Friday, January 20, 2017

Surname Saturday: Irish Surnames: Did you know?

In the 14th century, two hundred years after the Anglo-Normans invaded Ireland, many of their descendants could no longer read English. It was thought by the English Government that they were becoming 'too Irish'; therefore, any Englishman living on the island of Ireland was compelled by law to use only surnames which were deemed to be of English origin.

A 1366 Statute in English law reads as follows:

"Every Englishman do use the English language, and be named by an English name, leaving off entirely the manner of naming used by the Irish."

In the 15th century a law was enacted compelling Irishmen, who resided in particular districts of Ireland in which they might find themselves living near to English persons, to use only English surnames.

The law of 1465 reads as follows:

"Every Irishman that dwells betwixt or amongst Englishmen in the County of Dublin, Myeth [County Meath], Vriell [County Louth], and Kildare shall take to him an English Surname of one town, as Sutton, Chester, Trym, Skryne, Corke, Kinsale; or colour, as white, blacke, browne; or art or science, as smith or carpenter; or office, as cooke, butler."


If ever you are wondering about the origins of an Irish family surname such as Cook or Butler, or why the surnames of your Irish ancestors appear to inexplicably change, this may have something to do with it.


Source: Sir Robert E. Matheson: Special Report on Surnames in Ireland with Notes as to Numerical Strength, Derivation, Ethnology, and Distribution; Based on Information Extracted from the Indexes of the General Register Office, Alex. Thom & Co. (Ltd.), Dublin, 1909.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Sepia Saturday 345: 'The big guns are coughing...'

Embedded in my photo of poppies along the road into Thiepval, France, images of, and commemorations to,
those forever lost to our family in the First World War.
"I am calm and happy, but desperately anxious to live. The big guns are coughing and smacking their shells, which sound for all the world like overhead express trains...Somewhere the Choosers of the Slain, as in our Norse story, are touching with invisible wands those who are to die."

                                                                                                               —Thomas Michael 'Tom Kettle, 
                                                                                                                   in the field 8 September 1916.

These words of poet Thomas Michael 'Tom' Kettle, my maternal great-grandfather's first cousin, were written in a letter to his eldest brother Laurence the night before Tom was killed. Tom's words speak to the experience of many like him who found themselves on the battlefields of Europe during World War One. They are words that emphasize the madness of war, the random nature of death in the field, and the sense that little was within the control of the soldiers as they languished in the trenches or moved through No Man's Land.

For a while I have had to step away from blogging, so I hope you will allow to step back in with today's Sepia Saturday theme for November of 'War & Peace'. Since 2010, I have written a number of articles about the Irish and The Great War, including those about members of my family who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war which was supposed to end all wars. Here is a listing of some of those posts, as well as one story which features a young man unknown to our family, one Francis Lyons, whose fading sepia image upon a grave marker in Glasnevin inspired me to learn more about him.

In 2014 we marked the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War One, and since then there has been a emphasis on commemorating the lives of those individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of Europe. Hopefully as we remember their sacrifice we come to understand the necessity for peace in our world today.

Be sure to stop by the Sepia Saturday blog to see how others have interpreted November's inspiration image.

This call for volunteers appears in
The Daily News and Leader newspaper,
London, England, 1 September 1914.
The war was just weeks old and already
the number of recruits was climbing toward
what would eventually be in the millions. 

1. ’On a celtic cross, a young man in a photograph: World War One’

2. ‘It all began with a bronze plaque: Remembering William Dunne 1880-1914’

3. 'A portrait trimmed in black crepe': William Francis Pell: 1891-1915

4. ‘William Dunne & William Pell: Following the road of my two Williams’

5. ‘Too many names upon these walls’: World War One Commemoration

6. ‘A very special journey with a remarkable book of poetry’: Tom Kettle 1880-1916

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