Cassmob’s Merry Month of May Music Meme response

The Merry Month of May Music Meme: a meme for your amusement.

Since the whole point of this is to have fun, retrieve memories and generally chill out (very 60s!), feel free to amend/add/subtract. I’m not even going to ask you the usual checklist of have done, want to do, don’t want to do. If you feel the urge, go ahead, you know how it works. And, geneabloggers, yes there is still family history value in this: give your descendants a laugh, let them get to know you with your hair down.

  1. Song(s)/Music from your childhood: Mum singing Turaluralura, that’s an Irish lullaby; Mum singing around the house, Dad signing in B flat but trying bush ballads; my grandmother playing Scottish music on the gramophone.
  2. Song(s)/Musos from your teenage years: The Beatles, Elvis, Rolling Stones, Monkees, Bob Dylan, Herman’s Hermits, Acker Bilk, Dean Martin, Cat Stevens, Beach Boys, Mamas & Papas.
  3. First live concert you attended: The Beatles in Brisbane (what an adventure!)
  4. Songs your parents sang along to: I’ll take you home again Kathleen; Old Man River, Danny Boy, Aussie bush ballads…..
  5. Song(s)/Music your grandparents sang/played: Scottish music (one side of the family); Catholic hymns or Irish songs (the other side of the family)
  6. Did your family have sing-a-longs at home or a neighbours: A family in the neighbourhood used to have a pianola and hosted occasional sing-a-longs
  7. Did you have a musical instrument at home: No, I learnt the piano briefly and played at the neighbours: we used to have chopsticks-playing speed competitions.
  8. What instruments do you play (if any): None, sadly for me, happily for my listeners.
  9. What instruments do you wish you could play: Bagpipes, fiddle, guitar (in that order).
  10. Do you/did you play in a band or orchestra: See #8
  11. Do you/did you sing in a choir: Even worse than #8
  12. Music you fell in love to/with or were married to: Dean Martin, Acker Bilk, Mozart’s 21st: the theme to Elvira Madigan, a star-crossed-lovers kind of movie (why we chose this I have no idea)
  13. Romantic music memories: Making my mother-in-law cry with Mozart’s 21st as I walked down the aisle at our wedding; listening to A Woman’s Heart for the first time in Dingle; our daughters’ music compilation for our 40th anniversary.
  14. Favourite music genre(s): Classical, light opera, world, with a dash of 60s pop.
  15. Favourite classical music song(s)/album: The Swoon Collection III, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
  16. Favourite opera/light opera song(s)/album: Cieli di Toscana and any other Andrea Boccelli; Puccini Romance
  17. Favourite musical song(s)/album: Abba the Movie (for the sheer fun of it)
  18. Favourite pop song(s)/album: The Essential Roy Orbison, Hot August Night,
  19. Favourite world/ethnic song(s)/album: A Woman’s Heart (love the Caledonia track), any/all of Mary Black’s albums; any/all of Capercaillie’s albums; Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunipingu’s Gurrumul, especially the tracks in language.
  20. Favourite jazz song(s)/album: not really into jazz but willing to be converted.
  21. Favourite country or folk song(s)/album: Sara Storer (especially Billabong, Tell These Hands, Raining on the Plains, Boss Drover’s Pride, Katherine); The Rankins Endless Seasons; Former NT Administrator Ted Egan’s songs on Australian and Territory history; Graeme Connor’s North album for its North Queensland influences.
  22. Favourite show/movie musical: My Fair Lady, Abba the Movie
  23. Favourite sounds tracks: Mad Hot Ballroom (an inspirational doco on New York school kids in a dance competition); No Reservations; Top Gun (oh, yeah, love those songs).
  24. What music do you like to dance to: Hmm, I married a non-dancer, but folk music or 60s. I did the twist at my daughter’s wedding with my girlfriends and man, did my legs pay for it the next day! Oh yes, and I forgot the Hucklebuck. At uni, I used to do ballroom dancing two or three nights a week.
  25. What dances did you do as a teenager: jive, twist, rumba, cha-cha etc etc.
  26. Do you use music for caller ID on your mobile: for my nearest and dearest (very handy) and on the house phone, for friends except for those pesky private numbers.
  27. What songs do you use for caller ID: Dancing Queen, Pretty Woman, Mama Mia (reflecting people’s enthusiasms)
  28. What songs do your children like or listen to: Popular, Country, an obsession with our old “Summer Holiday” LP, anything and everything.
  29. Favourite live music concerts as an adult: Paul Simon’s Graceland concert, Guinness Irish concerts, Neil Diamond.
  30. Silly music memories from your family: “take me home west virginger (Virginia)” (she was only 4); the look on the same daughter’s face when the rest of us came back from a Territory holiday singing country; belting out “riding right on into Queensland” (Ted Egan) at the end of a very very long drive.
  31. Silliest song you can think of: this one came to me this morning (late addition) Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay and pinching from Catherine on this one: Purple People Eater
  32. Pet hate in music/singing: Australian country singers using American accents; Nelson Eddy and Janette McDonald warbling; those incredibly sexist 60s songs that now put my teeth on edge.
  33. A song that captures family history for you: Flesh and Blood composed by Aussie Shane Howard and sung by Irish singer, Mary Black has been a favourite since I first heard it on the bus to Canberra in 1994. The lyrics are so apt for family history[i]. It’s on The Holy Ground CD. Another might be Graeme Connor’s Let the canefields burn for the changes in family circumstances or Sicilian Born for the impact of migration.
  34. If you could only play 5 albums (assume no iPods or mp3) for the rest of your life, what would they be: The Swoon Collection III; Deep Peace; Gurrumul; A Woman’s Heart; Graceland.
  35. Favourite musicians: go ahead and list as many as you like: Neil Diamond, Andrea Boccelli, Capercaillie, Mary Black, Altan, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunipingu, Handel, Vivaldi, Puccini……

