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Camden Fort Meagher – A match made in Cork

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The imposing entrance to Camden Fort Meagher, Crosshaven, County Cork

 

Two summers ago I first visited Camden Fort Meagher which is an old military fort situated at the Western entrance to Cork Harbour, quite close to the village of Crosshaven. There are records of a fort used to protect Cork Harbour on the site as far back as the 1500s. In 1989 it was taken over by Cork County Council as it was no longer used by the army and in 2010 a group of local enthusiasts set about restoring the fort, creating a museum and opening it to the public.   Camden Fort Meagher is now open to visitors every weekend from May through to September.

http://www.camdenfortmeagher.ie/

My main reason for this  visit was to see the place where I was told that my granduncle was stationed at the end of the Great War. This led me to ponder how Camden has influenced the lives of many Corkonians. It certainly had a huge impact on my family and if it weren’t for Camden, I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t be here today.

 

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Cpl. John Davies, RGA.

Let me introduce you to John (Jack) Davies, born in 1891 in the mining village of Blaenclydach in the Rhondda Valley, South Wales. Jack was primary school teacher and on the 9th March 1916 he married a local woman, Annie Randle. Two months later, on the 19th May 1916, when Great Britain was entrenched in war with Germany, Jack travelled to Cardiff where he enlisted with the Royal Garrison Artillery to serve his country. He was trained by the army in Signalling and Telegraphy and presumably because of his ability to teach, became an instructor in that area.

The following year, on 11 June 1917, Annie gave birth to their son, Collin but sadly Annie died just one week after Collin’s birth. Three weeks after his wife’s death, leaving baby Collin with his grand-parents Jack was despatched with his battalion to serve in Palestine. He boarded a ship in Southampton on 9th July, 1917 and sailing firstly to Le Havre and then from Marseille to Alexandria in Egypt.   Corporal John Davies arrived in Alexandria on the 1st August 1917, on his way to Palestine, where he served in the British Army throughout the reminder of World War I, until he was demobbed and began his journey home in January, 1919.

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RGA uniform on display in Fort Camden

Jack’s military records show all his activity and movements within the army until this point. I had been told by my own mother that he was stationed in Fort Camden after the war and that it was there that he met his Cork wife, Mary Stewart. Fort Camden is not listed as a post on his military records. However his discharge papers show Mary Stewart’s address on Blackrock Road in Cork City as his residence at the time of his retirement from the Army and this gives credence to the family story.

Post-war Crosshaven must have been a very popular place for young ladies to visit with many soldiers from all over the British Isles unexpectedly finding themselves in this small seaside town on the South coast of Ireland while on their way home from war. Jack was one of these young men and I was told that he met his second wife, Mary Stewart, at a dance in Crosshaven. Jack & Mary married later that year, on October 7th 1919, in Mary’s home church, Scots Presbyterian Church in Cork City.

The newlyweds moved back to Wales, where Jack returned to teaching. Collin was reunited with his father and eventually became a big brother to their daughter, Jean.   Collin, like his father before him enlisted in World War II and was killed in action.

Jack’s marriage to Mary Stewart was not the last of Camden’s effect on my family. Following Jack and Mary’s marriage in 1917, Jack’s sister, Eunice Davies, who had been living in Wales met and fell in love with Mary’s brother, David Stewart who was working in The Eagle Printing Company in Cork City. Eunice Davies and David Stewart (my grandparents) were married in Gosen Congregational Church, Blaenclydach, Glamorgan, Wales, on 25th July, 1923.  Following their marriage Eunice moved to Cork where they lived the rest of their lives in Cork City with their daughter Ann.

So Fort Camden, which was originally built to protect Cork Harbour from foreign invaders, actually had quite the opposite effect on my own family.  Thanks to Camden the Davies and Stewart families crossed paths and a Welsh brother and sister married a Cork born sister and brother.

It was fascinating to walk around the fort almost a hundred years later and see where Jack stayed and also to see their uniforms on display in The Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) exhibition.  If you get a chance to visit Camden, I would wholeheartedly recommend it.  You get to walk around the site which contains many old buildings and features which are all fairly well preserved and contain some fascinating military exhibits.  If that’s not enough, the old Officers’ Quarters have been converted into a Tea Rooms which must have one of the best views in all of County Cork.

