Wednesday, May 25, 2016

JUTLAND 1916 - 2016

Sure, I had heard of the Battle of Jutland but I knew nothing about it and I had no particular interest in it. I had an uncle killed on the Somme and a granduncle who came home injured and that was enough of a connection with WWI to be going on with.

Anyway, I had given up history in school after Inter Cert as it was just a list of names, dates and battles and I was hopeless at rote learning.

So the Battle of Jutland was just a name floating around in an amorphous space called history.

That is until a hitherto unknown branch of my family found me on the internet a month or two ago. They are living in Neath, near Port Talbot in South Wales so I wouldn't exactly run in to them in the street. As it happened they discovered a common pair of ancestors and we took it from there. Here's how it goes and how it gets to Jutland.

My grandfather, Patrick Mortimer, had a brother, Francis. Francis Mortimer had a son, Patrick Joseph. Patrick Joseph Mortimer took a wife, Catherine. Catherine Daly had a brother, Patrick Joseph. Patrick Joseph Daly, was an Able Seaman who went down with the HMS Tipperary in the Battle of Jutland on 1 June 1916.

For the non-genealogists among my readers, that makes him the brother in law of a first cousin once removed.

In naval terms, the battle of Jutland was the clash of the titans, with the British navy confronting its German counterpart over about 12 hours on 31 May 1916.

The battle involved about 100,000 sailors in 250 ships (151 British and 99 German). Almost 9,000 sailors died, two thirds of them British. Twenty five ships were lost (14 British versus 11 German) but if you look at the tonnage, losses by the British were twice those of the Germans (113K versus 62K).

Nevertheless both sides ended up claiming victory. The Germans claimed they'd won on the basis of the statistics above. The British (rightly) claimed they'd won as, despite the heavier casualties, they had bottled in the German fleet and ensured that it would no longer be able to take part in the war.

Things then got sort of complicated with the Germans relying on intensive submarine operations and the Americans coming into the war, but you get the general message about Jutland.

HMS Tipperary
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The Tipperary had been built at Cowes, originally ordered for the Chilean Navy and launched in March 1915. In the circumstances the British acquired it and its sister ships and at Jutland the Tipperary was the leader of a flotilla of destroyers.

There was a lot of confusion during the battle and various sections of the British fleet fell out of contact with one another and were operating blind, so to speak.

The last hours of the Tipperary are graphically described below by members of the HMS Spitfire which actually made it back to port after the battle.
At 9.30pm they [the flotilla of destroyers] were forming up 5 miles astern of the Battle Fleet. They did not know the outcome of the battle, where the enemy were or even where most of their ships were – only that they should form 5 miles astern of the Battle Fleet. By 10.00pm they were settled in line ahead – Tipperary leading, Spitfire, Sparrowhawk, Garland and Contest of the 1st Division following.

It was a very dark night as there was no moon, and the sky was overcast and the atmosphere hazy.

They were very nervous of running into their own ships by mistake and had been ordered to keep a sharp lookout for the enemy. In the darkness they could make out ships closing them from astern, Tipperary made the challenge; they were British. Shortly before midnight they saw again the dark shape of a line of ships on their starboard quarter, occasional glare in their funnel smoke. Some thought they were friends, but they could just as well be the enemy, so 21” torpedo tube and 4” gun were kept trained on them.

But here visibility was under 1000 yards and when the dark outlines were nearly abeam, at a range of between 500 and 700 yards Tipperary again made the challenge…

The reply was all three ships switching on a blaze of searchlights. The majority of these lights were trained on the Tipperary and only a few stray beams lit on us and on our next astern. Then these lights went out, and after an extraordinarily short pause were switched on again, and at the same moment a regular rain of shell was concentrated on our unfortunate leader, and in less than a minute she was hit and badly on fire forward.

At the same moment we fired our 2 torpedoes and saw one of them hit. But I saw the most infernal storm of shells hitting the water just ahead of us, and all around the Tipperary.


as soon as we resumed our course, we saw Tipperary behind us, a dreadful, burning torch. She was stopped and being fired at under the concentration of the enemy’s searchlights. So back we went to attack the ships attacking her.


