Category Archives: Family History

The elusive Grandaunt Eva Maud Clinton

For most of my life, ‘Aunt Eva’ as our mother called her, was depicted as a tragic figure. Invariably described as being very beautiful she was the eldest sibling of our maternal Grandfather, Robert Clinton. Our mother referenced her whenever she heard of a wedding being arranged for the month of May. It was, she declared, an unlucky month to get married and she knew, because didn’t aunt Eva get married in May! I recall having a heated discussion with my mother over the date of my own wedding which had been ‘penciled in’ for the first Saturday in May. So as not to tempt fate, the point was conceded and the date moved back to the last Saturday in April.

So who was this Grandaunt Eva and what became of her?

With the arrival of Irish genealogy records online, it should be easy to unravel the mystery! Unfortunately, that was not the case. In the first place, the marriage of her parents, John and Amelia has not yet been found. The quest continues! (Amelia was from the Church of Ireland while John was Roman Catholic so there are many possibilities.)

In the 1901 census, we have our first sighting of Eva Maud as a fourteen- year- old, living with her parents and four siblings in Cleaghmore, Ballinasloe, Co Galway. See here.

According to the census she was born in Co. Mayo, yet there was no sign of her in birth records. The first birth certificate to be uncovered was that of our grandfather, Robert Clinton in 1889, so Eva Maud as the eldest must have predated this. By sheer fluke, her arrival was discovered – not with the names Eva Maud, but with the given names of Bridget Evaline! Did Amelia quickly learn that only Saints names were allowed in the Catholic Church and did she feel aggrieved that her firstborn daughter could not be named after her own sister Eva Maud Judge, for whom she had stood as witness in her marriage three years earlier? We shall never know!

Civil birth entry Bridget Evaline Clinton (NLI)

1911 Eva was a 22-year-old shop girl in Ballinasloe, boarding in the house of Merchant Daniel Hogan in Society Street. See the census record here. Her birthplace was given as Co Westmeath, and the age does not tally, but there is no doubt that this is the right person.

Society Street Ballinasloe c. 1900 (NLI)

By this time in 1911 her family had moved on Carbury Co Kildare, where her father John was now Stationmaster and she had 6 siblings. She stayed behind in Ballinasloe. I wonder if she often visited the family while they lived in Carbury?

Carbury Station, home of our great grandparents, parents of Eva Maud. (Image thesilvervoice 2017)

Although I have not yet established exactly when the family relocated to Carbury, we do know that our great grandfather John Clinton died there just before Christmas in 1920 after an illness of 11 months. It is highly likely that Eva would have visited him there during his illness.

The next ‘sighting’ we have of Eva Maud was at her marriage on 2 May 1927 in St Fintan’s Church, Howth to Thomas McLoughlin, a shop assistant of St Peters Terrace Howth. Again the name Bridget E. appears on the cert.

The marriage certificate of Eva and Tom.

At the time of the marriage, Eva was living in a big two- storey house, Brackenhurst, Howth probably owned by the Bamford family, drapers in the town, who are likely to have been Eva’s employers.

The interesting thing here, and not something I had ever heard mentioned, was that the groom was a widower. Not only that but he had at least two children by his first marriage, so our Grandaunt Eva became stepmother to two relatively young children.

The little house in St Peter’s Terrace, Howth where Eva and her family lived.

Tom McLaughlin was born in Howth on September 6, 1882, the son of a Fisherman. He married Catherine Ward on January 18,1915, and I have located two children born to them – Joseph born in October 1915 and Philomena born September 1916. (Catherine was a widow at the time of her marriage to Tom as her first husband John Ward, who she had married on December 25, 1911, died of Typhoid Fever in January 1914. Catherine was the daughter of a sailor, her maiden name being Sisk). In any event, Tom and Catherine would not enjoy a long happy marriage as she died in St Vincent’s Hospital on June 15, 1924 only some 9 years later. The cause of her death was Endocarditis.

Death cert of Catherine (NLI)

Death Announcement, Catherine. Irish Independent

So a new life beckoned with the marriage of Eva and Tom, who would also be a mother to the children.

