Although the English novelist Jane Austen never married, scholars debate about a man called Tom Lefroy and that perhaps he had a relationship with Jane. Whether they did or not, and given she said to one her nieces, Fanny “"Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without affection” so perhaps she didn’t love him enough to take the plunge. I mention it however because Tom Lefroy was an Irishman so had they married, she may have gone before her three nieces who lived in Ireland. Was that a convoluted link to the crux of this article and Jane’s connection to Donegal, Ireland? Perhaps.
At any rate, after Jane’s father died in 1805 the family encountered financial insecurity and had no permanent residence until her brother Edward let them live in his cottage in Chawton, East Hampshire, England. It is here Jane wrote, or at least completed, all six of her novels.
Edward Knight, who changed his name from Austen to Knight so that he could legally inherit from the relatives who took him in after the death of his father, was Edward Knight the father of the three Austen nieces who ended up living in Donegal.
The first of Jane’s nieces, and the youngest daughter of Edward Knight, to move to Ireland was Cassandra (Cass) who was named after her maternal grandmother. She married the landlord George Hill, formally Lord George Hill, on the 2st of October 1834, and they lived in Gortlee House, Letterkenny, where Cassandra gave birth to four children: Norah in 1835, Arthur in 1837, Augustus in 1839 and her last child, Cassandra in 1842. She died of puerperal fever just three days after giving birth to Cassandra.
Cassandra Hill (Lady George Hill) is buried in the Church of Ireland, Conwal Parish, graveyard in Letterkenny. To find her grave simply go in the main gate to the church and graveyard and to the left of the church you will see a grave with railing around it at the front of that section of the graveyard and that is Cassandra’s grave (and later her husband’s too).
Following her death, two of her brothers, George and Charles, and her older sister Lousia (Lou) visited their brother-in-law in Donegal and after her brothers returned home, Louisa remained to care for her late sister’s young children.
After five years Louisa married her brother in law, George Hill, on the 11th of May 1847. In 1949 Louisa gave birth at the age of 44 to her only child, George. Louisa, George and their blended family lived near the village of Ramelton, in’Ballyare House. George Hill would die in Ballyare House in 1879.
In her later years, a third sister, Marianne (May), came to live in Donegal with her sister Louisa. The Donegal air was obviously good for her as she lived into her 95th year.
Marianne and Louisa are buried side by side in a graveyard on a hill some three and a half miles from Ballyare House.
The graveyard is called Tully Graveyard and sits at the end of a long road from Ballyare (Ballyarr). There is no church beside it, just the two graveyards. If you visit it to see their graves, go into the old graveyard (there is a new one opened just before it). Once inside the old gate walk a few steps up a slight incline and look half way down the graveyard to your right. There you will see two stone crosses beside an old stone wall which mark their graves.
Louisa’s gravestone reads:
“In loving memory of Louisa wife of Lord George August ....... Hill of Ballyare and ............ who died 29th July 1889 in her 85th year”
And Marianne’s reads:
“ In loving memory of Marianne Knight third daughter of the late Edward Knight Esq of Godmersham Park, Kent who died in her 95th year at Ballyare House Dec 4th 1896”
George Hill, husband of the two sisters Cassandra and Louisa is buried beside his first wife, Cassandra, in Letterkenny.
And there my blog post would have ended but for the fact that I came across a woman called Karen Ievers who had an amazing Jane Austen related find on ebay and it is that amazing find that allows me to have the photographs of the Austen nieces (and their family members) used here. You can read about Karen's amazing find HERE.
Some of Karen's amazing finds:
Sandra's Run would normally take place on the first Saturday of July but has been postponed this year because of COVID 19 and will now take place on Saturday the 8th of August. In the meantime, for the 4th of July which would have been the run, we give you some memories of previous Sandra's Runs with some of our own photographs and some kindly shared with us by many of the bikers who take part.
Sandra's Run 2017
Sandra's Run 2017 ~ Gweebarra Bridge
Sandra's Run 2017 ~ The Homecoming (into Killybegs)
Valentine was a priest who was martyred on the 14th of February and as with other saints, that date is his feast day.
He lived in Rome, Italy in the 3rd century and was persecuted and finally martyred because he defended and continued to marry Christian couples. He was beaten to death and beheaded and his skull is on display in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.
Part of his remains (relics) now lie in Whitefriar Street Church, Dublin. Throughout the year they lie below the statue of St. Valentine at his altar there but for the days around and on St. Valentine’s Day they are exposed which means his casket is on display at the front of the church on the altar.