I had fun, and I hope you do too when you do the meme. Mr Cassmob reckons that if you can remember the 60s you weren’t there. Hah, I was such a sweet young thing in those days!


[i] I was however puzzled by an Irish woman singing “if we leave here today we could be a thousand miles away”. It made much more sense when I found the lyrics were written by an Australian.

Merry Month of May Music Meme

What with the A to Z challenge and Anzac Day posts, April was rather a serious month of blogging. A week or so ago, after a series of blog comments my genimate[i] Catherine and I reckoned we needed a bit of frivolity. Catherine posted the humorous Purple People Eater on her blog for light relief. This morning it occurred to me that what we need is a (hopefully) fun meme so here it is….drum roll.

The Merry Month of May Music Meme: a meme for your amusement.

Since the whole point of this is to have fun, retrieve memories and generally chill out (very 60s!), feel free to amend/add/subtract. I’m not even going to ask you to do the usual checklist of have done, want to do, don’t want to do. If you feel the urge, go ahead, you know how it works. And, geneabloggers, yes there is still family history value in this: give your descendants a laugh, let them get to know you with your hair down. Don’t forget, anyone can join in – it will make it much more fun.

I’ll be posting my responses later today and I’m even going to try to be spontaneous – first song/music that comes into my head. If you decide to join in please let me know via the links below (it’s supposed to be fun, so I’m not going to learn about linky-doo-dahs).

  1. Song(s)/Music from your childhood:
  2. Song(s)/ Musos from your teenage years:
  3. First live concert you attended:
  4. Songs your parents sang along to:
  5. Song(s)/Music your grandparents sang/played:
  6. Did your family have sing-a-longs at home or a neighbours:
  7. Did you have a musical instrument at home:
  8. What instruments do you play (if any):
  9. What instruments do you wish you could play:
  10. Do you/did you play in a band or orchestra:
  11. Do you/did you sing in a choir:
  12. Music you fell in love to/with or were married to:
  13. Romantic music memories:
  14. Favourite music genre(s):
  15. Favourite classical music:
  16. Favourite opera/light opera:
  17. Favourite musical:
  18. Favourite pop:
  19. Favourite world/ethnic:
  20. Favourite jazz:
  21. Favourite country or folk:
  22. Favourite movie/show musical:
  23. Favourite sounds tracks:
  24. What music do you like to dance to:
  25. What dances did you do as a teenager:
  26. Do you use music for caller ID on your mobile:
  27. What songs do you use for caller ID:
  28. What songs do your children like or listen to:
  29. Favourite live music concerts as an adult:
  30. Silly music memories from your family:
  31. Silliest song you can think of:
  32. Pet hate in music/singing:
  33. A song that captures family history for you:
  34. If you could only play 5 albums (assume no iPods or mp3) for the rest of your life, what would they be:
  35. Favourite artists (go ahead and list as many as you like):

Let’s go Merry Month of May-ing

I hope you have fun dredging up some memories and get into the spirit of a Merry Month of May.


