When I was a kid, my parents took me and my brothers and sisters to the Gala. It was held every year in a huge field in Litherland, a town about five miles or so north of Liverpool. There was a parade and people would line the streets to see the bands and the floats and the Morris dancers go marching, trundling and skipping by. The crowds would wend their way to the field to enjoy the fun fair, the tug of war, the candy floss and ice cream. At the end of the day, they would make their weary way home perhaps chatting about the high lights of the day, or whether to get chips for supper.
The entrance to the field was on Kirkstone Road.
My granny arrived in Liverpool from Ireland when she was six years old. All but one of her ten siblings had died as children. Her surviving sister, Kate, married and had a family. We would visit from time to time and I remember being fascinated by her strong Irish accent. My granny being younger had picked up the Liverpool accent. Kate was tall and thin and kind. She lived on Kirkstone Road.
My late sister lived in various locations in Liverpool. Her last address, quite by chance, was Kirkstone Road.
A couple of years ago I started to trace my family tree. One of my 3x great grandmothers, Rebecca, was born in Devon in 1834. She married in Wales in 1858 and died in Bootle in 1923. Her first husband, William, was born in Kendal in the Lake district in 1830. Times being what they were, he was working as a farm labourer at age eleven. By the time he was twenty-one he was a husbandman. He died aged thirty-four in 1864. On the evening of the 1851 census, he was visiting the people that used to own the farm that he worked on as a boy. They now ran a public house. The Kirkstone Inn.
Last summer, Jean and I went over to England and decided to visit the Inn. It was a strange feeling walking in William’s footsteps. We had lunch and I gave the landlady a copy of the 1851 Census form. She was delighted and said that she would put it in the scrapbook that she kept for all things related to the Inn. She invited us to browse through the contents. It was an interesting read and as we sat there I couldn’t help but wonder at the Kirkstone coincidences. Funny old world, isn’t it?