Category Archives: Genealogy

Railway Children – Clinton and Judge

Our family has a very proud family history of service on the Irish national railway systems.

Starting with our great grandfather John Clinton, who married into another railway family headed by our great grandfather, John Judge. John Clinton’s brother, our granduncle, also served on the railways, as did descendants of John Judge.

The network of Irish Railways in 1908. (Image Wikimedia Commons)

Railway services began in Ireland in 1837 and by the late 19th century there was a comprehensive rail network providing transport for goods and livestock as well as passengers. Tens of thousands were engaged in building the network and thousands more were employed in operating it.

Railway service makes for interesting family research as families frequently moved from one location to another, meaning siblings were often born in different locations. These were good jobs and in many cases accommodation was provided, a huge plus for any family.

Moves were for a variety of reasons – as well as on promotion or to accommodate growing families, transfers could have been for disciplinary reasons which in some cases resulted in demotion, permanent or temporary. and in come cases staff were dismissed for major breaches of the code of conduct.

With the help of birth, marriage, death and census records it was possible to map the station locations for some of our family. A long awaited very helpful visit to the Irish Railway Records Society in Dublin added to our knowledge and resulted in this first draft of a map of the places in which they lived.

IMG_2387
Newtownforbes Railway Station, Co Longford where our grandfather was Stationmaster, and where at least three of his grandchildren (including me ūüôā ) were born. His son, our uncle, succeeded him as Stationmaster here. (Image thesilvervoice)

In the window below is a map of locations we could identify, which you can explore here or in more detail at this link. We know there probably are more, and would appreciate any input!

I would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Irish Railway Records Archive at Huston Station and in particular the help of Norman Gamble in facilitating a visit to their archives and tracing the Clinton records.

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Filed under Family History, Genealogy, Ireland, Irish History

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 √ď F√°tharta 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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Filed under Family History, Genealogy, Ireland

What’s in a name?

Gwebarra Bay, near my great grandparents home.

Gweebarra Bay, County Donegal. this photo was taken not far from my great grandparents home.

Our names are who we are. This grouping of words define us in society from birth to the grave and everything in between, including education, chosen careers, marriage, parenthood, pensions and accomplishments, as well as who our parents were, and who our ancestors were. Nicknames or pet names are common in every family and can be either totally different to the given name or a version of it. For example my eldest granddaughter is called Bibi by her younger siblings, even though she is Sophie, and I was always known as ‘Wee A’ pronounced ( ‘aaah’) ¬†in our family. In fact I used think it was my real name!

Then there are common substitutes in Ireland. My great-aunt Margaret was known as Peg and signed herself thus. Delia was used for Bridget or Una or Uney for Winifred. This goes beyond shortened version of names, such as Dan for Daniel or Mandy for Manus. Formal registration normally adopts the formal version of first names as in Edward for Ted or Patrick for Paddy or Pat. There is no issue here as we are generally familiar with the substitute names.

I was born into a family having one of Ireland’s most common surnames. In the 1901 census, we have almost 20,000 with this surname with in excess of 2,000 named Mary and about 1,600 named John. A nightmare, if a family historian does not know the location of their family! Even if we know for example that the family came from County Donegal, there are still over 900 incidences of Mary recorded on the 1901 census in that county. So researching my Gallagher family would have been almost impossible but for the fact that at least five first cousins that I knew about were named Isabella. So where did that come from? ¬†My father and his siblings never knew the surname of their paternal grandmother or where she was from. We knew that their grandfather was Daniel. Of the 16 houses in their townland in 1901, there were no fewer that 12 Gallagher families, but only one had a Daniel married to an Isabella. I was fortunate in that I knew the townland as I had often visited there as a child. ¬†In 2001, I asked my father to give me the names of his father’s siblings and he wrote them down on the back of an envelope. This envelope is now a treasured possession!

The back of an envelope

Priceless information written by my father on the back of an envelope,  in 2001.

 

The 1901 census for my paternal great grandparents

The 1901 ¬†census for my paternal great grandparents and their children including my grandfather. Uncle John, mentioned on back of the envelope above is ‘missing’.

