Unclaimed Persons Celebrates Ninth Anniversary and Launches New Website

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

The following announcement was written by Unclaimed Persons:

Every life is worth remembering, and this month Unclaimed Persons (UP) celebrates its ninth anniversary helping to unite the remains of deceased individuals with their next of kin.

Alone in death and tucked away on dark shelves or cold gurneys in morgues across the country, thousands of deceased individuals whose names are known to coroners, medical examiners, and a handful of friends have no known family members to claim their remains. Homelessness, mental illness, long-term estrangement, deaths of all apparent next of kin, and other circumstances have severed familial connections. Ever-increasing caseloads and shrinking budgets make it nearly impossible for many medical examiners, coroners, and investigators to find these individuals’ relatives without help.

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The second Neary / O’Rourke marriage

It was great-aunt Maggie Neary’s 132nd birthday on 6th April 2017. Right on cue on this birthday, a long-lost photo of Maggie on her wedding day in 1913 emerged from an old family chest. Margaret Neary married John O’Rourke, a fully qualified NYC Civil Engineer originally from Leitrim, on 18th June 1913 in the Bronx.

Just under 10 years earlier, Maggie’s eldest sister Mary Neary married John’s eldest brother, Charlie O’Rourke at St Philip Neri’s Catholic Church in the Bronx. A family tale in New York relates that Maggie’s older sister Bridget once courted John O’Rourke and hoped that he would eventually propose marriage. This romance was progressing steadily as John completed his Civil Engineering studies – and then Maggie Neary arrived on the Bronx scene when she arrived in New York with her brother Matthew in 1905. Poor Bridget Neary’s dreams were dashed when John & Maggie started to “walk out” together at weekends. A few years later, John O’Rourke’s engineering career was flourishing and he was ready to settle down. John proposed to Maggie, and Bridget Neary returned to Ireland broken-hearted. A year after arriving home in Tullinaglug, Bridget married a Sligo man at St Attracta’s church in Tourlestrane- maybe on the rebound.

Meanwhile, Maggie & John married and conceived 5 children, the last being Eileen born in 1925. Eileen O’Rourke’s daughter Maura sent me this great photo on Maggie’s 132nd birthday … after a root about in an old family chest.

1913 photo (Maggie Neary on her wedding day)

More Merrill revelations – 5 years on

It is both commendable and crazy that I and a few other genealogy super-sleuths have been searching for Merrill for a whole five years now. Why bother? Well – the case of Merrill’s mysterious disappearance 80 years ago and the consequential investigations in the 21st century do provide hope for family historians still searching for more mundane snippets of info to bolster their Family Tree.

Just this week, I discovered Merrill’s middle name for the first time. I always knew the initial – E. I will not disclose the name or research source, just yet (because it’s not in the Where’s Merrill? book), but I was rather disappointed by the name after years of speculation and theorizing. I had guessed that the name had Biblical connotations which didn’t suit Merrill’s thoroughly modern lifestyle in the 1920’s and 1930’s – hence he kept it secret from everyone, at work and in social circles. Something like Elijah or Ezekiel came to mind; a name that a Christian regular non-attendee at church might like to hide in Midwest business boardrooms and bars.

Anyway, the choice of a child’s name says more about the child’s parents than the poor youngster-cum-adult who has to live with the moniker into old age …. normally. A second discovery this week was a photo of Merrill’s father taken not long before Merrill “disappeared.” It prompted me to compare it to the earliest photo I found showing William Harrison, father of Merrill. Both of these are shown below.

My great-aunt Margaret

margaret-neary

A great photo of my great-aunt Margaret Neary aged in her early 20’s shortly after her arrival in New York from Tullinaglug in 1905. My grandfather Ned was aged 10 when he waved goodbye at the Sligo homestead to Maggie and his 18 year-old brother Matthew (who traveled with Maggie). He next saw Maggie 30 years later when she visited Tullinaglug in 1935 to show off her youngest child named Eileen [O’Rourke]. Later that year, Ned named his second daughter Eileen – yes, my godmother Auntie Eileen [Jones]. Shortly after 1935, Ned and his growing family left the tiny Sligo cottage and moved to Withnell, Lancashire in England.

At least Ned did meet his siblings Maggie and Matthew. His eldest sister Mary left Tullinaglug for NY before Ned was born – meaning that he never ever saw her! This year, I had the pleasure of showing one of Mary’s American grandsons around the Tullinaglug homestead.

5.0 out of 5 stars – Read this!

I really enjoyed “Where’s Merrill?

1934 October (Merrill)I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. The story is interesting and creatively written. It takes you through the process of the genealogist, Jed, who you get to know while he is researching Merrill. As the process is never a straight path, you get Merrill’s imaginative story as it unfolds. Using different coloured text when alternating from past to present was very clever. There are diagrams of Merrill’s family tree as you go along and new people are found and added. The diagrams are handy, though it is written clearly enough that you can follow along without having to refer to them. Anyone having an interest in genealogy would want to give this a read!