[i] Term coined by Jill Ball of Geniaus.

Migration then and now: precious packages

Julie from Anglers Rest blog recently posed a question in her A to Z challenge: what 5 precious things or books would you take to a new country and way of life. This set me to thinking of two strands: what precious things might my ancestors have brought to Australia, and what would I take now in the 21st century if I was relocating to another country.

MY ANCESTORS’ precious package might have included:

1.      Courage

The courage, blended with a mix of hope, faith and perhaps desperation, to take this giant voyage across the world because life would be better enough to overcome their losses of home place and family.

2.      Strength

Their physical strength, health and stamina were pivotal to surviving in the new life. It was a physically demanding life for most, so good health was essential. I think this is why most made good immigrants: they came from difficult situations in the most part and were used to hard work. Diaries and anecdotal evidence suggest they were amazed by the volume and quality of food they had here.

3.      Faith

Most of my ancestors came to Australia with a strong religious faith. The Irish Catholics among them mostly couldn’t read, so bibles, missals and prayer books would have been of no use to them.  I’m guessing they would have brought their rosary beads with them and/or possibly some water from a holy well nearby (the Irish were big on holy wells). Perhaps my German Catholic, George Kunkel, who was literate, may have brought a bible or prayer book in German. My Presbyterian McCorkindales definitely brought a family bible (now disappeared within the family) and I’m sure my Anglican/non-Conformist English rellies would have brought theirs as well.

4.      Mementos and money

Would they have picked a sprig of heather or a shamrock and pressed it so they could carry a little bit of home with them? Remembering no photographs and no money, did they bring some sketch of home? Most probably not, given they were mostly all relatively poor. Later emigrants may have brought something like that. Imagine leaving home forever, crossing the oceans, with nothing but a mental image of your loved ones and your birthplace…unimaginable to me. No wonder they were keen to send photographs home once the technology was available.

It’s likely they each had little money to bring with them, only as much as they or their families could manage.

5.      Family or friends

A surprising number of immigrants to Australia travelled with family or friends. Even though many of migration schemes focused on single people, it doesn’t mean they travelled alone. The vinedresser scheme for the German immigrants was the reverse, applying only to families. Single people had to pre-contract work with agents in Germany before departure.

Packing

The physical things on this list would have been packed into their ship’s chest which already contained the government’s statutory requirements for clothing and living supplies. Without this stock of specified items they could not accept the government funding and this alone would preclude some from making the voyage. Board of Guardian minutes reveal that the workhouse guardians knew they were getting a good deal by swapping the cost of kitting out a pauper emigrant and saving on the long-term cost of maintaining them. The Australian governments were much less pleased with the exchange.

In the 21st Century, I’m unlikely to feel I can never return to my place of birth, so the same courage is not required. What would I take with me if I thought I was going for 12 months or more (remember that Lotto dream).

MY PRECIOUS PACKAGE:

1.      Adventure

A sense of adventure and optimism about the experiences and opportunities ahead is probably my “driver” for this migration, temporary or other. I believe it’s our ancestors’ leap of faith to migrate to Australia that has made Aussies “victims” of wanderlust.

2.      Health, energy and education

Without these it would be so much harder to maximise the adventure. I would be able to keep in touch throughout my time away, even without technology, because I can read and write.

3.      Technology

I would regard my light-weight laptop as a non-negotiable item. On it I’d have my family history, photos of family, friends, home and places I visit; books to read; videos to watch; and the opportunity to email, Skype and digitally record my experiences.

My camera would also be a non-negotiable item (#4 on the list if need be). The 21st century equivalent of the Grand Tourist’s sketchbook.