So I was very fortunate to have all this information to hand for my paternal forebears, making research a bit easier.

The absolute delight of having a maternal line with reasonably unusual surnames cannot be described. Add to that the relatively unusual first names such as Amelia, Robert, Richard, Eva, Maud…..not a John or a Mary in sight! ¬†Oh joy unbounded! In total contrast with my challenging paternal family research, this was going to be a joyride. ¬†With fewer than 1,000 with the surname in 1901 and only 50 or so recorded in the 1901 census in Westmeath, this had to be a doddle. Famous last words! My grandfather’s family was relatively easy to find on the census as they were railway men and they had slightly unusual first names. BUT there was still a hurdle. My grandfather was named Christopher Robert, his brother was Richard William. However, they were referred to by the second given name – ¬†my grandfather being Bob and his brother was Willie! Who would have thought!

Then there is a traditional girl’s ¬†name in our family that has come down 4 generations that we know of. This is Eva Maud.. and we have my great-aunt on the 1901 census. But where is her birth certificate? Where is her baptismal record? Where is her marriage certificate? These cannot be found, or could not be found until last week! Last week I discovered that Eva Maud was baptized and registered as BRIDGET EVALINE! Bridget Evaline???? I can only presume that Eva Maud was not acceptable to the catholic church as baptism names and a compromise had to be made. I am basing this guess on the fact that my ¬†younger sister Eva, had to have the name Mary added at baptism as the priest insisted that a ¬†saint’s name be included. Eva, whoever she was, ¬†apparently was no saint!

So certificates have been requested to see can we have evidence for going back another generation. ¬†So what is in a name? ¬†Not a lot on one side of my family at least… as things are not always as they seem!

Swinford Railway Station where my maternal greatgrandmother lived until her death in 1953

Swinford Railway Station, now disused, where my maternal great-grandmother lived until her death in 1953.

 

 

 

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Filed under Family History, Genealogy, Ireland, Living in Ireland, My Oral History

Postcards from Moneygall, Ancestral Home of Barack Obama

Barack Obama, President of the United States of America and his wife Michelle, ¬†visited the village of Moneygall, Co. Offaly on a wild, windy day, 23 May 2011, retracing the steps of a relative from 6 generations before him, Fulmouth Kearney, a maternal g.g.g.grandfather, who left this tiny village in 1850 and ¬†headed to U.S.A. Fulmouth Kearney’s father was a shoemaker in the area.¬†¬†The small house is on the site where his relatives once lived. The President and Mrs ¬†Obama sipped Guinness in Ollie Hayes Pub. I just love the image on the wall by the door of the pub (it’s not really George Bush standing there !)

Moneygall is a pretty little village carefully looked after by the residents – every house had window boxes and flowers in full bloom when I passed through ¬†on Sunday on ¬†my last stop for ‘Heritage Week. A few short years ago, thousands of vehicles passed through this ¬†little village every day as it is situated on the busy main Limerick to Dublin road. ¬†The village is now bypassed,allowing the villagers to reclaim their special place. Here you can stop and relax and enjoy a cup of coffee and catch up on the link with Barack Obama. ¬†Papillion, the winner of the Aintree Grand National in 2000, was bred in this area, and was the most famous Moneygall personality before Barack Obama!

When Obama addressed the crowds in Dublin earlier in the visit,he used the Irish translation from his famous ‘Yes, we can! , which translates to ‘Is feidir linn’. ¬†This can be seen on the ¬†flower tubs in the village. ¬† Well done, Moneygall! ¬†Is feidir linn!

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Filed under Ancestry, Emigration from Ireland, Family History, Genealogy, Irish American, Irish Diaspora, Irish Heritage, Irish History, Irish_American

Heritage Week: Dear Father and Mother

There are so many aspects of Heritage to celebrate in Ireland during this Heritage Week August 17th to 25th. So, where to begin? We are surrounded by heritage in the form of ancient  buildings, historic sites, splendid gardens, magnificent scenery, an extraordinary literary and musical tradition, fascinating museums and monuments that commemorate major events in our history. All of these can be experienced, commemorated, celebrated  here in hundreds of locations throughout the country.