The Captain decided to go to the assistance of the Tipperary and, if necessary, carry on action with their guns. As they got near he felt maddened at seeing their leader disabled and being so fiercely attacked. He gave what seemed the hopeless order to fire at searchlights, which, as if at target practice, winked, and went out.

We closed the Tipperary, now a mass of burning wreckage and looking a very sad sight indeed. At a distance her bridge, wheel-house and chart-house appeared to be one sheet of flame, giving one the impression of a burning house, and so bright was the light from this part that it seemed to obliterate one’s vision of the remainder of the ship and of the sea round about, except that part close to her which was all lit up, reflecting the flames.

(The account of HMS Spitfire at Jutland is courtesy of Alan Bush, grandson of Lt. Athelstan P Bush)

The Tipperary sank in the early hours of 1 June 1916. Of her complement of 197, 185 died, 4 were wounded and 8 taken prisoner. Her Captain, Charles J Wintour, went down with his ship.

Jutland Memorial Park
Photo: The Telegraph

As the centenary of the battle approaches we find two major memorials on the west coast of Jutland near where the sea battle took place. The first is Sea War Museum Jutland which displays artifacts from the battle and also functions as an interpretive centre. The second is a novel memorial park where each lost ship is represented by a large stone monument and the hope is to add some 9,000 anonymous sculpted figures representing each of the sailors lost in the battle and grouped around the monument to their ship.

Map showing relative position of wrecks
HMS Tipperary highlighted
Click on image for a larger version

The ships' memorials are laid out relative to their positions on the seabed. You can see the Tipprary highlighted in the map above.

Patrick Joseph Daly in the database Roll of Honour

Here are some useful links if you want to follow up on any of this.

Animation describing the Battle (24 mins)

The Battle in Wikipedia

The Tipperary in Wikipedia

The Telegraph (UK) on the Battle & Memorial

General information on the memorial site

Ronan McGreevy on the Irish at Jutland

Sunday, May 22, 2016


Bishop Tim Dakin

I'll make this short.

Vulnerable lady abused by Churchwarden. She kicks up a fuss, particularly with the Dean of Jersey, head of the Church of England on the island. He is complicit in having her "deported".

Inquiry criticises the Dean. His bishop, Tim Dakin of Winchester, tries to sack him but can't because the Dean is partly directly appointed by the Queen as Jersey is a crown dependency.

Jersey establishment organise another inquiry which is demonstrably biased. Dakin refuses to publish it. Jersey is transferred out of Winchester diocese. Archbishop of Canterbury now reported to have made unreserved apology to the Dean. This is trumpeted as an exoneration of the Dean by the Jersey establishment (Senator and former Bailiff Philip Bailhache) who calls for the publication of the biased report which he claims also exonerates the Dean.

Tim Dakin refuses to accept implied exoneration and makes a new apology to the victim.

That's it in a nutshell and the only authority figure to come out of this with any honour looks like being Tim Dakin.

I explained the background in detail a good while ago and you can read the Jersey Evening Post reports of the Archbishop's apology and Dakin's response.

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Ha'porth of Tar

Mary Clarke

I'm still with the 200th birthday of the Ha'penny Bridge over Dublin's River Liffey.

In a previous post I covered the first of the two events organised by the City Council. This is the second event - a series of short talks in City Hall dealing with different aspects of the bridge. These will be published in a forthcoming book from Four Courts Press later in the year.

The session kicked off with an introductory overview of the history of the bridge from City Archivist, Mary Clarke.

The bridge replaced an earlier ferry in 1816. The fare/toll was the same, a ha'penny, but business boomed across the bridge, so to speak, and much money was made. In 1919 the toll was abolished after the bridge had paid for itself many times over. Now it is crossed by about thirty thousand people each day.