Couples who are soon to marry come to the church on St. Valentine’s day to have their wedding rings blessed and when we were there I noticed a book on the altar of St. Valentine where people write their wishes.
I started to read the words written there but stopped when I read something written by a mother praying for a good and loving wife for her son. It felt intrusive and far too personal for me to be reading so I have no idea what other wished are written there but I assume they wish for love for themselves and/or their loved ones.
But how did the partial remains of St. Valentine end up in Ireland?
They are there because of an Irish Carmelite and philanthropist, John Spratt (1797-1871), who travelled to and spoke in Rome in 1835. He was widely lauded there and received many gifts, the most important being a casket given to him by Pope Gregory XVI containing some of the remains of St. Valentine including a vial of his blood.
St. Valentine’s remains arrived in Dublin on the 10th of November 1836 and were taken in procession through the streets of Dublin to the Carmelite Church on Whitefriar Street. Following the death of John Spratt in 1871 interest in the relics faded and they went into storage until they were found during renovations of the church in the 1950s/60s
An altar to St. Valentine was built and a life size statue of him created by Irish artist, Irene Broe (1923-1992).
His remains were placed in their sealed casket below his altar with an iron gate to protect them. They are inside a black and gold wooden box and the casket in which they sit has never had its seal broken and remains intact to this day.
So there you go, you now know why St. Valentine’s (partial) remains can be found in Dublin, Ireland. You might also like to know that not only is St. Valentine the patron saint of lovers, he is also the patron saint of beekeepers, epilepsy and the plague!
LETTERKENNY ARTISAN MARKET
The Artisan Market takes place in Letterkenny each Saturday between 10am and 3pm and is certainly worth a trip.
It's a great place to while away an hour or two, wandering between stalls of local produce and local crafts, enjoy delicious hot food and coffee and homemade cakes.
There’s something for everyone.
Grab a coffee from ‘Calista’ on the way in and wander round the stalls sampling on some and taking in the delicious aromas on another. There is an extensive meats stall and a farm produce stall with organically grown vegetables from Ballyholey Farm. There’s goats cheese and gluten free cupcakes and pancakes too, which although I didn’t try, look fantastic. If you are looking for wheatgrass then you can buy the wheatgrass or take a short cut and buy frozen shots of wheatgrass. You can even buy flavoured kefir drinks and vinegars.
Local crafts are varied and offer a great selection of both gifts for family and friends and treats for yourself too. There’s ‘That Small Change’ where you can buy rings, cufflinks, golf ball markers and so on all made from Irish coins. Kate, the designer there also makes gifts from wood too. There are artists with art works and homemade cards, and homemade candles which make great table centres and gifts. There’s jewellery and a small selection of home interior furnishing too.
There is a seating area where you can sit and enjoy some of the foods available. I tried Effie B’s jerk chicken as I have never tried jerk chicken before and I can report it was delicious. I also tried her jollof rice and spicy fried rice too, I preferred the jollof, my husband the spicy fried rice and if you want it spiced up a notch just ask Effie B to add more spice and she will.
You can buy homemade soups and pancakes too. The chocolate pancakes seemed to be a big hit with the kids (and speaking of kids, there’s a play area for them with toys and sofas). There are homemade cakes and buns including gluten free cakes.
LETTERKENNY ARTISAN MARKET, SATURDAY 28th OCTOBER 2017
Tomorrow, Saturday the 28th of October, Letterkenny Artisan Market is the location for the Highland Radio outside broadcast unit and later there will be a live band playing to entertain everyone.
As it is Halloween weekend there will be some fun things for the kids too.
So if you haven't been to Letterkenny Artisan Market before, go along tomorrow and enjoy the atmosphere and the craic to be had there.
Letterkenny Artistan Market, Carrygawley, Letterkenny
Every Saturday 10am - 3pm
Disabled loos: Yes. And all the market is on the groundfloor too.
WeLoveDonegal bring you a film clip of the bikers taking part in 'Sandra's Run' on Saturday, 1st of July 2017. It was very windy!!!
Do you eat your oysters naked too?
There really is no other way to enjoy an oyster or six.
As in no Tabasco, no lemon juice, nothing ... yes, it’s the oyster that should be naked not the eater. Well unless you fancy eating the oysters naked in your birthday suit but that’s a whole different type of site. Here on We Love Donegal we keep it pure, like our oysters.
