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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

 

1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 2)

The Parker family are still based in Killarney at this stage of their 1961 summer holiday. As tourists do today, a drive around the scenic Ring of Kerry was a must.

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                             The beautiful Lakes of Killarney

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           The Lakes of Killarney again – looking rather mystical

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                         Derrynane Bay on the Ring of Kerry

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                A photo from my favourite Peninsula – DINGLE

The Ring of Kerry is a dramatic scenic drive which must be tackled in an anti-clockwise direction. If you start from the Kenmare end, you will find that you are forever causing roadblocks for the large tour buses attempting to navigate the many hazardous bends on the narrow coastal road. And you will pay for your foolishness by being forced to edge your precious car out on to the cliff tops as everyone else creeps by on the landward side of the road, honking their horns in annoyance.

For me, the Dingle Peninsula just to the north of The Ring is even more spectacular, and a lot less congested by tour vehicles, even at the height of summer.

Next up … the Parkers leave Kerry and head north.

1961 Photographic Tour of Ireland (part 1)

Over the next few days, I am going to treat you to a unique Tour of Ireland captured on 61 marvelous photographs taken in the summer of ’61. This was the Parker family’s holiday album, and it has been kindly shared by Gordon Parker.

Gordon was aged about 15 years when his parents, John & Lily, carefully planned a road trip tour of Ireland as their summer break. Considering that the family was based in North London, with no Irish connections, this was quite an adventurous plan for the time in question.

KodachromeFilm_for_colour_slides

What makes this family holiday interesting for us is that Lily Parker had developed a keen interest in photography, so the whole tour was captured on Kodachrome II – a new camera film introduced specifically for the burgeoning colour slide market. I am no photography expert, but I find that the old slides are  quite unique and rich in warm colours, and they avoid the glare of modern digital snaps.

Thankfully, Lily’s son, Gordon Parker, has now painstakingly converted each 1961 slide into a 2014 digital image – so we can all re-live the highlights of the Parker’s 1961 summer holiday.

As with all family holiday shots, the majority of Lily’s pictures were scenic landscapes (which rarely change over the decades), but she did manage to capture several images of everyday Irish life from over 50 years ago which are very special, and which will bring back memories to many.

The Parkers route plan took them straight to the west coast. As with most Irish holidaymakers today, the vacation only kicked off in proper style when their car reached Kerry, arguably Ireland’s most scenic county. Lily did not take out her precious camera until the family had spent a night in Killarney.

1961 Gordon & John Parker near Killarney

John Parker & son, lost in               Kerry’s beauty

Her first shots of her husband and son, and two street scenes in Killarney town, are tentative and relatively normal. It seems like Lily needed to see the Lakes of Killarney to kick-start the creativity of her subsequent photographic images.

 

 

As you will see over the coming days, Lily Parker captured many, many special images of “dear old Ireland” in 1961.

 

 

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                      Everyday life in Killarney in 1961

 

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                                          Killarney Cathedral (through an alley)

 

 

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                                         The Gap of Dunloe (from Killarney)

 

 

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                                                                    Drung Hill

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                        The Gap of Dunloe from below Moll’s Gap, County Kerry

 

 

 

Confirmation of a name

If any of your ancestors were raised as Catholics, consider looking for a record of their Confirmation. This holy event is one of the seven sacraments in which Catholics participate as they pass through life. According to Catholic doctrine, in this sacrament participants are sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit and are strengthened in their Christian life.

Traditionally, these days, Confirmation is the third of the three sacraments of Christian initiation (following Baptism and First Holy Communion) normally undertaken when Catholic children are in their early teens. However, in ancient times and still today in some more obscure parts of the world, a younger Catholic child could be “confirmed” prior to Holy Communion, so long as the baptism ceremony had been completed.

1905 Liber ConfirmatarumFortunately, history dictates that the vast majority of our Irish ancestors were raised as Catholics, so if you have Irish heritage, then extend your vital record search criteria for each Irishman or woman to the following events. A written record of each occasion would have been registered at the time.

  1. Birth / Baptism
  2. Confirmation
  3. Marriage (if applicable)
  4. Death

Recently, I was delighted to find a preserved copy of my Irish grandfather Ned’s Confirmation record held in the custody of his native RC parish church in Tourlestrane, County Sligo. The library in the Parochial House had the usual Baptismal and Marriage Registers but I noticed a smaller section headed Liber Confirmatarum or Confirmation Book. This hand-written register had only been formally kept since the start of the 20th century but this was late enough to include the Confirmation of the 12th and last child of Tom Neary & Kate Stenson born in May 1894. In fact, Ned Neary must have been one of the oldest participants (at age 15) to receive the Bishop’s blessing because the date of the event was May 1909. The poor education of Ned and his parents was displayed by the fact that my grandfather was wrongly registered as a fourteen year-old.

Confirmation records are very interesting because they record the full names (and “reported” ages) of all the ancestral children in a generation who lived into their teens.1909 Confirmation (Edward Joseph Neary) This information may not appear in registered format anywhere else. It is easy to detect siblings where the full names and address of each child’s parents were recorded, as shown here. In some instances, the parental data might enlighten or verify your understanding of a mother’s maiden surname which was not forthcoming from other research sources.

As part of the Confirmation ceremony, each child is awarded a Confirmation forename which must be an established Catholic saint’s name. My grandfather chose a popular one, Joseph, but the record above is the only document I possess which proves that Edward Neary ever had a middle name. So, 120 years after his birth, my granddad can now be officially referred to as Edward Joseph Neary.

Perhaps even more poignant for me was reading the Confirmation record of my granddad’s sister, and the 11th child of Tom & Kate. This was the Neary girl known by the giggle-inducing name of Fanny who no-one could seem to recall. My earlier detective work verified that she was born in April 1892, but she passed away at the age of just 25 in the Sligo Asylum Hospital. Now, at last, funny Fanny had a proper and saintly title. As a young teenager in St Attracta’s RC church, my “lost” great-aunt was blessed with the full name of Fanny Mary Agnes Neary.