There is another part of our legacy, less obvious, less visible, ¬†and most certainly less well-known than it deserves to be, and which may well be overlooked during this week of celebration of ¬†the richness and diversity of our culture and inheritance. It is because the greatest memory and the main monuments are not in our country at all,but ¬†thousands of miles offshore, and far removed from our consciousness. Emigration has been a fact of ¬†Irish life ¬†in one form or another ¬†through the ages. Of the millions who have left these shores – many in tragic circumstances, many not – most have gone on to live relatively ordinary lives in their new countries. There is a substantial number however, who went on to lead extraordinary lives ¬†by being significant participants in both sides of the conflict that shaped the ‘greatest nation on earth’ – America. During the American Civil War ¬†170,000 of our ¬†Irish-born ¬†emigrants played a major role in this conflict – they suffered and they died in their tens of thousands. Their sacrifice goes largely unrecognised ¬†in the country of their birth, and they certainly do not spring to mind in Heritage Week.

Clogheen, Co Tipperary. It was from countryside near here that William left home  for a new life in America. Image Wikimedia Commons

Clogheen, Co Tipperary. It was from countryside near here that William left home for a new life in America. Image Wikimedia Commons

This week when thinking about Heritage Week and how to mark it, I read an amazing story of an ordinary young ¬†boy who left family and Ireland for America at 16 years of age. ¬†Ed O’Riordan, a Tipperary Historian and Damian Shiels, author of Irish in the American Civil War have collaborated to bring the story of ¬†a young emigrant William Hickey, to a wider audience, through a series of very moving letters that William wrote to his parents in Tipperary. ¬†Imagine the feelings of the parents on seeing an envelope from America! William Hickey’s short life ¬†in a foreign land ¬†is very much a part of our legacy and this is an appropriate week ¬†to acknowledge his life and the sacrifice of so many men, women and children who were born here and who changed the shape of the world often at a shocking ¬†cost to themselves and their families. They surely are our ‘hidden heritage’.

A number of¬†enthusiasts have set up a group to further the cause of ¬†having a¬†permanent¬†memorial¬†to these Irish emigrant. They hope too to develop ¬†a tourist trail in Ireland of interest especially to overseas visitors, most especially those from USA who know more about these Irishmen that we do at home. To quote from their site, as¬†President¬†John F Kennedy said ¬†¬†‘A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honours, the men it remembers‚Äô. In this Heritage Week, we remember them.

The full text of the very moving story of  William Hickey, who at age 16 emigrated to America from his Tipperary home, can be seen here. The post includes a number of  letters from William to his parents. A few short years after he emigrated he lay dead in a field at Shiloh in Tennessee.

More information on the Irish American Civil War Trail can be seen here.

With thanks to The Irish in the American Civil War blog which can be accessed here.

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Filed under American Civil War, Emigration from Ireland, Family History, Genealogy, Ireland, Irish American, Irish Culture, Irish Diaspora, Irish Heritage, Irish History

Remembering the Great Famine – a dying nation’s groan

Sunday August 26th was the last day of Heritage Week in Ireland and on this day I chose to visit a Famine Settlement high above the  Limerick landscape on Knockfierna, County Limerick.

This hill was once home to hundreds of people.

Knockfierna, the highest point in County Limerick at approximately 950 feet, was common land so anyone could live there. It was  to this place  that many of the dispossessed went to live during the Famine years . Some had been evicted because they could not pay their rent; most  had no place else to go because there was no work.

A Famine Dwelling

Foundations  of scores of primitive  shacks have remained in place on Knockfierna since it was deserted in 1847.  Spread over some 200 acres, there  are remnants of many houses Рtiny, at about 8 feet by 8 feet, Рwith nothing more than walls and clay floors with sod roofs . It is estimated that about 130 families lived here at one time. These houses are now being preserved in memory of those who died in that terrible time.