Assemblage artist Susan Moloney’s review of “Where’s Merrill?
www.MoloneyArt.com

A search ending that every Irish Ancestry Researcher will embrace

Back in 2014, we were thrilled to read about the gradual success that a determined Mary O’Connor Tossell from Florida had in tracking down the Irish roots of her O’Connor ancestors. The process took almost 20 years! As Mary told us, looking for a specific O’Connor family in Ireland is like searching for relatives called Smith or Jones in the USA or UK – but without an inkling of their address.

Read the full, fabulous tale of Mary’s ups and downs in the excellent published article by clicking on this link: A story every Irish Ancestry Researcher should read

Now – in 2016 – the story has the ending it deserves: Mary being welcomed back “home” to County Kerry by her O’Connor cousins at the very property her ancestors abandoned way back in the Black year of 1847. Of course, as we learned, the old homestead is now used as a cow-shed, but this didn’t hinder Mary’s unbridled joy at literally standing in the footsteps of her Irish forefathers. Mary kindly wrote to me to try and express her feelings, and share a few photos of the momentous occasion, as follows:

I cannot put into words what it was like seeing and being in “the cow house”… it was a very emotional experience; it was a bit overwhelming. My cousins who helped me make the connection greeted me with a big hug and a kiss on both cheeks… it was beyond all my expectations. Some of my other new-found cousins traveled from County Kildare and County Clare in Ireland to meet me in Dingle. It was the end of an incredible journey ….. I was back among “my own ones.”
My message to researchers… Never give up! And now we have DNA!

Mary in the most special cow-house in the world

[The former home of Hugh & Johanna O’Connor of An Chlais, and their son Maurice who emigrated to America during the Great Famine]

Book #review – ★★★★★★ – Can you award a book 6 stars?

What an incredible captivating read.

So much so that “Where’s Merrill?” is the first book in years that I’ve read twice. After the first chapter or so I was hooked and it was my sole activity until I had finished it. This fact-based novel is a great advert for the practice of genealogy. I loved the idea of different colour text creatively used to distinguish the different activities occurring in different eras and countries involved in the “Where’s Merrill?” saga. Never come across that before in all my reading years.  Will be on the lookout for any further works by this writer.

D …. Formby…. UK.

Get the book here!

The Top 100 Most Common Surnames in Ireland in 1890

Are your Irish ancestors represented here?

Where's Merrill?

1. Murphy 26. Wilson 51. Sweeney 76. Kenny
2. Kelly 27. Dunne 52. Hayes 77. Sheehan
3. O’Sullivan 28. Brennan 53. Kavanagh 78. Ward
4. Walsh 29. Burke 54. Power 79. Whelan
5. Smith (McGowan) 30. Collins 55. McGrath 80. Lyons
6. O’Brien 31. Campbell 56. Moran 81. Reid
7. Byrne 32. Clarke 57. Brady 82. Graham
8. Ryan 33. Johns(t)on 58. Stewart/Stuart 83. Higgins
9. O’Connor 34. Hughes 59. Casey 84. Cullen
10. O’Neill 35. O’Farrell 60. Foley 85. Keane/MacCahan(e)
11. O’Reilly 36. Fitzgerald 61. Fitzpatrick 86. King
12. Doyle 37. Brown 62. O’Leary 87. Maher/Meagher
13. McCarthy 38. Martin/MacGillmartin 63. MacDonnell 88. MacKenna
14. Gallagher 39. Maguire 64. MacMahon 89. Bell
15. O’Doherty 40. Nolan/Knowlan 65. Donnelly 90. Scott
16. Kennedy 41. Flynn 66. Regan 91. Hogan
17. Lynch 42. Thom(p)son 67. Donovan 92. O’Keefe
18. Murray 43. O’Callaghan 68. Burns 93. Magee
19. Quinn 44. O’Donnell 69…

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Great Read !! #bookreview

I was always taught that when you start reading a book you have to be captured almost instantly – certainly within the 1st chapter – to know whether it’s worth reading the rest of it …well I was certainly captured with “Where’s Merrill?”

Amazon - Top Ten Thrillers

I can tell you that !!!!

M T Cooper (somewhere in England)

You can choose your friends – but not your Ancestors

Where's Merrill?

A recent purchaser of my novel “Where’s Merrill?” posted a mediocre review, and made the following bizarre observation:

“Write about someone more interesting next time”

Considering that this true story is sub-titled a genealogical thriller, and that it is now listed for sale as a genealogy reference book as well as a fictionalized thriller, the reviewer seems to have completely missed the point about Family History research. You cannot choose your ancestors. They are who they were. They are not made-up characters or a figment of a fantasy writer’s creative but far-fetched mind. It took all my willpower to not commit the author’s Cardinal Sin of responding directly to the negative reviewer with my personal feelings about the ridiculousness of their publicized opinion.

When you research your own family history, you might start out with a little knowledge about your ancestors’ backgrounds based upon memory or passed-down tales. However, when…

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Not-so-romantic Ireland of old

Where's Merrill?

