Sunday, 4 December 2016

Custody of the locket

When I collected my mother's things from the coast last week I also gained custody of "the locket". Let me explain about the locket. My 2nd great grandfather Joseph Antoney gave his wife, Elizabeth Hannah Young, the locket on their wedding day in Bowen on the 30th July 1867. Elizabeth Hannah was a Dublin lass and as you will see from the photo the locket has an Irish harp on the front side.

The locket has passed down the generations thru the eldest daughter and is passed on on the death of the current holder. All the female siblings of the eldest daughter have worn the locket on their wedding day as I did and as my daughter-in-law did  on her marriage to my son. On my death, the locket will go to my eldest granddaughter, Amy Robyn. The chain holding the locket is one-third of a chain that my great great grandmother Elizabeth Hannah, had as a chatelaine.
Antoney family, Joseph, Elizabeth Hannah and their daughter Annie Jacintha Mary Elizabeth
Unfortunately, Elizabeth is not wearing the locket but her daughter Annie Jacintha is wearing the locket in the photo below with her husband John Douglas Thomas.

Annie Jacintha Mary Elizabeth & John Douglas Thomas
And now for "the locket" itself.

I am enjoying wearing the locket as it has direct connections to the female line of my family - my 2nd great grandmother Elizabeth Hannah Young my great grandmother Annie Jacintha Mary Elizabeth Antoney, my grandmother Dorothy May Thomas and my mother, Patricia Dorothea McCann. Also, of course, my various grand aunts and aunts - Daisy Elizabeth Antoney, Francesca Cecelia Jacintha Birkbeck, Dora Lorraine Birkbeck, and Joan Douglas McCann. Their daughters, my cousins, Jacintha Marion McCready, Ellen Norah McCready, Elaine Ethel McCready, Margaret Mary Spottiswood, Helen Spottiswood and more that I don't know if they wore the locket on their wedding day.
My grandmother Dorothy May, loved the locket and the connection to her much loved grandmother. I will treasure it while it is mine and bequeath it to my eldest grandaughter Amy Robyn on my passing.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

From Guernsey to home

Well I intended to blog while I was away and that started well but, as always I got caught up and decided that Facebook was easier while on the move.

So, to give a taste of the six weeks away I will summarise: Jersey was interesting, beautiful in its way but very different to Guernsey and quite expensive. After all, it is a tax haven and lots of bankers, accountants and lawyers abound. We stayed at a great hotel, Greenhills Country Hotel and I would have liked to relax there for a longer stay.

Greenhills Country Hotel with my room opening onto the garden thru french doors
After Jersey, the tour went to St Malo in the north of France - Brittany - an interesting town with great seafood, particularly oysters. On the way to St Malo, we visited a megalithic site at Dinan, very interesting as it is located in an oak grove and the Druids celebrate their rituals at the site. 

Les Megaliths, Dinan, Brittany
We went for a day trip to Mon St Michel, a site that I had long wanted to visit. The day was perfect, not a cloud in the bright blue sky but perishingly cold. I was unable to manage the climb to the top of the mount but enjoyed part of the way up and some fabulous fish soup.

Mont St Michel, Brittany, France
Finishing off my trip to Brittany, we went to Chartres Cathedral, another place I always wanted to visit. Thankfully it was mercifully fairly free of tourists, and I could wander in the silence and absorb the gothic beauty.

Chartres Cathedral
Then off to Paris and the Eurostar to London. Down to Somerset and the village of Lopen where my Thomas family lived and died. They were all baptised, married and buried at the All Saints Curch, Lopen. It was wonderful to sit in the church and know that generations of my family had sat there and worshipped. From the film of the vestry minutes, I know that Jonas Thomas, my 4th great grandfather and his son James (both master carpenters) repaired pews, built fences, repaired the roof, relocated the choir and more. As they were poor they didn't have headstones but sitting in the churchyard on a peaceful sunny day I felt them very near.
All Saints' Church. Lopen Somerset
From Somerset, I went to York and then up to Scotland near Inverness to visit Fort George and the Highlanders Museum. This had particular significance for me as my 2nd great grandfather, Dugald Cameron, served in the 79th Regiment of the Foot (Cameronian Volunteers, later the Cameron Highlanders) as a drummer from its inception on the 17th August1793. You can read more about the Highlanders here.
Entry to Fort George
After Fort George, I drove west to the Highlands and the ancestral home of my Cameron family. They lived near Fort William, also on the ARnamuchan Peninsula and worshipped in the village of Acharacle.
Church of Scotland, Acharacle
After the Highlands, I drove down to Glasgow through Glencoe. Glencoe is a forbidding place with high mountains and rocks - read about the massacre here. While driving through the Glen, two RAF jets came swooping down at great speed and frightened the daylights out of me apparently they use the glens for practice.
I flew from Glasgow to Belfast with EasyJet and was pleasantly surprised. I expected to be charged for luggage and I wasn't, I received assistance on and off the plane and the crew were fabulous - no problems at all. In Belfast, I took the city tour bus and was fascinated with the murals in the Falls Road and the Shankill. While I was there a man was murdered in his house in West Belfast by paramilitaries - it seems nothing much has changed. I caught the train from Belfast to Dublin for the Back to Our Past expo. I attended for two days and was fascinated to catch up with people I had met in Ennis. The Genetic Genealogy lectures were a bonus. 