Bikers left Killybegs on Saturday morning last (1st July 2017) in rain and mist to begin the annual 'Sandra's Run' but they returned home to Killybegs to dry weather and even a little sunshine pushing through. Here are the photographs of the homecoming.
Note: All photographs here are the property of WeLoveDonegal.com but full resolution copies can be purchased and will be emailed to you on payment of €10 to Jim or Rosaleen Boyle for 'Sandra's Run'.
(Photographs and film of their journey over Gweebara Bridge will be added later).
‘Sandra’s Run’ is an annual charity motor bike ride in south west Donegal held on the first Saturday in July each year.
This year it will be on SATURDAY 1st JULY.
The organisers, Jim and Rosaleen Boyle of Killybegs, County Donegal, the parents of Sandra after whom the event is named, started ‘Sandra’s Motorcycle Run’ in honour of their daughter Sandra who sadly passed away on the 21st of May 1991 after a battle with leukaemia. It was the eve of her 18th birthday.
Jim and Rosaleen, bikers themselves, gather other bikers from all over the world to raise money for various hospitals and charities.
Last year ‘Sandra’s Run’ raised over €26,000 for Temple Street Childrens Hosptial (Dublin). In previous years ‘Sandra’s Run’ has raised money for Letterkenny University Hospital and Our Lady’s Childrens Hospital, Crumlin.
Over the years ‘Sandra’s Run’ has raised well in excess of a quarter of a million euro.
In its first year 14 bikes took part and last year this had risen to 290 bikes. For anyone who has been in the area on the day of ‘Sandra’s Run’ they can’t fail but be impressed with the number of bikes and vast array of different makes and models of bikes too.
Added to that, we see bushes, trees, fences, seats, street lights and buildings bedecked with teddies and other stuffed toys and dolls. Rosaleen Boyle sends out an appeal to anyone reading this from anywhere on the course to tie soft toys and dolls to their fences and buildings.
Do you live along the route of 'Sandra's Run'?
If you do, Jim and Rosaleen send out a request to you: please tie teddy bears, dolls or other soft toys to your fencing and walls to show support for Sandra's Run.
KILLYBEGS , ARDARA, CROLLY, BLOODY FORELAND, GLENTIES, DUNGLOE, ARDAGHEY
This year funds are being raised for Muscular Dystrophy Ireland.
Unfortunately Jim and Rosaleens other daughter, Dianne, has been diagnosed with a rare muscular condition and three of their (adult) nephews (brothers) are each confined to wheelchairs. So in their inimitable way, Jim and Rosaleen are pouring their energies into raising both awareness and much needed research funds into Muscular Dystrophy Ireland. Hence this years cause. (See a recent post, below here, by Jim and Rosaleen explaining further).
So please come along for a great family day out to see and support this worthy cause. And if you have any biker friends, get them to take the ride too.
Please share this post on any media platforms you are on to pass the word around and make it the biggest and best ‘Sandra’s Run’ to date.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A BIKE RIDE NOT A RACE. NO SPEEDING OR CARELESS DRIVING.
‘SANDRA’S RUN’ DETAILS
FEE FOR BIKER: €20
FEE FOR PILLION: €10
Entries taken in Killybegs from 9.30 am on the morning of the run
OTHER DONATIONS: There will be collectors with buckets along the route so please throw in a few euro if you can. Other donations can be given by contacting Jim 087-2310269 or
Rosaleen 087-9132481 directly.
ENTRIES: Taken in Killybegs from 9.30 am before the run begins
START: The Diamond, Killybegs 11.30 am
MOVING ON TO: Ardara, Narin, Dungloe
LUNCH BREAK: DUNGLOE 1 pm
Lunch(and dinner later) free for bikers and helpers
MOVING ON TO: Annagry, Crolly (petrol stop only), Bloody Foreland, Glenties (via Dungloe), Ardara, Ardaghey
FINISH UP: Killybegs
(Free dinner at the Tara Hotel for those with arm bands only).
MUSIC & DANCING IN THE TARA HOTEL FROM 10pm ~everyone welcome.
Breakdown van (Seamus) 087-1835007
Paramedic (Mick) 086-8090156
The day after 'Sandra's Run' there is a boat trip where all monies taken in fares go into the fundraiser too. Details can be checked on their website page here: SANDRA'S RUN BOAT TRIP
Don't forget to tweet, share, like this blog post to bring it to as many people as we can to help raise lots of money for Sandra's Run and Muscular Dystrophy Ireland. (Tweet adding @MDI_Ireland)
This Sunday, the 24th of July 2016, parents and friends will take part in the Extreme Gateway Mud Run (as part of The Extreme Gateway to Hell Mud Run) to raise funds so that more children with autism in the county can reap the benefits of reflexology.