Another Famine Dwelling

I found it quite difficult to think about many human beings, old people, younger people, children,  huddled , sick and starving to death within these walls.

Outside the remains of their huts, although it is now rather overgrown with scrub,  it is still possible to see their horticultural efforts Р raised beds  where they tried in vain to grow a potato crop to feed their families ; a crop that rotted in the ground for several years as it succumbed to a blight. As potatoes were the mainstay of their diet, there was no alternative , and so they had nothing to eat.

From the desolate hillside they looked down on the village of Ballingarry

The¬†great¬†green lush pastures of the Golden Vale are below where these wretched people ‘lived’. It was to Ballingarry graveyard that their coffinless bodies were transported.¬†From¬†this¬†hill their emaciated bodies were taken to Ballingarry to be deposited into anonymous ¬†pits .

The Famine Memorial on Knockfierna with lush green fields below

The poem on the memorial is by Michael Hogan from Limerick. Although not a great work of literature, it encapsulates the time:

‘The¬†Living Skeleton, A Vision of the Famine¬†Year, 1847’:
‘Twas in ruthless Fortyseven,-
When the plague-fraught air was riven
With the sound which harrowed heaven,
Of a famished people’s cry –
When the famine fiend was formed,
All with tenfold horrors armed,
And our godless rulers, charmed,
Saw their Irish victims die;
While Europe, all alarmed, heard
the wail that tore the sky
A dying Nation’s death-groan, ringing
up to God on high.

Detail Famine Memorial on left

The right side of the memorial  is rather difficult to read and I will post a transcription here when I can find one!

Right side of memorial

It is interesting to note the very lush green fields that can be seen over the top of this image Р the great so called Golden Vale below is one of the lushest agricultural areas in Ireland , yet these unfortunate people starved to death in sight of it .

Famine Memorial overlooking a green and pleasant land

Over a million people  died as  a result of the Great Famine between 1845 and 1849. It is not known how many people who lived on  Knockfierna died.

This hill however preserves their hovels and the relics of their garden plots. On this hill they starved, on this hill they sickened and on this hill they died.  Men, women, children. They are buried in anonymous pits in the lush fields of Ballingarry.

Today I remember them.

Ar dheis De go raibh siad uilig

References

Credit to Knockfierna Heritage & Folklore Group for recognizing the importance of this heritage site and to Pat O’Donovan whose passion for¬†this¬†project has become legendary.

 

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Filed under Emigration from Ireland, Family History, Genealogy, Irish Heritage, Irish History

Welcome Home!

Today I received an email from the Ireland Reaching Out project asking if I would publicize their efforts on my blog.

I am very pleased to do that as I have an earnest belief in the objectives of the organization Р to make contact with the diaspora of each parish in Ireland to invite them to visit the land of their ancestors. This is a bottom up initiative, that arose from the Global Irish Economic Forum that met in Dublin some years ago.  The project, initially rolled out on a pilot basis in some Galway parishes has been supported by a grant from the Atlantic Philanthropies, who have been good friends of Ireland since Chuck Feeney made that first  investment in 3rd level education in this country.

Now in its second year, the project has already been rolled out in many parishes with the ultimate goal of having a branch in each of 2,500 parishes across the length and breath of this island,  connecting with the Irish diaspora and helping them trace their ancestors.

Discovering the ancestral home – part of the service from Ireland Reaching Out . Photo from Ireland Reaching Out

Today, this wonderful picture was posted on Facebook. It shows a family of 18 people standing in front of their ancestral family home in the County Cork village of Kildorrery. This house was the home of a great-grandfather and had been located by the local Reaching Out Group .

If you don‚Äôt know your parish of origin, knowing the county of origin will help. ¬†Ireland Reaching Out (Ireland XO) aims to work parish-by-parish around the country to connect parishes here with Ireland‚Äôs global diaspora and help people of Irish ancestry trace their descendants. The organisation is also working with the Gathering 2013 initiative to boost the number of people visiting Ireland next year, and it¬†was one of this year‚Äôs¬†Arthur Guinness Fundwinners, receiving a ‚ā¨100,000 prize and business mentoring over the coming two years.