The bridge was conceived during the mayoralty of John Claudius Beresford, who Mary mentioned was considered the black sheep of the family due to some of his cruel and insensitive acts. I'm sure Mary must have confirmed that with his descendants earlier in the day.

Eibhlin Roche

Next we had Eibhlin Roche, from the Guinness Archive, recalling memories of the Guinness barges that plied the river well into my time.

It was always great fun to watch them going under the bridges at high tide when they had to fold down the funnel. This produced a great puff of smoke as the barge went in under the bridge. I suppose we were really watching to see would they remember to fold the funnel in time. To our disappointment, they always did.

Logan Sisley

Logan Sisley, from the Hugh Lane Gallery, beside where I went to school, brought me up with a start.

He was talking about the controversy over the location of the gallery which Hugh Lane insisted be built for the priceless collection of paintings he proposed leaving to Ireland.

The relevance to this session is that the Ha'penny Bridge was one of the locations which was very strongly pushed. It would have been designed by Edward Lutyens and would have seen the end of the Ha'penny Bridge.

There were many places suggested as a location for the gallery, but what actually drew me up short was Logan's cartoon by Gordon Brewster of his conception of how it would have looked on top of Nelson's Pillar.

I have an interest in Gordon and had not seen the cartoon before. It's a sort of interesting piece of trivia that Gordon's only known extant painting is actually in the current Hugh Lane Gallery in Parnell Square, though not on display,

Seán Harrington

Seán Harrington was talking about design aspects of the Ha'penny Bridge and how these inspired him in undertaking the design and construction aspects of the adjacent Millennium Bridge, for which he won the competition, and subsequently the Rosie Hackett Bridge further downstream, which he also designed.

The man was talking poetry, and to an enraptured audience.

Then he produced his wee model to demonstrate the technique for flattening the curve of the bridge while maintaining safety. He used the same technique as the designers of the Ha'penny Bridge but improved on it for both the Millennium and Rosie Hackett bridges.

Patrick Gorman

Patrick Gorman was involved in the refurbishment of the Ha'penny Bridge from the City Council's bridge department. He recounted the various technical challenges facing the Council and his own particularly ingenious solution to one of them.

Paul Arnold

Patrick didn't have a conservation architect on the job and at one stage he was told to get one pronto.

That's where Paul Arnold came in. His primary task was to ensure that as much of the original material as possible was preserved in the refurbishment. Following surveys it was determined that most of it could be kept but would need extensive restoration work done on it. Much of this was undertaken by Harland and Wolff in Belfast.

Annette Black

Annette Black was to give a social history of the bridge and her acrostic approach looked promising. Unfortunately I had to leave at that point and didn't get to hear her talk.

I'm sure you can catch up on Annette's contribution when the book comes out.

I have titled this post A Ha'porth of Tar, not just because of the Ha'penny connotations but because it is clear from its durability that the ha'porth of tar was not spared on the Ha'penny Bridge.

Related post: Happy 200th

Where is it ? No. 46

To see all the quiz items click on the "Where?" tag below.

To see all the unsolved quiz items click on the "unsolved" tag below.

HAPPY 200th

Ha'penny Bridge on its 200th birthday
Click on any image for a larger version

Yesterday (19/5/2016) was the 200th birthday of the Ha'penny Bridge, Dublin's first pedestrian bridge over the Liffey. It connects Merchant's Arch on the south side with Liffey Street on the north.

The Corpo (City Council to you) had arranged two events to commemorate the original opening of the bridge.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Críona Ní Dhálaigh, would formally cross the bridge, starting from the wild Northside and seeking asylum on the Southside where she has her (one year holiday) home, otherwise known as the Mansion House. This event is dealt with below.

Later, there would be a series of talks in City Hall on aspects of the bridge. These will be published in a forthcoming book from Four Courts Press later in the year.

Not content with this bag of goodies, the Corpo had invited descendants of the then Lord Mayor, John Claudius Beresford, and of the designer and builder of the bridge, John Windsor. And come they did. Some of them only realising the family connection with the bridge for the first time.

