‘Gifts of the mind’ with an Irish Landmark Trust Voucher this Christmas

One of the privileges of working in Irish Landmark Trust is the proximity we share to the act of giving.  We are always delighted when customers opt to purchase Decorative Christmas background with hanging baublesour gift vouchers and it can be very special when people share their plans for the recipient, detailing the occasion and their hopes and wishes for the gift. We are continuously reminded of how time together is the most precious commodity and how planning a heritage trip for a friend or loved one offers an adventure and kindness beyond measure. With this in mind, we have just launched our Christmas Voucher Collection with a host of special properties to consider. Please check out our website or contact for further details on these delightful Christmas bundles.

‘I gave her gifts of the mind’ is a beautifully descriptive line from the poem ‘On Raglan Road’ by the revered poet Patrick Kavanagh and seems a fitting sentiment upon creating a heritage experience for someone near and dear. We recently had the pleasure of learning about a gift that was organised from one sister to another as a means of marking a special wedding anniversary.

Two sisters journey into the past 

By reserving our Schoolhouse property at Annaghmore in Collooney, Co. Sligo, one sister created a tailored gateway for the other to explore their ancestry and to trace family roots in a gentle and informal manner. The intention of the trip was not to uncover hidden family secrets or orchestrate emotional reunions as is so often featured on television shows. The aim was simply to enjoy a naturally reflective process and to engage in a slow pace of discovery by meandering through graveyards, visiting local villages and igniting personal histories.

Staying at the Schoolhouse at Annaghmore created the perfect setting for the two sisters to fuel personal discussions about their own grandfather Joseph               O’ Rourke, who was principle in the nearby National school in Culfadda for forty five years. The Schoolhouse at Annaghmore functioned as a charming base with chalkboards and coat hooks reminding the visitors that the estate tenants’ children were educated here in the 1860’s.sisters-at-graveyard

During their visit, the sisters located the gravestone of their Great Grandfather Patrick O’ Rourke (died 1886), their grandfather Joseph O’ Rourke (died 1953) and their grandmother Winifred O’ Rourke in Knockbrack Burial Ground in Co. Sligo.

One of the highlights of their trip was the welcome reception which they received from the local people in Keash who were very enthusiastic to chat to them about their past and to assist them with their time and local knowledge. Local people were able to direct them to a book published by the local history committee entitled Keash/Culfadda, A Local History.

One local historian in Keash remembered their grandfather going up and down the road on his horse and cart. The sisters had hoped to locate the original family home in Knockbrack but after retrieving local advice and suggestion, they returned to successfully complete this task at a later date.

A step back in time

This Sligo adventure awoke their interest and by looking deeper into their family archive they were delighted to find a handwritten letter from their grandfather dated the 19th July 1946 written to mark one of their births.

It also captured how personal curiosities can provide a lovely framework by which to integrate with a local community.photo3

At a later date, they were able to retrieve further information from the 1911 census available online. There was initially some confusion about their grandmother’s name who was documented on family trees and in the Burial Ground as Winifred O’Rourke but referenced on the census as Úna. A simple explanation being that Úna is the Irish for Winifred cleared up the matter.

We thought this idea offered a very thoughtful opportunity to transport a recipient back in time to a beautiful heritage home while equally making a special space to engage in stimulating conversation about one’s own family lineage. We hope this personal heritage trail idea might offer some source of inspiration for anyone thinking about carving out an individual adventure, as a future gift for loved ones.

Emily Dickinson’s poem ‘After a Hundred Years’ captures the potential spirit of such a trip eloquently.

After a hundred years

Nobody knows the place, – –

Agony, that enacted there,

Motionless as peace.


Weeds triumphant ranged,

Strangers strolled and spelled

At the lone orthography

Of the elder dead.


Winds of summer fields

Recollect the way,–

Instinct picking up the key

Dropped by memory.

If you have any interesting stories stemming from time spent in an Irish Landmark Trust property, please drop us an email at We would love to hear from you.

Some simple tips to organise a genealogy trip for a friend or loved one

  1. Talk to as many family members as possible. You might be surprised by the level of knowledge that is readily available.
  2. Browse the census national archives where census records for the years 1901 and 1911 are available online.
  3. Contact the free Genealogy Advisory Service in the National Library. advisory-service.aspx
  4. Start a one-month subscription on findmypast where you can access the birth, marriage or death records.
  5. Research the online archive of the folklore commission.
  6. Download relevant apps such as Find a Grave and Treeview.
  7.  Hire professionals such as Eneclann or Timeline to conduct the research for you.,
  8. Keep things simple! The trip does not need to compete with Who do you think you are? It can simply work as an interesting framework to explore the surrounds and to initiate conversation.