NOTES BY ANN SHEVILL ABOUT HER JOURNEYS TO IRELAND, USA AND CANADA SEPTEMBER 2003

Includes the Brabazon Family Reunion based on Killruddery

Brabazon House - home of Catherine
& David Gibson-Brabazon

Catherine & David Gibson-Brabazon and Doreen Gibson-Brabazon at Doreen's home

Church of Ireland, Almoritia, Co.Westmeath,
Ireland - September 2003

How fortunate I was to have good health all the way and just one wet half day in twenty-one days. Thanks be.

The itinerary: A day in Singapore, 6 days in Ireland, 5 days in New York City and 9 days touring in USA and Canada: Boston in USA, Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara Falls in Canada, back to Gettysburg and Washington DC in USA.

The destructive hurricane "Isabel" killed 23 people, threatened New York, but veered west and had no effect on our travels except for strong winds in NYC.

I shared accommodation in Bray and travel henceforth with my first cousin Wendy Brabazon. - 26 years younger than me. I could not have had a more compatible travelling companion. (My "ears")

Singapore: still being reclaimed and rebuilt by day, magical by night, clean, safe, green and appearing affluent. A tour to Sentosa Island afforded me the opportunity to enjoy many delightful experiences and venues.

Ireland: The Brabazon Family Reunion was thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended - more than seventy personalities from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, UK and Ireland. Visitors lived in and about Dublin or were temporarily accommodated in or near Bray in County Wicklow just south of Dublin. Many were at the comfortable Bray seafront Esplanade Hotel where facilities enabled us to share memorabilia and family histories and to view on a computer (supplied kindly by Anthony Ardee) a sample of the imminent Brabazon Archive Website, which will be extremely valuable for future research purposes.

For the Family Reunion our gracious and generous hosts were the Earl and Countess of Meath - Jack and Xenia Brabazon, ably supported by their family. They had arranged a splendid weekend programme; which on Saturday 13th September. Centered on their home Killruddery House and the Estate gardens and farm. Elizabeth, Lady Meath (Grannie Betty) seemed to be chatting happily to visitors all day and into the night. Also, who could ever forget little doll Bridget Brabazon, favourite with the seven other energetic girls, or Big little boy Barney Brabazon

Michael Brabazon's address on the History of the Family from 1066 was thoroughly researched and well received at the commencement of the day. Everyone was kept busy touring the House and the historic very extensive Gardens, enjoying an hilarious hay-ride courtesy of David Brabazon to see splendid views from sea to farm on the high slopes of Small Sugar Loaf Mountain, having fun assembling for the group photo, and enjoying ever ready refreshments. Most people even fitted in visits to Christ Church, Bray to see the many Brabazon memorials there, and to the Bray Town Hall, which was built in 1882 as a gift to the town by the 12th Earl of Meath. A small coach was available to transport us between venues both by day and night

On Sunday 14th September we joined a large coach and much enjoyed Finola Finlay's informative commentary about County Wicklow, and visits to Wicklow Historic Gaol and Glendalough Monastery - excellent tourist venues. Warm sun shone on us as we ate our provided picnic lunch on the lush lawns.

Quite a few family members were able to be around for more than the weekend to meet other Brabazons; even that was not enough time to get to know everyone who attended, but we certainly made the most of the time we had. Wendy and I much enjoyed a visit to the grand Powerscourt Gardens nearby, driven by Bernard and Fran Brabazon.

The Gala Dinner held on the Saturday night in the magnificent Killruddery Orangery was a very memorable occasion. A touch popular with young and old just before the conclusion was a small group of delightful children entertaining us with Irish dancing. Serena Brabazon also charmed us with her violin playing.

Jack took the opportunity to thank those whose recent contributions had been exceptional - Michael for his splendid History address and his work to develop the web site, Shauna for her tremendous effort to create the Ultimate Brabazon Family Tree, and Finola for her excellent commentary on the Wicklow coach tour.

For me there was the surprise presentation of a handsome heirloom, an engraved silver salver; I was quite overcome about that and the ovation of the assembly and I hope I managed to respond satisfactorily to Jack's address of appreciation on behalf of the clan and in turn to thank the Killruddery Family for their superb efforts, kindness and hospitality.

The enthusiasm and energy which has characterized the lead up to the Reunion has been truly remarkable. Many family members who could not attend for health reasons were truly missed. Those of us who were able to be present enjoyed immensely the personal contacts, interests and fun of the occasion, but there also will be enduring beneficial consequences for the world wide family.

For one thing the vast (a mile long in print form?) Family Tree prepared by Shauna Flynn - a facility about which I have dreamed for years and which has become a reality much earlier than I would dare to have thought possible. I have a feeling that Shauna's endeavours will not wane at least in the foreseeable future.

