Monday, May 31, 2010

Working on The Matrilineal Family Tree

Up to this point I have been sharing principally the history of my father's side of the family. Fortunately I have made significant inroads in tracing his line; however, I decided to switch tack a little and have been working on the matrilineal side of our family tree. As I have written in earlier posts, my mother has been very helpful with this task, sharing with me documents she has, and striving to remember as much as she possibly can about her family of origin.

Many of us who write about family history have sometimes faced roadblocks in recovering the stories of our female ancestors. Often, for reasons which include marriage, their names disappear from the pages of history. As I work to get information about my matrilineal ancestry into some sort of sensible shape, I want to share with you a couple of stanzas from a poem entitled "The Oral Tradition" written by Irish poet Eavan Boland, a poem which speaks to the matter of women living on the periphery of history, the woman of our past who count on us to remember them and recount their stories.

The Oral Tradition

Two women,
were standing in shadow,
one with her back turned.
Their talk was a gesture,
an outstretched hand.

They talk to each other,
and words like "summer",
"birth", "great-grandmother"
kept pleading with me,
urging me to follow.


the oral song
avid as superstition,
layered like an amber in
the wreck of language
and the remnants of a nation.

from The Oral Tradition Copyright ©1990 by Eavan Boland

Friday, May 28, 2010

Follow Friday: A New Blog: Reflection's Flora and Fauna

Hi Everyone, I hope the sun is shining in your part of the world today. For Follow Friday I would like to recommend a new blog produced by Carol whom we all know from Reflections From The Fence. Carol is a bright star in the blogging community and a very talented photographer. Her photos of flora and fauna are incomparable, and I always look forward to seeing what she posts.  Carol is now presenting her photos for our viewing pleasure at .  I look forward to watching this blog 'blossom'.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wisdom Wednesday: Alice Fitzpatrick Ward

First a Disclaimer: I love everything about Wordless Wednesdays! I love the photos, the quiet, and the opportunity to contemplate what I'm looking at.

I suggested Wisdom Wednesday as a theme to Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers for those days when we feel like writing. Wisdom Wednesday postings will give us the opportunity to share sayings, words of wisdom, superstitions, advice, and things of that nature which have been passed down to us generation to generation. The only requirement is that the wisdom must be familial, something passed down to us from our family members, so I suppose we could entitle it 'Wisdom Wednesday': The Wisdom of our Ancestors.

My Wisdom Wednesday entry is attributed to my great-grand-aunt Alice Ward, sister to my maternal great-grandfather Thomas Fitzpatrick, and grand-aunt to my mother Mary Geraghty. Occasionally my mom uses the saying, so I asked her about its origin.

Aunt Alice died in 1952 at the age of 91, so I never had the opportunity to know her, but apparently Alice was not a great optimist. In the one photo I have of her on her memorial card she looks like a very happy person; however, anytime there was disappointment or upset over some matter she would say, "For every ounce of pleasure in life, there comes a pound of pain". This saying also has some variants, such as, "For every ounce of happiness in life, there comes a pound of sorrow." I have to admit that sometimes Alice is right, but I still prefer to find the silver lining in whatever clouds come my way.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Visit my Tombstone Tuesday post at 'Over thy dead body'

On 'Over thy dead body', my new blog dedicated to the necropolis, I've posted photos of a marker with some great advice on it. I hope you'll stop by and have a look. Cheers! Jennifer

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: 'Over thy dead body' a new blog...

Inspired by the work presented on a wonderful blog called Cemetery Explorers,, I have created a new blog principally dedicated to photographs of grave markers, headstones and other interesting sights, with some commentary, focussed on the beauty I've observed in some of the cemeteries I've been in, that is, visited. I hope you'll stop by and have a look. The URL is .

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Irish Women Revolutionaries: Part 2 of 6

Irish Women Revolutionaries: Part 3 of 6

The Easter Rising


Irish Women Revolutionaries: Part 4 of 6

Aftermath of the Easter Rising and the War of Independence begins

Irish Women Revolutionaries: Part 5 of 6

War of Independence, Truce with England, then Civil War in Ireland

Irish Women Revolutionaries: Part 6 of 6


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Donaghmore Church and Round Tower, County Meath, Ireland

We happened upon the remains of this church, round tower, and cemetery as we were passing through Meath on the road from Galway to Drogheda. The stone edifice with the archway is what remains of the church.

All Photographs ©Copyright J. Geraghty-Gorman 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

For those who have fallen 'outside history'

Watching the episodes of "Who do you think you are?" has reminded me of the fact that many of us have ancestors who lie in unmarked graves. We may have some minimal record of them, or none at all. These family members have in a sense fallen outside of history, at least recorded history as we know it. We may know the location of some of these graves, but some have been forgotten, left to be found in some distant time by some other explorer.

"Outside History", a poem by Eavan Boland, reminds me of these erasures, and how important it is for us to remember those who have gone before us, of whom we can no longer find a trace.

Outside History

There are outsiders, always. These stars—
these iron inklings of an Irish January,
whose light happened

thousands of years before
our pain did: they are, they have always been
outside history.

They keep their distance. Under them remains
a place where you found
you were human, and

a landscape in which you know you are mortal.
And a time to choose between them.
I have chosen:

Out of myth into history I move to be
part of that ordeal
whose darkness is

only now reaching me from those fields,
those rivers, those roads clotted as
firmaments with the dead.

How slowly they die
as we kneel beside them, whisper in their ear.
And we are too late. We are always too late.

"Outside History" Copyright ©Eavan Boland from Outside History: Selected Poems 1980-1990, 1990
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