Here is the letter from Dolores :

Ireland Reaching Out ‚Äď Unlock your past in Ireland!

Dear Reader,

If you are reading this, it could mean that either you or your ancestors are from Ireland. Have you ever wondered exactly where your people came from and what has made you who you are? Typically the Irish across the world try at some time in their lives to reconnect with their home land. The Ireland Reaching Out Programme is here to help in that discovery.

 Ireland Reaching Out is a new voluntary initiative seeking to identify those who left Ireland, in order to trace them and their descendants worldwide. A team of volunteers is involved in the Irish Government-sponsored project, researching the names of Irish emigrants, contacting them or their descendants and inviting them to (re)connect with their ancestral parish.

Above all, Ireland XO builds on the paper trail of the records that may only get you so far, by providing that final link of local knowledge. We link you directly to people from the communities of your ancestors and use their knowledge to perhaps finally discover that elusive headstone, or the spot where the ancestral home once stood, or to even seek out some long-lost cousins.

¬†By joining any parish community online you can seek direct genealogical research assistance from local people in the area who also volunteer to meet you should you make a return visit. You can join your parish on our website¬†www.irelandxo.com¬†or contact us by email:¬†info@irelandxo.com¬†or ‚Äėphone: +353 (0)91 842013.

 Yours sincerely

¬†Dolores O’Shea

Ireland Reaching Out | 25 Dunkellin Street | Loughrea | Co Galway | Ireland
Tel: +353 (0) 85 1925466 | Email: doshea@irelandxo.com | Web: www.irelandxo.com

References:

Atlantic Philanthropies 

Ireland Reaching  Out 

Recent Irish Television Programme 

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Filed under Emigration from Ireland, Family History, Genealogy, Ireland, Irish Diaspora, Irish Heritage

To Australia,with hope – March 1841

On March 28th 1841, brothers Henry and Robert de Burgh, aged 24 and 18 respectively, sons of Thomas de Burgh, Dean of Cloyne, Oldtown, County Kildare set sail for the Swan River Colony in Western Australia. Although well-educated, their father had not been able to set them up in business, so they decided to try their luck in the new colony where land was freely available. With the help of their mother who had independent means, they purchased  equipment and goods to enable them to begin farming in the new world.

Taking a mortgage on the brig the ‘James Matthews’, they filled¬†the¬†cargo hold with all manner of ¬†goods that¬†could¬†be sold on arrival in Fremantle on¬†the Western Coast of Australia. Their cargo included 7,000 slates as well as farming implements. They departed from London – on board were three passengers, including the 2 de Burgh brothers, plus a crew of fifteen.

The ‘James Matthews’ under sail. Image Museum of Western Australia

During the voyage, Henry kept a journal, noting that on April 13th they were off Lisbon, Portugal. On the 19th they crossed the tropic of Cancer and¬†launched¬†a¬†boat¬†in pursuit of a turtle, instead of which they captured many¬†Portuguese Men¬†of ¬†War! By April 22nd, nearing the Cape Verde Islands off the West Coast of Africa, they landed on Saint Nicholas Island to meet the natives. Sailing on southwards they met with vessels sailing north back to England and sent letters to family members. On May 8th they passed under the bows of the ‘Ellen’ laden with emigrants for Adelaide…In the evening of the same day we came close under the ‘Christina’ to the same port and Robert and I accompanied the captain on board to supper”

Having stopped in Cape Town for 7 days, they set off across the Indian Ocean arriving safely off the coast of Western Australia on July 20th. The voyage from London had taken 3 months and 23 days. (See previous post To Australia, with love¬†– modern-day journey by air takes 33 hours!)¬†Some on board landed on Garden Island and caught¬†some¬†fish. They then ¬†anchored¬†in nearby Cockburn’s Sound and the Fremantle Harbour¬†Master brought them in to Owen’s Anchorage where everyone was busy packing up to leave ship. Owing to a strong breeze they were unable to put away the cargo boats, so they remained on board until conditions improved. However, the breeze became a violent storm and the ship was thrown up on the rocks and sank on July 22 1841. Fortunately all hands, with one exception, were taken to safety.

