After a good breakfast we left our bed and breakfast in Newry and drove a short distance to Bessbrook. This was built as a model Quaker village, to provide work, homes and education around a linen mill. The linen mill workers cottages and a school around the green still remain. We were looking for a house known as Mount Caulfield which was where my Great-great Grandparents John and Elizabeth Greeves, who were in the linen manufacturing business, spent the first few yeas of their married life. We found it, but looking in a far worse state of repair than the workers cottages.
Then we moved on following the route of the Newry Canal, to the small town of Gilford. This was where, in 1881, my 3x great grandfather William Uprichard was living in Bannvale House. We found the house, but no longer a private residence – it now houses the local Social Services and Health Trust.
In Portadown we found the home of my Great grandparents, Thomas Jackson and Gilbertina Newsome Greeves. Thomas had this house built in 1906, and my father visited it many times in his youth. It was, and still is, called Fairacre.
A few miles further, down little country lanes, we came to a different kind of house. This is the beautiful Friends Meeting House at Moyallan, where in 1789 my 4x great grandparents, John Greeves and Margaret Sinton were married. We were lucky enough to be able to see inside this lovely old meeting house, very plain, and still very much in use today.
Our tour continued as we now travelled towards Dungannon in Co Tyrone, to find another Friends Meeting House at Grange. Hidden down country lanes this is one of the oldest Quaker Meeting Houses dating from 1660, still in use, and this where several of my father’s ancestors are buried. Amongst many other Greeves headstones in this amazingly peaceful place, we found the graves of my 4x great grandparents John and Margaret Greeves, and my 3x great grandparents, Thomas and Rachel Greeves. In fact the graves where I am standing all bear the name of Greeves.
Next we headed along the motorway towards Belfast, stopping briefly in Lisburn to visit the Linen Museum. I was excited to find a Linen Stamp bearing the name of James Christy of Moyallan – my 6x great grandfather – who was a linen bleacher.
Arriving in Belfast late afternoon there was still one last important building we wanted to find. My great grandfather Thomas Jackson Greeves was named after his grandfather Thomas Jackson. Thomas Jackson, my 3x great grandfather and originally from Waterford, became a prestigious Belfast architect who, amongst many other buildings, designed the beautiful church of St Malachy in Alfred Street. A huge contrast to the simple meeting houses we had visited earlier, but another beautiful and peaceful building, with a wow ceiling! A lovely place to sit and contemplate a very busy day.