But alas that was not to be. Only 140 days later, Eva would be dead. The official family version of her death had been that she died in childbirth. The death certificate tells a slightly different and very sad story.

The death certificate of Eva Clinton McLaughlin (NLI)

She had been just two months pregnant and had the very serious condition of an ectopic pregnancy. She died in Holles Street Maternity Hospital, not aged 34 as stated, but aged 40, with Peritonitis cited as an additional cause. We can only hope that she did not suffer too much. But my mother was right, May was a very unlucky month for her marriage.

The death announcement from the Irish Independent.

And so Thomas McLoughlin had to bury another young wife. But where? Family lore has it that Eva was buried in the old Abbey in Howth, but no grave has ever been located. Our mother was only 9 years old when her Aunt Eva died, but her death left an indelible mark on the family. It is very disappointing that we have not been able to identify her burial place. The search continues.

Somewhere there is a photo of Eva Maud as I recall seeing it. If any family members can add any information to this post, I would be thrilled to hear from you! For now, we remember the 132nd anniversary of the birth and untimely death of our elusive grandaunt.

NOTE:

Thomas married for a third time on January 7,1929. His wife was Emma J Stephens. Thomas died on March 24, 1956, but I have been unable to establish where he is buried.

There is a headstone in Deans Grange cemetery for an Emma J McLoughlin who died in 1993 and I believe this is possibly Thomas’ widow or possibly their daughter. More research required!

Fingal County Council has an extensive online database of burials but the Old Abbey records begin in the 1960s.

So the hunt for grandaunt Eva Maud or Bridget Evelyn goes on.

I would like to thank the legend that is S.Wilson for the info on Aunt Eva’s residence of Brackenhurst in Howth. His excellent site is at https://www.swilson.info/

UPDATE FEB 8 2019

I have been in contact with family of Thomas McLoughlin who have provided the following information:

Emma Josephine Stevens married a brother of Thomas Mc Loughlin after Thomas died. The headstone above in Dean’s Grange is Thomas’ brother John and his two wives.

While aware that Thomas had been married three times, the identity of Thomas’ second wife, our great aunt Eva was not known to them.

References

NLI BDM Records

Census NLI.ie

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A family treasure

img_1856This beautiful object is a hallmarked sterling silver hair comb that belonged to our grandmother Mary Gallagher, nee Friel. (See earlier post here ) It was given to me by her second daughter, my aunt Eileen, in the 1980s. Aunt Eileen had very generously given, to the best of my recollection, one of her mother’s possessions – a watch, a ring, a pendant and a hair comb – to each of four granddaughters – Cathy, Nuala, Eva and myself.

It never ceases to amaze me how few family artifacts pass down through the generations of ordinary people, but I am so honored and pleased to own this part of our family history.  The hallmarks tell us that it was made by silversmiths, Reynolds &  Westwood in Birmingham in 1905.

But how did she come to have it? Who gave it to her?  Was it a gift from her parents? Had it belonged to her mother? A gift from a beloved sister? From her husband, our grandfather? On the birth of one of her children?  Or was it a possession that was handed on to her when one of her family passed away?  The manufacture date is useful in that it can only be connected to her family members alive after that date. As she and our grandfather married in 1915, it is possible it was a gift from him – perhaps instead of an engagement ring? – but even that date is ten years after it was made.

We will never know.  We have three photographs of her. One taken at her marriage in 1915 and another after her first child was born in 1917. The watch, the ring, and the locket are clearly visible in these, but as the hair comb would have been worn at the back of her head, we don’t know if she was wearing it or not!

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Our grandparents’ wedding photograph. 1915. Locket, watch and ring are clearly visible

 

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1917. Following the birth of her first child, our Aunt May

It is in fact quite a serious ‘comb’ with long prongs that would have been inserted into wrapped up long hair to keep it neat. I have not seen one of these being worn, nor can I find any instructions on how to use it. It is however very beautiful. In days before hair bobbles and hairclips, they would have been quite commonly seen as hair ornaments.

