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December 24, 2004

12/24/04 - Ann Ivins Tuam Herald Memorial

Monthly Table of Contents 12/04

(Poster's Note: Thanks to Lyn Brogan of the Irish Society for passing
this on to us.

Ann was a great friend to Bertha & myself, as she was to many others in
the Irish American community in Houston. We were some of those friends
who had the pleasure of being together with herself & Len in Houston & in
Ireland. We miss her very much! Jay & Bertha Dooling)


This article appeared in the Tuam Herald and was written by David Burke,
one of Ann's friends in Ireland, who is owner and editor of the Tuam
Herald. He wrote this after her memorial service on Galway Bay

The text from the article appears below.

Warm Regards, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year,

Len Ivins

Farewell to a real Southern lady

ANYONE who reads for pleasure will be familiar with the notion of the
Southern belle. She is a native of the southern states of the USA, where
the climate is benign and the pace of life is slow. At her best she is a
beautiful, well brought up woman, intelligent and gracious, welcoming and
quietly efficient, accomplished in many arts, not the least of which is
hospitality. In a word, she is charming. The self-willed, self-
centered, self-absorbed Scarlett O'Hara she is not.

Few of us have the opportunity to meet this paragon face to face, but I
count myself among that happy number. The first time I met this Southern
lady was far from her native soil Ñ it was in St. Mary's Cathedral, Tuam,
and I think it was at a service to commemorate the Famine, or some other
event with a historical connection.

Her name was Ann Caraway Ivins, and she was in Tuam because a famous
ancestor of hers came from these parts. He was Dick Dowling, the hero of
the Battle of Sabine Pass during the American Civil War in September

I had already heard of Dowling, and had published one or two pieces about
him, prompted at first by the late Tess Dowling of Kilbannon, who claimed
him as an ancestral connection. So Ann and I had something to discuss,
and it quickly became apparent that one of the central driving forces of
her life was to research her illustrious great-granduncle as deeply as
could be.

In the years that followed Ann and her husband Len visited Ireland at
least once every year. They had a timeshare in a cottage near Barna, and
from there they ranged the length and breadth of the country, often with
friends from Houston, where Ann was born and which Len, a northerner,
came to call home.

The story of Dick Dowling has been told several times in these pages, and
for me by far the most enjoyable of these was the report that resulted
from a trip to Houston to attend the annual re-enactment of the battle at
Sabine, a small community on the estuary of the Sabine River on the Gulf
of Mexico.

Thanks to Ann's enthusiasm and contacts I had the run of the battlefield
with my camera, while all the other spectators were confined behind
safety barriers. I was able to get close to the three cannon which were
being fired at regular intervals towards a replica gunboat. Everything
about this exercise was authentic, from the uniforms to the black powder
to the ramrods and sponges, except for the absence of cannonballs.

The days that followed were filled with visits to other historical Texan
sites, from Galveston to the Battleship Texas to the Houston Space
Museum. I met many of the friends of Ann and Len, and experienced real
southern hospitality in their home and elsewhere. I left with a sense of
having been much more than a transient visitor with a camera and a
notebook, but a friend, and in the years that followed that friendship
was built on at gatherings in Tuam and Barna, and when I had the pleasure
of sharing lecture platforms with her in Tuam and in the Curragh Camp to
speak about the re-enactments and the cannon drills.

The most recent meeting was a year or so ago, when Ann visited Galway Bay
for the last time. We drank a toast to the memory of another of her
Irish friends, Joe O'Halloran, editor of the Galway Archaeological and
Historical Journal: we knew then that she was ill, but little did we
think that the next glass we would raise in that place would be to her

Ann died at 4 a.m. on June 18 of this year in Las Vegas, Nevada. Despite
her illness, she had insisted on flying there to fulfill a long-standing
commitment for her son Michael's birthday and her nephew Philip's
graduation. That was the kind of determination that characterized all
she did.

There was a Mass for her in St. Basil's Chapel at the University of St.
Thomas in Houston in August, and at the end of October her Irish and
English friends gathered in Furbo Church to pray for her soul and share
their memories, before some of her ashes were scattered on Galway Bay.
The celebrant was the parish priest emeritus of Spiddal, Fr. Tom Kyne, a
native of Corner Chapel, near Headford, and a man beloved of generations
of students from his time as chaplain in UCG. He used the beautiful
image of the clim'n, the day's gathering of seaweed being towed out
behind the boat on the evening tide, to illustrate the journey through

After the Mass Ann was remembered by Dr. Tony Claffey of Tuam, who
recalled first hearing of her while he was researching Dick Dowling in
1994. His letter of inquiry was answered in an hour-long phone call from

Tony went on to say: "Never was a query more enthusiastically and
comprehensively answered. In the decade that elapsed since then Ann
related the story of Dick Dowling to many in Ireland through the spoken
and written word. Her lecture to the Old Tuam Society was soon followed
by her successive unveiling of a plaque (on the Town Hall) and a painting
of Dowling.

Ann went on to find with Tony Claffey Dick Dowling's birthplace at Knock,
Milltown, on a day which ended in driving rain but which she described as
one of the happiest of her life.

Other tributes were paid by Tim Collins, a fellow historian and medical
librarian at NUI, Galway, and by Barbara Haworth, who with her husband
Brian had become friends with the Ivinses in England and ended up
traveling often to meet them in Ireland.

Ann was proud to be a native Houstonian, and a sixth generation Texan on
her paternal side. Her great-great-grandfather was Nathaniel Jackson
Caraway, a Major in the Confederate States Army. He was Oran M. Roberts'
aide-de-camp and was mortally wounded in the Battle of Jenkins Ferry in
Arkansas in May 1864. The connection with Major Richard William Dick
Dowling, C.S.A., was on her maternal side.

She was educated in Houston and graduated from St. Agnes' Academy in
1965. She completed a B.A. degree in Cultural Anthropology at the
University of Texas at Austin, an Associate's degree in Real Estate
Management from San Antonio College, and an M.B.A. from Our Lady of the
Lake University in San Antonio.

A busy woman, she worked in the real estate industry in San Antonio and
in Houston where she was a broker associate with Madeline O'Brien
Realtors for several years. Up to their retirement in 1996 she was
deeply involved in the very successful development business she owned
with Len.

At the time of her untimely death she was still working on a book on
Dowling's life, which she had brought to an advanced stage before she
died, and which will be completed and published. Her biography of Dick
Dowling was included in the 2001 Houston Independent School District's
Ireland Curriculum Guide.

She was active in several Irish and Texan historical groups, a board
member of The Irish Society; a member of the United Daughters of the
Confederacy, Robert E. Lee Chapter in Houston; a board member of the
Harris County Historical Society, and an appointed member of the Harris
County Historical Commission. She was also a member of the Old Tuam
Society and the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society.

The person who knew her best was her husband Len, who told the
congregation that Ann was the great gift that God had given him in his
life. He said "In a much complicated, exposed and traveled life, I have
never met a finer human being than Ann. She was warm, loving, fair,
sensitive, intelligent and effervescent ... she simply made me the
happiest man on the face of the earth."

She is survived by Len, by their son Michael, by four children and eleven
grandchildren by marriage, and by friends in the USA, England, and
Ireland who will always count themselves lucky to have known this
quintessential Southern lady.

David Burke


Monthly Table of Contents 12/04

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