In my work as a professional genealogist, overseas clients who are the descendants of Irish immigrants regularly relate to me the passed-down stories of why their ancestors had to leave the beautiful island of Ireland. More often than not, these tales are wildly romanticized having been created by ancestors who lived centuries ago, safe in the knowledge that their claims could not be checked out; well, not in their lifetimes anyway.

I have heard a story about a Kerryman who once lived in a grand castle until he was forced to flee Ireland as part of a honorable settlement between warring clans, thereby bringing peace forever more to his native region. Then there was the Corkonian Catholic who passed every course on offer at Trinity College with flying colours only to find that jealous business-owning Protestant families would not employ his inventive engineering skills, so he had to relocate to America to…

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When Latter-Day Irish Saint Johanna went marching on

I am pleased to advise that my complex research into the extraordinary life of Kerrywoman Johanna O’Connor has been acknowledged and enhanced by her Mormon brethren in America. I was asked to research Johanna’s life by her direct descendant Connie from Maryland. Back then, all that was known about Johanna was that she was an Irish widow born over 200 years ago, she once resided in St Louis with three English-born children, and then she disappeared off the family history research radar. It was thought that Johanna had followed the common US immigration route of millions of Irish natives, after a brief spell of sampling life somewhere in England. However, her life story was far from conventional for a former Catholic girl from rural Ireland.

In-depth research was eventually able to establish that Johanna came from County Kerry, and from a particular remote village not even shown on modern-days maps. Johanna spent time in the distant cities of London and Wolverhampton in England, and later re-surfaced in the fledgling far-flung American settlements of Nauvoo and Manti on either side of a spell of residence in St Louis. The common denominator driving Johanna along a highly unusual trail through life was her developing religious beliefs. She was raised as a devout Roman Catholic, converted to Protestantism at marriage, and finally found salvation in the doctrine of pioneering Mormons.When the saints came marching in

You can read more about this amazing lady by clicking on these links:

A Pioneering Irish Mormon and Johanna’s Mormon Ancestry Records

Now, prompted by Connie’s persistent curiosity about her unique Irish ancestor, LDS researchers in both Utah and Nauvoo have dug out every preserved record of Johanna’s existence, resulting in the creation of a detailed biography. This is a fitting honor and tribute to a special lady who will now not be forgotten by her fellow Mormons, her descendants, her researchers and anyone who stumbles across [Saint] Johanna’s tale of survival against the odds.

Johanna’s LDS biography can be viewed by clicking here: LDS bio – O’Connor, Johanna (It’s a large file; allow time for the page to load fully)

The Top 100 Most Common Surnames in Ireland in 1890

1. Murphy 26. Wilson 51. Sweeney 76. Kenny
2. Kelly 27. Dunne 52. Hayes 77. Sheehan
3. O’Sullivan 28. Brennan 53. Kavanagh 78. Ward
4. Walsh 29. Burke 54. Power 79. Whelan
5. Smith (McGowan) 30. Collins 55. McGrath 80. Lyons
6. O’Brien 31. Campbell 56. Moran 81. Reid
7. Byrne 32. Clarke 57. Brady 82. Graham
8. Ryan 33. Johns(t)on 58. Stewart/Stuart 83. Higgins
9. O’Connor 34. Hughes 59. Casey 84. Cullen
10. O’Neill 35. O’Farrell 60. Foley 85. Keane/MacCahan(e)
11. O’Reilly 36. Fitzgerald 61. Fitzpatrick 86. King
12. Doyle 37. Brown 62. O’Leary 87. Maher/Meagher
13. McCarthy 38. Martin/MacGillmartin 63. MacDonnell 88. MacKenna
14. Gallagher 39. Maguire 64. MacMahon 89. Bell
15. O’Doherty 40. Nolan/Knowlan 65. Donnelly 90. Scott
16. Kennedy 41. Flynn 66. Regan 91. Hogan
17. Lynch 42. Thom(p)son 67. Donovan 92. O’Keefe
18. Murray 43. O’Callaghan 68. Burns 93. Magee
19. Quinn 44. O’Donnell 69. Flanagan 94. MacNamara
20. Moore 45. Duffy 70. Mullan 95. MacDonald
21. McLaughlin 46. O’Mahon(e)y 71. Barry 96. MacDermot(t)
22. O’Carroll 47. Boyle 72. Kane 97. Moloney
23. Connolly 48. Healy 73. Robinson 98. O’Rourke
24. Daly 49. O’Shea 74. Cunningham 99. Buckley
25. O’Connell 50. White 75. Griffin 100. O’Dwyer

Notes:

  • These survey results are based upon all Irish birth registrations in the year 1890.
  • McGowan is an Anglicization of the Irish surname MacGobhann, with Gobha meaning blacksmith in English. As a consequence, many McGowan families became known as Smyth or Smith after further Anglicization.

Not-so-romantic Ireland of old

In my work as a professional genealogist, overseas clients who are the descendants of Irish immigrants regularly relate to me the passed-down stories of why their ancestors had to leave the beautiful island of Ireland. More often than not, these tales are wildly romanticized having been created by ancestors who lived centuries ago, safe in the knowledge that their claims could not be checked out; well, not in their lifetimes anyway.

