I received an email from Mr Herbert Burns of Ballymoney in early August with the below attachment and accompanied text which simply said:
“Coming over this year ? – Herbie”
It was a very difficult invitation to resist, a 114 year old family funeral invitation card printed within a day or so of 37 year old Thomas Laird’s untimely death. This was indeed rare piece of paper and a priceless family heirloom, the temptation was too much I had to go back to Northern Ireland.
A few weeks later PRONI posted for the first time the Ulster Wills Calendar database which consists of a detailed index to thousands of previously unpublished Wills. After a quick search the missing Will details of William Laird was discovered. Until now despite 5 years of extensive PRONI and newspaper searches nobody knew when William Laird died or where he was buried. We now know thanks to the new PRONI database and the Londonderry Sentinel newspaper that William died on January 15th, 1886 and was taken to the Old Burt burial ground at Milltown. This is the same cemetery that a previously mystery John Laird was buried in 1855. William’s death certificate shows he died of kidney failure and his Will confirms the existence of his oldest son James Laird who was born 1855 and was away sick at the time of William’s death. James never returned to Bogstown and the farm was passed to the above Thomas as John was already living in Ontario Canada.
Just as you think it couldn’t get any better the Irish Republic posted the full set of records for the 1911 Census and we can now see that Ann Laird derived her income from real-estate (Bogstown rent) while living at Hillmount with Ruby Neely, Violet & Sarah Laird (only daughters of the late Thomas Laird above) along with Elizabeth (nee Laird) & Matthew Neely (florist). But of most interest was another name “Bella Moore from Donegal”, finally we have confirmation of the Moore connection that was scribbled on the 1982 Irish Family Tree “Moore of Carrygawley” .
More on the Moore’s and my flying visit in following months along with other interesting Donegal secrets revealed.