Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: In a churchyard in Swords Village...

In St. Colmcille's Churchyard, Swords Village, Fingal, just north of Dublin City, lie many graves of those connected to the matrilineal side of my family tree. In the post entitled "The magic of research after midnight..."(*click to view the post), I shared my excitement over having documented these graves, and in particular this grave which lies at the back corner of the church in the oldest part of the cemetery. Within it are entombed the mortal remains of my maternal great-great-great grandparents, Thomas Kettle and Alice O'Kavanaugh Kettle, and their daughter, my maternal great-great grandmother, Mary Kettle Fitzpatrick.


Sacred
To the memory of
THOMAS KETTLE
of Drynam,
who died 22nd September 1871
 aged 72 years
And his beloved wife ALICE who died
24 September 1855 aged 55 years
  Also their beloved daughter
Mrs. MARY FITZPATRICK
who died 23rd April 1871 aged 39 years.
R.I.P.

To view the grave of Mary Fitzpatrick's very famous brother Andrew J. Kettle visit 'Over thy dead body'

*Click on the photographs to view a larger version.
All materials ©Copyright J. Geraghty-Gorman 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fizzy Friday: A sunny day off in Dublin wandering around St. Stephen's Green

No doubt you've heard the saying "all work, and no play, makes Jack a dull boy"; well, I changed it a bit while I was in Dublin to "all work, and no play, makes Jenn a dull girl". I took the liberty of enjoying a Friday with no work, just strolling around, taking photos, and soaking up the sun in St. Stephen's Green.

Established in 1664 and redesigned in 1880, "the Green" offers a glorious respite in the center of Dublin at the foot of Grafton Street. At only 22 acres it is considerably smaller than its 1,750 acre sister, Phoenix Park, but if you need a break from the noise and bustle of the city center, it is the perfect spot. Here are a few shots to give you a sense of the place; I hope you enjoy them. As usual, click on the photos to view a larger version. Cheers! Jennifer

Street sign on the north side of the green
Approaching the west end of the lake
View from the Summer House
A park map (in the shade)
Fountain in the Victorian Floral Gardens
Victorian Floral Gardens
The stone bridge
A view from the stone bridge
On the north side of the green a spot to water your horse...
...or yourself
A horse and carriage, in case you need a lift

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday's Child: Francis Ball, aged 12

In June I wrote a post entitled 'Francis Ball: 1893-1905: "casemaker's son" lost' in which I give the details of the short life and early death of Francis Ball, brother to my maternal grandfather Patrick. On my second day in Ireland I went to Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin to visit family graves, to photograph interesting grave markers, and to find the grave of Francis Ball.

I spent many hours in Glasnevin that Sunday photographing the graves of those persons of great historic import, the mighty and the hallowed, those who played a significant role in changing the course of Irish history, and those whose participation is of perhaps less consequence. It was not until the afternoon that I ventured out to find the grave of little Francis Ball, a child who in all respects has been forgotten by history.

As I have previously noted, Glasnevin is a cemetery of massive proportion, with over one million people interred within its grounds; therefore, it is crucially important that you have in hand the grave number of the individual for whom you're searching. Along the stone wall which encircles the oldest part of the cemetery there are signs which bear numbers and letters creating a sort of grid which enables you to more easily find the one you seek. I had Francis's number in hand, "Latitude Y1, Longitude 8.5". I was confident I would find his grave and followed the signs along the wall until I found the one which would direct me to his plot.

The wall which surrounds the Prospect Cemetery section of Glasnevin
"Latitude Y1, Longitude 8.5"
















Many cemeteries have special 'Angel' plots in which young children are interred, and Glasnevin is no exception. The Angel plot in which Francis is interred in located in the St. Patrick's section of the cemetery. Despite the fact that I have passed this very section in years past, I have never really taken a good look at it, but on that Sunday afternoon the sight of it shocked me. An elderly couple, in the area to visit the grave of their deceased baby, very kindly helped me to map out the exact spot of Francis's grave. Together we checked the numbers on the little markers of other graves and counted the paces in from the roadway to bring us to it. As you can see the area is just dirt and remnants of grass, and cemetery vehicles have cut a path across the ground. Francis and the other children who lie in these unmarked plots have been completely forgotten.