Henry and Robert de Burgh went on to become successful farmers. Henry had to  return to Kildare on the death of his father in 1845. Robert stayed on and eventually bought a substantial property at Cowalla on the Moore River where he lived with his wife and  children. Sadly in 1865 their three youngest children, aged 7, 5 and 3 years died of diphtheria within 3 days of each other Рthat they were so far from medical help may have been a factor in the loss of the children. The family then bought an estate of several hundred acres at oCaversham in the Swan Valley, an area renowned today for its many wineries and vineyards. Active in public life until his health failed, Robert  died in 1884 at the age of 62. Robert de Burgh’s grandson,Walter de Burgh, still owns land and lives nearby. The earlier holding at Cowalla remained in the  family until 1972  and part of it that contained the family home has now been classified by the National Trust.

The story of these¬†migrants¬†may have ended there but for the fact that in July 1973, 132 years ¬†to the very day that she was wrecked, divers discovered the wreck of the ‘James Matthews’, lying in 2 to 3 metres of water and covered in sand. Over several seasons archaeologists from the Western Australia Maritime Museum recovered a large number of artifacts. Items of cargo loaded in London for the use of settlers ¬†were brought to the surface – thousands of stone roofing slates, glass window panes, heavy door hinges, carpenters tools, stoneware, clay pipes, bottles of wine, cooking pots and a chess set carved by Henry de Burgh during the voyage. After rescuing some 3500 artefacts the hull was once again filled with sand to protect it from the elements.

Artifacts recovered from wreck of the ‘James Matthews’, including chess pieces carved on the voyage. On display at the Shipwrecks Gallery, ¬†Fremantle,Western Australia.

Clay pipes, bottles,hinges recovered from the James Matthews

Some of the many thousands of slates recovered from the wreck – the majority were given to the National Trust for use in conservation of old buildings

When the wreck was¬†first¬†discovered, not much was known about the ‘James Matthews’. However, Lloyds Register of Shipping in London showed that the ship had an earlier ‘life’ as she had been seized either as a pirate or slaver or in wartime. The Board of Trade transcripts for Dominica in 1837 stated as follows:

… Prixe to H.H brig Griffon No 6 of 1837. Brought into this port for a breach of the Treaty for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.

Built in France around 1800 and originally known as the¬†Voltigeur, she was purchased by a ruthless slave trader Don Francisco Felix de Souza who ¬†converted her into a slave runner and renamed her the Don Francisco. She was captured near Dominica in 1836 with 439 West African slaves on board. It was the custom to put captured slave ships beyond use by setting them ablaze or breaking ¬†them up . The Don Francisco however avoided this fate and was ultimately resold and renamed the ‘James Matthews.’

The¬†real¬†archaeological¬†value of¬†the¬†brig ‘James¬†Matthews’, may rest in its earlier history as a¬†slave¬†ship – for it is the only¬†slave¬†ship known to still exist! It is hoped that one day the entire ¬†hull may be excavated and raised to the surface. If this happens and an exhibition is mounted, it would be the first of its kind of a slave ship anywhere in the world.

The Batavia Exhibit

And who better to undertake this work than the excellent Western Australia Maritime Museum? Visitors to the Fremantle Maritime Museum, south of Perth in Western Australia  are astounded by the Batavia exhibit Рa shipwreck from 1629. Lost on her maiden voyage, a huge part of her is on display at the Museum.

A similar breathtaking exhibit of the ‘James Matthews’ slave ship would indeed be a wonderful and unique attraction.

References:

The last Voyage of the James Matthews , W.J DeBurgh and Graeme Henderson, Museum of Western Australia

Museum of Western Australia, Maritime Archaeology

http://history.knoji.com/shipwrecks-of-tragedy-the-story-of-the-ex-slave-ship-james-matthews

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Filed under Emigration from Ireland, Family History, Genealogy, Irish Australian, Irish Diaspora, Social Change

20 Minutes of Terror: 1942 Bombing of Broome Western Australia

With the temperature gauge in the car registering 41.8 degrees C  (107 F) I recently embarked on a mission to find some specific graves in  the biggest cemetery in Western Australia, having the beautiful name of Karrakatta. Needless to say some thought I probably needed to be delivered to a home for the bewildered, venturing out on such a hot day!