I have heard a story about a Kerryman who once lived in a grand castle until he was forced to flee Ireland as part of a honorable settlement between warring clans, thereby bringing peace forever more to his native region. Then there was the Corkonian Catholic who passed every course on offer at Trinity College with flying colours only to find that jealous business-owning Protestant families would not employ his inventive engineering skills, so he had to relocate to America to show off his talents. And I’ve been told many a yarn about numerous brave freedom-fighting Republicans who had to be smuggled out of Ireland with hundreds of British Government spies hot on their heels.

Thorough research can often reveal the truth behind the romance, although many clients prefer to ignore the unearthed evidence and stick to their fantastic family lore. The Kerryman more than likely lived in a pitiful timber shack on a bleak hillside until his heartless British landlord decided that the value of his vast Irish country estates could be increased by ridding them of quarrelsome Irish paupers. Eviction could have been forcefully applied, or at best, “negotiated” by offering the poor Kerryman and his family a handful of tickets for the next available ship sailing out of Queenstown harbour.

The Corkonian was really an uneducated and frustrated young labourer who was not permitted to attend school in rural Ireland purely on the grounds of his religion – but this man flourished as a Civil Engineer in the US when he fell under the tutelage of a kindly American benefactor who had spotted the Irish boy’s potential talents.

The hunted-down Irish freedom-fighter saga seems to have been applied to every Irish immigrant who ever broke the law of the land, centuries ago, and who decided that it was a better option to emigrate than risk serving a long, harsh prison sentence in Ireland. Many laws were unjust way back, but they were laws all the same.

I was reminded of these kinds of contradictory ancestral tales concerning romantic fiction set against bland truisms when I came across an archived newspaper article dating from 1880 which describes my remote genealogical homestead. My American cousins prefer to picture the place in the 19th century with its quaint thatched roof cottages, and the cheerful occupants always singing and dancing to the sound of flutes and fiddles, as healthy children curl up on comfy hay beds in front of a roaring fire in the hearth. The words of The Nation journalist, on the spot in 1880, paints a somewhat different picture … as I always suspected, but could never prove until now.

1880 The Nation (Process-serving in Tullinaglug) #1The reality for the vast majority of rural Irish Catholics over decade upon decade before 1900 was a life lived on the precarious edge of breadline poverty. Poor Irish folk died in their thousands as a result of starvation, even outside of the recognized Famine years. Many, many more suffered with prolonged disease and fever. Most homes would be classed as uninhabitable today, with no sanitation or even running water. The bare-footed Irish paupers of yesteryear often slept next to their livestock for warmth, all housed within a filthy shack called “home.”

My 19th century ancestors drifted down from the barren and windswept Ox Mountains to take leases in the boggy townland of Tullinaglug. To them, it must have seemed like a step up from the very bottom of the social ladder. They survived the Great Famine, only losing the weakest children to hunger and undernourishment, and battled on throughout the following years of nationwide economic depression. Some of the extended family had to up and leave for America; there was not enough space for all to exist on the small farmstead in Tullinaglug. Without knowing it, the US emigrants were to become a Godsend for the survival of their kin back at “home.”

By the winter of 1879, after another year’s crops had failed, the Sligo natives were in the midst of another “mini-famine” which became known as An Gorta Beag in the Irish language. No food meant no income, and the poor tenant farmers could not meet their extortionate rent demands. Rather than provide some economic assistance (or abatement), the landlords of Connacht insisted upon full payment of overdue rent or legally enforced eviction. That was all the thanks my folks got for turning worthless swamp, which scarcely afford footing for snipe into much improved farmland. If it wasn’t for the occasional gift of a few Dollars sent home from American relatives, I am certain that my great-grandparents would have starved to death, and my grandfather Ned (and all who followed) would never see the light of day.

1880 The Nation (Process-serving in Tullinaglug) #2To legally evict tenants who fell behind with rent payments, a landlord (or his representative) had to commence a legally-backed “process” wherein the defaulting tenant was served with a notice setting out the terms in which he or she must pay monies owed, or vacate the ramshackle premises immediately after further default. In Tullinaglug, the landlord Phibbs demanded full payment within days … or else!

And so it was that on 7th January 1880, Mr Phibbs, accompanied by 60 policemen carrying muskets with fixed bayonets, set off from Tubbercurry to “process-serve” in Tullinaglug and Escra (aka Eskragh). There he saw his loyal hard-working tenants half-naked, pale and ill-fed, in the words of the journalistic observer.

Their wretched houses black, damp, and poorly thatched, are fast sinking into the mud.

It is apparent that the people of Tullinaglug were too weak to offer physical resistance 1880 The Nation (Process-serving in Tullinaglug) #3(as attempted by the residents of neighboring Curry parish in the same newspaper Process-serving report of January 1880). The Sligo serfs made a peaceful but noisy protest – yet the more bloodthirsty police constables still could not resist striking out at defenseless, even heavily pregnant, women:

A little girl named Stenson was knocked down senseless, and a poor woman named Mary Walsh, on the eve of her confinement, was stunned by a blow from the butt end of a policeman’s musket, and remained unconscious for some time.