I am so glad that she chose a female saint’s name. 100 years ago, the vogue at Confirmation time in Ireland seems to have been that boys picked boys’ names, but girls could choose either gender. The Confirmation Book shows many examples of poor ill-advised teen-aged girls choosing new but odd male middle names such as Aloysius or Stanislaus.

One last research tip, worth remembering. Our Irish ancestors had a strange tendency of adopting their middle names as alternative new first names in adulthood, particularly if they migrated abroad. When searching for those elusive records featuring your forefathers (and mothers!), don’t forget that extra Confirmation Name as you fill in the search data box.

Then again, I can’t imagine that “Stanislaus Brennan, gender: female” will return many search results … unless she became a nun … but that’s another story for another day.

 

Where’s Merrill? …. where’s the novel

Now available in paperback:

Where's Merrill?

The e-book version of Where’s Merrill? [A Genealogical Thriller] was published on 28th February 2013 and subsequently released in paperback during 2014. It is available to purchase for just a few dollars from:

© AMAZON or

© LULU or

© SMASHWORDS

WM manuscript cover blog #1 copy           #1 AMAZON Best-Seller 2014

Go on …. read it and try to help solve some lingering mysteries

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Murder in Medieval Kilmactigue

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310WThe oldest memorial stone in the graveyards of Kilmactigue parish in south County Sligo commemorates the death of a local resident in the 16th century. The image  on the right obviously portrays the more modern recreation of the inscribed obituary of Tadhg Dall Ó hUiginn which can be found at Banada Abbey cemetery. The story behind the premature death of Tadhg (pronounced as Tigue or Ty-g) reveals the perils of being an Irish literary artist in Medieval times. As shown, Tadhg Dall was a renowned Poet and Scholar who was often asked to recite his nationalistic compositions in the courtyards of provincial Irish lords and clan leaders.

Tadhg was descended from a family of respected professional poets from the north of the Connacht region in the west of Ireland. He was given the distinguishing middle name of “Dall” because he was blind, and this is the Irish language word for blind. He made his home in the townland of Coolrecuil in Kilmactigue parish. Tadhg’s brother Maol Muire also rose to prominence as an Archbishop of the Tuam Diocese.

For centuries, the Ó hUiginn family had been aligned to the O’Conor clan of Sligo, their historical patrons, but by the 1500’s, the O’Hara’s had the upper hand in the south of the county, and Kilmactigue became the O’Hara stronghold. It appears that Tadhg Dall’s bravery in speaking out about the injustice meted out by the ruling O’Hara’s to his fellow parishioners, cost him his life.

An inquisition held at Ballymote in 1593 recorded that Tadhg Dall had died at Coolrecuil on the last day of March 1591. Many years later, a special chancery inquisition in 1617 provided further details of the circumstances of Tadhg Dall’s untimely death as he entered middle age. The 1617 inquest notes tell us that members of the Ó hEadhra (O’Hara) sept from Cashel Carragh, Kilmacteige, were detained in 1591 for murdering one Teige Dall O Higgen his wife and childe in the year one thousand five hundred ninetee and one or thereabouts”. Apparently, Tadhg had composed a satirical poem which narrated the actions of six “robbers,” all called O’Hara. The ruling Lord of the Manor was outraged and reacted by ordering that Tadhg Dall’s tongue be cut out. The obedient perpetrators clearly went even further and butchered all the inhabitants of the Ó hUiginn cottage in Coolrecuil.

The ancient poetic works of Tadhg Dall and his forefathers were preserved in early 17th century manuscripts created by banished Irish exiles living on mainland Europe. Fortunately, Tadhg Dall’s bloodline was also preserved because his nine year-old son, Tadhg Óg Ó hÚigínn, was absent from his childhood home when the murderous O’Hara gang spilled blood in medieval Coolrecuil. Tadgh Óg’s grandson, Pól Ó hUiginn also became a scholar and preacher of repute, although he defiantly converted to Protestantism after falling out of favour with his Roman Catholic peers.

In a perverse way, the gruesome events of 31st March 1591 at Coolrecuil have permitted historians to compile the oldest definitive Family Tree of a non-aristocratic resident of Kilmacteigue parish. Here is the upper part of the Ó hÚigínn tree covering the pre-18th century years which rarely feature in typical Irish Ancestry research projects.

1315 Irish FT #1

Do you believe in Fairy Stories?

Bridget Boland & husband Michael Cleary

Bridget and her husband Michael

Bridget Boland was born at Ballyvadlea, between the towns of Drangan and Cloneen in County Tipperary on 19th February 1867. She was the youngest child and only daughter of Patrick Boland and Bridget Keating. She attended Convent School in Drangan and was later apprenticed to a dressmaker. On 6th August 1887, she married a local cooper [barrel-maker] named Michael Cleary, after which she worked successfully as a dressmaker and egg seller. The couple remained childless and Bridget was recognized to be an unusually independent woman for this era in rural Ireland.

After her mother died in 1894, Bridget developed a habit of visiting the so-called fairy forts in the district. Local superstition named such places as haunts of the fey folk. Perhaps Bridget was seeking supernatural help to overcome her infertility.

Bridget became severely ill on 6th March 1895. Her headache, fever, and congestion were diagnosed as bronchitis by the local doctor, but family members thought that her lassitude indicated a clear case of fairy stroke. Michael Cleary, in particular, became convinced that his wife’s spirit had been stolen by the fairies.

As a consequence, for the next nine days, Bridget was forced to endure the rigours of a secret fairy trial. Bridget’s family and neighbors confined her to the house, and then doused her with urine and hens’ dung to keep the evil fairies away. Next, Bridget was force-fed all manner of odious potions and dry herbs. At the peak of the “trial,” Michael scarred his sickly wife with red-hot fire brands in an effort to force the occupying fairy within Bridget to release her good spirits, and enable her to make a recovery. The wicked fairy was not to be overpowered, and retaliated by weakening Bridget even more.