The third photograph we have of her is one that she wore in the locket. She appears to be much younger and certainly had a fine head of hair.

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I often think of her sitting at the dressing table in the bedroom that I knew so well, tossing her hair, gathering it up and then picking up the comb to insert it and arranging herself. I often think of her, just looking at it and perhaps smiling as it is such a lovely thing. I often think of her holding it, admiring it, cleaning it. And I wonder if her five young children ever hung around her, watching her doing her hair.

So when would she have worn it – every day or for special occasions?

Did she wear it when living with her sisters? Did she wear it when she was a housekeeper for her brother the priest in Glenties? Did she wear it on her wedding day?  It’s impossible to tell from the photograph.

When did she last wear it? She was quite ill for several years before she died. Would she have bothered with it then? Would she have worn it on days when she needed to feel good or to put up an appearance for her family who watched her suffering?  Or did it lie abandoned in a drawer for the last years of her life?img_1858

This is the only object we have in my family that our grandmother owned. It will be passed on to my daughter, her great-granddaughter in time. I would like to think that the great-great grandaughters she now has – Sophie, Isabella Freya, Lee, Mary Catherine, Mia, Freya, and Eliza Mae might in time be interested in seeing it too.

It is particularly poignant to remember her today, on the 87th anniversary of her untimely death on 25 July 1931 at the age of 49. Her beautiful silver comb will keep her in family memory, hopefully for many years to come.

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Remembering Hugh Coyle- a gentle giant

On this day, 13 July, 1911, a son was born to Hugh Coyle, car driver, in Milford, Co Donegal and his wife Mary. Hugh Coyle from Milford, and Mary McBride had married on 14 November 1902 in the parish chapel of Mevagh. Hugh’s father Patrick was deceased at that time, and Mary’s father, also named Hugh, was a farmer in Devlinreagh, Carrigart, County Donegal.

In the 1911 census taken in April, we see that Hugh and Mary had four children – Ellen (Nellie) born in 1903, Bridget (Bridie) born in 1905, Patrick (Paddy) born in 1907 and Kathleen, born in 1910. Baby Hugh arrived in July and Anthony (Tony) arrived in 1916.  Hugh Senior is invariably described as being a ‘Car man’ or ‘Jarvey’ on all official records. In the1901 census he was a car man in the service of Hugh McDevitt, hotel proprietor in Milford.

I don’t know when the young Hugh Coyle came to Carrigart, but he did so at a relatively young age. The earliest photo I have of him was probably taken in the early 1930s.

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Our Uncle Séan Gallagher, Hugh Coyle and Uncle Jim Gallagher at the front.

Hugh served as an apprentice shopworker at Mc Elhinneys shop in Milford. This very positive and glowing reference is dated 1937, which may well be when the then 25-year-old moved to work in Carrigart. In any event, we can tell from photographs that he was friendy with our family and he was to fall in love  with and marry one of them!

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The next photo I have of him is with our father when both of them were in the Local Defence Force. This photo is dated 1940.

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Hugh Coyle on the left with our father Gerard Gallagher c.1940

The next photo I have is easily dated for it is the wedding photo of Hugh with our Aunt Eileen Gallagher in 1945.

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A very happy Mr and Mrs Hugh Coyle on their wedding day

On the 19th of July 1946, their first child, Mary Patricia was born in Carrigart, just 6 days after her Dad’s 35th birthday.  By this time Hugh was working in Derry as Mary Patricia’s birth certificate gives his address as 23 Orchard Street, Derry adjacent to the famous St Columb’s Hall, and beside the city walls.  The joy of their new arrival was to be short lived as Mary Patricia survived but a few months. However they went on to have a son in the following year and a few years later a daughter was born.

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An undated photograph of Aunt Eileen and Hugh in the back yard of the family home in Carrigart.

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Our Uncle Jim Gallagher, Hugh Coyle, Uncle Séan Gallagher and friend Charlie Gallagher. Again undated.

Hugh worked in Letterkenny for a time, in what I think was the Rainbow Bar, but they eventually emigrated to Glasgow and lived in the Pollokshaws Road.

