Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: A lifelong friendship intersects with history


Elizabeth O'Farrell and Sheila (Julia) Grenan are interred side by side in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin. They had been friends since childhood and both women played a significant role in Irish history. Both women were members of Inghinidhe na hÉireann, the group which preceded Cumann na mBan, and both women joined Cumann na mBan after its inception. At the request of James Connolly both women joined the Irish Citizen Army and participated in the Easter Rising. They engaged in the very dangerous task of delivering dispatches in Dublin and acting as couriers thoughout the southern counties. During Easter week they were also responsible for providing sustenance for the men and for the care of the wounded in the General Post Office. Despite what films based on the period may show, it was in fact a woman, specifically Elizabeth O'Farrell, who was chosen by Padráig Pearse to deliver the documents of surrender to the British forces. The work of both women, as well as that of many others in the period, is excellently detailed in the book No Ordinary Women by Sinéad McCoole.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Moving on...

The post acknowledging the splogging incidents has been removed because I don't want to bring negative energy to this space. I appreciate the messages and advice from fellow bloggers who've had the same experience and have decided to follow the example of Carol who said it best, "there ain't no idiot splogger that is gonna shut this gal up". Thank You Carol.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Stained Glass Windows, The Black Abbey, Kilkenny

The Black Abbey of the Dominican Friars was founded in 1225 by William the younger, turned into a courthouse in 1543 with the repression of Catholicism, minimally restored in the 18th century and finally returned to being a place of worship in the 19th century. One of the most remarkable aspects of the abbey, in addition to its beautiful stained glass windows and extraordinary architecture, is the sense of complete calm and absolute silence within. There were several individuals engaged in their daily prayers, and, despite the fact that I had permission to shoot inside the church, I felt like an interloper fully wishing that my camera would make no sound as I photographed the windows.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Tintern Abbey, County Wexford, Ireland

Not the Tintern Abbey referred to in Wordsworth's poem, but another Tintern sometimes called Tintern de Voto, a 12th century Cistercian Abbey located in County Wexford, Ireland.  One of my favourite places on earth, contemplative and magical, evocative of the same kind of "tranquil restoration" which moved Wordsworth.
All Photographs ©Copyright Jennifer Geraghty-Gorman 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010

Thanks for all the comments; I really like hearing from you

Hi everyone, Thank You for your comments. I really like hearing from you, knowing that maybe something I've written or a photo I've posted reminds you of something in your own life. I received a comment yesterday from Greta in which she noted "such conversations are worth gold". It's too true isn't it?

It's maddening when we think about how sometimes life gets in the way of living, and we miss out on such conversations with family members. Sometimes I haven't asked questions or raised subjects in my own family because I knew I had to tread softly. Maybe it was a desire to keep the peace, not wanting to upset anyone, or as simple as not wanting to get into trouble.

My parents were part of a generation (as many of our parents were) in which, to use my mom's words, "children were seen and not heard", so talking about the past can be difficult for them. Having always been the six question kid: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?, my inquisitiveness has made my mom uncomfortable at times in our life together. At this point I feel very grateful to my mom for her willingness to share with me, even though it's not always easy for her. The best part of this is the greater understanding of my mom that I'm gaining by talking to her about her family. I regret not having had the opportunity to have the same kind of conversations with my dad before he died.

What is that old saying?
Carpe diem quam minime credula postero: "Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future"

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

10 Blogs to whom I'd like to present the Ancestor Approved Award

Here is the list of 10 blogs to whom I'd like to present the Ancestor Approved Award.
(Technical difficulties prevented me posting it sooner; my apologies)

1. The Educated Genealogist
2. Lost Family Treasures
3. Angie's Roots are Showing
4. Help! The Faerie Folk Hid My Ancestors
5. Lucie's Legacy
6. Random Relatives
7. Heritage Happens
8. Kindred Footprints
9. Cemetery Explorers
10. Small leaved Shamrock

The ten surprising, humbling, or enlightening things I've learned from my ancestors

Hopefully my ancestors will approve of what I've learned from them:

1. Just because there was poverty does not mean there was no joy. There was an amazing sense of community within some of the very poor neighbourhoods I have been studying. Certain members of my family have been credited as "willing to give you the shirt off their backs". People who had less than nothing, so to speak, still generously shared anything they did have, be it a cup of tea or a crust of bread. It humbles me and fills me with gratitude.

2. Marriage did not always precede children, and may or may not have followed them. This surprises and oddly delights me because it undoes the idea that my ancestors followed all the rules. One of my favourite sayings is: "If you play by the rules, you miss all the fun."

3. The sense of disconnection between family members runs deep and can be traced back many generations. Some people seem to disappear for no readily apparent reason.

4. Family members often lived within a couple of blocks of each other. This seemed particularly true within my Dad's family until it came to his generation.

5. Despite the fact that Canada has a reputation for being one of the friendliest countries in the world, Irish immigrants to Canada were not always welcomed with open arms.

6. The immigration process could be a debasing and demoralizing one.

7. Connections of the emotional variety run far deeper than I had imagined they would.

8. It's been enlightening to discover that things such as the will to political action and social justice can be passed on. I am definitely my grandmother Anne's girl in this case.

9. I've always loved Ireland, but by searching for my family I now feel a stronger connection to her, and an odd sort of longing when I'm away from her shores.

10. The most enlightening thing I've learned is that I now feel very protective of my ancestors. I want to recount their stories, but do it in a way that respects all aspects of who they were.

Tombstone Tuesday


Not for a family member of mine is this, an extraordinary and intricately carved stone for one James Stocker found in Mount Jerome Cemetery, Harold's Cross, Dublin.

(photo by Yvonne Russell - Dublin Genealogy Archives - Headstones)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Ancestor Approved Award

With sincere gratitude I thank Carol at Reflections from the Fence for presenting me with the Ancestor Approved Award.  Carol's list of ten things "about my ancestors that have surprised, humbled or enlightened me" has given me plenty of food for thought, and so I beg time to be allowed to consider what to post in my list.  Thank You Carol!
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