The Mayo Binghams

Now I know this is a bit of a swing east. But I thought while I was trotting along the map there reading all about history, this was a good a time as any. I mean, I’ve had the book for 22 years and had never read it. I did bye it because of the name after all; Bingham. That is my maiden name, which I never changed after marrying. Mainly because I was a bit lazy and we were away on honeymoon for 3 months and the task got away from me. But the more I thought about it, I realized I didn’t want to give my name up.

Anyway, The Mayo Binghams. Oh what a piece of personal history this one is. In 1999 I was going to art school at The Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan, County Clare, Ireland. After doing a bit of research for my Irish ancestors, I stumbled upon this book and a place called, Binghamstown in County Mayo. Being very curious, I got on a bus one weekend and rode for several hours north to visit this little village.

I told the inn keeper why I was there and she encouraged me to go knock on the door of the old Bingham place. I said I would but really I was terrified. What did she mean by telling me I could go knock on a strangers door and maybe explain that we may be related. Nope. Not this reluctant American. Especially since that “founder” of Binghamstown was an Englishman, Sir Richard Bingham sent over by Queen Elizabeth to “acquire” the village. No way. Not me. Instead, I roamed the windy road back and forth a bit snapping photos of fields, fences, beaches. I felt too shy and a bit at a loss for what to do with myself so I found a shop and bought a roll of ritz crackers and a jar of peanut butter and milk and that’s what I had for my super for the couple of nights I was there. I was lonely but I also loved it. I loved being in a part of the world where no one else was that I knew. I just loved it. I felt like I could breath.

At some point, I did find this book, and though its a touch above the dryness of the Western Frontier book, I was fascinated by it because that was my linage they were talking about after all. I was able to find out the start of the Bingham line and the original homestead. The place still stands in Devon, England and someday I will pay that place a visit.