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A happy family photograph

Every year, the Coyles came home to our house for the summer holidays and it was always great to see them. My abiding memory of Hugh is that he was a very gentle, quietly spoken and kind man. It often strikes me that even as a child I loved these qualities in him.

In Glasgow, he was able to take a passionate interest in the Glasgow Celtic Football team which he loved. In 1970 they reached the final of the European Cup but they were defeated by a Dutch side which would have been a great disappointment.  The following day on May 7,1970 on his way home from work, the gentle and kind Hugh died suddenly and tragically within feet of his own front door. He was only 58 years of age.

I recently came across a few photos of Hugh that I had not seen before and as it is his birthday I thought it would make a nice tribute to put a few of them together.

We remember him with love today and always. We were the better for having known him and it is an honour to have a page for him in our Family Story Book.

Hugh Coyle, born July 13, 1911, died May 7, 1970

Mary Patricia Coyle born July 19,1946,  died September 5, 1946

 

 

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Three Gallagher Brothers

Today Apil 18, marks the anniversaries of our father Gerard who died on April 18 2006 and his younger brother Séan who died on April 18 2012. The youngest of the three brothers Jim, died on March 28 2014.

This photo was taken on the Dingle Peninsula in July 1984.

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Left to right;  Our Dad, Gerard, or Jerry as he was known locally (December 1921- April 2006); Uncle Jim, or Seamus as he was known in England, (March 1925 – March 2014) – he died just days after his birthday; Uncle Séan, known in New York as John (November 1923 – March 2014).

They all grew up in Carrigart, Co Donegal, with their older sisters May and Eileen. Dad was born in Glenswilly and the younger boys were born in Ballyheerin in Fanad. Uncle Séan emigrated to the USA in 1948 and Uncle Jim emigrated to London in the same year.

They are sorely missed.

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Remembering our mother on the centenary of her birth

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Maud Clinton on the wall at Newtownforbes Station c. late 1930s

100 years ago, on Saturday January 19th 1918, in Kishawanny, Co Kildare, our grandparents, Christopher Robert Clinton and Jane Williams welcomed their first child into the world. She was our mother and was christened Sibyl Maud at Holy Trinity  Church in Derrinturn on January 27th with William Clery and Bridget Clery as godparents.

IMG_3054As was common practice – certainly in the early 20th Century – she was known by her second name, Maud, a name that recurs time and again in her paternal grandmother’s family, right down to this day.

She was the eldest of 5 children, two girls and three boys. At the time of her birth, her father was a foreman at Carbury Station, where his father was Stationmaster. It was possibly at the home of her grandmother in the townland of Kishawanny that she was born, but they may also have lived nearby. Her brother was also born in Kishawanny in 1920.

The probable site of  the home  of our mother’s grandparents in Kishavanna, Co Kildare.

Kishawanny, usually called Kishavanna by locals, has a small number of houses. According to Griffiths Valuation, the site of this house is on the same plot as the home of  Jane’s grandparents, our mother’s great grandparents.

As an employee of the Midland Great Western Railway, her father had to relocate and we next find the family living at Railway Cottage, Mullingar, where, three more siblings were born. Family lore has it that they also lived in Goresbridge Co. Kilkenny. This photograph was in our mother’s collection, marked ‘Goresbridge, Co Kilkenny’. It is possibly where the family lived.

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Goresbridge Co Kilkenny. Was this the family home?

The family moved to Newtownforbes Co. Longford, when their father was appointed Stationmaster here. We know they lived there in the late 1930s as an entry in the Schools Collection from Duchas.ie has a contribution from one of our mother’s brothers.  It was here too that our mother received music lessons at the local Convent of Mercy. She was an accomplished pianist and had a wonderful ear and could play anything after hearing it just once. Two of her sons are dedicated musicians.

