Sunday, 25 September 2016

Friday & Saturday in County Clare

Friday morning in Ennis, County Clare, Ireland and a free morning before the conference - Diaspora of the Wild Atlantic Way - commences at 1:00 pm. Yesterday on my way to Kilfenora I heard a song on Clare radio - I left my heart in Miltown Malbay - so I thought I must go to this market town 32 km from Ennis. The drive went well, hardly any other traffic just a few tractors close to the village. I found Miltown Malbay quite disappointing, definitely not what I would call a charming village so I went through the village and turned on to a charming side road. Once again my prayers were answered and I didn't come across any traffic except one truck and that occurred when I had room to pull over! 

On my way back to Ennis I came across a sign to Clare Abbey and decided on the spur of the moment to go down another small road towards the Abbey. Such a lovely idea as it turned out as there was nobody else there at the time and so peaceful. Clare Abbey was the first, largest and most important Augustinian house in Clare, founded in 1189. It's situated on an elevated site beside the River Fergus and is surrounded by farmland. You can read more about Clare Abbey here.

Part of Clare Abbey, Clarecastle, Co Clare
Back to the Conference Centre, time for a nap and then the conference registration and some talks. Interesting meeting some new people, there a few Australians here for the conference. Then time for the Conference Dinner, I chose soup, poached salmon and apple & rhubarb crumble, all delicious. 

After good weather yesterday I was pleased I was not venturing outdoors today as it was raining (just a soft Irish day). The conference started at 10:00 am, very civilised really and opened with our very own Pauleen Cass speaking about From East Clare to Australia, Assisted Migration and Irish Mobility.

Pauleen Cass at the Diaspora of the Wild Atlantic Way Conference.
The rest of the presenters were very interesting and entertaining and well worth attending the conference. Well done the Clare Roots Society.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Thursday in County Clare Ireland

Thursday morning at Ennis, Co Clare and the weather is fine and sunny with a little cloud and a cool wind. After breakfast - and no I didn't have the full Irish - I decided to go to the Burren Centre in Kilfenora, about 27 km away.

The trusty inbuilt GPS wanted to take me the direct way and I wanted to go where I wanted so I turned it off and made my way towards Kilfenora. On the way there I saw a sign for the Dysert O'Dea castle so turned off the road and made my way down a very narrow road, all the time praying that I would not meet an oncoming vehicle. The prayer must have worked as I didn't meet anyone on the way.

Dysert O'Dea Castle, Corofin, Co Clare
The Castle was built in 1480 by Diarmuid O’Dea, Lord of Cineal Fearmaic. The uppermost floors and staircase were badly damaged by the Cromwellians in 1651. Repaired and opened in 1986, the castle houses an extensive museum, an audio visual presentation and various exhibitions.(Thanks to the Dysert O'Dea Castle website - you can read more about it here)

I went on to Kilfenora and the Burren Centre and the amazing Kilfenora Cathedral. I found the Cathedral truly moving. The sun was shining, the breeze was gentle and the silence profound. I will post my photos on Instagram but here are a couple

Kilfenora High Cross East Face

Entry to the Chancel - very low
You can read more about the Cathedral here

After leaving Kilfenora I came back to Ennis, found a Tesco and bought some supplies I needed and decided to come back to the hotel. I will be hopefully meeting up with Pauleen Cass later tonight.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Ireland - first two days

Arrived safely at Dublin airport at midday. After negotiating with the car hire company who tried to give me a manual car I was given a BMW. You may think that was wonderful but as the controls were European - on the opposite side to AUS it took some working out I can tell you.

My hire car at CArlingford
Stayed at a great B & B in Carlingford Co Louth  - the Belvedere B & B - for the first two nights see the view from my room below

This shows the ppub across the road and the top of Taafe's Castle.