4.      Mementos and money

What small mementos would I take? I’d probably carry one hard-copy photo of my family, a painting by each of my grandchildren (only 3 sheets of paper), and some small iconic item (a shell or stone) that pins me to home, and no, not a toy koala or kangaroo.

Internet banking, savings and credit cards would mean I’d likely never feel as close to the breadline as my ancestors did.

5.      Family or friends

Travel is so much more fun with family so I’d like to take my husband with me.

Packing

What would I carry? A small backpack for items 3 and 4, and a drag-bag for as few clothes as I could manage. International airlines are less forgiving with weight than those long-ago sailing ships. There are also far more shops at my destination so as long as I have the cash I can take care of the daily practicalities. This is all about what I can’t buy wherever I go.

Thanks Julie for a fun and inspirational post. I’ve enjoyed thinking about the comparisons between then and now.

K is captivated by Kathmandu, Kildare and Kavieng

I am participating in the A to Z 2012 blog challenge throughout April. My theme is a genealogical travelogue or a travel genealogue (I’m not sure which). Today’s “K” post mixes long-ago family history with recent family history and travelogue.

K is for Kathmandu (Nepal)

Kathmandu © P Cass 1977

Kathmandu was on my husband’s bucket list long before the expression had been invented. When friends and colleagues from Port Moresby got a posting to Kathmandu to work at the airport, he was quick to take advantage of their offer of a visit….something we’d have been unlikely to do otherwise with a six year old and a four year old in tow. We tacked the detour onto the kids’ first trip to Europe and as the plane came into land amidst lightning and murky wet season weather, we were very pleased to know our friend was in charge of the airport’s electrical systems.

What a fascinating place Kathmandu was, not on the 1970s hippie trail, but as parents with small children. Our friends made it so much easier being able to have good accommodation, safe food and triply-distilled water. All of us were overwhelmed by our couple of days in New Delhi with its crowds, begging and understandable confrontational style. Our main regret is that jet lag and culture shock meant we didn’t have the energy to do a day trip to Agra and the Taj Mahal as we’d hoped.

Kathmandu craftsmen -tinsmiths or silversmiths (I can't recall) © P Cass 1977.

Life tough for the Nepali people but they seemed somehow more happy and less aggressive, and mostly we enjoyed Kathmandu. Leprosy and deformities were rife: confronting sights even for those accustomed to life in Papua New Guinea and not a first world country.

Pashupatinath Kathmandu © P Cass 1977

The sights and memories are many: the little cubbyholes in which people worked at tin or silver smithing, or sari-making; Durba Square; the toothache shrine, the nearby smell unbelievable; a man reading the newspaper to a crowd of men sitting on the steps; the sacred cows everywhere on the road; the  monks and faithful spinning the prayer wheels at Boudhanath or Swayambunath; monkeys in Pashupatinatheven seeing a cremation by the river there. Our friends encouraged us to let the children watch and they seemed quite mesmerised and not at all traumatised by it.

The Himalaya from the air: meringue mountains. © P Cass 1977

Our friend’s work took him to various outstations and we were able to travel with him in the truck to sightsee. I clearly remember driving through a village where the grain was laid out in the street to be threshed by the passing vehicles running over it. Far too often for my liking the vehicle was far too close to the precipitous edge of a road due the narrowness, not the driving.

We even managed a tourist flight to Mt Everest despite bad weather cancelling our first planned flight. Special memories of a truly unusual place and one we were privileged to visit.

K is for County Kildare (Ireland)

Ballymore Eustace Catholic Church, Co Kildare © P Cass 1992

My Denis Gavin, who you’ve heard about lately, says he was from Ballymore Eustace, County Kildare. Mind you he’s also stated on his second marriage certificate that he was born in Dublin. On his immigration record[i] he said that his parents were Denis and Mary Gavin, that his father was dead but his mother was in Kildare. You can see there’s some ambiguity here for family history research.

Nearly 20 years ago I tried to resolve this problem by visiting the parish church at Ballymore Eustace looking for his baptism circa 1834 (his age maths tends to be a bit arbitrary), but got no results. I thought I’d struck it lucky when I found a Denis Gavin listed on the Griffith Valuations and with a probate entry, but apparently not. That particular Denis Gavin was a single man with no family other than a sister to whom he left his estate. I keep checking the indexes (IrishGenealogy.ie or RootsIreland.ie) but to no avail.