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Station House Newtownforbes, Co Longford. Date possibly 1930s

Our mother did not often talk about her relatives, but her Granny Williams was an exception. Her maternal grandmother, who lived at Kishavanna, was an important figure in her life. She spent summer holidays with her, and often spoke about ‘living ‘ with her. Perhaps her grandmother lived alone and there was an element of caring for her. In any event Granny (Kate) Williams died on November 22 1933, at the age of 68. Our mother would have been just 15 years old.

Her father was a wonderful gardener as can be seen from the photos above. He was usually to be found in his vegetable garden tending to his vegetables. He won awards for his beautiful flower beds and our mother inherited her green fingers from him. I can still hear her saying ‘Daddy loved Alyssum’ or ‘Daddy wouldn’t have Red Hot Pokers about the place’. He was the guru when it came to growing and she quoted him on a regular basis!

She embarked on a career as a telegraphist. As the eldest she was expected to send money home to help with the younger children. There would not have been much left after paying rent. Unfortunately we do not know much about where she did her training or where she worked. She may well have worked in Longford town initially, but she  was in Dundalk during World War 2 as she spoke of fear of bombs and she spoke of running for shelter. A bomb was dropped on Dundalk in July 1941, but we don’t know if she was living there then. As a wireless telegraphist she used Morse Code.

Sligo was the next posting for her and she had fond memories of living and working there as a telegraphist.

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Photo we believe taken in Sligo early 1940s

She was then posted to Letterkenny and it was here that she made contact with our father who was appointed postmaster in Carrigart following the sudden death of his father in 1944.

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1944 at  Port na Blagh Co Donegal

In January 1946 they were married in St Andrews Church Westand Row. See post here.

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Number 1 son arrived arrived 13 months later and this we believe is a photo taken with him in 1947. (If it is not him, then it must be me!)

After 10 years of marriage there were six of us. Our mother knitted all our jumpers and cardigans, she sewed dresses and trousers. She made rugs from old sacks with rags stitched on, she made curtains, she covered chairs, she baked bread and cakes, she made pancakes, she crocheted and did artwork on mirrors. And she permed my hair (to my horror). She knitted and darned and sewed in every spare minute and played the piano. And always there were flowers inside and outside the house.

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She also had time for fun–this photo was taken at an annual dinner dance at the Port na Blagh Hotel. I  remember this dress so well – it was a beautiful soft pink with a huge wide skirt that went on forever! For the following year’s dance, it was dyed black and looked fabulous.

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The Annual Dinner Dance at Port na Blagh Hotel c. 1956. From left to right Johnny Sweeney, Mary Josie Sweeney, Mum and Dad.

Mum was very friendly with Agnes McFadden (Aggie Big Pat) who would come to our  house every Thursday when they would exchange English Sunday newspapers and eat sandwiches and drink tea. Lena McGinley was another good friend and laughter was a huge part of these two friendships.

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Mum and Dad with two of the younger children – numbers 4, and 5 . c 1959-60

All of this came to a grinding halt when her youngest child, our brother, was killed just after 3 pm on Tuesday June 30 1959. He was 15 months old. It is unimaginable for any mother to have to pick up her dead baby off the road with a horrific head injury. See post here .

1959 still had not finished with her. Less than 6 months later and just before Christmas her beloved father, who she absolutely idolized, died suddenly. See post here.

These events were to have a terrible impact on her, and some years later having moved to England they carved out a new life with a new love –  her Cocker Spaniel, Kerry, who she adored and who was her faithful companion for over a decade.

Our parents, Berard and Maude Gallagher holidaying in the Dingle Peninsula c 1980s with their cocker spaniel Kerry

Mum, Dad and the faithful Kerry on tour. c.1980s

After they returned to Ireland on retirement, more hounds were added and beautiful gardens evolved yet again. I have never seen such a wonderful collection of Fuchsias which she loved. Bird tables and feeders abounded, roses scented the air, Clematis twined, flowers made a stunning display, and Dad kept horses in his field.  Grandchildren came and went in droves, as did her good friend Ethna who was always a special guest who they loved to see coming!

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Family reunion at Carrigart c. 1986

Although she had some health issues later in her life, our mother was very resilient and continued with her gardening, bird feeding, seed ordering, piano playing and reading. So many books!