1880 The Nation (Process-serving in Tullinaglug) #4This is all a far cry from the Americanized vision of the twee life of villagers in dear auld Ireland. Now you know why America was seen as a last desperate place of sanctuary. Now I know why my grandfather Ned took my family to a damp but much pleasanter home in England. Four of Ned’s eleven siblings were born before Mr Phibbs insisted on slipping a very threatening court eviction notice under the Neary’s cottage door.

For those that can stomach hearing more about the horrors endured by their Irish ancestors, the full-page report of just a few examples of Process-serving is accessible by clicking on this link: 1880 The Nation (PROCESS-SERVING IN THE WEST)

Another Irish Drowning Tragedy ~ this time inland

On the morning of Thursday, 4th September 1828, twenty people travelling from the village of Annaghdown to Galway city on the rickety old Lough Corrib ferry boat Caisleán Nua were drowned. The boat was overloaded with too many passengers trying to get to Galway Fair, and the additional freight of timber and ten sheep did not help matters. In fact, it was one of the sheep that initiated this sailing disaster.

The Connaught Journal newspaper of September 4 published this harrowing account of events in the evening edition:

An old row-boat in a rotten and leaky condition, started from Annaghdown early in the morning, a distance from Galway up Lough Corrib of about eight miles, having, it is calculated, about 31 persons on board, who were coming to the fair of Galway; the boat and passengers proceeded without obstruction until they arrived opposite Bushy Park within two miles of Galway, when she suddenly went down and all on board perished except about 12 persons who were fortunately rescued from their perilous situation by another boat. Eighteen of the bodies of these unhappy creatures were taken out of the lake in the course of the day and presented a most heart-rending scene, being surrounded by their friends who came to identify them, and by whom they were removed in a boat to Annaghdown.

The boat was in such an unsound state as to render her unfit for the passage. The unfortunate accident happened by a sheep putting its leg through one of the planks, which produced a leak, in order to stop which one of the passengers applied his great coat to the aperture and stamped it with his foot. In doing so he started one of the planks altogether, which caused the boat’s immediate sinking, having been overloaded; ten sheep, a quantity of lumber, and about 31 persons being on board.

Eighteen of the bodies have been found; 12 have escaped, and one is missing. Major Dickson and a party of the 64th Regiment attended and rendered every humane assistance in their power. An inquest was held on the bodies by John Blakeney Esq., Coroner, at which James O’Hara, Esq., M.P., and J. H. Burke, Esq., Mayor, attended, and the jury returned a verdict of “accidental drowning”.

The following are the names of the persons drowned and taken out of the lake: Bridget Farragher, Mary Costello, Judith Ryan, Bridget Hynes, Mary Newell, Winifred Jourdan, Mary Flynn, Bridget Curley, Catherine Mulloy, Mary Carr, Michael Farragher, Michael Cahill, John Cosgrove, John Concannon, Thomas Burke, Patrick Forde, John Forde and Timothy Goaley.

P.S. two more drowned bodies were later discovered these being Thomas Cahill and Mary Ruane, making a total of 20. John Cosgrove, a local man, saved two women, but was also drowned in trying to save a third victim of the tragedy.

Annaghdown Pier memorial

                             Annaghdown Pier memorial

The following poem was composed by the renowned travelling blind Irish poet, Antoine Ó Raifteiri, as a lament to the twenty people drowned at Menlo, Galway, on that fateful day in 1828.

Original Irish version of “Eanach Dhúin” [Annaghdown]:

Má fhaighimse sláinte is fada bheidh trácht

Ar an méid a bádh as Eanach Dhúin.
‘S mo thrua ‘márach gach athair ‘s máthair
Bean is páiste ‘tá á sileadh súl!
A Rí na nGrást a cheap neamh is párthas,
Nar bheag an tábhacht dúinn beirt no triúr,
Ach lá chomh breá leis gan gaoth ná báisteach
Lán a bháid acu scuab ar shiúl.

Nár mhór an t-íonadh ós comhair na ndaoine

Á bhfeicáil sínte ar chúl a gcinn,
Screadadh ‘gus caoineadh a scanródh daoine,
Gruaig á cíoradh ‘s an chreach á roinnt.
Bhí buachaillí óg ann tíocht an fhómhair,
Á síneadh chrochar, is a dtabhairt go cill.
‘S gurb é gléas a bpósta a bhí dá dtoramh
‘S a Rí na Glóire nár mhór an feall.
English language translation:
If my health is spared I’ll be long relating

Of that boat that sailed out of Anach Cuain.
And the keening after of mother and father
And child by the harbour, the mournful croon!
King of Graces, who died to save us,
T’were a small affair but for one or two,
But a boat-load bravely in calm day sailing
Without storm or rain to be swept to doom.