In the predawn hours of March 16th, Bridget was dressed in her best clothes and taken before the hearth where her husband doused her with lamp oil and burned her to death. Bridget’s body was then wrapped in a sheet and buried in a shallow grave in a bog ditch little more than 1000 yards from the Cleary cottage. The body was discovered five days later and a coroner’s inquest was held. Nine of Bridget’s family members were arrested on charges of murder. The subsequent trial became a religious and political showcase in which different parties attempted to quash potential Home Rule for Ireland by denigrating the whole population as superstitious primitives. Prominent Catholic churchmen who attempted to defend the actions of a grief-stricken family were duly rounded on and made a laughing stock as supporters of supernatural nonsense. “What is the difference in believing in God and his angels, as opposed to the Devil and his demonic fairies?” This was the national argument in the Spring of 1895.

1895 photo (Bridget Cleary's grave, Drangan)

Four stones between the cemetery wall and the crucifix indicate Bridget’s final resting place

In the end, Michael Cleary was convicted of manslaughter and served fifteen years of his twenty year sentence at hard labor. Bridget’s elderly father, Patrick Boland, served six months hard labor. Several cousins and an uncle of the deceased also served sentences between three to five years.

Bridget’s body, unclaimed by her incarcerated kin, and untouched by the local RC church reluctant to associate themselves with a scandal so steeped in superstition, was quietly buried one evening by two constables just outside the churchyard wall at the Drangan and Cloneen Parish Church, not far from her mother’s grave within the Holy Cemetery.

Aclare in 936 [to be precise]

Information from 900 years back (written in 1836)

How the name Aclare originated is thus (according to the OS Memoirs of Lance-Corporal Henry Trimble in December 1836) :

In former days there was no bridge at Aclare but a ford with large stepping stones across the river, and when flooded the people had to throw a plank across those stones to get across the opposite side of the river.

In them days there were three brothers of the name of O’Hara. Their place of residence were in three castles, two of which are in this parish and the third in the parish of Achonry, namely Ballyara Castle. The Kilmacteige castles were at Bellaclare and Castle Rock.

The eldest brother was Clare O’Hara who lived in Bellaclare (Belclare) Castle.

2014 Aclare Bridge

The “modern” Aclare Bridge over the River Eignagh

A in Irish is “a ford,” and the Christian name of O’Hara being Clare, A and Clare joined together to make Aclare, being the name and true origin of this market village.

December 1836: OS Memoirs – Parish of Kilmactigue #1

Compiled by Lance-Corporal Henry Trimble

The Anders Family of Carns Townland

“The oldest and first family that became inhabitants in the parish of Kilmacteigue was the name of Anders. There were 7 brothers of them and it appears they were the first that ever employed a horse beast as an assistant in reclaiming a portion of ground. However, in them days people were quite simple. This Anders found it necessary in providing a pair of creels for equipping the horse, and when tackling the horse first they brought the horse inside of their house, and when they fitted the creels each side of the horse they could not conceive how the horse would get out of the door.

donkey creel

Remaining some time in a deep study, they concluded the only method was to throw down the gable of the house. Consequently they done so and permitted the horse and creels to get out. However, they never thought of taking the creels and tackling the horse outside of the house so as to prevent this serious trouble and expense.”

As related by Mr Williams of Carns

[Ornance Survey Memoirs]

1852 Emigration Atlas

I came across this wonderful publication on the Ancestry website. The official title was “Emigration Atlas 1852” by W Hughes Esq, and it was published in London for the benefit of British and Irish citizens who were considering emigrating to the faraway civilized lands of the world as established at that time, over 160 years ago. Many present-day nations were yet to be founded with the geographical boundaries we recognize in the 21st century..

The complete atlas book only stretches to a dozen or so pages, but it contains a veritable mine of emigration info of great value to readers of the day, and of course, readers of today from a historical perspective. It includes detailed maps of Canada, the United States, Mexico, South America, the Cape Colony and Fort Natal, Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. These were the British emigration hot-spots in the 1850’s. The maps show the primary overland travel routes to far-flung cities and new towns offering employment opportunities. The original maps were printed in color with settlements where British subjects would be made welcome shown in red outlines.

Most interesting of all (for me), the atlas contains write-ups for each destination, giving a concise description of the country, the cost of passage, the journey in miles and time, the types of workers needed at each destination, potential wages to be expected, the local cost of living, and other invaluable particulars for the would-be intrepid voyagers.

1852 emigration guide

The timing of the publication means that the “newly-acquired” US territory of California is given suitable prominence. The atlas text tells us that since the recent discovery of gold deposits in CA “a continual stream of emigration has poured towards it, and continues to do so with increasing strength.” Those wishing to join the Gold Rush are offered three travel routes to get to California from the British Isles, as follows:

  1. By sea to New York and then overland westwards “through a country destitute of roads, and presenting almost insurmountable difficulties to the traveller.” Plucky pioneers were advised that the Trans-American leg alone would take 3 months. Despite the warnings, most of the early Irish settlers in California took Route One; it was the cheapest and the only affordable means of getting to the gold mines.
  2. By sea voyage to the port of Chagres on the Panamanian Isthmus, either directly or via New York Harbor. Then 50 miles overland to the Pacific Coast of Panama, taking 3 whole days! Finally, another 3,500 miles sea voyage northwards to San Francisco – before buying a mule and heading off into them thar hills, possibly to become rich or to never be heard of again.
  3. By a direct sea voyage around Cape Horn, disembarking at San Francisco. This excursion was favored by the wealthier, upper-class passengers. In 1852, it took a mere 5 months to complete the 17,000 miles across several fearsome oceans.