Fortified town houses were a popular form of residence amongst the merchant cloasses of medieval Ireland. Taaffe's Castle was situated on the old harbour front which suggests that the building was the residence and depot of an important member of this merchant class. Business was conducted in the bottom floor and the upper floors contained the living quarters. The architecture indicates two phases of construction, the main tower of early 16th century date and a later 16th century extension. The building derives its name from the Taaffe family who became Earls if Carlingford in 1661.
(Thanks to Carlingford Heritage Trust for this info)

Belveder B & B also has a beautiful restaruat attached - The Bay Tree - with the excellent chef Conor. Con & Kristina own the B & B and restaurant and have two delightful daughters, Lucy and Zoe.
Entrance to The Bay Tree

Zoe at the Bay Tree

Inside The Bay Tree with Kristina's decor
On Tuesday I drove to Ardee County Louth whwere my 4th great grandmother, Rosetta Johnson, was baptised. Interesting market town and quite busy. Rosetta lived at Ballygown just outside Ardee and there is nothing there really just some cottages. I drove on to Kells for lunch - found a quaint cafe and had delicious mushroom and tarragon soup with brown bread. See below.

Mushroom & Tarrogon soup & brown bread
Carlingford is an interesting village and must be so busy in summer - I am pleased it is September. The weather has been wonderful - cool at night but pleasant days.

King John's Castle
This early Noprman fortress was named after Kinmg John who visited CArlingford in 1210. The western portion of the castle predates this visit and was probably commissioned by Hugh de Lacy c 1190. A massive curtain wall divides the earlier western courtyard from the eastern wing which  contained the living quarters.  The eastern section was constructed in the niod 13th century and has alterations and additions dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. The castle commanded an important defensive position on the Lough but by the 16th century it was described as being in a wretched condition and remained so until the O.P.W. undertook conservation work onit in the 1950s.
(Thanks to Carlingford Heritage Trust for this info) 

Left Carlingofrd about 10 am on Wednesday to drive to Ennis - staying at the conference venue for the next four nights. More later.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Off to Dubai and Dublin

Well it's finally here - six weeks in the Uk, Ireland, Scotland, Channel Islands and Northern France - I am currently in the Emirates Lounge enjoying a champagne - flight leaves at 9 pm - feeling tired and excited so hope I sleep in the lovely flat bed.

AM staying in County Louth for two days before I go over to Ennis for the conference - amazing that I will meet up with Pauleen Cass from Aus when we don't seem to catch up at home. I will be keeping you posted in my travels

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Mum's 92nd Birthday - 28 May 2016

My mother, Patricia Dorothea McCann, was born in Brisbane on the 28th May 1924 the first child of George Douglas McCann and Dorothy May nee Thomas.

With her mother 1924
Mum and her parents lived with the McCann family at a house known as "Beechdene" which was on the corner of Gregory Terrace and Costin Street, now the entrance of the Royal National Show, the Ekka. 

Here she is with her father on the verandah of Beechdene
Mum had her first birthday at Beechdene, and I love the photo of her with her dolly, she received it for her birthday; Mum told me it was her favourite doll all through childhood.
Mum & her dolly - 28 May 1925

Mum's only sibling, Joan Douglas McCann, was born on 11 November 1926, completing the little McCann family.

The G D McCann's on their car

They seemed to have a happy childhood, Mum was very close to her father and helped him in the garden and around the house. My grandfather, Doug, had serious leg issues from an early accident at a sawmill so needed help and Mum delighted in helping out.

Here she is helping Dad with the grass - note the scythe
The family bought a block of land in Trickett Street, Surfers Paradise two houses from the beach early in 1933 and camped on there until Doug had some flats built. Mum told me many happy stories about travelling down to Surfers in the early days, no bridges on the highway, etc.
Mum with her cousin Margaret Johnston c 1940

I love the beach and remember many happy holidays at Havering, as the flats were known, we had the "owner's flat" of course - a big upstairs flat with a wonderful sun deck.