Francis Ball's grave lies at the center of this unmarked area, close by the edge of the shade.

At the age of 12 Francis Ball died 6 June 1905 at the Cork Street Fever Hospital, Dublin. Francis died of gastric fever, sometimes referred to as Typhoid fever. In the Glasnevin records he is listed as an adult, and his rank/profession is simply described as "casemaker's son". Buried in this single, unmarked and dusty, grave on 9 June 1905, his is the only body which occupies the space.

The impermanent markers of this 'Angel Plot'

As part of the Glasnevin renovation plans the wooden and plastic crosses, little dolls and stuffed animals, will soon be entirely cleared away from this area, like so much litter. In their place, and over the grave of Francis Ball, will stand beautiful rose bushes and fresh green sod. All of the graves will be unmarked, but the couple who helped me assured me that the families will always remember where their little ones are. I will remember Francis Ball, and now, you will remember him too.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Whispers in Mount Jerome

Over the last while I have debated with myself about whether or not I would share this story with you. I consider myself to be a very rational and logical person; however, truth be told I do believe in spirits and ghosts, but only because scientifically it makes sense to me that it is possible for beings to exist on different planes of reality, and to move between those planes. I agree with the school of thought which says that people might haunt the place where they breathed their last breath or where they were the happiest, and since most people die before they reach the cemetery, and probably aren't particularly happy about going there, chances are most cemeteries are not haunted.

Are you still with me?

A couple of posts ago on 'Over thy dead body' I wrote about how bizarre the weather was the day I visited Mount Jerome, and the fact that most of the old cemetery is in very poor condition. I imagine those two factors working together fed my uneasiness. So there I was in the part of the cemetery which is farthest away from the main road. There wasn't a soul in sight, it had stopped raining, and I was happily shooting photos when I heard THEM. Voices, whispering voices. I absolutely swear I heard them! On the honour of Boy scouts, Girl scouts, Cub scouts, and any other kind of scout you might think of, I HEARD WHISPERING!

I spun around on my heel fully expecting to find people making their way up the path nearby, but there was no one in sight. I stood in the middle of the path and looked in both directions and all around me. NO ONE was there. I chided myself for being scared and went back to taking photos. Then, I heard them again. This time I was annoyed and loudly declared "Who's there? This isn't funny!" NO ONE answered me, so... I did what any rational human being would do. I ran like h*ll back to the main road and into the shop where I was sure to find people.

A woman in the tuck shop said I looked like I'd had a fright, and I blurted out that I had heard whispering voices. She was very matter of fact and, with a half smile and a lovely Irish lilt, she said, "Of course you did. What do you expect in a place like this? There are many souls wandering around here, and we all hear them whispering now and again. They're just trying to remind us they want to be remembered". I thought she was joking, but she was serious. Then she said something to me that I have heard many times before from my own mother, "You've more to fear from the living than the dead."

She made me a lovely cup of tea, and after a few minutes I returned to the path and made my way back to the very beautiful marker I had been photographing just before I fled. Upon my return I discovered that it is the grave marker of a 13 year old girl and her parents. I felt a little smile come over my face. Alice Cogavin just wants to be remembered.

Alice Cogavin, Lawrencetown, County Galway 5 November 1935, age 13 years;
Mary Cogavin, her mother, 21 August 1943;
 John Cogavin, Alice's father, 10 November 1971
I continued taking photos, reminding myself all the while that I was photographing graves of real people who once lived among us, and I heard no more whispers.

For further details about Alice Cogavin visit "Alice Cogavin, aged 13"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Inside O'Connell's Tomb, Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

On previous visits to Glasnevin Cemetery I have never had the opportunity to go inside O'Connell's Tomb, but this time the gate was unlocked, so I went inside. As you will see, the history of the man known as 'The Great Liberator' is literally emblazoned on the walls, along with many beautiful Celtic symbols.

Daniel O'Connell died 15 May 1847 in Genoa, Italy, while on pilgrimage to Rome. The official cause of death is listed as "softening of the brain (cerebral softening)". As per his wishes his heart was removed from his body and buried in Rome, and his body was returned to Ireland for interment.