After Dublin, I drove to Derry where my Connor family came from. It was fascinating to visit the village of Ballykelly and the townland of Moyes nearby. I also met with Brian Mit6chell from Derry Genealogy and had a lovely three-hour chat. Unfortunately, I caught up with people just before I left and had so little time with them. A good excuse to return in 2017!

Ballykelly Presbyterian Church, Ballykelly, Derry
So off to Dublin and home via two nights in Dubai with Emirates. I didn't enjoy Dubai though the hotel, the Radisson Blu on Deira Creek was fabulous. Dubai is too artificial and flashy for my liking.

Home on the 2nd November and pleased to arrive - there is nothing like travelling but home is best - particularly your own bed and pillows.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Friday thru Sunday - Guernsey & Jersey

Friday morning in Guernsey
The tour group were going to Sark for the day and as it is walking only and horse-drawn conveyances I made the sensible decision to stay in St Peter's Post. After a delicious sleep in, I had a pot of tea and set out to explore near the hotel.
Cup of tea on the terrace, Duke of Richmond Hotel, Guernsey
My room, Duke of Richmond Hotel, Guernsey
View from the terrace, Duke of Richmond Hotel, Guernsey

Close by the hotel is the Priaulx Library, you can read about the library here. The library preserves Guernsey's history and genealogy and makes it available to the public. A family historians paradise, how I wish I had Guernsey ancestors! The librarian on duty was thrilled I was from Australia and doubly thrilled I was interested in the library and the collection. She introduced me to a book produced by La Société Guernesiaise titled Guernsey Emigrants to Australia 1828 - 1899 by David Kreckeler. The book lists 1229 Guernsey men who emigrated to Australia and has a short biography of the men and their sea captains. I have ordered a copy of the book for the Genealogical Society of Queensland (GSQ).
Ashes of Mr Priaulx - difficult to see

Priaulx Library, Guernsey
The library is located in the Candie Gardens, beautiful trees and flowers and a photographic exhibition of  Guernsey thru the ages in movement.

Photographic exhibit, Guernsey
Queen Victoria in the Candie Gardens, Guernsey
Next day we visited the German Occupation Museum. Guernsey was occupied from 30th June 1940 until liberation on the 9th May 1945. You can read more about this extraordinary museum here. The whole island of Guernsey is full of fortifications, bunkers, tunnels etc that remain after the Second World War. There is even an underground hospital that the Gedrman Army used. I am not really one for remains of war but most people on the tour were fascinated. We even saw a bunker on the side of a hill that had been turned into a house - come on Grand Designs.

After returning to the hotel we were fortunate to meet with Molly Bihet, who told us in her words about the occupation and liberation. Molly was nine when Geermany occupied Guernsey and fourteen at liberation. she has written a number of books about the occupation and they are fascinating reading - much more interesting than bunkers, guns etc. You can read more about Molly here.

A Child's War by Molly Bihet
Sunday - Guernsey to Jersey
Sunday morning we checked out of the Duke of Richmond Hotel in the morning, cases in the coach etc. Isn't it amazing that when you repack a bagit never seems to go in the same? As the ferry to Jersey wasn't leaving until 4 pm we had the day to explore more of Guernsey.
Beautiful day and low tide at Guernsey
Ferry left on time from St Peter's Port, Guernsey and arrived at St Helier, Jersey at 5:10 pm. Our wonderful guide, June, took us for a lovely drive through the south and west of Jersey. Great scenery and a majestic sunset. I was in my heaven when we stopped near a graveyard at the Church of St Brelade.

Memorial of Captain John Harmon, buried at sea, 1876
There were many gravstones dedicated to seafarers with sad memories of people lost at sea and died in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. These people were cod fishers and many moved to Canada following the cod.