Where does this leave me? All these years later I’m still uncertain as to whether Denis came from Co Kildare or Co Dublin or where his family had lived. I’m not quite willing to call it a brick wall but it is something of a commando-standard challenge. Perhaps I’m too close to it and can no longer see the genealogical woods for the family history forest.

K is for Kavieng (Papua New Guinea)

Legur Beach, Kavieng © P Cass 1973

Kavieng, New Ireland Province, is where my husband’s parents lived in the early 1970s.  I’ve talked about how we swapped our fresh veg for their fresh crayfish, a winning exchange in my book. We visited them for a long weekend (possibly Easter) and enjoyed being able to swim in the sea after a few years in the Highlands, though it was a long walk out over the crushed coral to get far enough into the water to swim. Neither of us has many memories of the place, other than that it was quite flat, with a lot of coconut plantations and we saw war-time wreckage and bomb craters as we flew in. Mr Cassmob’s comment when asked for inspiration: Em tasol – sori long lusim tingting (Pidgin for that’s all, sorry I can’t remember).

K is for Korea

McDonald's Corner at the start of the Kokoda Track © P Cass 1976.

My father’s cousin went missing in action in Korea, aged 22. His family were devastated and over the years continued to try to learn more about what happened to him. I told his storylast year in an Anzac Day blog post. If anyone reading this post is related to his friends on his final patrol I’d love to hear from you.

K is for Kokoda Track or Trail (Papua New Guinea)

The Kokoda Track/Trail[ii]was a pivotal battleground of World War II in PNG and is now something of a pilgrimage site for Australians. When we went to Papua New Guinea soon after being married, my husband took me for a drive out of Port Moresby to Sogeri, where he’d lived for a while, and McDonald’s Corner, the southern gateway to the Track. I found it quite sobering to stand at a place which had become famous in Australian folklore.

A to Z Challenge suggestions:

You might fancy a dip into Italy with Lady Reader’s Bookstuff or Someone has to say it on intellectual property rights for books or a heartfelt post by A Common Sea.


[i] NSW Board Immigrant’s Lists for Fortune 1855, microfilm 2469.

[ii] The terminology has been hotly debated. The Australian War Memorial explains it here.

The Reader Geneameme

Geniaus has been at it again and has set us a challenge to honour the National Year of Reading.

The list should be annotated in the following manner:

Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional) (I’ve italicised the names so need the colour to set my wish-list apart)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type
You are encouraged to add extra comments in brackets after each item.

Which of these apply to you? 