The author, Mr Hughes, does point out that plans are well underway to make Route Two more popular by the construction of a railway and canal across the 50 miles of impenetrable Panama forests and mountains. When the canal is completed, seafaring ships can trim 9,000 miles off the Cape Horn route. Mr Hughes was as optimistic as the 19th Century canal engineers. We now know that it took three attempts and sixty more long years to get the Panama Canal finished. This world-famous waterway celebrated it centenary last month in August 2014.

1852 emigration atlas

The 1852 map of California showing Native Indian territories and Utah which was                                     not admitted to the American Union until 1896

GEAROID O’NEARY: THE ASTOUNDING TRUE STORY JUST HAD TO BE SHARED

Interview with Bulgarian author & journalist Ognian Georgiev:

Land Of Books

Gearoid O’Neary debuted as an author with his book “Where’s Merrill”. It’s a genealogical mystery thriller. The novel is based on a real life events. Let’s learn something more about the book and the author.

Gearoid_pic

– What is your book Where’s Merrill about?
– This novel is based closely upon a real-life ancestry research case, and written in the style of a mystery thriller. In essence there are two stories in one novel; one set in the present and the other in past times. The genealogist in the present gradually unravels many secrets about the family of an ancestor called Merrill. This man disappeared from the planet in his middle age over 75 years ago. No death record. No burial. Nothing.
WM_manuscript_cover
– Why did you decide to write the story?
– I am a professional genealogist, and I discovered the mysterious facts about Merrill and his ancestors. The astounding…

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✞ Iggy pops off {RIP} ✞

The passing of a close family member in old age always results in sadness, and then happy reminiscences going all the way back to our childhoods. Old family photos are dusted down and shared, and we suddenly realize how special and unique those snapshots of a bygone era really are.

The peaceful death of my uncle Ignatius on 29th August brought about the same happy and sad memories, plus the rare opening of ancient photo albums. Lifelong bachelor boy Ignatius was fondly known as “Iggy” to family and friends. In the words of one of his own funny catchphrases: “He was a very nice man. A very, very nice man.”

There is only one photo of the complete Neary clan (circa 1950) as a proud family unit. This outstanding image, reproduced below, shows my grandparents, Ned Neary and Ellen Durkin, and all seven of their children – plus the family dog, of course. My father, John Thomas, was the eldest child, and also tragically the first Neary sibling to pass away in 1980. The photo was taken about a dozen years after the Neary family relocated from Tullinaglug in County Sligo, Ireland, to Withnell in Lancashire, NW England.

Ned was a hard-working labourer whose weather-beaten face always made him look much older than he actually was. By 1950, all the Neary children were smartly-dressed. Ned & Ellen did a fine job after escaping the comparative poverty of the west of Ireland in the 1930’s.

Ned Neary & family (2014)

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Paperback Payback

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310WWhen “Where’s Merrill?” was published as an e-book, 18 months ago, many of my clients and associates asked if they could purchase a copy of the novel in paperback. At that time I said that the answer was ‘no’ because paper-printing costs were unrealistic. You see – my novel was written for the e-book market. It was written “in color” – a new concept – and there are several (crucial) color photos and diagrams embedded within the story.

BUT – I always wanted to see a paper version (before the movie, of course). So I have formatted a colorful paperback edition, and made it available from an amenable publisher, at a {ahem} rock-bottom price. WELL – at a little over 20 dollars, it’s an expensive book …. but that’s the going rate if you want full colour and glossy, combined.

“Where’s Merrill?” has featured regularly in Amazon’s Top Ten Best-Seller chart in the genealogy category. This is unusual for a novel also listed in the fictional mystery and thriller genres. It’s a cross-over book. Fact-based fiction, I call it.

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310W

 The author will not make a cent from paperback sales. It’s payback time!

Thank-you clients … for sharing your unique and wonderful family histories.

Purchase at Amazon (in paperback)

Jest for Genealogists

I’ve got to admit that when I am commissioned to research the ancestral family members of my clients, I (very, very) occasionally guffaw at the new names discovered – and then wonder how to break the news. I use my own experience as guidance. Regular readers will know that I am still searching for the resting place of my elusive [great-aunt] Fanny. This remark brings titters from my younger nephews and nieces, usually set off by their own children.

For the uninitiated, “fanny” is a funny word on both sides of the Atlantic, today – but it’s a beautiful and historical female forename – and it has no etymological link to front or back bottoms!

So … when I was browsing the US city directories, searching for another elusive Irish immigrant ancestor, round about 1903, I must admit that I spat out my coffee and laughed out loud … briefly. I am a professional, y’know.

And so … whatever happened to William and Leonard? Did their Syracuse saloon bar ever take off? Did they know that most European emigrants were wetting themselves, before having a drink? Was the bar partnership name manufactured as an hilarious publicity stunt?

“D’ya fancy a pint down at the D & K?” Take a look:

1903 Dick & Kuntz saloon

 

 

My unorthodox family gravestone that says it all – but also hides so much more

It took me many years to locate my great-grandmother’s grave. Her maiden name was Kate Stenson, but everyone in Ireland knew her as Kit. She was born in 1852 in Ballincurry, a County Sligo townland located between Tubbercurry and Curry. After marrying my GGF Thomas Neary in 1874, her name became Mrs Catherine Neary. She delivered twelve children, and subsequently became the grandmother of 24 grandchildren, the majority of whom were called NEARY (including my father).

As Kit’s youngest son, my grandfather Ned ended up caring for his widowed mother at the home place in Tullinaglug, up until the late 1930’s. At that point, for financial reasons, Ned elected to relocate his growing family to England – but Kit, in her mid-80’s remained in Ireland. Family lore told that Kit went to live with the only one of her six daughters that got married and lived in the west of Ireland; the others having emigrated to New York and/or died before Kit. For a long while, the identity of this daughter was uncertain … but elderly family members recalled that she lived in the coastal resort of Enniscrone, after her marriage to a man called Mullaney.

