Monday 30 August 2010

Bonnets honour thousands of women transported to Australia

A poignant memorial ceremony was held yesterday at Cobh quayside, scene of so many sad farewells over the last two centuries, for the 194 Irish convict women who were condemned to transportation in the prison ship Elizabeth which set sail here in 1828.

The event formed part of the Roses from the Heart bonnet project which was conceived by Christina Henri, an Australian artist and historian, to commemorate the 25,566 female convict prisoners shipped out from Ireland and Britain between 1788 and 1853. Their crimes were often no more than stealing to feed their children.

The bonnet was chosen as the symbol because many of the women were assigned to work as domestics in their new land.

Each bonnet has been created individually and donated to the project by women from Ireland, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Although created from a template, the maker had the freedom to select their own white or cream fabric and form of embellishment. If they had no genealogical connection to any of the women, they could 'adopt' a convict and create their own personal tribute. Each bonnet bears the name of the convict, and many also have the name of the ship on which she travelled.

Each bonnet commemorates the value of a female convict's life. Being made individually, rather than mass-produced, each one symbolises the individuality of the woman whose name it carries.

Roses from the Heart is making a short tour of Ireland. Details as follows:

    * Fri 3 Sept: Spirit of the Convict Women Concert, St Michael Theatre Centre for the Arts, New Ross, Wexford. 8pm. Tel: 051 421255. * Sat 4 Sept: Spirit of the Convict Women Concert, Railway Club, Rosslare Harbour, Wexford. 8pm. 053 917 8913. * Sun 5 Sept: Blessing of the Bonnets. Mary Immaculate, Inchicore, Dublin. No details available. * Sun 12 Sept: Blessing of the Bonnets, Kilbroney Parish Church, Rostrevor, co Down. 11am.

edited 6 Sept.

Monday 23 August 2010

Genealogy events this week

Just a quick reminder that there are some terrific genealogy talks, one to ones and open door events over the next few days, thanks largely to National Heritage Week.

Most are geared either to the beginner or to those wanting some guidance on searching the 1901 and 1911 census online.

If you haven't been able to check out the official website or pick up a hard copy of the full programme, there's some brief details below to whet your appetite (be sure to ring in advance to check there are still spaces available, as some events require you to book):

DeValera Public Library, Harmony Row, Ennis. Free. 24 August 11.00-16.00hrs. Tel: 065 689 9090.

Cork County Library, Carrigrohane Road. Free. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 August 15.00-16.00hrs. Tel: 021 428645.
Central Library, Grand Parade, Cork. Free. 28 August 11.00-12.15hrs. Tel: 021 492 4900.
Douglas Library, Douglas Shopping Centre. Free. 24 August 11.00-12.30hrs. 021 492 4932.
Bishopstown Library, Wilton, Cork. Free. 23 August 11.00-12.30hrs. 021 492 4955.
Blackpool Library, Redforge Rd. Free. 25 August 11.00-12.15hrs. 021 492 4933.

Donegal Ancestry Centre, The Quay, Ramelton. Free. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 August 10.00-16.00hrs. Tel: 074 915 1266.

Coolock Public Library, Barryscourt Rd, Dublin 17. Free. 24 August 11.00-12.00. Free. Tel: 01 847 7781.
Cabra Public Library, Navan Rd, Dublin 7. Free. 25 August 15.00-16.00hrs. Tel: 01 869 1414.
Weir's of Dun Laoghaire, Lower George's St. Dun Laoghaire. 3 Euros. 25 August 10.30-12.30hrs. Tel: 01 284 2711.

Woodford Heritage Centre, Woodford. Free. 24 August 15.00-16.00hrs. Tel: 090 974 9309.
St Joseph's Community Centre, Ashe Rd, Shantalla, Galway. Free. 25 August 15.00-16.00hrs. Tel: 091 860464.
Oughterard VEC, Camp St. Free. 26 August 20.00-21.00hrs. Tel: 091 860464.

Ardfert Cathedral, Tralee. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 August 10.00-17.15hrs. Free on 29th only. Tel: 066 713 4711.

Local Studies & Archives Library, Moyderwell, Tralee. Free. 24 & 26 August 11.30-12.30hrs. Tel: 066 712 1200.

Kildare (Town) Community Library, Claregate St. Free. 26 August 19.00-20.00hrs. Tel: 045 520235.
Naas Community Library, The Harbour. Free. 28 August 15.00-16.00hrs. Tel: 045 879111.