Almost a quarter of a million burials and cremations have taken place at this¬†vast¬†graveyard at Karrakatta, so my visit required some forward planning. Having¬†(eventually!) found the ‘target’ plots, I noticed reference to a Commonwealth War Graves section on the cemetery map ¬†and decided to take a look as I had never¬†been¬†in a war graves cemetery outside of the United States of¬†America.

The seemingly endless rows of identical grey headstones, each one representing a unique life lived then lost. (Image: Thesilvervoice)

The War Graves cemetery is dominated by a tall central ‘Cross of Sacrifice’. The¬†manicured¬† lawns and ¬†straight lines of almost 500 grey granite¬†grave-markers¬†are a¬†poignant sight. When visiting any memorial, I like to read as many names as I can. Here are the tombstones of 16 WWI Veterans, ¬†477¬†WW2 Veterans and 4 Veterans of the Vietnam War. Walking along the rows I became aware of a great blaze of colour off to one side of the main section. I wandered off to investigate and was truly ¬†astonished at what I found.

I entered an enclosed area marked ‘Dutch War Cemetery’ and surmised that perhaps floral tributes had been placed to mark a day of significance to the local Dutch community. There was¬†a number of small neat gravestones – each with a single rose, already fading – with some already displaced by the wind. ¬†I was puzzled to see children buried here – one headstone for a child aged 1, another for a child ¬†aged 15, the latter with a bunch of fresh flowers wrapped in a sunshine yellow ¬†bouquet.

The Netherlands Annex to the Perth Commonwealth War Cemetery (Image Thesilvervoice)

Fresh wreaths and floral bouquets decorated with the national colours of the Netherlands.(Image Thesilvervoice)

Still puzzled, I made my way towards the formal wreaths placed  below a wall plaque..

THIS MEMORIAL IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF DUTCH REFUGEES AND CREW MEMBERS WHO PERISHED ON 3RD MARCH 1942 WHEN SEAPLANES OF THE ROYAL NETHERLANDS NAVY WERE ATTACKED AND SUNK IN BROOME HARBOUR BY JAPANESE FIGHTER AIRCRAFT.THE VICTIMS WHOSE BODIES WERE NOT¬†RECOVERED¬†ARE LISTED BELOW…..

I had not been aware until recently that Australia had suffered any enemy bombing during the Second World War. I was informed otherwise in a recent post in an excellent blog that I follow, entitled Family History Across the Seas. Read here. A  post in February was on the commemoration of the bombing of Darwin  in 1942 in which  about 250 people died and several hundreds were injured. Just 12 days after the bombing of  Darwin, the town of  Broome  in the northern part of the vast state of Western Australia was targeted.

Broome was then a small pearling town that had become a staging post for hundreds of refugees fleeing the advancing Japanese in Indonesia. Indonesia as we now know it, was then a Dutch Colony known as the Dutch East Indies. Singapore had fallen on 15 February and as the Japanese advanced on Java, the evacuation was hasty with little time for recording names of refugees. It is estimated that up to 8,000 arrived at Broome from Java in the two weeks before March 3rd 1942, having been brought there by planes of  the Dutch, American and Australian military as well as on civil aircraft. On one day no fewer than 57 aircraft arrived in Broome.

Many of the evacuees would have breathed a sigh of relief to have reached the safety of Broome as it was considered to be beyond the range of Japanese aircraft. Packed into flying boats, they remained on board¬† while being refueled¬† before flying south. They remained on board as there was insufficient accommodation in the tiny town to facilitate the large numbers of people passing through.On the morning of March 3 1942, there were 15 flying boats in Broome for refuelling, each one ‘packed to the brim’ with Dutch people. Just after 9 am, nine Japanese planes attacked, and within 20 minutes had destroyed every aircraft in Broome harbour as well as those on the airstrip.