What wild despair was on all the faces

To see them there in the light of day,
In every place there was lamentation,
And tearing of hair as the wreck was shared.
And boys there lying when crops were ripening,
From the strength of life they were borne to clay
In their wedding clothes for their wake they robed them
O King of Glory, man’s hope is in vain.

A nice short story

The sun was shining again in Claddagh, at last. The previous two months had been very dark, almost black on some days, then simply gray and gloomy for long periods afterwards. Jed and Sue are putting the finishing touches to the springtime overhaul of their front garden as Postman Pat’s little green van glides to a halt by the river bridge.

“There’s a lovely smell in my van for a change,” says Pat.

“You had your fortnightly shower then, Pat? Or was it the auld tin bath in front of the turf fire?” quips Jed.

“Nah – it’s coming from the back here. Look Sue. In this parcel with your address on.”

Sue picks up the scent as Pat waves around a bulky padded envelope. “Mmm. Lovely!”

2015 candle“It’s my guess it’s from the States, and I’ll bet you 50 Euros it’s a scented candle from one of Jed’s genealogy groupies,” challenges the old sage, Pat.

“Patrick, you con artist. I can see the Air Mail stickers from here – and they’re not groupies; they are my valued clients. And a special few are now my even more valued friends.” Jed approaches the bridge and gives cheeky Pat a playful slap across the back of the postman’s balding head with one of his gardening gloves. Sue studies the parcel, and declines Pat’s ridiculously tempting offer to make some quick bucks in the roadside guessing game.

“You must think we were born yesterday, you old rogue. Look at this sticker, ‘description of goods – candle’ and it gives off a heavenly smell. Voila! There’ll be no beer money contribution from us today, Mr Postman.”

“Aw shucks, Sue,” says Pat with a wink, getting ready to depart the scene.

Jed and Sue come together and embrace each other, and the parcel. “It’s from Connie!” they both declare out loud in unison.

“…. and Tom, I bet,” mutters the know-all mailman.

“No more bets, please, Pat. Drive on.” Jed and Sue wave Pat away, but he’ll be back for more fun soon.

Irish boy jailed for playing football

I was shocked and puzzled when I made this particular discovery. There does not seem to be any sub-story or political overtones about this grievous offence. It’s as straightforward as the headline. A schoolboy plays football, and is charged with the offence of playing football, and ends up in prison alongside hardened adult criminals.

Here’s the offence as written by the prison clerk upon the poor lad’s admission to Mountjoy Prison in Dublin. 1907 playing footballJohn Honer was a 15 year-old lad in November 1907. He was just four feet, five and a half inches tall, and weighed in at a worryingly undernourished 77 lbs. Despite all this, the local constabulary, and the judiciary, and the prison service, thought it right and proper that this tiny schoolboy should be removed from Dublin’s streets to make it a safer place for the law-abiding majority. In court, he was fined one shilling and sixpence when convicted of his misdemeanor. Obviously, the boy was not carrying this amount of cash, so he was thrown into jail sharing cells with drunkards, beggars and fighting men.

Thankfully, the family of young John Honer soon paid for the release of the dangerous footballer. Hopefully, he was not scarred for life by his experiences at the mercy of the custodians of pre-Free Irish State law.

1907 Prison Register (crime of playing football)

                    There’s young footballer John Honer … on the bottom line

You would be forgiven for thinking that this sad event was linked to the British authorities’ ban on the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and their ancient Irish sports. The Brits suspected that GAA sports meetings were also used to rouse anti-British feeling and recruit rebel soldiers – and their suspicions were right, of course. But GAA games were never banned outright, and it was as late as 1916 when a decree from Dublin Castle insisted that permits must be sought for organised competitions. The GAA ignored the order and, in an act of outright defiance, increased the number of official fixtures on the following weekend. An estimated 54,000 GAA members played their beloved games on Gaelic Sunday [August 14] 1918. I hope “big” Johnny Honer was one of them.

 

The Researcher’s Lament

to be sung to the
tune of the Beatles’ song –
Yesterday

Yesterday,
All those backups seemed a waste of pay
Now my database has gone away
Oh I believe in yesterday

Suddenly,
There’s not half the files there used to be
And there’s a deadline
hanging over me
The system crashed so suddenly.
I pushed something wrong
What it was I could not say
Now my data’s gone
and I long for yesterday-ay-ay-ay.

Yesterday,
The need for back-ups seemed so far away.
Thought all my data was here to stay,
Now I believe in yesterday.

From Dick Eastman’s Newsletter – you have been warned

More ways to get a copy of Where’s Merrill?

The real-life genealogical thriller “Where’s Merrill?” is now being distributed by the Draft2Digital platform. D2DThis means that e-book readers who prefer to purchase their novels via Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble’s NOOK, Scribd or KOBO are all catered for.

page foundryFurthermore, “Where’s Merrill?” can now be purchased from the growing e-book online retail store that is Page Foundry (aka inktera.com).