Críona ag caint

The Ardmhéara, now coming to the end of her year in office, showed that she could not only talk the talk (as Béarla agus as Gaeilge) ...

The formal walkover

... but she could also walk the walk.

She has had a great year and she has made a difference, certainly as far as culture and heritage are concerned. Needless to say this has been very welcome to Dubliners at a time when these areas are slipping down the national priorities.

The Herald interviews a Beresford descendant

The event was also something of a mediafest with video and audio being trundled all over the place. But the print media were also on the ball and the elegantly dressed man from the Evening Herald was ubiquitous.

The Herald interviews a Windsor descendant

Mary Clarke interviewed by Dublin Q102

Pat Liddy interviewed by 98 FM

Look Ma, I'm on the Telly ??

And finally, this standoff.

Probably ended up on the cutting floor. Ah well.

Mary enjoys a joke with a Beresford descendant

City Archivist, Mary Clarke, was on the scene, as were others from the Dublin City Library and Archive (DCLA).

More descendants/family

More descendants/family

Séamus, and Ellen (DCLA)

Phil (DCLA) and Pat

Dublin Biddies

I'll leave you with the two Dublin biddies, permanently seated outside the Woollen Mills and in sight of the Ha'penny Bridge. No doubt they will have much to natter about following the 200th year birthday party which they hosted yesterday.

Related post: A Ha'porth of Tar

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


2 November 1918
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"The 1918-19 Spanish flu epidemic killed over 40 million people worldwide, and 20,000 in Ireland. This haunting cartoon appeared in the Irish Weekly Independent of 2 November 1918, just as Europe was experiencing its second wave of the disease."

When we think of, say, the Revolutionary Period we are inclined to think of individual events, like the 1916 Rising, or the 1918 elections, or the Civil War. But the actors in these events are operating on a wider canvas and, if we think of this at all, we are often inclined to paint in that canvas, drawing on that of our own times. But things were different then. Dublin had the worst slums in Europe and in 1918 there was another enemy besides the obvious - the Spanish Flu.

Mr "Flu" - "So sorry old chap to take you unawares.
22 February 1919

The cartoons and quote above are from The Revolution Papers 17 May 2016 No.20. The original cartoons are by Gordon Brewster, in whom I have an interest.

Post 1919 the flu epidemic seems to have subsided and gone away. But the scale of worldwide devastation caused by the epidemic provoked some frantic research attempting to identify the cause, and, if a virus, isolate it and produce a vaccine.

There was a constant stream of claims of success being made by researchers during 1920s and beginning of the 1930s.

17 February 1927

Meanwhile it would appear that the Irish Health Authorities felt they had adequate safeguards in place against any viral invader.

16 February 1929

Nevertheless the search continued to find the pesky flu virus though it was hardly as straighforward as the butterfly netting technique above might suggest.

"Professor Isadore Falk of Chicago University
claims to have discovered the germ of influenza."
19 December 1929

In late 1929 Professor Isadora Falk, claimed to have isolated the virus and his claims received worldwide publicity. I'm not sure if they convinced Gordon but his viruses of 1919 and 1929 bear a very strong resemblance to each other.

If the artist's pen could shape reality, Gordon here would have really got his man.

Unfortunately, beyond his initial claims, I don't see any reference, in what few modern sources I could find, to Falk as the discoverer of the virus. Conclusive claims seem to date from a few years later.

However, an artist rarely lets go of a character once portrayed and Gordon pressed a slightly more sophisticated version of the Grim Reaper into service in this period in warning about the historically significant number of road deaths in Britain at the time..

21 April 1928

"At the battle of Waterloo two thousand British Officers and men lost their lives; the allied armies left a total of four thousand two hundred of their troops on the field. This falls short by eleven hundred of the death roll in Great Britain through traffic accidents in twelve months".