The burning waters of Roebuck Bay were filled with screaming men women and  children. Many who survived the strafing drowned in the fast flowing currents, were incinerated or taken by sharks as they tried to make it to shore. It is not known precisely how many died on that day or who they were, as there were inadequate passenger lists. Also killed were passengers and crew of an American aircraft  shot down shortly after taking off. The number of victims varies between 80 and 100 but the exact number and the identity of some of them will  never be known.

Twenty-three-year-old Pilot Officer Frank Russell was aboard one of the flying boats. Soon afterwards he described, ‚Äúa scene of ghastly devastation! Our flying boats all over the place were sending up huge clouds of black smoke. Burning petrol in sinister patches floated all over the sea ‚Ķ All around us there fell a ceaseless stream of tracer bullets. Several of the Dutch Dorniers had been full of women and kids, waiting to take off to ‚Ķ safety.‚ÄĚ

The Japanese flew 97 air-raids over northern Australia during World War II.¬†The bombing of Broome was ‘hushed up’ for some time as the authorities did not wish to cause alarm to the residents of Australia.

In Broome at very low tide, the wreckage  of the destroyed aircraft can be seen Рa poignant reminder and  memorial of that terrible day.

The Dutch bodies recovered were first buried in the Broome War Cemetery but were removed and reburied in a special area in the Karrakatta cemetery in Perth in 1950. I have been unable to discover the reason for this other than Perth possibly being  more accessible for relatives who may wish to visit the graves.
Many are commemorated in Karrakatta. Those known to be buried here are :
Name Age
Sergeant Albert van Tour 35 RNN
Catharina van Tour 8 Civilian
Sergeant Johannes Gerardus van Aggelan 32 RNN
Johanna van Aggelan 32 Civilian
Luitenant ter zee Pieter Johannes Hendrikse 51 RNN
Loes Heidsieck 25 Civilian
Henri Rudolf de Sera 21 RNN
Hendrik de Bruyn 4 Civilian
Alida Brandenburg-Trumpie 30 Civilian
Jenny Hendrikse van der Putte 28 Civilian
Johannes van Tuyn 1 Civilian
Maria van Tuyn van Gelooven 28 Civilian
Elizabeth Kuin 5 Civilian
Anna Maria Dorothea Kuin Sturk 29 Civilian
Cornelius Piers 14 Civilian
Frans Piers 7 Civilian
C.G.E. Piers Morien 42 Civilian
Johanna Borsch Baas 36 Civilian
Adri Kramer 17 Civilian
Abdul Hamed bin Juden 36 Civilian (killed in raid March 20 1942 )

Another three graves are marked ‚ÄúUnknown Dutch lady‚ÄĚ, and two are marked ‚ÄúUnknown Dutch child‚ÄĚ.

This story struck a chord with me as it is about emigration, one of the key themes of my blog. I concentrate on the Irish diaspora and in so doing I am even more aware of  other great movements of people Рmigrations Р across the globe. Many went on to better lives and many also endured terrible suffering, and many more gave their lives because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I salute the Dutch men and women who lost their lives or who lost family members in this great tragedy. I was happy to have made this serendipitous discovery and to walk among their graves in Karrakatta  cemetery, to remember them and their families who still honour them and leave  floral tributes at their graves.

Addendum:

Just a few weeks ago in February 2017, the following comment was added to this post:

Nancy Gleason

My father, Capt. Harry W. Markey, was aboard the American plane that was shot down. He was killed, age 29. The Japanese pilot who shot down that plane was shot down and killed by a Dutch gunner on the ground.
Nancy Gleason
In memory too of Capt. Harry W Markey and all those who lost their lives on that tragic day.

References

Information on burials taken from Mervyn W. Prime, WA’s Pearl Harbour: the Japanese raid on Broome (1985).

http://www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/alliesinadversity

http://library.thinkquest.org/10236/

http://www.abc.net.au

Family history across the seas Blog

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