Laura ex­am­ines mys­tery of Whit­more name

Wicklow People - - NEWS -

MYS­TERY sur­rounds the ori­gin of TV pre­sen­ter Laura Whit­more’s name, de­spite a turn on the lat­est Ir­ish series of Who Do You Think You Are?

The Bray woman ap­peared on the show last Sun­day night and found she had an­ces­tors hail­ing from Wick­low, Wex­ford, Dublin, Tip­per­ary and Mayo but ty­ing down where her not-very-com­mon sur­name came from proved elu­sive.

Af­ter fol­low­ing the trail of her fa­ther’s McIvor line, Laura dis­cov­ered hard-work­ing stone ma­sons who, lit­er­ally, left their mark on Ire­land, links to the Fe­nian re­bel­lion of 1867, early links to the trade union move­ment and the lock­out in Dublin in 1905, and two heart­break­ing deaths dur­ing the Span­ish Flu epi­demic in 1918.

Turn­ing her at­ten­tion to her mother Carmel’s Whit­more line, Laura im­me­di­ately hit a stum­bling block. While her grand­fa­ther was Robert Whit­more, he was born Robert Ger­aghty in 1905 and, along with two other grand­sons, was liv­ing with his grand­mother El­iz­a­beth Ger­aghty in Bal­lythomashill in Co Wex­ford at the time of the 1911 Cen­sus.

Laura trav­elled to Kilpipe Church near the Wick­low/Wex­ford bor­der to meet Canon Ruth Elmes, who re­vealed that none of El­iz­a­beth’s four grand­sons (born to her three daugh­ters) had a fa­ther’s name recorded for them. In spite of any so­cial stigma that may have ex­isted at the time, Laura was im­pressed at El­iz­a­beth’s strength of char­ac­ter in de­cid­ing to raise her grand­chil­dren on her own (her hus­band died in 1903).

She then met with Balt­in­glass ge­neal­o­gist Paul Gorry, who gave her more in­for­ma­tion on El­iz­a­beth’s fam­ily, the Far­rars, who had been liv­ing on the Fitzwilliam es­tate for many years and some of whom were af­fected by the 1798 re­bel­lion.

Laura then met with Ark­low his­to­rian Jim Rees, who filled her in on some of the hor­ri­fy­ing acts car­ried out dur­ing the re­bel­lion and how her fam­ily, based in Cool­fancy, were liv­ing right in the heart of it.

Re­turn­ing once more to the mys­tery of her grand­fa­ther Robert’s name change from Ger­aghty at birth to Whit­more by age five, Laura dis­cov­ered that her grand­fa­ther’s wed­ding cer­tifi­cate records his fa­ther as a labourer called Robert Whit­more. This was the only clue she had to her great-grand­fa­ther’s iden­tity but, when a search of the 1911 Cen­sus re­veals a num­ber of Robert Whit­more’s liv­ing nearby, Laura was forced to ac­cept that she may never know who her great-grand­fa­ther is.

Jim Rees.

Paul Gorry.

Canon Ruth Elmes.

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