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Irish Granny = Irish Passport

Did you know that even if you yourself weren’t blessed to be born on the island of Ireland, you might still be eligible to apply for an Irish passport.  If either your parents or your grandparents were born in Ireland, you can apply for Irish Citizenship and an Irish Passport.

One of my more recent projects was to find an Irish birth record for a grandparent of a gentleman born in the UK and now living in Ireland.  He knew his parents were both born in the UK and had their birth certs.  While there was no documentation to prove it, he had heard that one of his grannies was from Ticknock, which he thought might be in Wicklow.

Using the information contained in his father’s Scottish birth certificate, I was able to locate  his Granny and Grandpa’s marriage in Dundee, Scotland in 1904.  This gave me the names, ages, addresses and occupations of both the bride and groom as well as the names of their parents and witnesses.  Scottish records provide lots of detailed information and this one was no exception.  I was then able to find the groom’s birth in Dundee, making him a Scottish Grandpa –  not what we were looking for.   The bride’s surname  was Kelly and there was no trace of her birth in Scotland. In order to search of the Irish Civil records I turned to tHhe fabulous website www.irishgenealogy.ie where I found hundreds of Kelly’s born around 1880. Knowing that Ticknock is located in south county Dublin,  helped to narrow the search and lead me to the  birth record I was looking for and proving that Yes – Granny was Irish!

Armed with this information I then ordered all the relevant birth, marriage and death certificates required to proceed with the Irish Passport application.  So it seems our Irish Grandparents are still looking out for us, even decades after their deaths.

Have a look at a sample of a Scottish Civil Record. Here is a copy of a death record for one of my own ancestors, Walter Paterson.  It gives so much information, showing Walter’s parents names, including his mother’s maiden name, his son, both his wives as well as his own age, profession, address and cause of death.

Walter Paterson death register 1883


The following is an extract from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs web site.   https://www.dfa.ie/passports-citizenship/citizenship/born-abroad/

Born outside Ireland?

You are automatically an Irish citizen if one of your parents was an Irish citizen who was born in Ireland.

You can become an Irish citizen if one of your grandparents was born in Ireland, or you can become an Irish citizen if one of your parents was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, but was not born in Ireland. If you’re eligible, you can register your birth on the Foreign Births Register.

With the United Kingdom about to depart from the European Union, many UK citizens are on the search for their Irish granny or grandpa in order to apply for their Irish Passport.


 

Ireland’s Grand Canal: People, Peat & Porter

Slightly different to my previous blogs.  The topic for my dissertation for my Diploma in Genealogy was Ireland’s Grand Canal: People, Peat and Porter.  It covers some of the history of the Grand Canal, looking especially at some of the people associated with the building of it and those who worked on it over the years.

Here it is.  Feel free to have a read.

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How times have changed! Teacher’s Post advertised in Corron School, Kilmacabea, Co. Cork in 1868.

Recently I’ve been searching through the archives researching a family of teachers who lived in the West Cork area in the 1800s.  I came across this lovely little newspaper advertisement recruiting a new teacher for the small rural parish school almost 150 years ago.

Bear in mind that this was published not too long after the famine and people were probably very glad to have work and accommodation.  Whatever about not measuring up to the requirements of todays legislation and employment laws I’m not sure how many of today’s prospective teachers would have a wife or sister willing to come and work for one seventh of the salary of their husband/brother.

Out of the Ashes! The Young Family of Letterscanlan in the charred remains of the 1841 Census

William Young

1841-1911

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When I started researching my husband’s family tree, I was told about William Young, his Great, Great, Grandfather, who was a colporter with the Methodist Church in West Cork.  I discovered that a colporter was someone who distributed books and religious tracts.   William was a member of the Methodist Church who had a deep and sincere Christian faith.  While he was distributing Bibles and tracts to the people of West Cork he also took the opportunity to share his faith on a one to one level as well as to preach the Christian Message.

Apparently the Young family came from somewhere near Aughadown (pronounced Affadown) between Ballydehob and Skibbereen in County Cork.

