was sad but a great tribute had been paid to those who are only separated from us by a veil of time. In the spirit world time does not exist, there is no measure, only always and eternity. I found this visit to Pellick a remarkable experience, one where two worlds touched for a moment that is unforgettable and rich in spirit.
Now it was time for a visit to Knockmourne cemetery, burial place of many Golden and Joyce family members. Ellen Joyce, daughter of Bill spoke of those buried there. A wreath was placed on the grave and a candle lit with various people reading. Nine ballons were released by the children of the sixth generation. This was a fitting rememberence. A lovely picnic in Aghern followed and that brought the day’s events to a close.
On Sunday evening an event took place in the Social Centre next to Conna church, food was served and people were able to have a chat and the atmosphere was really nice and good humoured. Joan Stuart presented the family tree, which was a work of total dedication and countless hours. There was a family slide presentation with photos and talks by various members. It was just lovely, simple and full of good spirit. The night concluded with candles being lit in memory of those who had gone to the other side where one day all the sadness and trials of this reality will be no more for us all.
Now, it has been a wonderful weekend to treasure memories from. I believe Joan was inspired and guided to follow the path she took, directed by the spirits of her ancestors who have had their contribution to this earth recognised and so many of their children’s children now aware of who they were and where they came from. A great deed has been done, perhaps in the place of spirits there is a joyous delight that will never fade away.