A 32-year old Canberra native, who painstakingly traced his family lineage right back to Brocagh in East Tyrone, is said to be ‘utterly dejected’ after receiving what at best could be called a ‘lukewarm reception’ after touching down in the area last week.
Bruce Campbell arrived in Belfast after a gruelling 32-hour flight from the Australian capital and finally reached the Ballybeg Road in Brocagh by bus and taxi armed with only the names of his last two surviving relatives – Pat and Mick Campbell – from the same road.
Bruce took up the story:
“When I was dropped off on the road, I was hungry, dirty and severely sleep-deprived. Yet, unbelievably, the first man I met on the this deserted country road on a bicycle was my 4th cousin removed – Mick Campbell. It was like all my Christmases put together. I even started crying. I hugged him, explained who I was and the 3-years work I’d done to research the family name as well as the massive journey I’d undertaken to land in this one spot in the world in front of someone with my own blood in his veins.”
What happened next was something Campbell hadn’t imagined in all the scenarios he’d thought over in his head during the plane journey from Australia:
“Cousin Mick listened to me whilst holding his bike and staring at the ground, scratched his chin, and just said ‘boys, that’s a goodun‘, swung his leg back over his saddle and shouted ‘sure, I’ll be seeing ye‘ as he sped off into the distance.”
Astonished, demoralised and close to exhaustion, Bruce made his way to the local confectionery store only to be met coming out of the shop by the other cousin – Pat Campbell.
“I couldn’t believe my luck. Pat, who I’d beforehand researched online was 57 and an ex-community worker, listened to my story as I wept my way through telling him about the whole journey and about his cousin Mick’s disappointing encounter with me. Pat just laughed and said ‘aye, that sounds like our Mick alright‘ before running to his vehicle and speeding off.”
Disconsolate, with no fixed abode and penniless, Bruce headed back to Australia a day later – a full three weeks before his original return flight. However, he did get to see Brocagh Emmets play a friendly game against Clogher.