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Visit from USA by Dad’s brother Séan and wife Mary in 1998 – the last photograph

August 1998 brought the death of her last remaining sibling, her sister Eva and it distressed her greatly. I can still her her crying out in grief –  ‘They are all gone, they are all gone’. As the eldest of the siblings she had not expected to be the last one. At Christmas 1998 she was in good form but only days into the new year she began to show signs of  confusion and restlessness. Some weeks later she was transferred to hospital on a Sunday evening. She became very lucid and kept addressing Granny Williams for a couple of days. The doctor thought she might last 24 hours and suggested the family be called urgently.  As our sister, her youngest child, was in New Zealand there was no way she could get home in 24 hours. But she left New Zealand anyhow and headed to Shannon Airport, a journey of two days. The palliative staff said they had seen patients defy the odds to ‘wait’ for someone.  Eva arrived in to Shannon Airport at 1 pm on Wednesday and she and I stayed on the night watch  while the others went home to bed. She died at 6.10  am on Thursday  morning, 25 March 1999 as a blackbird sang his heart out just outside her room window.

Our mother was born 100 years ago today, 19 January 2018.

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Last Christmas Cards

Christmas Cards are said to have originated in 19th Century England when Henry Cole, who later became the first director of  London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, and his friend John Horsley designed the first one in 1843.  It had two outer panels showing the better-off bestowing gifts on the poor,  and a large central panel portraying a family  partaking of Christmas fayre. (Even the children enjoy quaffing the mead by the look of it!)

The First Christmas Card

The world’s first commercially produced Christmas card, designed by John Callcott Horsley for Henry Cole in 1843

By the 1880s the practice of sending Christmas cards had risen in popularity. The introduction of cheaper postage and development of printing technology meant that cards and postage were within the financial reach of many.  In the USA Yale anthropologist Micaela di Leonardo shows that the practice thrived amid postwar industrialization and the demise of the family farm. ‘‘As people dispersed geographically, women assumed responsibility for “the work of kinship” and became caretakers of extended family connections. Christmas cards were a convenient way for them to nurture relationships among their husbands, children, and distant relatives.”

Meanwhile a German immigrant to the United States, Louis Prange produced affordable cards for the mass market and then in 1915, John C. Hall and two of his brothers created Hallmark Cards, who are still one of the biggest card makers today.

In recent years the Christmas tradition of sending greeting cards appears to be succumbing to the instant and free communication platforms of social media.  I can recall having a list of 120 or so to write and dispatch perhaps 5 years ago.  It was an ‘excuse’ to greet those who had touched our lives, yet who were no longer in our immediate circle.  It was lovely to hear from them and to know all was well. Now, however,  the cost of postage has become a major consideration, while at the same time the cost of cards continues to decrease with 3 for 2 offers.  We can now purchase Christmas cards for charitable causes dear to our hearts, such as for dogs for the disabled, cancer charities, the homeless and so on, yet in spite of the reduction in the cost of cards, the increased cost of postage has become an issue in continuing the tradition. Who doesn’t love to receive a handwritten envelope containing good wishes?  Christmas cards lined up on the mantel are as much a part of Christmas as the Christmas dinner, but more than that, they are a link with friends and family who and may be far away and may be treasure for family historians.

Two of my most valued possessions are ‘last’ Christmas cards from both of our grandfathers.

For as long as I could remember we each received an individually addressed Christmas card from our maternal grandfather, Gaga Clinton.  He had beautiful handwriting that we recognized so well and inside each card was an eagerly awaited fortune – a Postal Order for ten shillings.

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A ten shilling postal order like this was a ‘lotto win’ for us children

Our Gaga Clinton dropped dead in his kitchen on Saturday December 19, 1959. He had posted the Christmas cards that morning so their arrival at our house in the following week was particularly poignant.

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One of the cards sent by our grandfather on the day he died in 1959

This card was the one sent to our mother by her father  59 years ago and it has become a family treasure.