My thanks to Felix M Larkin for keeping me up to date on Gordon's appearances in the Revolutionary Papers and to the National Library of Ireland for permission to reproduce the later cartoons. You can see the NLI's full collection of Gordon's cartoons (1922-1932) here.

Wiki on the Spanish Flu Epidemic

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Dolores Brewster RIP

Dolores Brewster
Photo: Johnny Bambury
Click on any image for a larger version

I met Dolores Brewster (m. Scott) for the first time in March 2013. I have only met her on two occasions since, but I feel I've known her all my life. There are probably two reasons for that.

In the first place, she was a very special lady. In her mid-eighties she was the most positive, optimistic and serene person I have met. And she was very open, would talk about anything without any side to her. To know her was to like her.

The second reason is that the family connection goes back some seventy years when her father, Gordon, died suddenly in my mother's shop when Dolores was just seventeen. At our first meeting we spoke about that and shared memories of Howth, though mine were from slightly later as I was only two at that time.

Dolores was born in 1929 and the family lived in Howth. Her brother Richard was born two years later and it was in that same year, 1931, that another big family event occurred.

Now that Dolores is no longer with us, and beyond the long arm of the law, I can reveal that she burned the house down. How do I know? She told me so. It was not any childish fit of pique, however. She was only two at the time and it appears she knocked over a clothes horse full of drying clothes straight into the fire and the place went up.

Some time later her parents' marriage broke up. Her mother went to England and Dolores and her brother Richard were raised by their father until his untimely death in 1946. Their mother came back briefly from England to sort out Gordon's affairs and, as Dolores put it, "to claim the children". Then they all went back to England. Dolores went into nursing and her brother into the RAF.

The children had a great relationship with their father and Dolores, and her daughter Lynne, have come back on occasions to visit his grave in Kilbarrack. It was on one such visit that I first met Dolores, in fact three generations of Brewsters including her daughter Lynne, and her grand-daughter Lottie aged three.

I wish I had met Dolores much earlier and we might have shared a lot more stuff, but I was thrilled to bits when she made it over to attend a talk I gave on Gordon in November 2014.

Strange to say, after such a short acquaintance, I'll miss her.

She died at home last Saturday, peacefully and in the company of her two daughters, Lynne and Micki.

May she rest in peace.

Dolores & myself at the launch of Michael Laffan's
"Judging W T Cosgrave" in October 2014
Photo: Johnny Bambury

Monday, May 09, 2016

UK in EU

UK head over heels
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A piece by the UK Independent has drawn attention to the European Parliament flying the Union Jack upside down during Prime Minister Cameron's recent negotiations with the EU in the context of Brexit. All sorts of meanings have been attributed to this from it being an indication of UK distress to plain downright disrespect by the Parliament.

Good copy, but all probably wrong. The simple truth is that most people don't know that the Union Jack is capable of being flown upside down. They assume it is symmetrical on all axes. It is not. And the protocol people at the European Parliament should know this and pay attention when flying it.

from the EP's own Facebook page on 23/3/2015

But what would you expect from a crowd who have flown their own European flag upside down on occasions.

People don't realise that you can fly the European flag upside down either and it is done all over the place. I've brought a few of these together in a post. The crucial thing to remember is that the star on the European Flag is not the Star of David and it is not symmetrical on its horizontal axis.

Mind you, they do get it right sometimes, but probably fortuitously.

EP Brussels

EP Strasbourg

Thanks to Nora for drawing my attention to the Independent piece and to Vivion for the screengrab from the EP Facebook page.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016


Shepherd House, Inveresk, Edinburgh
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Lord and Lady Fraser, Charles and Ann to you, live in Shepherd House in the picturesque village of Inveresk just outside Edinburgh.

The house is situated on one acre and for the last fifty years or more that acre has been growing in maturity. And growing is the right word. It has been reared, so to speak, to its present state through years of experience, constant refinement and even drastic makeovers when the results of immature choices began to block further progress.

Today it is a single living organism renewing itself with the passage of the seasons acquiring new, and disposing of old, body parts in a way we could only envy. Of necessity it maintains the gift of eternal youth.