City Library, John's Quay, Kilkenny. Free. 25 August 19.00-20.00hrs. Tel: 056 779 4166.
Loughboy Library, Shopping Centre, Waterford Road, Kilkenny. Free. 26 August 11.00-12.00hrs. Tel: 056 779 4166.
Castlecomer Library, Kilkenny St. Free. 26 August. 18.30-19.30hrs. Tel: 056 779 4166.
Graiguenamanagh Library, Convent Road. Free. 24 August 19.00-20.00hrs. Tel: 056 779 4166.
Rothe House & Garden, Parliament St, Kilkenny. Free. 23, 24, 25 August 14.30-16.00hrs. Tel: 056 772 2893.
McDonagh Junction, Hebron Rd, Kilkenny. Free. 26 & 27 August 19.00-21.00hrs. Tel: 056 772 2893.

Abbeleix Library, Market Square. Free. 26 August 19.00-20.00hrs. Tel: 057 873 0020.
Portlaois Branch Library, Lyster Square. Free. 25 August 18.00-19.00hrs. Tel: 057 862 2333.

County Sligo Heritage & Genealogy Centre, Aras Reddan, Temple St, Sligo. Free. 26 August 11.30-12.30 & 14.30-15.30hrs. Tel: 071 914 3728.

Central Library, Lady Lane, Waterford. Free. 26 August 15.30-17.00hrs. Tel: 051 849736.

Visit the Heritage Week website for more details.

Thursday 12 August 2010

Seminar: Irish commercial life sources

A seminar focussing on Irish commercial life sources will be held on Thursday 9 September at the National Library of Ireland in Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

Speakers will present the following topics:

- Business sources and local history
- The Guinness Archive
- Shops and shopkeepers in an Irish provincial town 1850-1920
- Sources for Irish merchant banking families
- The shop in rural Ireland
- Jacob's Biscuits

The seminar is being presented by the Library Association of Ireland Genealogy and Local Studies Group in association with the National Library of Ireland.

Cost: €30 for LAI members, €40 for non-members, €20 for students & unwaged.

To book your seat, contact: +353 (0)1 462 0073 or

Saturday 7 August 2010

From the Archives - 7 August 1880

One hundred and thirty years ago today, the main bridge over the Liffey was renamed O'Connell Bridge in honour of Daniel O'Connell, the Liberator.

The then Lord Mayor of Dublin, attended by twenty officials from the Dublin Corporation, performed the naming ceremony by smashing a bottle of champagne.

The Irish Times reported his formal speech in which he declared that the Corporation was 'naming the finest bridge in the city after the greatest of Irishmen.'

The event was not without controversy.

The bridge, built in the early 1790s by James Gandon (of Custom House fame), had originally been named Carlisle Bridge to honour the Earl of Carlisle, the then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

It was a narrow bridge, with a distinct hump, and no longer suitable for late 19th-century Dublin's volume of traffic (see photo, taken c1870).

Three years of reconstruction had removed the hump and widened the bridge, preparing it to become the city's major north-south thoroughfare.

The trouble was that the works had been carried out by the Ports and Docks Board which wanted to retain the original name and didn't take kindly to the Corporation muscling in and renaming it.

The Corporation, however, had the right, confirmed by Act of Parliament, to give whatever names it chose to all public thoroughfares.

Even after the deed had been done, the controversy rumbled on. The Irish Times reported continuing arguments some four months later (31st December 1880) between the two organisations about the size of the lettering on the commemmorative plaque!

The row eventually died down, of course, and two years and one week after the official renaming ceremony, Daniel O'Connell's statue was unveiled to look over the bridge from what was then called Sackville Street.

It was another forty years before Sackville Street was renamed O'Connell Street.

FACT: O'Connell Bridge is 45m long over the Liffey, and 50m wide.

Sunday 1 August 2010

Today is Lunasa, one of the major Celtic festivals

1st August is Lá Lúnasa, the Celtic festival marking the imminent gathering of the harvest.

It is often confused with harvest thanksiving, but with the main crops still in the fields and the berries only just starting to hit ripe, there is not, as yet, anything to be thankful for! Celts tended to look forward... to anticipate events... and hope for good things, whereas the more modern practices emphasize looking back on what we have already achieved and should be grateful for.

You can find out more about the festival, and how the old traditions still play out in modern Ireland, on a new 'Celtic holidays' page that I've uploaded to my website today.