Greencastle, PA meets Greencastle, Ireland
Greencastle, Pennsylvania is “named for Greencastle in north of Ireland, founded 1750”, as proclaimed on signs at the ends of town. Some local residents traveled back to the ancestral land to explore the heritage of those early settlers.
Wayne and Sharon Baumbaugh, Vic and Sherry Moon, George and Jane Pittman, and Louise Horst toured Ireland March 18 to 30, and played hooky from their tour group for one day to visit Greencastle, a fishing village which is indeed on the northernmost tip of the Republic of Ireland.
“It isn’t in stone that this is the Greencastle we are named for,” said Sharon Baumbaugh. “But we think so. There is another Greencastle farther west.”
Their Greencastle is in County Donegal, with Letterkenny its largest city, and near County Antrim. The population is 860, and the port’s economy is now based on tourism rather than commercial fishing.
The seven didn’t plan to travel together, but met at an informational meeting by the sponsoring tour company. They quickly banded together and started making plans.
Sharon and Wayne Baumbaugh most wanted to find two Irishmen who had visited Greencastle, Pennsylvania when the couple owned the Echo Pilot.
Sharon had interviewed Charlie Cavanagh and Michael Cavanagh, who were cousins, in 1997. They were not successful in making contact.
Once in the country, Vic Moon discovered that Michael was on a ship bound for Denmark, and Charlie worked at an insurance agency 20 miles from Greencastle. He left a voicemail.
The U.S. tourists hired a taxi driver for the day, rather than risk driving a rental car on the opposite side of the road, as was the practice in the United Kingdom, or dealing with round-a-bouts. George Doherty proved to be an asset in providing for a memorable day in Greencastle.
He first took them around Derry, since, as he said, “Greencastle doesn’t open until noon.”
Once in the native village, a pub opened early just for them. Jane Pittman, a retired teacher, wanted to see a school, so they dropped in on one. The elementary school principal and secretary talked to them, and two teachers brought out their classes to chat. It became the highlight of the Americans’ day.
The group walked the ruins of a castle, after which the village had been named, calling it a “reverent” event. Horst and Vic Moon admitted they brought home stones from the grounds as souvenirs. Doherty also took them to a golf course, a beach “all of one-hundred yards long”, and a maritime museum. Back in town, Sherry Moon popped into a family-owned grocery store, reminiscent of Earl’s Market in State Line, which her dad had founded. She spoke with the owner’s daughter.
As the travelers dined at a restaurant, Charlie Cavanagh walked in. He had driven over and looked for a taxicab. Sharon Baumbaugh gave him copies of the Echo Pilot and her 1997 article. He showed them more sites in town, including a boat manufacturer and the Coast Guard station, which was a volunteer organization to handle maritime emergencies.
Giving Doherty much credit for his transportation and commentary, Wayne Baumbaugh said, “We had a lot of crack with him.” He was using the Irish slang for “fun”.
Sharon Baumbaugh, the only one with definite Irish ancestry, summed up the enthusiam of the group, “This was my dream trip.”