Apart from the background knowledge of Portarlington and the Huguenot settlement, little is known of the Blong/Blanc family this far back. Elizabeth Blong's mother Mary Holmes was born in 1795 from her death certificate. I have only found one a fleeting reference to her sitting by the chimney! However oddly a photograph has survived. There is a reference of a birth of Mary Ann Holmes on 1 May 1802 in records of a Mr Holmes near Portarlington that Ronnie Matthews introduced me to, but he has no other information on what happened to her. His records give her born at Killimy, as the daughter of Benjamin Holmes of Coolbanagher (b1762, d1837 aged 75). Benjamin married twice, and Mary was the daughter by his first wife Mary Barley who died 16 Jan 1808 aged 36. However this web site says that she married a Robert Larke in 1838. "Our" Mary Holmes married between 1815 and 1820 to George Blong (from the age of her children) and she was still Mary Blong when she died, so I conclude that this was not she. However there are a number of brothers of the said Benjamin recorded, with no other details, so the possibility is that our Mary Holmes is the daughter of either John Homes, Joshua Holmes (of Derryguile married Esther), Samuel Holmes (of Cappakeel,married Catherine), or Thomas Holmes (b1775, d1850)
Coolbanagher Church was completed in 1786 and was built by Lord Carlow to replace an older church which was burnt in 1779. It was designed by the famous Georgian archtitect James Gandon who also designed Emo Court and whose best known work is the Custom House in Dublin. A fine gothic baptism fond is preserved in the nave. The parish records date from 1804 and include births, marriages and burials. They are available in the Representative Church body libary, Churchtown, Dublin and on microfilm in the National Archives, Dublin.
Lewis Topographical Directory in 1837 describes it as
Coolbanagher, a parish in the barony of Portnehinch, Queen’s county and province of Leinster; containing with the parish of Ardea or Ardrea the post town of Emo, and part of that of Mount mellick, 7456 inhabitants. It comprises 8623 statute acres, as applotted under the tithe act. The soil is generally fertile, and there is a considerable tract of waste land, which is mostly exhausted bog; the system of agriculture is daily improving. Limestone abounfds and is quaried for building, repairing the roads and burning into lime for manure.
The principal seats are Emo Park the residence of the Earl of Portarlington; Woodbrook of Major Chetwood; Lauragh of the Rev. Sir Erasmus Dixon Burowes Bart, Knightstown of Joseph Kemmis Esq., and Shane Castle of Thomas Kemis Esq., From a desire to introduce manufactures and trade into this part of the country, for the employment of the population Mr. Kemmis has established on his estate at Shane an iron manufactory. The Dublin Grand canal passes through the parish to Mount Mellick, also a tributary stream which running northward fals into the barrow atr portnehinch bridge. Petty sessions are held at Lauragh.
The living is a rectory, in the diocese of Kildare episcopally united in 1804, to the rectory of Ardea or Ardrea, together forming the union of Coolbanagher in the patronage of the crown; the tieths amount to £276.18s.5½d per anum. The extent of the union as applotted under the tithe act, is 15,763 statute acres; and the tithes for the whole amount to £536.6s.1¾d. per annum.. The glebe house, in Ardea is a handsome recidence, built in 1790: the glebe comprises 26½ acres. The church also in Ardea is a handsome edifice, erected at the expense of the late Lord Portarlington, on the summit of an eminence not far from the sourthern extremity of the union...
The parochial school is at Moret and there are about six other schools at that and other places in the parish: a spacious slated building was erected for one under the trustees of Erasmus Smiths charity, at an expense of £500, chiefly defrayed by I.C. Chetwood, Esq., and the school at Emo is endowed with 20 acres of land by the Hon. Lionel Dawson. There are about 700 children in these schools.
The ruins of the ancient church are still visible, and also those of the castle of Moret, in the vicinity of which are the venerable remains of Shane Castle, formerly called “Sion” or “Shehan Castle”, which was the head of a manor, when in the possession of Sir Robert Preston, in 1397, but it has shared the fate of the other castles of Leix. During the parliamentary war it was seized by the insurgents, in 1641; taken from them the year following by Sir Charles Coote, retaken by Owen Roe O‘Nial in 1646 and finally surrendered in 1650 to Cols. Hewson and Reynolds, who demolished the outworks, and left nothing but he present building remaining. It is situated on a high conical hill, and was fitted up in the last century by Dean Coote, who converted it into a very pleasant residence
A verbatim description of Mary Holmes from a web correspondent My mother’s grandmother on her mother's side was a French Huguenot, LeBlanc by name, and she lived with her daughter (Elizabeth Blong), my mother's mother. My mother spoke of her sitting in the chimney corner but could not remember anything else that she did.
Mary Holmes married George Blong around 1820, and they had a family of 5 or 6 surviving children. It was her son Thomas Blong's death in USA yielded her maiden name as Mary Holmes
I have been unable to follow Samuel,
Ann and Thomas
all emigrated to Ohio around 1855. Susan later returned to Portarlington, and
married a Henry Connolly on 23 Aug 1866 at Portarlington, (they had one son
Gough Connolly, but he had no issue.)
The other daughter, Elizabeth is the one from whom I am descended. She married William Watson. And their daughter Maria Watson married Thomas Grant. In Portarlington in 1880.
William Blong, was born in Portarlington and baptised in 1833 is noted in the St Pauls register as the third son of George Blong. I believe he died 1860 aged 37 (recorded in state record as William Blane). The implied birth is 1833, and also the Lee Bible has the death of a William Blong on 18 Dec 1870. I have the impression that he was unmarried.
Mary died 3 Jan 1877 age 82. She was a "publican's widow", and the death was reported by Elizabeth Watson (who was her daughter). She died at Kilmalogue, about 1 mile from the town in a NW direction.
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