Click on this Photo Album link in order to 'step inside' the tomb and view a slideshow of 20 photographs of the tomb. In the slideshow click on 'Full Screen' in order to view a larger version. Also, if you'd like a very surprising look at where his two sons and other descendants found their final resting place please visit 'Over thy dead body'.


All material ©Copyright J. Geraghty-Gorman 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Fizzy Friday: Three of the best Irish movies (in my humble opinion)

A few weeks ago I posted a list of nominees for worst Irish themed movies, so I thought today I would look on the positive side of things and post a short list of three of my favourite Irish themed films. Judging films is such a subjective exercise, and some of you may not agree with my choices, but here goes.

1. "Michael Collins" starring Liam Neeson.
Although this film contains a number of historical inaccuracies, I like it because it gives a fairly good snapshot of Irish political history and struggle in the early part of the 20th century. It speaks to the fact that both the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil war were largely led by and fought by young people. In fact the main protagonist of the film, Michael Collins, was killed during the civil war at the age of 31, just two months before his 32nd birthday. The film also gives some insight into personal disagreements and divisions within the ranks of those leading the fight to free Ireland. As the ensuing Civil War demonstrated, not everyone agreed on the outcome of the Free State of Ireland.
2. "Once"
Shot over seventeen days on a budget of only $150,000, this film 'sings' the simple, but never slight, tale of a Dublin busker (played by Glen Hansard) and a Czech flower seller (played by Marketa Irglova). Over the course of one week, the two form a relationship based on their mutual love of music and deep-seated desire for human connection. Each of the songs in the film is seamlessly integrated into the story. I like this movie because of its feeling of authenticity. It was shot on the streets of Dublin, in its shops, and on the back roads of County Dublin. In particular, Grafton Street figures prominently; it is a pedestrian only shopping area where on any given day you can see all manner of buskers entertaining the shoppers.
3. "In America"
Although this film is not set in Ireland, it is the story of an Irish family. Led by a father who is an aspiring actor, the family illegally immigrates to the United States in search of the "American Dream". The father, played by English born actor Paddy Considine, dreams of getting his big break in the New York City theatre scene. Once they arrive in the big city, they move into an apartment in a building populated principally by drug addicts and thieves. They try to make it truly their home. Their struggles are many, including the personal struggle of dealing with the loss of a child who died. The role of the mother is beautifully portrayed by English born actor Samantha Morton, and the young daughters are brilliantly portrayed by Sarah and Emma Bolger. This film was written by Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan, and his daughters Naomi and Kristen, and in many ways speaks to their personal experiences early on "in America" as struggling immigrants living in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wisdom & Wordless Wednesday: "A change is as good as a rest"

For me September has always signified new beginnings, the start of a new school and academic year, the onset of the change of seasons taking us into Autumn. It is a time which represents a fresh start; therefore, I thought this might be a good time to change the look of my blog.

The focus and content will remain dedicated to family history research and writing. The background and the colours are changed, and usually only the current post will appear. As my dad used to say, "a change is as good as a rest". Please let me know what you think of the new design; I'd really appreciate feedback.

In honour of the change this post features photos of one of my favourite places on earth, the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland. So, with a little bit of wisdom from my dad, and photos which require no words here is my first post on the new background.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back home, a little worse for wear, but with all technical problems ironed out

Hello Everyone,

I hope that life has been good for all of you over these last three weeks. I am back home, exhausted, but feeling as though my trip was a great success, for the most part. Unfortunately, I had major computer problems (my logic board died). Having two external hard drives, as well as a 'cloud', for backup is not of much comfort when you are 3500 miles away from home and you cannot get material onto your laptop at all.

Repairs have been done, and now when I reboot, happily I hear the purring of the hard drive and see the little Apple symbol instead of silence and a black screen. Today I was finally able to successfully download documents, and approximately 2300 photos from my cameras. All that is left to do is some major organizing. I'm ready to get back to work, and will make a fresh start tomorrow.

Cheers! Jennifer
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