Canadian Woman Finds Her Roots in Tipperary: Book Launch Sunday 6 July

Sheelagh na Gig bookshop invites everyone to attend the launch of Going Home: Tipperary Roots by Canadian Judith A Colbert on Sunday, 5 July at 8pm in the Thomas MacDonagh Heritage Centre in Cloughjordan.


In Canada, settlers from Tipperary played a major role in the formation of London Township in southwesternOntario. As a descendant of a Tipperary family, Judith A. Colbert set out to learn more about her Irish roots and their influence on her own life and community. She tells her story in her new book, Going Home: Tipperary Rootsa journey ‘home’ that explores links between Canada and Ireland.


Colbert was born in London Township and has always known of the connection between the township and Ireland. ‘As I looked into the history of my family and pieced together a family tree, I realized that it led back to Tipperary’, says Colbert. ‘I visited the archives at Western University in London, Ontario, and found letters written in the 1940s from folks in Cloughjordan to my father’s cousin here in Ontario indicating where the Colberts had lived, and my curiosity was aroused. Maybe because of the war, I don’t think our cousin ever visited. Since I was planning a trip toIreland, I decided to see what I could find’.


Colbert knew that her great-great-grandfather, Thomas Colbert, and his wife Catherine (Kitty) Mooney, had left their home near the village of Cloughjordan in Tipperary and set sail for Canada in 1830. She also knew that Thomas has been accompanied by six sisters who, before or after migration, married into other Irish families – Rebecca Shoebottom, Sarah Hodgins, Margaret Armitage, Ann Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Rawlins and Susan (possibly Crowley). Thomas and Kitty went directly to London Township and settled on lands whose distribution on behalf of the Crown was under the control of another Irishman, Colonel Thomas Talbot. Still, it was a full 17 years after their arrival in southwestern Ontario before they were finally granted ownership of a fertile, 100-acre tract of land at the intersection of what is now Highbury Avenue and Nine Mile Road just outside London, in a community now known as Middlesex Centre.


Armed with information from her research, Colbert arrived in the town of Nenagh in early June 2009 with a photocopy of the early letter, her curiosity and little else. ‘Even now, when I think about my visit, I think what happened was something of a miracle’, says Colbert. ‘Certainly, I would have been lost without the help of the people I met in the area, including Deirdre Lyddy, Joan O’Meara, Gordon Williams and the late Roche Williams. They helped me make sense of the letter and led me to the village of Cloughjordan and then on to the end of a long lane where they assured me, I was standing on the Colbert fields’.


In addition to recounting the events of that June morning, Going Home: Tipperary Roots includes information about both London Township and Tipperary, past and present, along with personal reflections on the ties that still bind Canada and Ireland. ‘What I noticed, first of all, was a shared community spirit’, says Colbert. ‘I was made to feel entirely at home in Ireland from the moment my plane touched down in Dublin to the day of my departure’.

Going Home: Tipperary Roots reflects that spirit. Colbert’s words are interspersed with her own photographs of Nenagh and Cloughjordan and others by Mary Devine, her hostess at Williamsferry House, and Peter Baker of Cloughjordan House. It is a publication that will appeal to the wanderer, traveller and historian in all of us. It is Judith Colbert’s tribute to her past and to the strong, hard-working men and women who ensured that once transplanted, her family’s roots would flourish.


Going Home: Tipperary Roots by Judith A. Colbert ISBN: 9780986746338


Comments are closed.