Our first day attempting to hunt down two churches in which my Northern Irish ancestors (on my mother’s side) had tied their nuptial knots was perhaps not so successful as it could have been.

I blame Google maps.

 This is where my ancestors used to live.

Okay, fine, I’m kidding.  This is Brownlow House, a very large, beautiful house that has absolutely nothing to do with my ancestors.  Nothing that I know of, anyway.

 Alas, it was shut to the public that fine day, but silly things like gates are minor barriers to determined individuals like Karen and myself.

 Going over was not entirely successful.  Perhaps under…?

While I probably could have scooted under, I chose not to break laws and get myself locked up in some prison somewhere while on holiday.

It seemed the wiser option.

 Lies.  There was no castle on this lane.

The joys of roundabouts.  You never knew how fun they were, did you?

 Lurgan Park.  It’s a beautiful place with a duck pond and lots of walking paths.  I would love to come here in the summer.

 So many ducks!

 They tried to attack me at one point.  Perhaps they thought my face was food?

 Despite claims of Ireland being all grey all the time, there was quite a bit of sun to be had that day.

 A beautiful tree-lined walk.

 We stopped at a handmade pottery shop and perused their beautiful pottery.  There is a slight chance that my parents’ Christmas gifts were found here.

But only a very slight chance.

Love the thatched roof!

 More lies.  This was not a castle.

 We realized that our hopes of finding the two churches were growing rather slim as the sun began to sink, but I had maps and I was on a quest, so we followed the road toward the first place that Google insisted a church was to be found.

 Aaaaaaaaand here’s the church!

Yay!

Yay church!

What, you don’t see a church?

 Yeah, we didn’t either.  But the map insisted that it was right here.  So we tried to appreciate the churchness of the field.

 So… this is where my ancestors were married?

They had… good taste…

Huh…

 I took plenty of pictures of this supposed church location and we hit the road again.  It was too dark to look for the second location, so we made plans to go on Boxing Day after the Christmas festivities were done.

 Hey, wait, here’s a small stone building that looks somewhat old.  Is this the church?

Took photo just in case.

 And then Christmas!!!!!!

 Christmas crackers.  Do you know what Christmas crackers are?  Apparently, Americans are the most deprived and tragic humans because we do not have Christmas crackers.

 Karen is a vegetarian.  So when her plate arrived it was completely free of meat… except for a sausage lovingly squished into her mashed potatoes.  Because family is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

We had tea and sugary delights after dinner.

 And then we played Cranium!  The puppy played too.  He tried to catch the dice when it was rolled.  With his mouth…

And I found a classy hobbit door….

Christmas came to an end and Boxing Day brought new hope for locating churches.  This time, we had a savvy guide in the form of Karen’s boyfriend’s father, who knows all the churches and their history in the Portadown area and beyond.  Guides are so very, very useful.  We found both churches.

 Welcome to Drumcree Church!  This church was a central location of some series Catholic/Protestant conflict back in the day.  It’s pretty quiet now.

 We moved on to Ardmore Church, which was where we found quite a few possible relations interred.

 I might possibly be a little too chipper about locating my family name among the gravestones.  But if they had any sense of humor whatsoever, I think they would have appreciated my joy.

 The graveyard was so full of Turkingtons that the rest of the family names seemed a bit overwhelmed.  Turkingtons totally rule this churchyard.

 When I first came in the churchyard, the very first stone I spotted was a Turkington and I thought I was so very lucky.  And then we found more and more, until I was a little afraid, we’d never find the end of them!

 Three in one shot, plus the church.  Well done, me.

 Behind the church is Lough Neagh, a very large, lovely lake.

 Goodbye, church of my ancestors!

 As we left, we noticed that the pillars flanking the gate had names on them to which the gate was dedicated.

 The lower one is Joseph Turkington, who died in 1915 in the first World War.

 What better way to end the journey than with an idyllic thatched roof house of some individual who will never know how much joy I took in photographing the outside of their home.

 I went back to Edinburgh on Tuesday and spent a frantic 30ish hours awaiting boyfriend’s arrival.  And now, fabulous adventures in his company shall ensue!