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April 12, 1983
Mr. Paul E. Mack
Following on our conversation, I write to share with you these details of my visit to Ireland in 1953:
On August 17, 1953, traveling with three other seminarians, I went to the post office at Ennis, County Clare, near the Shannon Airport.
Officials there gave directions to the O'Connor residence at Ballyortla, "over the bridge, then turn right and follow the river - just continue to Steele Rock."
Following repeated inquiries along the way, we finally came to a three-way crossroad, then a four-way cross.
On making a right turn, after passing the prosperous Garvey Farm, we found ourselves on the property of John O'Connor. Home were Mr. and Mrs. John O'Connor, their daughter Bridie, then 12 years old, and Gerald O'Connor, the younger brother of John.
The first name of Mrs. O'Connor was Agnes who was blessed with a sense of humor and a gift for conversation.
In spite of the rainy day, once I had convinced them that I was a relative, they came outside to pose for pictures.
Nearby, around two corners, was the home of Jack O'Dea. "I walked into it through the drizzle over a bit of country road because four or five cows blocked the way for the car." There I met Mr. and Mrs. Patrick "Paddy" O'Dea. They also had to be convinced that there was some relationship between the Conways and the O'Deas. After a half-hour visit with them and learning of his Uncle Tom in Brooklyn, who had built the house they lived in some 18 or 20 years before, I was taken upstairs to see Jack, who was bedfast. He was a bit hard of hearing and said that he was 91 or 92, he wasn't sure which.
He was a small man with a good head of hair, a moustache, and a very loud voice. His greeting was a warm one and, because of his deafness, our conversation proceeded more in shouts than in a normal fashion.
Such are my notes of the 1953 visit to Ireland.
Wishing you good luck on your further research, and hoping to hear from you regarding its results, I remain with all best wishes,
Very sincerely yours,
Most Rev. William H. Keeler
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