Extensive research eventually verified that my great-aunt Bridget Neary had initially emigrated to New York City in the late 1890’s, as did eight of her siblings, but Bridget returned home broken-hearted 10 years later. Apparently, a sister had “stolen” Bridget’s first love interest in NYC, and went on to marry him. Within months of re-settling in County Sligo, Bridget married a carpenter called Patrick Mullaney from Enniscrone. On this basis, my search for Kit Stenson’s grave headed in the Enniscrone direction – in the days before the online indexing of headstones!

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310WOne summer’s afternoon, a trek around Kilglass cemetery miraculously located Kate Stenson Neary’s grave in a position high on the hill towards the rear of the graveyard, among older more weather-beaten headstones – but more ancestral mysteries were instantly raised. Catherine Neary died in 1944 aged 92, and she was buried in a grave already containing two corpses with names which meant nothing to me, or my family.

Kate Stenson’s grave is marked by the inscription “Grandmother of the Mullany Brothers [of] Enniscrone.” The grand headstone reveals that a male and female both named Fox, and who both died in Jan 1939 aged in their 70’s, are buried in the same plot. I could only guess that this mystery couple had a connection to the equally unfamiliar Mullany Brothers.

On the base of the main headstone, I detected some roughly inscribed words which have been rather unprofessionally added at some later date (after 1944), perhaps without removing the stone to a mason’s yard. These words read as “Erected By Her Son ?? Thomas Neary”. There are two engraved marks before the name Thomas which I cannot make out. My grandfather’s brother Thomas was a US Army career soldier and lifelong bachelor boy.

VLUU L310W L313 M310W / Samsung L310W L313 M310WAfter a bit more research, and lots of head-scratching, I developed a plausible theory about Neary family events back in 1944. My theory is that Kate Stenson passed away at the grand old age of 92, after being resident in Enniscrone for no more than about the last 8 years of her life. This was a financially depressed era in Ireland, and the World War was still raging around Europe and farther afield. Her daughter, Bridget [Mullany] would have sent letters to my grandfather Ned in England, and other siblings in the Bronx and around NYC, including bachelor Thomas, to inform them that their mother had passed away. The war would certainly have prevented travel from the US for a funeral, and probably also from England. I reckon that the Mullany family could not afford a new burial plot, so they opted to bury Kate in the grave used by some family relatives called Fox. I discovered that the mother of Bridget’s husband, Patrick Mullany, was called Mary Fox, and that Patrick was raised as a child by aunts and uncles named Fox. The extra grave inhabitants were siblings of Patrick’s mother who never married. Initially, this grave would have remained without a significant headstone after the 1939 interments and again immediately after September 1944 when my GGM Catherine was laid to rest..

My guess is that Thomas was still in the US at this time, probably offering his services to the war effort, even if just in a clerical capacity. When the war was over, Thomas most likely officially retired from US Army service, and he would have received a generous pension. I think that he kindly offered to send money to the Mullany family to ensure that his mother had a suitable memorial headstone.

The Mullanys then (sort of) respectfully obliged Thomas’s wishes, and hence we get the gravestone listing the grave’s occupants – with Catherine Neary listed as the primary “resident”. Next, I think that Bridget & the Mullanys would have been surprised when later in the 1940’s, Thomas advised that he intended to return to Sligo to see out his final days as soon as trans-Atlantic passenger travel routes were safely re-established. However, Thomas got the greater shock when he visited the Kilglass cemetery for the first time to pay his respects to his deceased mother. Here he found his mother’s remains lying in a grave alongside two strangers (in Neary family terms). Furthermore, the grave inscription paid homage to the fact that Kate was the grandmother of Bridget’s children; three local brothers who were builders aged in their mere 20’s. No mention of her father Charles Stenson, or Thomas Neary her husband, or Thomas the son who paid for the headstone, or the other ten Neary siblings, or Tullinaglug, Kate’s home for over 60 years.

I believe that Thomas would have been justifiably alarmed by the fact that the Mullany’s had effectively hijacked his mother’s memorable lifetime. Kate gave birth to 12 children. Many had overcome adversity and forged good lives in and around New York. My grandfather Ned had looked after his mother and the family farm for over 20 years as the main bread-winner. The Mullany’s had belatedly got to know Kate very late in her life – why should this family feature in isolation on her tombstone?

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        “Erected by her son ? ? Thomas Neary”

I can imagine Thomas & Bridget exchanging a few heated words about the bizarre headstone inscription. I think this resulted in the amateurish additional words being added at the base of the headstone, as a compromise to an angry or bemused Thomas. I can just picture one of the “jack-of-all-trades” Mullany brothers saying that they would personally inscribe a tribute to Thomas on the foot of the stone – and they made a right old mess of the inscription. The illegible marks before Thomas’s name could even be a spelling error which was crudely obliterated, but remains as a sign of unprofessional stone-masonry forever more.

In my opinion, the whole episode was triggered by Bridget’s rejection as a potential bride-to-be in the 1900’s decade in New York. Two of her sisters married two out of three very eligible Irish sibling bachelors in America. One of these handsome men became a fully qualified and renowned Civil Engineer and lived in the eye-catching big Bronx Reservoir House. Bridget must have felt bitter and jealous of her sisters’ good fortune when she returned to Ireland as an aging spinster. She had to settle for marrying a local small-town building tradesman, six years her junior. By the time her mother Kit Stenson died in 1944, it is likely that Bridget had disowned her successful siblings in New York, apart from Thomas who only emigrated after the Mullany/Neary wedding. Bridget’s bitterness is evident on Kit’s gravestone. The inscription acknowledges the relationship of my great-grandmother to Bridget’s own family, and no-one else …. except for those telling extra words added in amateurish fashion recording that my great-uncle Tom Neary actually funded the selfish memorial.

I might be interpreting the evidence wrongly, and doing my distant Mullany cousins a disservice. As might be expected from this tale, there has been no direct communication between Nearys and Mullanys for almost 50 years. If anyone can shed more light on the burial events of 1944, then please step forward.