Secondly those at the Reunion were able to preview the impressive material prepared by Michael Brabazon for the imminent launch of the Brabazon Archive website which will be in cyber space in October. www.brabazonarchive.com

I am confident that Brabazons around the world will view the site not only with interest but also with pride, and will contribute financial support to maintain the facility when requested in due course.

A car trip cleverly organized by Charles Brabazon on the Monday was of special interest to the visiting Australian Brabazons; the seven of us visited Westmeath County. The Great great grandfather of Charles, Wendy and myself - the Reverend James Brabazon - was Rector of a Church of Ireland in the village of Almoritia; James married Elizabeth Jane Levinge whose family had property close by.

We were able to visit the Church and to see the family homes, greatly assisted by a local resident and the charming and helpful Gibson Brabazon Family who still reside in the Brabazon House. We could have enjoyed much more time with them and in the beautiful countryside, but we all had to fly off to follow our planned itineraries.

New York: bold, busy, brassy, noisy, overcrowded, more often unkempt than looking affluent - a city of contrasts, fascinating to visit. Our hotel was a few steps from Broadway and Times Square so we were able to revel in that incredibility exciting and colourful part of the city. The impossibly slow traffic restricted the number of venues which we could visit in the time we were there but we managed to include "Ground Zero" (how could it have happened?) the Empire State Building (views for ever at the top) the Statue of Liberty (no entry to the building since 9/11/01) The Metropolitan Museum of Art (including a special Exhibition celebrating 300 years of St Petersburg) the United Nations complex (heartening) the Intrepid (Aircraft Carrier) Sea Air Space Museum (different for us land lubbers) the 48th floor views from the Marriott Hotel's revolving restaurant, Grand (really grand) Central Station (a memorable TV-Movie Exhibition there) a Broadway show "The boy from OZ" (previews in the month of September - a standing ovation delighted us) --- and much more!

For me NYC has a wealth of interest but I have no desire to live there permanently!

Wendy and I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated another planned (mini) Family Gathering organized by Tara Nielsen - Brabazon at the spacious home and garden of Shaun Flynn in Milltown, New Jersey. Tara and her Danish husband Brian drove us there and back and over a sumptuous lunch we were able to share in happy relaxed mode, a wealth of family news and information with more friendly Brabazons who represented the many family members in the region. It was indeed a joy to be with them all.

The ATI coach tour north to Canada: The next nine days we thoroughly enjoyed in the company of a quiet friendly group of twenty five people of varying ages and nationalities, a competent, knowledgeable tour guide, excellent coach driver and accommodation in comfortable hotels.

After leaving the comparatively quiet, clean and attractive city of Boston, there was a short stop at the picturesque Kennebunkport. Then we drove through lovely New England. In the northern high lands of the State of Maine we saw some colourful woodlands but we were a couple of weeks too early for the fall colours in all their glory because of the 'Indian Summer' which we continued to enjoy. Very memorable were walks in the old areas of Quebec and Montreal, glimpses of the handsome parliament buildings of Ottawa,and the nearby very impressive Canadian Museum of Civilization. Then a quick stop at the picturesque Thousand Islands area before an overnight stop at the boom city of Toronto (how different from when I lived there in 1957/58!)

Perhaps the most memorable day of all, in perfect weather, was the visit to Niagara on the Lake and then the wondrous, majestic Niagara Falls - by day and by night. A lasting souvenir will be the blue poncho provided to avoid getting soaked by mist on the "Maid of the Mist" as the small vessel struggled to get close to the base of the falls. It is a city crammed with stunning views (especially from atop the Sky Tower) and gardens, excursions and entertainment.

The tour then took us south back to USA and we learned lots about the Civil War in the attractive Gettysburg country - through the interesting and picturesque Amish and Mennonite communities to see and hear about their way of life - so different in our modern world.

Then to Washington where we glimpsed poverty and desolation but were vastly favourably impressed (day and night) by such as the Government buildings, the memorials, the museums, the galleries, the Pentagon damaged on 11.9.01, Evensong service at the Washington National (Episcopal) Cathedral, and the Arlington Cemetery (in the adjoining State of Virginia) All typify the achievements and the pride of the citizens of the mighty United States of America. I could return to enjoy much more of what Washington offers.

Philadelphia (the Liberty Bell is still small and cracked) and then the last stop for one more night out in now familiar New York City before flying home safely to Brisbane via Los Angeles, and Auckland, New Zealand.

Thanks be to God for such a splendid three weeks of travel, packed with so much action, information, interest and enjoyment with congenial company, to be home safely and in good health to enjoy the bird songs, the views to the mountains, a verdant outlook after recent rain, worshipping in our splendid St John's Cathedral, and best of all the friendly welcoming faces and voices of my family, neighbors and friends.