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Christmas wishes in the 1959 card

Unfortunately the wishes in the card went unrealized as the sorrow of our grandfather’s passing cast a huge cloud on our Christmas.

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Memorial card for our Gaga Clinton

Many years earlier 74 years ago, during the second World War our paternal grandfather posted a Christmas card from Ireland to his eldest daughter, our Aunt May, who was a nun in England.  The card, from Christmas 1943,  was particularly sombre.

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Front of the 1943 Christmas card

The message was particularly apt for the time.

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When our Aunt May died in May 2007, this card was found in her prayer book. Her much loved father died unexpectedly in November 1944, at the age of 59, having contracted Typhoid Fever, so this was the last Christmas card she ever received from him. She must have had the habit of saving Christmas cards for a year, which in this case paid off as she would never receive another.

Christmas cards have a special place in our family history and I have the last cards written to me by my mother and by my father as well as those from aunts. They give a unique insight into the times that were in it, and they are greatly treasured. I for one regret the demise of the personal Christmas card, a card chosen, written, addressed and posted by those who cared about us.  A loss to family history for sure.

References

https://daily.jstor.org/history-christmas-card-holiday-card/

The Female World of Cards and Holidays: Women, Families, and the Work of Kinship.  Micaela Di Leonardo University of Chicago Press
Prang’s Christmas Cards

 

 

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The Genealogy Event 2017

The Genealogy Event took place this week in Adare Co. Limerick. I had signed up for Day 2 as the range of topics were of particular interest to me and I was not disappointed!

The day began with Michelle Leonard’s fact-packed talk on using DNA to solve Family Tree Mysteries. Michelle is a ‘DNA detective’ and later she gave a second talk about her years helping to track down relatives of bodies recovered from a World War 1 mass grave in France. 1,335 Australian and 350 British soldiers were missing after the battle of Fromelles in July 1916. In 2008 a mass grave was located with remains of 250 individuals. These were re interred in a new cemetery at Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) after DNA samples had been taken from teeth. 151 of the 250 have been identified and Michelle told interesting stories of individuals she helped identify. You can read more about the fascinating Fromelles Genealogy Project here.

An extremely useful overview of Irish Newspaper Archives and how to search them effectively was given by Andrew Martin. I am looking forward to testing his tips later! The site has 70 titles and with plans to add more very soon and is a very useful resource for anyone doing family research.

Irish Newspaper Archives

Joe Buggy, a well known expert on genealogical research in North America, talked about the records available in the United States, what is available at national and state level, the different census records, and how to find naturalization and immigration records.  Joe has published a book on tracing New York Ancestors.

finding your ancestors in newyork city 2

His second talk was an excellent presentation on the resources available to researchers of New York ancestors and covered state census records, birth records, marriages and death certificates and where these can be located, as well as RC parish records and where Irish people are likely to have settled and to be buried, newspapers and the information they would have, one for example having lists of passenger arrivals. Joe blogs here where he has hints and tips on researching in New York.

The journalist Conall Ó Fátharta talked about issues with researching adoptions in Ireland, in particular babies placed from Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries, significant  numbers of whom were sent for adoption without the consent of the mother. Conall has concerns around the mortality rates in these places and wonders if in fact death statistics may conceal the fact that many of these children  may have been sent for adoption to well heeled families.  This is a harrowing topic, but relevant to genealogists as these children may now be trying to research their family history.  Conall blogs here .

Finally, we had Ciaran O’Reilly from the excellent Irish Famine Eviction Project.  The project has uncovered an amazing number of evictions since the project began. The map about to go online will have links to the location and name of landlord and will be a great resource for researchers wondering about their families during this time. The evictions were not solely carried out on behalf of the absentee landlords, but could have been on behalf of  local clergy, merchants, shopkeepers, business people and from all religions, including Catholics and Quakers.  Ciaran has called on anyone who knows about evictions to make contact with the site, whether they be individuals or local history groups. This research will cause history to be rewritten as long forgotten evictions come to light.

The new locations map revealed by The Famine Eviction Project

It was a most interesting day with great presentations that were both informative and useful!

 

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