In November of 2016 I travelled to Skibbereen from Bellingham Washington, USA with the sole purpose of researching the background of J.J. Donovan, the son of Patrick Donovan who emigrated to the U.S. in 1850. J.J. Donovan became the most important man in the history of our city. I am writing his biography and needed to learn of his family beginnings. I took a gamble that by traveling to Ireland I might learn of his roots.
Fortunately I found the Heritage Centre website and made a thirty minute appointment with Margaret Murphy. I sent her what little information I had about the Denis Donovan family and hoped for the best. I learned upon my arrival at the Centre that there were 6 or 7 Denis Donovans in Skibbereen Parish in the 1840s and that the search would be very difficult.
However, after using three computers, and making phone calls to local experts, Margaret was able to identify the family and even locate the 1 acre of rented land on which they lived. In the meantime She gave me a marvelous understanding of how they lived and their economic and social standing and a considerable lesson in Irish History as well, and then in a supreme act of generosity she volunteered on her day off, to guide me to the very location of the Donovan rented land and to the Kilmacabea burial ground where she was sure Denis and his wife and earlier generations would have been buried.
I shall forever be grateful for the friendly and professional assistance given me by Margaret Murphy. I returned home filled with the knowledge that I had sought. When published, a copy of Donovan’s biography will be sent to the Heritage Centre as a token of my profound gratitude.
Thanks again Margaret- you remain a warm memory in my heart.