Mum was close to her sister Joan and was happy to have her as her sole bridesmaid when she married in 1946. The photo below was taken at the McCann residence, Denmora, before the wedding reception.

Patricia and her sister Joan 1946

Unfortunately, the marriage did not last, and Mum came home to her parents, I was born in Southport as Mum lived at Havering with her mother during the latter stages of her pregnancy.  

Here I am with Mum just home from hospital at Havering April 1947
We had many happy times, Mum and I and many "discussions" over the years as well. As is often the case we had periods of distance and periods of misunderstanding but I am pleased to note that over the last 20 years we were once again close. I phoned her every day between 4 and 4:30 and still think of her at those times.

Mum was the carer for my stepfather, who had dementia, and a tireless housekeeper. I often used to say that Mum's house was so tidy that you had to look under her pillow to see her perfectly folded nightie to see that it wasn't a display house. But, that said, it was a welcoming, loving home.

Mum passed away peacefully in her sleep at 3:30 am on Tuesday 17th March, St Patrick's Day,  2015. She would have been 92 today, Happy Birthday Mum.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Mother's Day 8 May 2016

Boxing Day picnic c1950 - we had such fun, personal collection

Today is Mother's Day, Sunday 8th May 2016 and my second Mother's Day without my dear mother. Today I remember my mother Patricia Dorothea, my grandmothers Dorothy May and Dorothy and my great grandmothers Catherine Eunice, Mary, Annie Jacintha Mary Elizabeth, and another Dorothy.

Happy Mother's Day to mothers everywhere.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Z is for Zunker and time for ZZZ's #AtoZChallenge2016

My theme for the AtoZChallenge is exploring the Walker family . Thinking about the family I realised that they were around in Mackay, Queensland in the early days of settlement so I have decided to discover some snippets of early Mackay as it relates to this family and others in my family tree. I hope you enjoy the journey.

Z is for Zunker and time for some ZZZ's.

Daisy Louisa Harvison, my 2nd cousin twice removed, was the eldest child of James Harvison and Florence Elizabeth Walker. Daisy was born in Walkerston the 3rd of August 1895 and married Wilhelm August Carl Zunker on the 9th June 1926 probably in Mackay but perhaps in Walkerston. Daisy died on the 18th October 1983 in Mackay and I have not yet tracked down her burial.

I wonder if Daisy was called after her cousin Daisy Elizabeth Antoney who was born in North Eton on the 18th February 1884.

Now for some ZZZ's as the April A to ZChallenge is over so I can relax, read some blog posts of other bloggers and sleep in on Sunday morning.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Y is for Young #AtoZChallenge2016

My theme for the AtoZChallenge is exploring the Walker family . Thinking about the family I realised that they were around in Mackay, Queensland in the early days of settlement so I have decided to discover some snippets of early Mackay as it relates to this family and others in my family tree. I hope you enjoy the journey.

Nearing the end of the 2016 A to Z Challenge, Y is for Young.

Mary Jane Young, my 2nd great-great aunt, was a sister to Elizabeth Hanna Young, my 2nd great-grandmother. Both were the Dublin-born daughters of Henry Young and Hanna (Anna) Young nee Murry. Mary Jane was born about 1845 and Elizabeth Hanna in1846.

Elizabeth arrived in Australia on the Fiery Star in 1864 as noted in her obituary in the Daily Mercury of February 1921. Elizabeth married Joseph Antoney in Bowen on the 30th July 1867. Joseph coincidentally was the quartermaster on the Fiery Star, an obvious shipboard romance.  Elizabeth is buried in the Mackay Cemetery.
1921 'PERSONAL.', Daily Mercury (Mackay, Qld. : 1906 - 1954), 2 February, p. 2. , viewed 28 Apr 2016,

