The Robinson Garden at Earlscliffe, Baily, Co. Dublin, Ireland

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Remembrances of a young American Girl

Part 2 - Invitation to Howth, Ireland

Margery L. Stratton

The following was written by Margery L. Stratton. Margery, grand daughter of Sir John Lumsden, was born and brought up in a small town in Pennsylvania in the United States, and spent a memorable year at Earlscliffe in 1935/6. This is her story.

A letter from Grandpa and Granny Lumsden arrived in 1934 suggesting that Dad come back for a visit during the summer of 1935 and bring me (their first grandchild) along with him. Dad would visit for a month and leave me with Granny and Grandpa Lumsden for a year. An entire year!! It was something to think about for all of us. Especially my mother who probably had a struggle about having me so far away with grandparents whom she had not yet met.

The invitation to Mother to travel to Ireland the following year with my younger sister Dotty was tantalizing and I wouldn’t be surprised if she decided it was a great idea within 24 hours!!! Mother was very adventurous and she felt a strong connection to her husband’s family from the warm letters received ever since their marriage.

Dad’s sister, Leslie, just a year younger than Dad, was married in 1923 to Sidney Elkington of England and their round-the-world honeymoon brought them to the U. S. for a week-long visit to our home. From that point on Mother and Aunt Leslie carried on a life-long correspondence.

In July, 1934, Mother and Dad decided it would be a good idea to take me on a trip for a few days. They chose New England; my only travel experience had been the 50-mile (two hour car trip) journey to visit my mother’s family, Henry Ritter Wilson and Belle Esler Wilson at Brookside Farm in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. With one hundred acres of fields and woods and a large dairy barn, it was a wonderful place to visit – At Thanksgiving and Christmas all the family came together enjoying each other and the holidays. Valley Creek meandered through the meadow to the hamlet of Valley Forge and flowed into the Schuylkill River. A Spring House with the most delicious ice cold water just down the road provided water to the house and was a thriving business run by my Uncle Ed, until the Pennsylvania Turnpike disturbed the water table in the 1940’s. LaFayette Spring Water provided water to Philadelphians years before bottled water was the norm. The fieldstone house was built in 1732 and during the Revolutionary War was used by the Marquis de LaFayette as his headquarters while General Washington was headquartered in Valley Forge near the Schuylkill River.

The brief trip to New England with my parents was also planned to give me the experience of living away from home, eating in restaurants and seeing new sights. It was a wise thing they did for we discovered a small lake with a lovely name, Lake Waukewan, in New Hampshire close to the more highly populated shores of Lake Winnepesaukee. Lake Waukewan was where we would spend many a summer holiday. On our return trip we spent a day in New York City where I saw the sights and attended a movie at Radio City Music Hall where I viewed the lovely dancing of the Rockettes. Unfortunately, my parents had not noticed the name of the movie and though I do not remember the title I certainly remember the plot. It was the story of a ship that sunk in the Atlantic Ocean (perhaps based on the sinking of the Titanic though not named); the main male lead had grabbed a fur coat and scarf off a deck chair and climbed into a lifeboat and though he survived was doomed to disgrace for his cowardice. [1] I began to have second thoughts about the trip I would be making the following summer across the Ocean!!

But time heals all things and the excitement of preparations for the trip made me forget that story of a sinking ship. My friends and cousins got into the excitement of it all and even had a Bon Voyage party for me with interesting gifts which included a diary with my name engraved in gold on the red leather binding.

Part 1. Remembrances of a young American girl - Early days

Part 2. Invitation to Howth, Ireland

Part 3. Journey from New York to Cobh, Ireland

Part 4. Arrival at Earlscliffe

References

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