Retired US Army soldier Tom died in Ireland in 1954. The whereabouts of his grave, and that of his father Thomas (the husband of Kit Stenson, and my GGF) have yet to be located.

Book Review: Where’s Merrill?

Bobbi King’s take on “Where’s Merrill?” via Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

The following book review was written by Bobbi King:

Where’s Merrill? By Gearóid O’Neary. Self-published as an e-book. 2013. 117 pages.

It’s relaxing to sit down and read a book just for pleasure’s sake. Set aside the hefty genealogy reference guides and just escape into an easy and comfortable read.

Where’s Merrill would be a good story to slip into. I have it on my e-reader, and it’s an agreeable way to pass the time on a crowded airplane, relax while on vacation, or read just propped up on the living room couch.

Merrill is a fictional genealogical thriller based on factual events and people, but written with artistic license permitting character embellishment and dramatic plot building.

View original post 255 more words

Bobbi King of EOGN reviews “Where’s Merrill?”

 

 

EASTMAN’S ONLINE GENEALOGY NEWSLETTER

It’s relaxing to sit down and read a book just for pleasure’s sake. Set aside the hefty genealogy reference guides and just escape into an easy and comfortable read.

Where’s Merrill would be a good story to slip into. I have it on my e-reader, and it’s an agreeable way to pass the time on a crowded airplane, relax while on vacation, or read just propped up on the living room couch.

Merrill is a fictional genealogical thriller based on factual events and people, but written with artistic license permitting character embellishment and dramatic plot building.

The central character is Merrill Harrison, whose story begins in 1890s-era Kansas. The author narrates two stories back and forth between Merrill and Jed, the researching genealogist of today who is unraveling the background of the Harrisons. But not disconcertingly so, the narrative is clearly-presented and easy to follow.

There are several characters, of which Merrill is the most dissolute. He becomes an embarrassment to his family and the kind of ancestor we don’t want to find in our family trees. Family box charts inserted into the chapters aid in keeping everyone straight, a familiar approach to us all. There are twists and turns to the plot, and interesting research tactics to read about as the professional present-day Jed character goes about methodically stalking the elusive Merrill.

Mr. O’Neary has a quirky way of writing. It’s a little stumbly, and he doesn’t break any new ground in the creative writing genre, but I didn’t find any of that to be a detriment to the read. Mr. O’Neary obviously likes to write, he obviously likes to tell a story, and that’s exactly what he did.

We can enjoy his story, and he should be pleased that he got his story into publication, no mean feat by anyone’s standards.

We’re all happy.

You can purchase Where’s Merrill from Amazon as a Kindle ebook at http://goo.gl/uAOk4U.

Ancestry Research-wise … Ireland regresses from ground-breaker to stone-age in 15 days

Those of you who follow the latest news in genealogy research developments will be well aware that July 3rd 2014 was a momentous day in Ireland. The indices to the Republic’s civil records of births, marriages and deaths up to 2013 were made available to viewers online. It was a marvelous occasion, celebrating over 6 month’s hard work by dedicated civil servants (at great cost to the public purse), rightly trumpeted by government Ministers as a big step forward in promoting Irish ancestry to the vast worldwide diaspora.

ig website

Temporarily? For over a month, and counting?

15 days later the website was closed down … by a [Nanny] State watchdog voicing concerns about data protection. Billy Hawkes, Ireland’s Data Protection Commisioner, declared that a monumental “cock-up” had occurred. It seems that one Irishman was concerned that his DOB and mother’s maiden name were now traceable via the civil birth registers, so the whole website was abandoned overnight. This unprotected public data is available to any Irish resident or visitor to Ireland who cares to venture into one of two General Register Office research rooms.

Our neighbours in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland appear to have no such concerns regarding the publicity of DOB’s or the maiden surnames of citizen’s mothers. All are traceable (for recent decades), if you know how to interrogate British government-funded websites which promote the identification of births, marriages and deaths of loved ones, relatives and ancestors.

Billy Hawkes seems to be overly concerned that some half-wits use their DOB or mother’s maiden name as their sole “password” on unidentified websites of extreme importance to the financial security and privacy of all citizens of the Irish Republic. Really? There are only two High Street banks left in Ireland, after the recent mismanagement of the nation’s economy … by the Government. Neither bank requests DOB’s or maiden names as account passwords – in isolation. Nor does any financial institution to my knowledge. Sensibly, they all have double or triple encrypted password protection for electronic account access, with at least one alphanumerical password randomly selected by the money processor, not the account holder.

Yes, we know that Facebook demands to know its sad users’ birthdays … so that other saddos can send an annual image of a cake or balloon … BUT daft gossip via social media platforms is not of national importance … IMHO … LOL … as they say on FB or similar.

Things are moving on …. yet Billy Hawkes and the Government as a whole remain tight-lipped. Thanks for spending all my income tax on a commendable genealogy research promotion exercise that you cannot agree on. Shame on you all.

Latest announcement by the Department of Heritage, Arts and the Gaeltacht

Personally, I believe that Ireland’s Office for Data Protection is very culpable in this ludicrous affair. Surely, part of its role is to oversee and guide any publicized venture that intends to make more personal data readily available to the masses. This office’s staff were fully aware of the Irish civil BMD database project, yet they stood back and then claimed to be shocked by the end result … which they did not even check out until a third party raised a minor concern. What do these nameless Data Protection officials do all day? Swap jokes on Facebook?

Billy Hawkes and his team could redeem themselves by recommending that the Irish government funds a series of public service announcements aimed at warning the less computer-savvy man in the street not to use a DOB, marriage date or family maiden name (or forename or address or phone number or bank account number, etc) as their deadly secret “password” which gains immediate entry into all sorts of private online accounts and personal files … if the ill-educated man wishes to retain privacy, of course. It’s a free world, and many social media users seem to like to share everything about their humdrum private lives with total strangers (including addresses, DOB’s, marriage anniversaries and full family details c/w excruciating photos). Then again, if such a public service announcement was made, Billy Hawkes would be justifiably accused of scare-mongering because every IT expert would point out that personal electronic banking and payment systems cannot be hacked by simply entering an associated DOB or name.