The 1901 census showed William, aged 59, living with his wife Hester and 6 children in Templemartin near Bandon.  He was a Methodist and was born in County Cork.  This led me to his marriage in Bantry Methodist Church to Hester Vickery of Bantry in 1873.  His marriage certificate showed his residence at the time as Letterscanlan (a small townland in Aughadown) and stated that his father James Young was a farmer.

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As it appeared that William was born around 1842, there was no point looking for a Civil Birth Record as the state didn’t start to record births until 1864.  Likewise, the records I found in the Methodist and Church of Ireland records didn’t go back far enough.  Having run out of birth, marriage and death records I checked the land records in Griffiths Valuation which showed that in 1853 a James Young was renting just over 36 acres in Letterscanlan from Henry Becher, the local landlord.

Going back a step further I checked the Tithe Applotment Books (TAB) which showed both a William Young (76 acres) and a Richard Young (17 acres) listed in Aughadown in 1829.  Unfortunatley the information in the TAB was gathered for the purpose of taxing land rather than recording family history so there’s no indication how William and Richard Young may have been related to each other.

At this point I thought I had hit a brick wall with my Young family as I was now in a pre Church and Civil records era.  Then I discovered the 1841 Census records.  Most of the records for County Cork from the 1841 census were destroyed in the fire in the Public Records Office in Dublin in 1922.  A quick search showed records for just 97 people in County Cork in the 1841 census.  Not expecting to find any relevant information I scanned through the names and couldn’t believe my eyes when I found 2 Young’s from Letterscanlan.  Bingo.  I clicked on the link to bring up the Young’s page and this is what appeared…

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… the charred remains of a census record.  Not even one straight edge of a page remained.  But I wasn’t looking for straight edges – I wanted information and this charred,fire damaged remnant provided it.  The head of the family in 1841 was James Young a farmer.

1841-census-young-letterscanlan-householder-james

The next section is not so easy to read as the fire destroyed a some vital information, leaving us with just a few tantalising clues.  The section listing those present on the night of the census is missing.  It appears that no one was absent from the house on census night. The last section was  a “Return of Members of this Family, Servants or Visitors, who have died while residing with this Family  since the 6th June 1831”.

The information that I can make out from this section is that James Young’s mother,  ..ne Young, died aged 65 in 1832 (?).  His father, …liam Young, died aged 80 in 1840.  His uncle, whom I cannot make out his name, died of pleurisy (?) aged 67 in 183?.

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So thanks to this remarkable piece of paper that was filled out in a small farmstead in West Cork in 1841, stored in the Public Records Office in Dublin and just about survived the 1922 fire in the Four Courts I have been able to trace our Young family of Aughadown, Co. Cork back to a William Young who was born c.1760.

The Young line which married into our Jeffers family in 1904 is as follows:

William Young 1760-1840

James Young c.1799 – ?

William Young 1841-1911 married Hester Vickery 1846-1936

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Frances (Fanny) Young 1876-1952

married Jasper Travers Jeffers 1878-1950.  These are my Great, Grandparents-in-law.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My origins using DNA testing

Probably one of the main questions which leads to every family tree search is ‘Where do I come from?’   Growing up as I child I simply knew that my mum was from Cork and my dad from Dublin.  I then learnt that My mum’s mother was Welsh are her fathers parents were Scottish and Irish.  On my dad’s side, his mother was Scottish (though born in the North of England) and his father’s family had come from Northern Ireland.  So what did that make me?  Born in Cork, I suppose I’ll always be first and foremost a Cork woman.  My Birth-Cert and passport say I’m Irish.  I look Irish (in a conventional sort of way).  I sound Irish.  I feel Irish.  That begs another question – What is Irish?   Going back just two generations my ancestors were certainly not from this island of Ireland.  Of my 8 great-grandparents, 3 were Scottish (Stewart, Paterson, Barclay), 2 were Welsh (Davies, Jones), 1 from Northern Ireland (McCully) and 2 from what is today called Ireland (McConnell, Wood).