 

Where’s Merrill? a genealogical thriller

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1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 12) THE END OF THE ROAD

After a night’s rest in Belfast, it was time to head down south again, but the first stop was in County Down on the Down side of the River Lagan. Lily and family paused to admire the relatively new Parliament Buildings on the Stormont Estate. ??????????????????????????????????? Sir Arnold Thornley was commissioned to design the home of Northern Irish democracy as early as 1920; the architect chose to create a building in classical Greek style. Work did not commence on Thornley’s design until 1922, and after many re-designs including extra storeys, the building was not officially opened until late in 1932. The English Prince of Wales did the honours; a man who was to serve as King Edward VIII of the UK for less than 12 months during 1936.

???????????????????????????????????Lily Parker’s second 1961 photo captures the magnificence of the Stormont structure beyond blooming flowerbeds. Perhaps it also captures Lily’s growing confidence with her camera and creativity.

In my opinion, the next and last photo encapsulates the whole character and innocence of the Parker family’s visit to Ireland in the summer of 1961.

O'Connell Street, Dublin

Photo #61 of 61 taken in 1961

At first glance, it appears to be a typical Irish tourist’s photo of O’Connell Street in Dublin. Then the car models and tobacco advertising signs provide evidence of a bygone era. Is that a nifty Ford Anglia I see at the back of the queue for the traffic lights? But most of all, there is a symbol of British imperialism in the distance which would not remain intact in 5 years time. Yes – Lily captured one of the few colour photos showing Nelson’s Pillar just beyond the Dublin GPO. In March 1966, Republican activist’s decided to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising by blowing the despised figure of Admiral Horatio Nelson from his plinth. This statue had been completed in 1809, a full 34 years before London could boast about their famous Nelson’s Column.

1966 March - Nelson's Pillar, O'Connell St, Dublin

                                        Oh dear …. where’s Horatio gone?

Irish Republicans still proudly declare that their bombing expertise in 1966 caused no serious injuries or collateral damage to property in the busy Dublin city centre. Yet,1966 March - Nelson's Pillar remains, O'Connell St, Dublin when the finest British Army ordnance experts concocted a plan to demolish the remains of Nelson’s Pillar later that year, the resultant “controlled” explosion damaged shop fronts and buildings up and down Dublin’s main thoroughfare.

Nelson’s head was later stolen by Irish students (from its Dublin custodians) and secretly displayed as a trophy of war at many a Republican fund-raising concert throughout the following years.

Time to catch the ferry back home.

Those Irish know how to have a good laugh

 

 

 

 

1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 11)

Where would the Parkers head next after Donegal, after leaving the Republic and heading into Northern Ireland in 1961? Yes – of course – to see the famous Giant’s Causeway. And what a great photo Lily took ….

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  “It’s a load of old basalt” says Gordon

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                                                Fancy a Bushmills, Lily?

Onwards, round the North Antrim coast road past Cushendall, approaching Waterfoot. Here it is – one of the most photographed natural arches which is actually “unnatural.”

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This arch, cut into the red sandstone rocks at Red Bay, was designed and constructed by Francis Turnley to allow faster and more direct access between Carnlough, Waterfoot and Cushendall. Perhaps Gordon’s dad, John, remembered this image from the old Gallaher’s cigarette cards which featured Ireland’s most scenic places.

Red Bay

2015 Red Bay

1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 10)

County Donegal …. continued

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Rosses Bay near Dungloe

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                                                                                                    The Atlantic Ocean at Cnoc Fola

 

 

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Cnoc Fola

again

 

 

 

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Children bringing up water from the Bloody Foreland

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Careful, Lily

1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 9)

Next stop for the Parker family on their memorable tour of Ireland was County Donegal. Lily spotted a picture-perfect thatched cottage near Killybegs … and took a perfect picture.

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      Freshly cut hay meadows overlooking Killybegs Bay, County Donegal

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     Mighty cliffs overlooking the clear waters and white sand at Malin More

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                                           More haymaking out at Malin More

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How blue is the sea at Glen Head, Glencolmcille?

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                      Glengesh Pass looking very eerie in the evening gloom

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                                          A tranquil homestead near Glengesh

1961 Looking east from Glengesh, Co. Donegal

                   Looking east towards Ardara from Glengesh, County Donegal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 8)

To complete the second third of the Parkers’ 1961 summer holiday tour of Ireland, Lily Parker took out her camera as the car headed through my native county of Sligo. This is how Lily’s son, “young” Gordon Parker, came to share his unique photographic memories with me. 53 years after the event, Gordon explained that his London shopkeeper father, John, had been advised by Irish migrant customers to ensure that the family visited the small village of Aclare if they wished to see one of the finest livestock trading fairs in the west of Ireland. It just so happens that I live on the outskirts of Aclare, and Gordon got in touch with me to ask if I would like to see how the village looked on Fair Day over fifty years ago. Obviously, I wrote a positive reply back in an instant, and a further exchange of e-mails led to Gordon offering his complete 1961 photo collection for public viewing.

