A chance meeting outside the doors of a north Longford church is the reason why an Australian nanny is celebrating this week as she finally tracked down her family lineage after years of searching.
All Beth Redden had with her as she touched down at Dublin airport was a 42-year-old Longford Leader newspaper cutting and a plaque.
Her task, as set out by her 87-year-old Irish born grandmother, Mary Brady, now based in Adelaide, was to trace the final resting place of her grand aunt who perished in a fire on the outskirts of Colmcille in 1970.
Intent on attending Mass with a view to meeting locals, Beth unwittingly lost her bearings before eventually turning up at the Church as parishioners were leaving.
Little did she know then, within a few short hours later, both her and her beloved grandmother’s long held ambitions would finally come true.
Preparing to lock up for the day, Beth approached local man Jackie Flanagan as she flashed the newspaper cutting in front of him.
“I got lost and ended up in a bog somewhere which meant I missed Mass. When I did eventually find it, there was a chap closing the door which was Jackie. I just showed him the newspaper cutting and he said this man who was praying at the alter might know,” she recalled.
The quiet worshipper kneeling head bowed just happened to be Eamon Mulligan, a neighbour of Beth’s late grand aunt, Mary Brady.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said, when reflecting on the events of the past week alongside Eamon and his brother, Phil Mulligan this week.
Having alerted Beth to her grand aunt’s unmarked grave, both men provided the catalyst in pointing to the former Brady family home, a recently renovated cottage just yards away.
Further investigations also uncovered an old, dishevelled looking donkey harness which belonged to the family and which dates back over 100 hundred years.
“I am going to see if they (customs) will let me bring it back,” she added, in a heavy Australian accent. “I don’t know if they will but I wil try.”
Whether or not those plans pay off is a mere after thought at this stage however. Relaying the many stories and glimpses of her late grand aunt to her own relations thousands of miles away is all that concerns her.
“She thought the old house would have been demolished,” said Beth, when referring to her grandmother, who awaits her return back home in Adelaide. “I have been on the phone to her nearly every day, she has been in tears, laughing and crying. She is just so excited.”
As for her own plans and the possibility of a return trip in the future, the amiable Aussie takes a deep breath before smiling emotionally.
“Oh definitely, I feel like I have a family here and that I have finally come home.”