Not being of a scientific mind-set and therefore not really understanding DNA I was slow and sceptical to have my DNA tested.  Eventually however, curiosity got the better of me and I just had to give it a go.  The first test I had done was for my adult son as this would show up both my own and my husband’s DNA and possibly link me to more relatives.  As I keep my tree on http://www.ancestry.co.uk, I decided to use their autosomal testing service.  It really couldn’t have been any easier and in just a few short weeks, his results came back.  Even though I sent it off with just a number for a reference and not linked to my tree it came back showing that the closest relative on their database was a cousin of my father-in-law.  This gave me confidence in the system .  I was surprised how much of his DNA originated outside of the British Isles.

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Now curiosity really got the better of me as I didn’t know which part of his DNA was mine and which was his father’s.  The only answer was to get my own test done.  The results have just come back and surprisingly the two results are quite similar.  Even more reassuring is that Andrew is definitely my son!!  I’m not sure how I’d have reacted if that hadn’t been the case.  Unfortunately there are no close family links connected with my test on the ancestry database yet.

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Having traced much of my family back to the 1700’s on many of my branches I haven’t found any proof of them stemming from mainland Europe or beyond.  It’s quite unlikely that I ever will.  But it’s nice to know the migration pattern of my ancestors.  I hope that as more people get tested that I may get links to others who share a common ancestry.

As for the question of where am I from? –  I’m still a Cork woman.  I’m still Irish and now I can say with confidence that I’m European.

Parish v. Civil Records

One of the projects I’m working on at the moment is transcribing and digitising the records for Fanlobbus Parish in Dunmanway Co. Cork.  Today I was working on the burial registers and I found myself drifting and wondering about the people who were named in them.  There was an appalling level of infant mortality in the 19th century.  Epidemics almost completely wiped out some families. Many young men who should have been in the prime of their life succumbed to TB in their 20s and 30s.  Young women died in childbirth.  Not to mention accidents, murders and homocides.

A couple of entries in the parish register were difficult to decipher so I decided to go to http://www.irishgenealogy.ie and compare the church burial record to the civil death record.  Church registers deal with the burial of the deceased and contain basic information such as name, address and date of burial.  The civil  death registers contain more details, such as the cause and place of death, as well as marital status, occupations and the name of the person reporting the death.  I expected that the information on the church record I was struggling with, would be exactly the same as the civil record.  Wrong.  On many of the samples that I checked the details differed.

Here’s one example. The Church record shows that Melian X of Kenrath, was buried on 6th August, 1923, Aged 70.  Z.W. Miller and Arthur Wilson were the clergy who officiated.

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The Civil record (below) reports her date of death as 5th August, 1923.  It gives more information than the Church record, telling us where she died and that she was female, a widow to a farmer and states her cause of death as gastritis and heart failure.  It also names her son-in-law, who was the informant.

jagoe-civil-record_ink_li

The huge discrepancy in this case is her age.  The age is displayed very clearly on both registers.  According to the church she was 70, but according to the state she was 76.  The ages varied on many of the samples of death/burial records I checked between these two sets of records –  most were out only by a year or two, but some had larger discrepancies.

In 1864 the state started to register deaths and from then onwards, it’s possible to check both sets of records to get a more complete record of the person.  However, pre-1864 we have to rely solely on the burial records.  What I learnt today is that the records are not necessarily 100% accurate.  In many cases they are the only information that is available on our ancestors and we are very grateful to have them, but we need to keep an open mind regarding the exact dates and information provided.  Don’t immediately rule potential relatives in or out solely on that one piece of information.  Sometimes its peoples ages that are a little  bit out, other times it’s the spelling of names, or variants of addresses.

Keeping in mind these (usually minor) inaccuracies, parish registers are a hugely important primary source of information used to trace our ancestors and I for one am extremely grateful to the scribes who created these amazing records.

 

 

 

First blog post – Sharing my Genealogy Journey

Having recently graduated with my diploma in genealogy from UCC, I plan to share some of what I learnt while completing the course.  Tracing family history and creating family trees is highly addictive, taking me off on many unexpected tangents and leading me down some very interesting avenues and sometimes even up a cul-de-sac.  I intend to share some of these experiences and journeys as my quest continues.