Brigid (O’Driscoll) Williamson

My name is Brigid (O’Driscoll) Williamson. I live in Clonakilty, in Co Cork. I’m forty six years of age. I have seven children.

S (to Joe’s wife Brigid O’Driscoll): Tell me about the Williamsons, please! Tell me how the name came in.

Well, as far as I know the Williamsons came originally from England – I don’t know which part. And they made a home in Artfield.

S: Which is where?

Which is in West Cork. It’s called Rathbarry now. They had a farm out there, and as far as I know my husband’s grandparents lived there for a long, long time, until they eventually sold out the farm in Artfield, and came in to Clonakilty and opened up a baker’s in the town. And my husband had one aunt, who is called Sarah, who lived in

Chapel Lane
here for a long long time, and that’s as much as I really know on their background, being honest. But as far as I know, people just told me that they originally came fromEngland, I suppose.

S: So, were they Catholics?

They were.

S: So you don’t know at what point they converted.

No.Just like, you know, it’s a very unusual name to be in Ireland, Wiliamson.

S: Mmm. Tis, yeah. And the Williamsons – are they in West Cork for a long, long time? Did they come over, like, in the 1600s, or did they – ?

They must have, I’d say, yeah.

S: So it’s a name that’s been in West Cork for a long time.

It’s been around Rathbarry, because a lot of people knows the Williamsons over in that direction.

S: And the ones that your husband descends from were farmers, and then had a bakery?

That’s right.

S: And do they still have the bakery?

No. It’s OTT now. Over the Top!

S: Pardon me? Oh! It’s a clothes shop! Let me just get this right now. Your husband’s mother was a Traveller.


S: So was your husband’s father the first of the Williamsons to marry a Traveller?

I don’t know.

S: Okay. And was he the only one?

I think so, yeah. – There he is!

[her husband Joe comes in, hellos exchanged, much laughter]

Joe: I love interviewing the ladies!

Give all the background to your father’s side, will you? Your grandmother’s name –


And your grandfather’s name.


And what was your grandmother’s maiden name, before she married your grandfather?

child: Why is she asking all this about Nana?

Because she wants to put it into a class of a family tree.

S: I want to draw a picture of a family tree, and Williamson is a name I don’t have.

Can you give a bit on the background? I know they came from Artfield, Rathbarry, and they ended up here in town with a bakery shop [mumble ] Famine.

S: Oh! It’s as long ago as that they lost the farm! And then came in here and started the bakery, then, is it?

Yeah, they were working in a bakery.

That’s right, yeah. They had a bakery downtown, where OTT is.

S: Did he own the bakery? Or was he just working in it?

No! Working in it.

They ownded it, your father told me.


Was any of his brothers married in to any other Travellers, apart from your father?

No – John.

Was John married to a Traveller?

He was, yeah.

We know, yeah – entertainment . Swinging bolts and all those sorts of things.

S: Okay, so, you’ve an Uncle John. Who did he marry?

She was, er – I couldn’t go back as far…

White? No?

I just can’t pronounce the name. [X] I think she was, yes. I’m no too sure.

S: But do their children feel they’re Travellers?

I don’t think so, no. We’ve barely contacted them. They were not not necessarily brought up in that class of a way. I love it, I’m quite happy to be honest with you. I love living on the outside, in a caravan, or living inside. I love the family I have, even though we live our own different ways. But I love the life we have, and I do love the people in the county. But, through prayer group, it’s been great to me, life.

S: Here’s another question, because of Williamson being an English name: do you know were they Protestant, how many generations back? You don’t know? So, you’ve no family memory?

It’s a class of a common family name, but I don’t know enough about it.

S: So you don’t know other Wiliamsons?

I don’t, no.

Only the Wiliamsons in Leap, West Cork.

In Leap, you have friends there.

Maybe we could go back along the road. I don’t know.

As I said, I’d like to find out more. I don’t know myself, I’ll be honest with you.

That’s all I can say!

S: Well, thank you very much! I appreciate that! Thank you! [ENDS]