Saturday, 24 March 2012

Taking Lizzie Home

Lizzie Emerson
1866 - 1938

On March 14th 1885 an 18 year old girl from Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, left her homeland, her parents, five younger siblings & all that was familiar to her to embark on a long voyage across treacherous seas to New Zealand, a relatively new land compared to the country of her birth.  That young girl was my great grandmother Lizzie.  As Lizzie said her final farewells to her family & friends, did she believe that she would someday return?  What must her last thoughts have been as she stepped off Irish soil?  Whatever the circumstances surrounding her decision to leave her family, Lizzie must surely have been grieving as she waved goodbye to her parents, her brothers, John 17, Robert 15, Tom 12 & William 10 & her sister Maggie 13. 

Sadly, Lizzie never returned to Ireland.  She lived the rest of her life as a farmer’s wife & mother of 3 children in rural NZ.  There is nothing to suggest she was ever unhappy but there must have been days when she yearned to see her family back in Ireland again. 

I’d dreamed for many years of visiting Lizzie’s home & stepping onto the soil where she was raised, hoping that when I did, her spirit would be with me. 

It has been an emotional journey going back to the home & farm where Lizzie lived.  I somehow suspect that she was with me as I walk around all those familiar places she would have known so well & wondered how desperate her situation must have been, to have left this beautiful place.  I went inside the house where she was born, walked along farm tracks that she would have walked along & said a prayer, thankful for her courage to travel to NZ to start a new life.     Here I was 127 years later, doing what she was never able to... coming home for Lizzie.  Meeting her great nephew & neices & her only surviving neices Lillie & Dorothy, was a joy I'm unable to express adequately in words.

How Blessed I am to have had this opportunity to meet my Irish family and connect with the country that holds a share of my heritage.

Lizzie with her husband William &
their eldest son named Emerson, my grandfather


  1. i think thats was awsome and cool i enjoyed the history !

  2. Very moving..I found your blog via tripadvisor! Am in the initial stages of planning a similar trip next year. thanks for sharing your story.

  3. Very Interesting. I am Just back from visiting the homeland of my Bell ancestors in County Monaghan.

    Now I also have a great grandmother Elizabeth Emerson (1842-1925) She was born in Ontario Canada but her parents Andrew Emerson and Elizabeth Elliott both came from County Fermanagh. I wonder if our Emerson families are connected. Let me know.

    1. Murray, it is quite possible that your Elizabeth Emerson is related. Many of my great grandmother's cousins & uncles on her Blair side of the family, immigrated to Ontario, Canada [Oxford & Langley], so it is possible some of her Emerson cousins did also. Unfortunately, my records stop at her father. I do know of someone in Canada who many be able to help you further. If you can let me know your email address via a reply on here [I won't publish it], then I can contact you.

  4. It looks like I'm very late to the party, about four years. On the chance that someone may see this i thought I would post. I've just started looking into my family history, and have gotten to back to a James Emerson 1803-1891 immigrating from Enniskillen with his wife Mary McMurry 1804-1879 and family in the mid 1840s to Hastings county Ontario. I'm having a hard time picking up the exact trail in Ireland, so if anyone might have some info that might connect these families I would be very interested to hear!