It was a long day and I was releived to arrive at our hotel, the greenhills Country Hotel. More about the hotel tomorrow.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Sunday thru Wednesday - Ireland, England & Guernsey

Sunday morning and up at 5 am as I hadn't packed the night before - tired after a Guinness or two! Drive to Shannon Airport took only 25 minutes, but the return of the hire car took another 29 minutes. Very helpful shuttle driver helped with the luggage, and the Aer Lingus check-in went smoothly. Had assistance to the plane and at Heathrow Terminal 2. I was amazed that I didn't go through Immigration at Heathrow.

Thankfully the assistance at Heathrow took me directly to the taxi stand - very friendly London cabbie took me to the Kew Gardens Hotel, obviously in Kew near the Kew Gardens. Arrived about 11:30 am and of course my room was not ready however the staff were most apologetic and offered me a cup of tea. The bar at the hotel is very comfortable and relaxing.

View from my room at Kew Gardens Hotel

Kew Gardens Hotel

After checking in I thought I would get myself organised to visit The National Archives (Kew) on Monday, but when I checked the opening times I found that TNA was closed on Monday! Not a problem. 

I caught the Tube - the District Line -  from Kew Gardens Station to South Kensington. I was going to visit the Victoria & Albert (V & A) Museum and was able to follow the subway tunnel from the tube to the side entrance to the museum. I wanted to see the jewellery and Victorian exhibitions in particular and was thankful for a volunteer guide's assistance. This kind person offered me a wheelchair and guided me to the cafe for a cuppa and then to the Jewellery exhibits and the Victorian exhibit.  Many thanks to the V & A volunteers.
Cafe at V & A Museum

Tea & scone at V & A Museum
The exhibits I saw were spectacular, and I have photos below of three diamond bow brooches and a large Victorian silver centrepiece.

Diamond bow brooches V & A Museum

Victorian silver centrepiece V & A Museum
After viewing the exhibits at the V & A I took a London black cab to Liberty of London where I had a light lunch at the Liberty Cafe. What a wonderful store, so many beautiful things to look at and dream about owning.

Tuesday morning

Off early to TNA at Kew, the hotel is very close just a short walk to the Kew Gardens station and through the subway tunnel to the archives. Managed to get my reader's ticket with no problems and then off to the Reading Room. Delighted to see the original parchment records of three of my convict ancestors. I had previously seen transcriptions but seeing the original documents was amazing. Interestingly TNA does not require researchers to wear gloves except when viewing photographs. Of course, I visited the bookshop at TNA and sent eight books home - difficult to resist the temptation.

Tuesday night was my last at Kew Gardens Hotel and I enjoyed an early dinner of soup and dessert with a glass of Chenin Blanc or two. I would recommend this hotel for anyone researching at TNA, very welcoming and friendly staff, nothing is too much trouble for them.


Up early - 5:30 am - as I needed to be in central London by 8:00 am to begin my Back Roads tour of the Channel Islands and Northern France. I had a taxi arriving at 7:00 am and the driver was on time and very helpful. We arrived at the Wellington Hotel at 7:45 am in plenty of time. There were already three people waiting in the hotel forecourt. The coach (a Mercedes 16 seater) arrived at 8:40 am as the tour guide had problems with the London traffic. This extra time gave us time to meet the fellow travellers, a total of fifteen. There are three singles and six couples on the tour All from Australia except for one delightful couple from Toronto, Canada.
Back Roads Mercedes coach
Off to Windsor Castle where I stayed in the town as the hill was a bit too steep for me. After lunch, we travelled to Winchester Cathedral where interestingly enough Jane Austen is buried. Then off to Corfe Castle in Dorset for overnight at Morton's Manor House hotel and dinner. We left early the next morning as we had to make the ferry to Guernsey at 10:30 am, a three hour trip. I found that I don't have sea legs as it was very rough in the Channel and my balance was not the best. The ferry arrived on time at 1:15 pm at St Peter's Port, the main town on Guernsey. We are staying on Guernsey for three nights so no packing and unoacking as we did on the first night. I am glad we stop for three nights at most hotels. 
St Peter's Port Harbour, Guernsey

Harbour with Castle Cornet in the distance

Delicious lunch at the Octopus Bar & Restuarant, quite the best classic fish soup I have had for a long time. Then off for a tour of Sausmarez Manor.
Sausmarez Manor & Angel sculpture
Sausmarez Manor has an interesting history dating from 1117. You can read more about this fascinating family and how they progressed to today here.

We are staying at the Duke of Richmond Hotel in Cambridge Park, St Peter's Port.
Duke of Richmond Hotel, Guernsey
I waqs absolutley exhausted on Thursday night that I slept for three hours then had a snack and slept for another ten hours.

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.