Maureen Francis Doyle’s blog

A Journey In Time - The Novel - by Maureen Francis DoyleMaureen Francis Doyle’s blog will highlight different aspects of Irish history, travel in Ireland, and how her book, A Journey in Time evolved.  Maureen’s book was written from many years of research about her family. Specifically her great grandfather, John Doyle leaving Ireland during The Great Potato Famine and finding the courage to travel to an unknown country.  The blog will showcase the different experiences that he went through to include famine, traveling steerage, the workhouses or poor houses of Ireland, the wives and children that he had and ultimately becoming a successful and admired gentleman farmer in Canada.  It will also look at history from the early 1800’s thru to the early 1900’s and everything that he and his family experienced thru time to include the excitement of the railroad coming to Canada to travel to the wild west.

A Journey In Time by Maureen Francis Doyle

Maureen Francis Doyle became interested in writing and the military from a very early age. She wrote her first book, How I Feel About the World when she was in the fourth grade albeit unpublished, under the pen name of Sharon Blanche Brimethos. Growing up in a small town in Troy, Ohio, she would visit her grandmother in Detroit, Michigan and she loved watching the convoys traveling to Camp Grayling a military camp for the Army Reserves and Army National Guard. That began her interest in the military. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in education and pursued a rewarding career in publishing and teacher education. Simultaneously, she pursued a career in the Ohio Army National Guard, retiring after 21 years in 2009 at the rank of major. Her father, Jim and his brother, John were placed in an orphanage in Detroit, Michigan during the Great Depression. He never talked about his family. She is not sure if the memories were too painful or he had no recollection of his past. With the assistance of sites like and, she explored his past and found remarkable people that needed to be discovered. After fifteen years of research, she was compelled to add life to all of the characters that came forth. She would dream of scenarios that they were in and conversations that took place. Seeing them in writing, she couldn’t wait to write each day trying as she may to keep up with each one and their personal voice. Each took on a life of their own and one by one and collectively,... read more

New Curated Exhibit at the Archives of Ontario in Toronto

The Archives of Ontario has launched the new curated exhibit case in their Reading Room of the Doyle history!  The special exhibit will run from February of 2017 for approximately one year.  I hope this gives encouragement to all of those that are interested in finding their history and preserving their ancestry. Since 1903 the Archives of Ontario has been providing innovative leadership in collecting, managing and preserving the records of the Government of Ontario and promoting and facilitating their use by present and future generations. The Archives of Ontario is the second largest archives in Canada and provides a window into the past for all Ontarians, connecting us with our ancestors, our communities and our government. Our customers have access to a unique and multi-faceted collection that includes records dating back to the late 16th century and contains everything from hand-written ledgers to electronic files, hand-drawn maps, architectural drawings, photographs, films and sound recordings. Through this website and our public service facility we encourage Ontarians and others to take advantage of this rich heritage.  | ... read more

Kingston, Canada

In Chapter Fifteen of A Journey in Time, John and Patrick arrive in the city of Kingston, Canada. They didn’t spend much time there, anxious to get to their final destination and meet up with Samuel and Charlotte Castleford. Kingston, Canada is a vibrant city today as it was back in the 1850’s. In Chapter Twenty-One, John goes back to Kingston in hopes of meeting the vessel that his family will hopefully be on. He notices Fort Frederick (spelled Fredrick in the book). The historic military fort sits on Point Frederick and is also the home of the Royal Military College of Canada, dating back to 1846. The fort and point were named after Frederick, Prince of Wales. The original fort was built in 1812 and served to protect Kingston from attack.  Across Navy Bay sits Fort Henry. Visiting today, once you pass through the gates, you experience 19th century military life as it was back when John noticed the soldier practicing with his trumpet. The Fort Henry Guard demonstrations are conducted by a very disciplined group of university students trained as British soldiers from 1867, a few years after John observed them. Today’s reenactment also includes the civilian population as schoolteachers and soldiers’ wives. Fort Henry is not associated with the Royal Military College nor the Canadian Armed Forces. Rumor has it that’s it’s haunted and they do offer ghost tours!! Please visit their website –  When John and Patrick arrive in Kingston, they notice all of the fever sheds. The Museum of Health Care located in the Ann Baillie Building houses 35,000 medicinal artifacts from all around... read more

Interesting Places in Ireland

Ireland is full of history and interesting places to explore that have been around for hundreds of years and are within a short distance from the Village of the Crablane, John Doyle’s birthplace. In Chapter Three of A Journey in Time, I introduce the Lord Fitzpatrick Estate, which I have also discussed in an an earlier blog post.  The estate was actually called the Coolattin Estate and was the home to Lord Fitzwilliam and Lady Wentworth and owned by the Fitzwilliam family for over 200 years.  It stills stands with its 80,000 acres of rolling hills and beautiful grounds in southwest Ireland. With so many Irish starving and dying from disease, Lord Fitzwilliam needed to clear over-populated areas in Ireland beginning around 1830 and reaching high levels in 1846.   He began offering assistance with emigration to Canada. Eventually the numbers grew to 6,000 of the Fitzwilliam tenants emigrating therefore being called the Fitzwilliam Clearances. Another interesting place is the Carnew Castle dating back to the Norman times earliest history 1247. Over the years the castle has seen many wars, rebellions and owners. It still stands in all its glory and is currently a private residence. The town of Shillelagh is the home to the infamous Shillelagh walking stick dating back to the late 1700’s. It was originally used for settling disputes and/or self-defense. The walking stick is made from blackthorn wood or oak. The Olde Shillelagh Stickmakers store is in the town of its namesake and offers the history of the stick handed down from generations. The Aghowle Church very near to John’s home still stands today even though in... read more