Aclare market, Co. Sligo

                                     Aclare August Fair Day in full swing

The blonde haired schoolboy looking into the camera has been identified as Gerard Hart, 53 years ago. Gerard now lives in nearby Ballina, but his son Patrick has returned to the Hart’s ancestral farming homestead in Cloongoonagh. The local schoolboys loved the Fair Days because they would be given the day off school. The young lads were employed to “guard” their family’s livestock when Dad went for a wander around the village to converse with friends – or probably to sneak into one of the many public houses for a jar or two of beer and whiskey. Well – a good sale had to be celebrated in traditional style!

1961 August - Aclare, Sligo

               The ass-carts of Aclare Fair carrying sheep and lambs for sale

London teenager Gordon is very conspicuous in Aclare village in his trendy blue 60’s holiday shirt. Below is a replica image of Aclare as it looks today.

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                                  Where have all the donkeys gone?

To complete their special day in my home county, the Parkers hit the high road from south Sligo and headed up north to Sligo town where they enjoyed an afternoon at the races. Lily attempted to capture the excitement of the big race by taking two shots of the thoroughbreds in action. The second shot of the blurred race winner galloping past the post certainly demonstrates the great speed at which champion horses can travel.

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1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 7)

Another day, another island to explore for the Parker family. Well, not quite. Achill Island in north-west Mayo is firmly attached to the mainland of Ireland by a short bridge spanning the waters of Achill Sound. For decades, tourists have flocked to Achill Island and followed the well-signposted Atlantic Drive route around this spectacular outpost. ????????????????????????????????????Natural displays of wild flowers and heather compete with clifftop views of the roaring North Atlantic to be the highlight of an unforgettable sight-seeing journey. It’s too difficult to pick a winner. There are dozens of stunning candidates.

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                                        The famous Atlantic Drive of Achill Island …

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     … where sheep keep you company, and cause the occasional traffic jam

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                One of many unspoilt beaches on Achill, this one at Doogort Bay

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The windswept farmhouse home of some typical hardy Achill Islanders near Keel

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Heading back inland, the relative tranquility of Lough Cullin at Pontoon, North Mayo

 

 

 

 

 

 

1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 6)

Another day of adventure in the wild west of Ireland for the Parker family concluded with a drive north through County Mayo, from the shores of Killary Harbour in Connemara to the causeway approach of Achill Island.

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The Bundorragha River flowing spectacularly down into the Killary Harbour fjord

 

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                          Doo Lough at the head of the Bundorragha River

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Clew Bay near Croagh Patrick, the former realm of the Pirate Queen, Grace O’Malley

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                 Still on the N59 road, Newport, on the way to Achill Island

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                                      Irish Travellers on the move

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              Time to take a break travelling the highways of County Mayo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 5)

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Seaweed ready for harvesting in Clifden Bay

For this leg of the Parkers’ holiday tour, the family car continued its way along the N59 road beyond Clifden in County Galway, heading for Killary Harbour.

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Kylemore Abbey on the banks of the Pollacappall Lough

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The Mweelrea mountain of County Mayo in the distance, beyond the Killary Fjord

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                     Looking back at the Maumturks range in County Galway

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Connemara ponies by Killary Harbour, the Republic of Ireland’s only glacial fjord

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Connacht’s highest mountain, Mweelrea in Mayo, overlooking Killary Harbour

 

 

 

 

 

 

1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 4)

Between Oughterard & Maam Cross, Co. Galway

Farm boys at work and play on the road to Maam Cross

As the Parkers motored westwards into Connemara, the sights and scenes got very rural and rugged once again …..

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                                                                         Heading home from the market at Maam Cross

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                                                             Lough Corrib

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Turf sods drying on the banks of Lough Bofin in the shadows of the Twelve Pins, County Galway

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Ballynahinch Lake on the road to Clifden

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Glendalough, near Recess

1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 3)

Galway Bay

If you ever go across the sea to Ireland,
then maybe at the closing of your day,
you can sit and watch the moon rise over Claddagh,
and see the sun go down on Galway Bay.

Just to hear again the ripple of the trout stream,
The women in the meadow making hay
Just to sit beside the turf fire in a cabin,
and watch the barefoot gosoons as they play.

For the breezes blowing o’er the sea’s from Ireland,
Are perfumed by the heather as they blow,
And the women in the uplands digging praties,
Speak a language that the strangers do not know.

 

Yet the strangers came and tried to teach us their ways,
And they scorned us just for being what we are,
But they might as well go chasin’ after moon beams,
or light a penny candle from a star.

 

And if there’s gonna be a life here after,
And faith somehow I’m sure there’s gonna be,
I will ask my God to let me make my Heaven,
In that dear land across the Irish sea.

 

I will ask my God to let me make my Heaven,
In my dear land across the Irish sea.

 

In my dear land across the Irish sea.

1961 Galway Bay

                          There’s no sun on Galway Bay in 1961

… but the sun shone gloriously as the Parkers arrived in the small Galway town of Oughterard (or Uachtar Ard in Irish). Powers Bar, with its appealing thatched roof is no more, but the Lake Hotel still stands after many refurbishments over the decades.

Oughterard of old

Oughterard of old