Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sepia Saturday #300: The Heavenly faces of Earthly Sprites.

For the last few weeks I have been 'virtually' absent, spending time away in the world of university and military archives in Ireland, doing research for my history work, as well as a tiny bit of family history research, and enjoying a holiday in London and Paris with my husband in celebration of our 25th Wedding Anniversary. Sepia Saturday offers the perfect opportunity to jump back into blogging.


The inspiration image for this Sepia Saturday takes us far from the light and the lovely toward the dark and the ugly, but for my contribution on this very special anniversary I am going to flip the inspiration on its head and look at some of the little lives lived on, or near, our family tree.

Some of the most charming images to be found in my parents' archive of photographs are those of young children. Their cherubic faces and bright wide eyes convey an innocence that warms the heart and lightens the soul. So, with best wishes to the Sepia Saturday blog on this anniversary #300, and a big thank you to Marilyn and Alan, I offer you 'The Heavenly faces of Earthly Sprites'.


This little cherub faced sweetie is a member of my mother's family. According to the information on the back of the photograph, it was taken in Dublin, but no name is noted. I was told by an aunt that this tiny boy is my mother's youngest brother. Strange to think that when the photograph was taken, this poor little fellow and his siblings were motherless. Their mother Mary Fitzpatrick Ball had died in the winter of 1936, leaving seven children to the care of their father Patrick Ball and an elderly grand-aunt Alice Fitzpatrick Ward. Baby John was only six months old at the time of his mother's death.

The adorable little girl in the photograph below is not a member of my family, but is a daughter of the Brennan family, near neighbours of the Ball family in Ringsend, Dublin. The Brennan family lived at #73 Gordon Street, just four houses away from the Ball family home at #69.

The photograph was taken in the early 1940s, and the name written on the back of the photograph in very light pencil is barely legible, but reads 'D. Brennan'. Long ago my mother told me this little one's name, and if I recall correctly, her name is Dolly Brennan, though the name Dottie seems to stick in my brain.


Dolly (or Dottie) is such a tiny girl that she does not look old enough to be making her First Holy Communion, since at the time children aged around six or seven were eligible. After her family returned home following her First Communion mass, she was captured in this photograph while making the rounds of the neighbourhood to show off her lovely outfit, and be given scapulas or holy medals, and perhaps a penny or two, by admiring neighbours. Her little lace dress is exquisite, as is the veil, and the tiny white leather shoes beautifully complete the outfit. There is just a hint of mischief in her lovely eyes.


The last in my trio of photographs is one of my favourite images. The photo was taken in 1937 and features my dad (on the far right) at almost six years of age, as well as his eldest brother Patrick (holding the arm of a Magee child), on summer holidays with their Magee cousins in Rush, North County Dublin. Dad had fond memories of holidays at Rush with his brother and their grandparents Patrick and Mary Magee, their Aunt Mollie Magee Halpin and Uncle Willie Halpin, and their Aunt Anne Maher Magee and Uncle Frank Magee. The look of joy on Dad's face in the series of photos from Rush always makes me smile.

Be sure to skip on over to the Sepia Saturday blog to see how others have connected with today's inspiration image, and perhaps you'll be inspired too.

©irisheyesjg2015.

26 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your Silver Wedding anniversary...may there be many more to follow. Love the photos of the children, they are full of hope and promise..

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    1. Thanks very much Chris! Hoping to celebrate many more. :-) I love this photos too, so full of hope and promise, as you say.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  2. Dolly looks like a little doll, and more like 3 or 4 than 6 or 7. Did flower girls ever dress like that for weddings?

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    1. Thanks for your comments Postcardy. She does look like a doll doesn't she? In Ireland the veil was worn by little ones only for First Holy Communion. A flower girl might wear flowers in her hair but not a veil.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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    2. The little girl in her communion dress is adorable.

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    3. Thanks very much for your comment Helen. She is indeed adorable, and she has such lovely eyes.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  3. What a wonderful collection of happy, sweet faces. Cheers!

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    1. Thanks very much for your comment La Nightingail. I feel the same way.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  4. Such lovely photographs. The last in the sequence is so full of fun and innocence.

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments Martin. I love the last one too; it is, as you say, full of fun and innocence.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  5. She looks so sweet and tiny to be making her First Communion! Such photos full of life.

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments Kristin. Little Dolly Brennan does look so sweet and tiny. I often wonder what became of her.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  6. The first two are very sweet photographs, and I'm glad you did not have to tell us that these two children had died young, although the death of baby John's mother is sad enough in itself.

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments Jo. I too am glad that neither child died young. The loss of his mother is, as you say, sad enough in itself, and it impacted John his whole life long. He was so very young when their mother died and was raised apart from his siblings, by his father's brother Christopher and Christopher's wife May. He was a teenager before he learned he was connected to my mother and their sisters and brothers.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  7. Jenn, all of the images are lovely, though I find the first one somewhat haunting. When I read his mother had died when he was six months old I think it affected my perception of the photo. I always wonder if little ones who lose one or both of their parents somehow know, no matter how young they are at the time.

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments Charlotte. It's interesting you say you find the first one haunting because I have felt similarly. Once you know the story, the image takes on a different meaning.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  8. Heavenly faces, for sure! I especially like the one with your father with his bright smile. It looks like all the little ones are having fun in that photo.

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments Nancy. That photo is my favourite one too. Apparently the whole group of little one liked to get up to a lot of mischief.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  9. Thanks for the twist on this week's theme. It's refreshing to see some cheerful and sweet faces for a change!

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments Wendy. I've had a vicious case of the flu for the last few days, so I thought I'd go with light and cheery.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  10. Three wonderful images which tell stories in themselves, but your background information adds another interesting layer.

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments Little Nell. I feel the same way about the images and am glad to know their stories too.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  11. The last photo is a delight. Those kids look pretty happy and the photographer must have been amused as well.

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments Lorraine. I feel the same way about that photo. They were quite a happy bunch at Rush. I believe my great-grandfather was the photographer. The photo was taken two years before he died. Apparently he loved spending time with his grandchildren, so no doubt he was, as you say, amused as well.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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  12. Wow! Those children are beautiful! I can imagine the first little sweetie growing up to have Liz Taylor eyes.

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    1. Thanks very much for your comments 'Tattered and Lost'. They are indeed beautiful. The first little sweetie grew up to be a very handsome young man.

      Cheers,
      Jennifer

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