A Journey in Time – Photographs

I wish every book that I read, I could look at photographs of the main characters in the book.  So many times, those characters come from an imagination that has drummed them up.  In A Journey in Time, very few characters were make believe.  The majority came from photographs that I had discovered in my research and then built the story around them.  If it wasn’t for Kevin Hoeg, my cousin in Canada, I wouldn’t have had the photographs or the story. John Doyle and his second wife Catherine Garrett Doyle – John was born on 11 June 1821 and died 1 June 1918 at the age of 97.  The obituary that is in the book on page 382 is the actual obituary that was posted in the paper in Canada.  Catherine Garrett was born on 24 April 1846 and died on 1 February 1923.  They were married in St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Camden East, Ontario Canada in 1872. I do not have a picture of John’s first wife, Ann Elizabeth Latimer but here is a picture of her niece Catherine Latimer and her husband Edward Cavanaugh.  Ann Elizabeth was born on 21 January 1841 and died on 12 May 1871.  When she married John, on 16 January 1856, she was just 5 days from her 15th birthday and he was 35.  I can only assume that Catherine Latimer resembled Ann Elizabeth. In Chapter Three, I introduce Samuel and Charlotte Castleford.  Sam Astleford was actually the land manager for Thomas Doyle in Ireland.  Here is a picture of Sarah Astleford, a descendent of Charlotte and Samuel. William Doyle, the youngest... read more

Chapter One, Wicklow Ireland, 1835

May 1848 Dear Mamai,             Charlotte has agreed to write this letter for me. I hope it goes without saying that the hardest thing I have ever had to do was leave my family at the Shillelagh Workhouse.             I pray everyday that you all are doing well. Please be reassured that I’m going to do everything in my power to get to America and will send back for you as quickly as possible. I must admit I was heartsick to leave our home even though I know we had no other choice except to stay and perish. Samuel and Charlotte offered to give me a ride to New Ross to catch the ship instead of me doing the journey on foot. Mamai, you would not have believed all of the people that we passed. I only recognized a small handful from Coolkenno and Shillelagh. I felt so grateful that I had a ride. It will take them many days to travel on foot to New Ross. I saw so many old people and children trying to keep up carrying everything that they owned. There were even a few that had died on this journey from starvation or sickness and their bodies were left on the side of the road. People stopped to cover up the dead but had no choice but to leave them. Samuel and Charlotte have been able to tell me stories along the way of buildings that they recognized or shops where they have bought things. We stopped in Fern and I thought of you and Dadai. We passed the cathedral that I believe you... read more

Grosse Ile Immigration Center

When John arrived at Grosse Ile in A Journey in Time,  he was in pretty bad shape. He had suffered a stab wound on the ship and had lost a lot of blood. The truth of the matter was that because of the filth and disease traveling steerage on a coffin ship, no one arrived at the quarantine station or immigration center physically well. Gross Ile Immigration Center, often called Quebec’s Irish Island is graced with the Irish Cross seen from a distance. This national memorial was unveiled on site on August 15, 1909. Like it’s younger sister Ellis Island, Gross Ile served as an immigration and quarantine center for the 30,000 or so immigrants that arrived annually in the City of Quebec. This tiny island in the St. Lawrence River beginning in the 1830’s, received thousands of people from many countries during a period when cholera and smallpox epidemics were sweeping through Europe. If you were lucky enough to make the journey from your homeland, you then had to survive the weeks of quarantine. If you didn’t get sick on the ship, the chance of you contracting a disease in quarantine was pretty likely. It is estimated that over 500,000 Irish immigrants passed through Grosse Ile searching for a new life in Canada. It is believed that over 3,000 Irish died on the island and over 5,000 are currently buried in the cemetery there. With families dying at sea, thousands of children were left on the docks with no one there to greet them. Canadians were encouraged to adopt these children, which many did to help as farm labor.... read more

Famine Ships to Grosse Ile, Canada

I have always been fascinated with the concept of traveling steerage during the mid-1800s. Before traveling to Ireland a few years ago, I had pictured a very large vessel with hundreds of people down in the belly of the ship for months at a time. After seeing a reproduction of an actual famine ship, I noticed they were much smaller than I had imagined. During the mid-1800s, many people left their homes and traveled steerage to Ellis Island, New York, in hopes of a better life. If you have never been to Ellis Island, it’s an amazing place to visit. They have done an incredible job of replicating what it would have been like to be an emigrant traveling to an unknown place. In Chapter 8 of A Journey in Time, John finally arrives in New Ross, which is located in the South East of Ireland, County Wexford. Today, the Dundrody Famine Ship sits in the harbor, which is an authentic reproduction of an 1840’s emigrant vessel. In the book, John waited patiently for his name to be called knowing this was his one ticket to hopefully a better life. He watches as thousands arrive to board these famine ships many getting turned away due to illness. If a family arrived and one of the members looked ill, the whole family was turned away or they had to make the horrible decision to leave the family member. John discovered they would actually be traveling to Canada, Grosse Isle, a small island outside of Quebec City instead of New York, Ellis Island. As mentioned in the book, New York was... read more