The woman who started this in Donegal, June Doherty, said:
“With this fundraiser we want to do a parent's workshop so for the other 3 weeks the child can still get reflexology at home. The parents can also do it on their other children so everyone gets the benefits. It started last June when I met Eimear at a Carers Day. I was under a lot of stress at the time and the reflexology really helped me so I started Aisling (her child with Aspergers) doing it to help with sleeping. Then thought if it works for Aisling, will it work for others?. So, nearly a year on, 30 kids come once a month for reflexology and the benefits are unbelievable. A couple of kids are off their anxiety meds because of it. When we started, The Autism Family Support Group subsidised the first two sessions. We try to do a couple of fundraisers a year to help parents with costs as we don't have any money coming from anywhere else.”
To join them on this fun mud run and raise some much needed cash for these children, you can pay at the gate a fee of €30.
Any further details required ring: 0879080784/ 0860877602
Visitors to the south and south west area of Donegal at the moment are probably wondering why all the teddy bears attached to fences, trees, lampposts etc.
Well they are part of the annual ‘Sandra’s Run’, named after local girl Sandra Boyle.
Sandra Boyle was the daughter of Rosaleen and Jim Boyle. She developed leukaemia as a young teen and battled it bravely for three years. During that three years Sandra did two mini marathons, the first she walked it and the second she was pushed in her wheelchair by her father, Jim. Sandra sadly died on the 21st of May 1991 just one day short of her 18th birthday.
Jim and Rosaleen had always been into motorbike and raising money for charity (even before Sandra became ill) and so in 2005 they launched ‘Sandra’s Run’. That first year 14 bikers took part and last year that number had increased to 270 bikers!
The teddy bears along the route symbolise the sick children in hospitals and the children who lost their battle and are now angels.
Sandra’s Run has raised money for Crumlin Hospital in the past and this year they money raised will go to Temple Street Children’s University Hospital Foundations ( templestreet.ie ).
All bikers are welcome to join in the run (details of how to enter below).
And for those of us who don’t take part in the actual run, seeing it is wonderful so if you are along the route give the bikers a cheer and enjoy the day and possibly the evening back in Killybegs where there will be music and dancing.
Her mother, Rosaleen, told us:
“Sandra was diagnosed with Leukaemia in 1988 & spent a long spell in Matter hospital in Dublin. During her illnesses her Dad and I wheeled her in marathon in Dublin for Crumlin Hospital funds twice.
She had a great outlook on life and learned to drive the car and kept all her friends on a positive attitude.
She had her bone marrow extradition in 1990 to save for further treatment but in 1991 she took a relapse and died the day before her 18th birthday on the 21st of May 1991.
I did the marathon for 17 years in her memory for Crumlin Hospital and then 11 years ago we started the Sandra’s Motorcycle Run.
We have raised €25000 and we put TVs and computers in Crumlin also tosca machine in Letterkenny & rehab bicycle & computer stuff for people suffering from stroke & disability.
We were honoured to have her as a daughter and sister to Dianne and Michael and we are delighted to have met so many good people on the path of Sandra’s Run.
We are looking forward to seeing and meeting up with the bikers and friends and helpers at the weekend.”
The Diamond, Killybegs
11.30 am Saturday 2nd July 2016
(make sure your bike is refuelled and you have registered before this time).
~ Malinbeg (Silver Strand) ~ 15 min break
~ Ardara ~ petrol stop at the TEXACO station
~ Donegal Town (via Ardaghey)
~ Rossnowlagh ~ Lunch stop at the Sandhouse Hotel
~ Bundoran (travel via the bypass and enter Bundoran from the Sligo end) ~ 30 min stop
~ Killybegs (FINISH)
Entries are €20 per biker and €5 per pillion. Entries are taken in Killybegs from 10am to 11.30am on the day of the run.
Lunch (Sandhouse Hotel, Rosnowlagh) and dinner (Tara Hotel, Killybegs) is free for the bikers and helpers. Those who are entitled to the free meals must show their armband.
Music and dancing for all in the Tara Hotel from 9.30pm.
NO SPEEDING OR CARELESS DRIVING PLEASE
PHOTOS OF SANDRA BOYLE (kindly submitted by her mother Rosaleen)
We Love Donegal
We Love Donegal is a site dedicated to bring the beauty of County Donegal on the north west coast of Ireland to the world.