Archives are closed today

                                        TEMPORARILY

 

South Sligo National Schools – Largan & Kilmactigue outdo Drimina

No sooner had I publicized the fact that a very old photo of the (named) pupils of Drimina National School existed, dating from the 1920’s, and not one, but two, even older photos come to light from the relatively small Kilmacteigue RC Parish in South County Sligo. The photo below features the pupils in attendance at the tiny Largan National School overlooking the beautiful Lough Talt in November 1913. As you will see, a name has been put to each schoolchild. Do you know any of these families? Were they your ancestors?

1913 November 6 - Largan NS

Largan National School – 6th November 1913.

Back Row: Joe Murry, Joe Murry, Tom Cooke, Willie Curley, Joe Deehan, Francis Murry, Martin Deehan, Pat Walsh, Joe Gallagher, Annie Cooke, John Henry Murry, Beezie O’Donnell, Mike Curley, Bridget Mullarkey, Jim O’Connor, Mary Kate Cooke, Mary O’Connor, Mary Walsh, Maggie Henigan, Florrie Henigan, Kate Quinn, Delia Quinn, Mary Jane Goldrick, Mary Kate Deehan, Mary Ellen Mullarkey, Kate Mullarkey.

Front Row: Martin Quinn, Micheal Walsh, Jim Goldrick, John Lang, Jim Quinn, John William Mullarkey, Mike Quinn, Annie Kate Goldrick, Mary Ann Durcan, Kate Curley, Mary Agnes Murry, Emma Goldrick, Mary Frances Murry, Bridget Curley, Annie Theresa Mullarkey, Maggie Lang, Kate Deehan, Mary Walsh, Kate Kildunne, Maggie Deehan.

The next day, the unknown professional photographer set up his tripod at nearby Kilmactigue National School. This excellent photo was the result:

1913 nov 7 - Kilmactigue NS

If only all genealogies were this simple

First off, the formalities. It was our Shankley’s fourth birthday on US Independence Day, yesterday. Straightaway I should point out that Shankley is a pedigree male Bengal domestic cat because a pet named Shankley appears in my genealogical thriller novel “Where’s Merrill?” in a different guise. Being a Bengal, Shankley’s 4th birthday is a significant milestone for him. He can now be classed as an adult and he is certainly refraining from starting childish daily play fights with his younger feline house-mates as was his way a year ago.

As part of the birthday celebration, we took out Shankley’s birth certificate to respectfully remember his parentage. Yes – pedigree animals have their own birth certificates – and some breeders provide documents which are far better in content than human counterparts. Take a look at Shankley’s birth cert below. Professional genealogists would be obsolete if national authorities ever started to request such detailed information when the birth of a human baby was registered.

2010 birth cert (Shankley) copy As you can see, the new arrival’s full name of Sunstorm Shankley was registered as the progeny of his named father and mother, termed as Sire & Dam. Only a few obscure places in the human birth registration world bother to record an infant’s grand-parentage – but by reference to his birth document, our Shankley can name all eight of his great grandparents, and quite remarkably all sixteen of his great great grandparents. Each ancestor is given a brief physical description, and former champion show cats are highlighted in red text. It is clear that Shankley is descended from cat royalty on the paternal side of his concise Family Tree.

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                                        All grown up, at age 4?

Happy birthday to Shankley and the USA

Become a Reviewer

askdavid

     Hi, I’m David

If you’ve read Where’s Merrill? a genealogical thriller then I would welcome the submission of your considered review at my askDavid author page – just click on the book title link above.

Is it memorable ★★★★★ or forgettable ★ ?

You decide. Thanks.

When maps were maps (before Google Street View)

Regular followers will know that I collect old maps, particularly of Ireland or its provinces. Perhaps, more infuriatingly, I am always trying to get others to admire the beauty of the ancient craft of cartography. It is said that the island of Ireland was mapped more than any other place on the planet up until the early 1900’s. There are historical reasons for this. Some Irish maps were drawn in order to plan invasions, and others were created in order to “sell” vast portions of the countryside to foreign investors.

Check out Trinity College’s admirable Down Survey of Ireland webpage if you want to learn more about the regular mapping of Ireland, and the reasons behind this historical phenomenon.

Ireland may not possess its fair share of preserved vital records or census returns, but it can boast extant copies of maps dating from many decades of the most recent centuries.

Here is an image of one of my favourite vintage maps of Ireland, reproduced for no particular reason other than it deserves to be looked at – like a renowned work of art.

Vintage Ireland mapI wish I could afford the original, or an original antique copy.

★★★★ Reviews #genealogy “WDYTYA” in Michael Crichton style

Larry Kenyon from California writes:

I read the Kindle version of “Where’s Merrill?” on a flight to Ireland, and it kept me engrossed enough to read it in the one sitting. If you are into genealogy you will no doubt enjoy this novel, based on a real research case. I couldn’t help thinking I was reading a Michael Crichton story, but with a genealogy theme. I’m ready for a follow-on case, this time involving Ireland and Irish history rather than the U.S.

