Monday, June 09, 2014

Local History Society Day

Eithne Massey
Dublin City Library and Archive
Click on any image for a larger version

Don't be afraid. We are not talking high society here. No croquet on the lawn or shooting up the local peasants.

This is the day when members of local history societies present some of their work to an admiring public.

And no, you don't have to be a history buff to attend. In fact I'd recommend attendance if you have the slightest interest in your local history, or in your family history, which has to be based in some locality.

I went to a talk in Raheny library the other night. Noel Carolan was presenting his family history and showing us some of the magic he used in compiling it. I expected it to be of moderate general interest at most but went along anyway. I'm glad I didn't miss it. Not only had he systematically captured his family history, filed it all and presented it in gorgeous multimedia, but, more importantly for me, he turns out to be from the same townland as one of my great grandparents, Creewood in the parish of Grangegeeth in Co. Meath. I am currently in a cul de sac on that part of my research, so who knows what Noel's familiarity and expertise might unearth. If you don't go to thee things you'll never know what you are missing.

Back to local history day. Eithne (above) was MC for the day and she started out with Joan Sharkey's talk on Marie Elizabeth Hayes.

Marie Hayes's story is an inspiring one despite its sad ending. Marie was the Raheny Rector's daughter who studied medicine and went to India as a doctor/missionary to serve the poor. She took on a lot of responsibility, was loved by those among whom she lived, but died within two years of arrival.

Joan Sharkey
Raheny Heritage Society

A celtic cross was erected to Marie's memory in Raheny and a miniature replica is now the centrepiece of the newly opened memorial garden in All Saints Church. Joan will be publishing her latest research in an upcoming issue of the Dublin Historical Record.

Edmond O'Donovan treated us to a fascinating glimpse into church archeology - how to find old church sites and what to do with them when you do. He took us through some examples of excavations in Wicklow and Dublin and even mentioned my own ancient church in Killiney.

Edmond O'Donovan
Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland

He stressed that nobody should be put off by the name of the Society. The Royal bit didn't mean you had to be of noble extraction or dress up to join and take part in its activities. Nor did the antiquary label denote a crowd of fuddy duddies. They were all normal folk like himself.

James Scannell gave us a forensic analyis of the 1957 Dundrum Railcar Collision in which one of the drivers lost his life. It all started with a cow on the line, but the accident was not the cow's fault. Human error was the problem. One very basic error compounded by a number of others. The signalman at Foxrock station, who made the first, and most grievous, error was summarily dismissed from his job. It is a very interesting case ethically, quite apart from the railway mechanics, and it would be interesting to see how such a situation would pan out today.

James Scannell
Old Bray Society

I suggested that when the railways were changing over from single to double track they should have kept the old staff system which had a built in fail safe mechanism. I think James might have had some sympathy with that view. But, at the end of the day, we are all slaves to "progress".

Rosemary Raughter gave us a run down on the Whitshed family of Dublin and a right lot of scoundrels they seem to have been. One of them who crossed Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick's, never quite recovered from the good Dean's riposts.

Rosemary Raughter
Greystones Archaeological and Historical Society

Rosemary also drew attention to the danger of having your gravestone moved around a lot.

Henry Fairbrother took us on a trip through Mount Jerome cemetery. The cemetery is currently owned by Alan Massey who has undertaken a major refurbishment. As well as outlining the history of the cemetery, Henry filled us in on the background of some of those buried there.

Henry Fairbrother
Old Dublin Society

As well as attending the day, I accidentally found out on my way in that the Spanish training Tall Ship, Juan Sebastián de Elcano, was in town, so I went home with a crop of photos in addition to anything I may have picked up at the day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just came on your site by accident - delighted you enjoyed the day incl my paper on those disreputable Whitsheds!