There is an amazing combination of features, animate and inanimate, packed into this one acre. A single visit is just a teaser and an invitation to follow the garden through the seasons as the different plants assert themselves, and through the years as its structure evolves under the steady hands and green fingers of its lord and lady.

Our Guide

So let's get on with it and make the acquaintance of our guide waiting for visitors outside the dovecot at the gate.

Charles has been rearing these white pigeons, or doves, from way back. They had to move out of their original "house" when the dovecot and stables were converted into a cottage for human habitation but they seem to have settled into their present location and calling as gatekeepers and guides.

This is a view of the "backbone" of the garden, looking away from the house and towards the source of the watercourse which runs almost the entire length of the garden. This feature was inspired by one in a garden in India where Ann spent her early years.

And you won't fail to notice the young lady at the end of the watercourse, washing her hair in wild abandon.

The source of the watercourse, at the far end of the garden, brings many a classical feature to mind. Mr. Lutyens would be pleased.

Charles built the shellhouse which celebrates both the couple's enduring partnership and the location of the house and garden.

Ann has decorated the inside walls with local shells in pleasing artistic formations. Predominant among these are the mussel shells.

Inveresk is in the outer ring of the town of Musselburgh, which, in turn is a suburb of Edinburgh.

Combining and arranging the inside and outside of the mussel shells makes for a very delicate version of allium.

The stained glass windows at either end of the shellhouse not only let in the light but they also set off the pastel shades of the shells with a discrete burst of primary colours.

One of the early criticisms of the garden was that there were too many trees and so they had to go. This one "survived", however, as a tree-sculptured tulip.

When I first saw this I thought it was a maze, but it proved to have both too many exits and none. I gather the word is topiary, ornamental hedging, and this is a combination of boxes.

This is Dollina, who undergoes a regular clipping/shearing like any other respectable sheep. What, you may ask, is she doing in this setup? Well, it's not as way out as it seems at first sight, as Dolly, the first ever cloned sheep, first saw the light of day just down the road in Roslyn.

She is placed here inside a fank, a scots word for a sheep pen. This one is made of stones and is a miniature version of what can be much larger pens. The word is thought to derive from the Gàidhlig "fang".

Follow me

Our guide is now urging us on to check out some of the individual blooms.

While our guide may know the names and history of the wide variety of plants, including what is edible and what is not, I don't, so I am just going to include what I found either aesthetically pleasing or unusual.

If you want to pursue this in a more learned and systematic manner you can always buy the excellent book on the garden, which Charles and Ann have self-published and which sells for £35. You can contact Ann to arrange purchase.

Our guide is joined by a junior trainee for the rest of the tour.

Where would you be without the old potting shed?

Incidentally, I notice some of the stone around here has a pinky tinge. Reminds me of farmhouses in Jersey.

This is the golden goose, appropriately flying above the coop of the Silkie Banthams. These hens appear to be very shy, however, and anytime I approach, they scuttle back into their henhouse.

For instance, this one thinks it's pulling a fast one by scuttling back into the henhouse as I come within photo range.

For once, that didn't work and I subsequently got this shot through the window.

So next day I caught them feeding and fortunately they were more interested in guzzling than worrying about me. And that really does look more like fur than feathers.

This very impressive sundial is above the back door of the house. I wondered if it was an antique but became a little dubious when I saw it was presented to Charles by United Biscuits.

A free one with every packet of Hob Nobs or Cream Crackers?

But, seriously, it was presented to Charles, in MCMXCVI - a whole score of years ago, on his retirement from the non-executive Vice-Chairmanship of United Biscuits (Holdings). By profession a lawyer, he has held many major business positions in the course of his career.

As well as being the creative force behind the garden, Ann is also a serious botanical artist and illustrator and you can check out the catalogue for her upcoming London exhibition (10 to 20 May 2016) here.

And finally, it's goodbye from our guide who hopes we enjoyed the visit.

Garden Website