NHVest - collage-for-website-header-2Nancy H Vest from North Carolina writes:

Where’s Merrill? is described as a genealogical thriller. That is an accurate description! Once I started reading, I didn’t want to put it down until I knew the truth about Merrill. There are actually two stories going on in this book – the story of Merrill and his family, and the story of the researchers learning about this family’s history.
The author used dates and place names to keep the reader abreast of what was going on, and he did well with this. Interaction between the main characters is believable, but I especially enjoyed the secondary characters, like the townspeople, who added spunk to the story.
Reading Where’s Merrill? gave me a sense of how others might feel when I talk about the many members of my own family during one conversation. At times I felt like I needed to make some notes as to who was who, and I assigned some details to the wrong people as I read along. That is to be expected, though, with a story of this kind. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story at all since I was able to quickly regroup the cast and details in my mind.
Long narrative paragraphs are present in several places which made me want to skim over and rush past. I am a short paragraph kind-of-girl.
The author asked me if I’d like to review Where’s Merrill?, and he provided me a copy. That in no way has influenced my review. I liked this story, and I enjoyed reading it. I would recommend it easily to anyone who enjoys a mystery that is light on graphic violence. There were twists in the plot, and I was truly surprised by a few of the revelations.

Link to Nancy’s Blog

Happy Birthday to Football

As the 20th staging of the FIFA Word Cup international football tournament finals gets underway today in Brazil, I thought it appropriate to combine my interest in genealogy with the great sport of [Association] Football – or soccer as it is known in countries such as America and Ireland where native team game players of old stole the football name before it could be copyrighted (yet perversely all other versions of football involve moving the ball by hand, mainly).

Even Football Clubs have birth certificates, strange as it seems – and some clubs are “getting on a bit.” Most established English clubs are now older than the oldest living Englishman. The FC birth cert below shows that one of England’s most successful teams, Liverpool Football Club, celebrated its 122nd birthday just last week. As with traditional vital records, this particular birth cert records the name of the proud father of the new arrival. In a bizarre twist which amuses football fanatics on Merseyside, Liverpool FC was spawned by its long-time arch-rival, Everton FC. In 1892, Everton was a popular and strapping 14 year-old. As genealogists know, in Victorian times it was quite common for teenagers to enter fatherhood or motherhood. Amazingly, LFC’s father, Everton is still going strong and rather cheekily keeps making comeback appearances which threaten to destabilize the red team’s recent domination of the soccer-mad city of Liverpool in terms of on-field success.

1892 LFC birth_certificateAs a consequence of sharing my life with a Red Scouser, Liverpool FC have become my second favourite domestic side. I will never abandon my “first team” though, after my father dragged me along to become a spectator of my first professional football match as a schoolboy. 1875 BRFCAncestrally, my family developed an unbreakable affinity with Blackburn Rovers Football Club which is even older than Liverpool FC and its daddy, Everton. As the club badge shows, Blackburn Rovers was baptized as a club in 1875, although this was a delayed christening after other nicknames had been adopted and rejected by the new kid on the 1870’s football scene.

Even BRFC was a relative youngster when it came into formal existence. The honour of elder statesman in English professional football ranks goes to Notts County FC. In November this year, Notts County will be 152 years-old having played about 4,750 Football League matches. County is still capable of showing some young upstarts a thing or two about the beautiful game, although the old man has not been fit enough to compete in the top division for 20 years. “At the end of the day, the legs have gone, late in the game,” as a semi-literate TV pundit will probably say more than once during the next glorious month of World Cup highlights.

The first FIFA World Cup Final tournament was held in South America in 1930, so it’s appropriate that the same continent hosts the finale of the 20th competition. My beloved BRFC was already in late middle age by then, and County had even become a pensioner. It’s a funny OLD game.

 

The beauty of South Sligo

I have long been aware of the hidden beauty of my “back yard” in South Sligo, but as an early-riser, my appreciation has always been limited to scenic viewing during daylight hours. So I was was both surprised and proud to find that my home patch features regularly in the stunning night-time photography portfolio of Damien Stenson. Damien is a very talented Galway-based landscape photographer but he specialises in night photography – as displayed by the breath-taking imagery shown below.

These four examples were taken from the shores of Lough Talt, nestled in the Windy Gap of the Ox Mountains. A big effort is underway to promote our tranquil backwater as a tourism destination to a worldwide audience. I am not alone in wishing this venture the greatest of success while conversely hoping that the trickle of rambling tourists never becomes a torrent of couldn’t care less litter louts. A tranquil backwater needs places of tranquility – even at peak season.

DS3DS4DS5DS6The bright comet-like object in the night sky of the photo above is the International Space Station passing overhead during a film exposure of several minutes. I am far from being a knowledgeable student of modern photography techniques so head over to Damien’s Facebook page for all the technical blurb about how these wonderful images were captured by a true magician of the lens.

Dozens more memorable pictures, mainly from the West of Ireland at night, can be viewed at www.damienstenson.com

★★★★★ Review

Diane writes:

First, a disclaimer…. I have had a business relationship with Mr. O’Neary, as he has done some research on my Irish roots in the past. However, this has nothing to do with my review of “Where’s Merrill?” My review is based totally on its own merits.

As somewhat of an ancestry buff, I was interested in reading “Where’s Merrill?” I too have Irish roots, though other than being Irish, my family bears little resemblance to the Harrison family.

Where’s Merrill?” is a well-written ancestral mystery. I enjoyed the dual stories of the past and the present, as it seemed to tie into my own interests of digging into the past with my own family. I, too, have sought out & found distant relatives, and it’s quite fun to find relations you never knew you had! “Where’s Merrill?” certainly tops my own family in terms of real drama & mystery! I’m afraid my own family is quite boring compared with Merrill’s!

I would definitely recommend “Where’s Merrill?” to others who are interested in ancestry & a little mystery! Here’s a suggestion to others who are reading “Where’s Merrill?“: throughout the book, there are several family tree graphics. Bookmark these pages so that you can easily refer back to them. I found it a little hard to keep track of “who was who” along the way. It’s useful to be able to refer back to the family tree graphics to refresh one’s memory. I had at first thought it would be good to have one complete family tree graphic at the beginning of the book. But that would have, in fact, spoiled some of the surprises in this family mystery! So bookmarking along the way seems to work out best if you are like me, and need visuals to help your memory.

Overall – a good book!! And looking forward to more books by O’Neary!!

2014 April - Amazon #1b