The Pharis name in Ireland
While researching the Pharis name at The Mormon Geneology Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, I came across a book on Ireland. Through past experience, I have found out that many yeas ago, people named themselves after jobs they did, areas where they lived, or places or things, used in everyday life.
Looking in the books index of old cities in Ireland, I found a village called "Pharis". (I love it when this happens!)
I quickly turned to the page referenced, and found a short listing of a village in Northern Ireland, called Pharis. Nothing else was mentioned about the village, but I knew I had to go there! The Geneology Center has coppies of many old maps, and I soon found an old map of Northern Ireland. It took about 5 minutes carefully searching with a magnifing glass to find what I was looking for.
There it was, MY NAME on a old ancient map of Northern Ireland! I could not find out anymore information about Pharis, so I decided to go there and research the history from the local townspeople.
That summer I flew to Belfast, and then drove up the A44 north to the area where I thought Pharis might be. Pharis was not listed on any new maps of Ireland, so I had to do some exploring. I only had a Zerox copy of the old map I found to go by. As you can guess I drove right by it 3 TIMES!
I finally saw a lady riding a old rickety bike down the road, and stopped the car, and asked her if she knew where the village of Pharis was?
She said in a very heavy Gaelic accent, "it's about 10 miles back down the road".
Off I went for my 4th attempt to find the village.
10 miles later I saw nothing but open fields. A old couple came riding their bikes down the road, and I asked them for help. The man said "this is Pharis, you are here". All I saw was a few old farm houses and hundreds of acres of beautiful farmland. The man said " see that little road over there, it is Pharis road. The village of Pharis has been gone for hundreds of years, but the locals still call this area Pharis".
I found an old sign in the bushes PHARIS ROAD!
I was thrilled to see my name there. (see the photo of the sign on the Pharis photo page)
I thanked him, and went up to the nearest farmhouse and knocked on the door. A very old man smoking a pipe came to the door and just stared at me. I said "hello, my name is Chuck Pharis. I have come all the way from America to this village to find out the history of the Pharis name in Ireland. He yelled at me "go away, there is nothing here for you"!! and slammed the door in my face!!
Wow, I thought he would be thrilled to see a Pharis
returning to the village after hundreds of years!
I was not going to give up this easily, so down Pharis road I went, to the next farmhouse.
I knocked on the door, and a sweet old lady answered. I tried again, "hello, my name is Chuck Pharis, and I have come all the way from America, to trace the history of the Pharis name". I thought her eyes were going to pop right out of her head!
She started screaming something in Gaelic, and soon a man came to the door. They couldn't believe who I was. I was invited in for tea, and a full cooked Irish dinner! They said that I was the first Pharis that they ever saw! They envited their neighbors over to meet me, and we all talked for hours.
Unfortunatly no one knew much about the history of the village. They did show me an old cemetary where people that lived in the village were buried. I could not find any Pharis names there, or anywhere in the village or surrounding area.
One of the men told me to contact a professor of Irish history at Queens University in Belfast. Because of the conflicts going on in Northern Ireland during the time I was there, Belfast is not a place I wanted to visit. The man was nice enough to call the university and talk to the Professor's assistant. She called him at home and he said he would be more that happy to meet with me!
I soon found the small home of Professor Alex Blair.
He invited me into his study for tea.
I told him why I was there and he told me many great things about the Pharis name in old Ireland.
1. The word Pharis is Gaelic for "sand or gravel pit"
2. The people who dug sand and gravel were called "Pharis's"
3. The spelling was confirmed in many books he had in his library.
4. In the 12th century the Normans lived in the area.
5. Sometime during the 13th century, a large deposit of sand and gravel was discovered inside a hill in the area.
6. The hill was called Pharis hill, (for hill of sand and gravel).
7. Soon a village was built next to the hill, and of course it was called Pharis!
8. The Normans had built a fort eariler nearby, and called it Lissinore, (fort of gold).
9. Thousands of tons of sand and gravel were excavated from the hill, and it eventually became a large hole in the ground. The hole filled up with water, and during the 1700s, The Earl Of Macartney, built a castle near the lake.
10. During the 1700s, when the sand and gravel ran out, most of the "pharis's" moved away, looking for work. They kept the name Pharis, so people would instantly know what they did for a living. More common examples of this practice were, Smith for blacksmith, or Carpenter for someone who built houses.
11. The Pharis's moved to England, Scotland, Wales, and America, with high hopes of finding more work in "the Pharis pit"!
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Last modified on Sunday, October 04, 1998