Thursday, 14 June 2012

Meet the (grand grand) parents

Our trip to Aberdaron a few weeks ago was brilliant - 'Mull' weather - sunny skies, blue seas and picnics.

And Aberdaron really is the 'land of my (great grand and grand) fathers'.

Cue song:

Captain Daniel McNeil, a master mariner from Glasgow, married Jane Williams, the blacksmith's daughter from Glanarfon, Aberdaron, way back in 1878.

They had three daughters, Ginny, Mary and Kitty.  Mary, my grandmother, in her turn, married Thomas and had six daughters - Mum is the youngest.

Here's Daniel with Jane, Ginny and Mary
taken by the travelling photographers from the Cambrian Gallery who went around Wales by horse and cart with photographic props and outfits.

and these are two beautiful ones of the fabled Kitty, who the family lost touch with before the second world war

and this is Mary with my grandfather Thomas.  I never met Mary or Thomas.

now Daniel, soon after they first married, built a house in Aberdaron, using Scottish granite he had brought down by ship and he named the rather imposing house, right by the bridge in Aberdaron, Bellfield.

We've been researching into this and the best we've come up with so far is that there was a ship built in Greenock in 1820 named Bellfield - about the right time to maybe have been the one Daniel apprenticed on.

The house was sold by my grandparents soon after Shani, Mum's eldest sister, was born and the new owners renamed it Henfaes.  Today it's in the ownership of the National Trust as rather luxurious holiday lets.  Take a look at one of the flats here.

It was great to revisit last month and to also see the old blacksmith's cottage, Glanarfon where Mary was born before they moved into the new house in 1881, and even the Hen Siop where Jane's mother was born much much earlier and the school Mary went to just outside the village.
Mum outside Bellfield (now Henfaes)
Mum outside Hen Siop (tiny cottage one on the right)

Glanarfon, the blacksmith's cottage

The old smithy workshop opposite Glenarfon, over the little river

Mum at the door of Glanarfon - her mother was born here
Given both my primary and secondary schools have already been demolished, it's great to know these places are still standing.

We're still researching Captain McNeil's life and times but even a weekend in the Greenock archives last year revealed nothing.  And as for the mysterious Kitty . . .

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