Mary Jane arrived per the Royal Dane on 2nd December 1871 as an Assisted Immigrant. No doubt her sister had encouraged her to emigrate. She married Alexander Walker in 1872 in Mackay. Mary Jane was widowed in 1909 and lived until 17th October 1931. She is buried with her husband in the Walkerston Cemetery.
1931 'OBITUARY.', Daily Mercury (Mackay, Qld. : 1906 - 1954), 20 October, p. 6. , viewed 28 Apr 2016,
There is a marked difference in their obituary published in the Daily Mercury, possibly because Elizabeth's family, the Antoney's, were better known in the district. I am sure that Elizabeth received comfort in her last illness with her sister at her bedside. I intend to travel to the Mackay district in the next year or so to visit places that both Elizabeth and Mary Jane lived.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

X is for X marks the spot #AtoZChallenge2016

I couldn't think of anything particular for X other than X marks the spot. But what spot, you may ask?

Well, the Urban Dictionary says:

"What is said upon finding your target has been marked out. Derived from an X on pirate treasure maps. 

The phrase was put into common usage by the British army, who performed executions by marking a piece of paper with a black x and positioning it on the heart of someone sentenced to death. The acting officer would say "X marks the spot" and the firing squad would shoot the x."

X marks the spot
I rather like the explanation of finding your treasure on a pirate's treasure map. I can relate to that on family history as I go on a search for  "lost relatives" and then find a treasure of information. Don't you find that as well? Such satisfaction when a treasure is unearthed.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

W is for Walker and Walkerston #AtoZChallenge2016

My theme for the AtoZChallenge is exploring the Walker family . Thinking about the family I realised that they were around in Mackay, Queensland in the early days of settlement so I have decided to discover some snippets of early Mackay as it relates to this family and others in my family tree. I hope you enjoy the journey.

W is for Walker, the Walker family that I discovered in January this year.

Alexander Walker was born in Belfast,  Co. Antrim, Ireland on the 11th June 1825. His obituary states that he went first to New Zealand and then to the Mackay district in Queensland in the mid-1860s. See the Daily Mercury notice below:
1909 'DEATH OF AN OLD RESIDENT.', Daily Mercury (Mackay, Qld. : 1906 - 1954), 23 November, p. 4. , viewed 27 Apr 2016,
I have found a record of Alex arriving in Hobson's Bay, Victoria on board the Alhambra from Port Chalmers, Dunedin, New Zealand but as yet have not found an immigration record of him leaving Ireland or arriving in New Zealand.

There are many other mentions of Alex Walker in the Mackay Mercury and the then Daily Mercury over the years, principally about stallions standing at stud and other farming news. Two very intriguing snippets occurred in the Mackay Mercury in August 1888, see below:

1888 'No title', Mackay Mercury (Qld. : 1887 - 1905), 25 August, p. 2. , viewed 27 Apr 2016,

1888 'No title', Mackay Mercury (Qld. : 1887 - 1905), 28 August, p. 2. , viewed 27 Apr 2016,
So we are left to wonder, what was the narcotic used and was Alex taking it for pain relief? Perhaps it was laudanum which "is a tincture of opium containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight (the equivalent of 1% morphine)" (Wikipedia) and was frequently used in the 1880s for pain relief and sedation. We will never know.

Alexander Walker died on the 13th November 1909 and was buried the next day in the Walkerston Cemetery.

Now for Walkerston ...

Walkerston, a rural town on the Peak Downs Highway is six km west of Mackay. Situated on Bakers Creek in a sugar cane area, the settlement was known as Scrubby Creek in the late 1860s and early 1870s.

Town named by the Surveyor General 22 December 1881 (listed in the Queensland Government Gazette p.1411) when the townships of Walkerston and Alsatia were combined. Walkerston named by John Walker ( - ) lessee of Homebush pastoral run 31 May 18661.

 In 1903, when Walkerston's population was approaching 400 people, it was described in the Australian Handbook
I think it is quite ironic that Alexander Walker first chose to settle in Walkerston, perhaps he told his children it was named after them? That would be an interesting "family story".

[1] accessed 26 April 2016