  1. Have you written any books? My family history: Grassroots Queenslanders: the Kunkel family published in 2003. Have another up my sleeve.
  2. Have you published any books? Yes I self-published the above book.
  3. Can you recommend an inspiring biography? Robert Dunne, Archbishop of Brisbane by Neil J Byrne was interesting to me because of its relevance to my family history. Life Class, the education of a biographer by Brenda Nial was very engaging. I’ve been going to read the biography of Sir William Deane but haven’t got to it yet.
  4. Do you keep a reading log? If yes, in what format? Sort, of. I have a list of my books on LibraryThing and also on Collectorz. I can also check my borrowing list from the Palmerston Library any time I want. But this is all recent….we’ve disposed of many books so I’d struggle to remember. Perhaps something I’d like to keep up with in the future.
  5. Are you a buyer or a borrower of books? I’ve always been a buyer of far more books than I should but I also borrow a lot either from the Council library or on inter-library loan from the National Library of Australia –depends what it is.
  6. Where do you get reading recommendations? Bibliographies, blog comments, newspaper reviews, personal recommendations.
  7. What is the ONE genealogy reference book you can’t do without? Just one??? I look at my shelves and I don’t think I can pick just one…it depends what research I’m doing. Okay, my huge German dictionary may have to be my “just one”.
  8. Do you hoard books or do you discard them when you have finished? Both! I’ve been a hoarder of books all my life – used to envy anyone with full bookcases. With run-of-the mill stuff we discard them after they’ve done the rounds of family and friends and we’ve re-read them.
  9. How many books are in your genealogy library? LOTS – Three full bookcases.
  10. What’s your favourite genealogy magazine or journal? I find I don’t read magazines much anymore. I don’t have one specific favourite journal. My blog reading has taken over.
  11. Where are the bookshelves in your house? Everywhere.
  12. Do you read e-books? How? Yes, I read them either on the Kindle or ipad.
  13. How many library cards do you have? NT x 3, SLQ, NSW, NLA plus society library cards and overseas cards for travelling.
  14. What was the last genealogy title you read? Part way through Behind the plough: agrarian society in 19th century Hertfordshire.
  15. What is your favourite bookshop? Living in Darwin I have to say Amazon or Booktopia.
  16. Do you have a traditional printed encyclopaedia in your house?  No, never have had..our refrain was always “look it up in the dictionary” –or the relevant book.
  17. Who are the authors in your family tree and what have they written? There are a couple of PhDs in my family tree, one who is well-published in the field of Japanese-Australian economics. I haven’t come across any distant ancestors who were authors which is a great shame.
  18. Who is your favourite author? I have runs of favourites and read them until I tire of them. I love Bill Bryson’s take on travel with amusing descriptions of Darwin. Geraldine Brooks would probably also feature though I still have some of hers to read. Helene Hanff’s 84 Charing Cross Rd.
  19. Where do you buy books? Mostly online these days.
  20. Can you nominate a must-read fiction title? Far too many fact or faction. Perhaps The House by the Thames by Gillian Tindall (excellent though very much fact/ion), Walter Macken’s The Silent People which was a fictional account of the Famine; Geraldine Brooks People of the Book.
  21. How many books are in your personal library? Collectorz tells me I’ve now got over 800 in my library. Many others sold off or donated over the years.
  22. What is your dictionary of choice? Oxford.
  23. Where do you read? Indoors/outdoors/bed/lounge/anywhere.
  24. What was your favourite childhood book? Heidi
  25. Do you have anything else to say about books and reading? Do it as much as possible and start kids young! Our two-year old grandson already insists on a book to take to afternoon nap time.

Beyond the Internet: Week 7 and the days of the old school yard.

This is Week 7 in my Beyond the Internet series of topics in which I explore the sources of information beyond our computer screens. I’d love it if you wanted to join in with your own posts on this week’s topic which is school histories, albums and newsletters. I’d particularly like to hear how people in other states and countries use these records so we can all learn from each other. If you do decide to take up this topic would you please leave a note in the comments or on Google+ as the Google alert is just not cooperating.

School histories

School histories can be a valuable source of background information including admissions and old class photos.

In Australia it’s fairly common for schools of all shapes and sizes to publish histories on a school anniversary eg centenaries. I don’t honestly know how prevalent this practice is overseas. These histories run the gamut from informal unstructured publications to books with high quality research. Some in the pre-computer era are rather basic productions while others are glossy bound books. Either way it’s likely you’ll find something that’s useful if your relative attended that school…there’s almost always some little anecdote that will let you flesh out your relative’s school story “back in the day”.  Many that I have seen include a list of early student admissions and some have very early photos of teachers, students and the school. For example in the first Murphys Creek school history there’s a picture of Maggie Kunkel among the students, even though the admission rolls no longer exist.

School albums or annuals

School albums can be a rich source of photos.

Have you been wondering what your great-aunt or uncle looked like? Or perhaps what a relative or ancestor’s hobbies or skills were? School albums might just provide these clues…after all it works for Sue Grafton’s detective extraordinaire Kinsey Milhone, who’s sleuthing in the 1980s. Remember all those class photos that you had taken? Well they’ve been a tradition for a very long time and if your relative’s school still exists, perhaps the school library retains copies of the annuals which you can trawl for clues and photos. You might find out they were superb singers, on the debating team, an excellent swimmer or football player – all those tiny details that add richness to the lives we’re trying to recover from the past.

School newsletters

School newsletters are more likely to give you the gossipy stories.

I think most large schools probably had school newsletters which again may be in the school library or perhaps a local heritage centre. This is where you’ll get the more informal take on your ancestor if they make an appearance. A word of warning though, journalistic integrity may not be high and there may be outright fibs told for the sake of a good story. What you will get is the flavour of school life in the time period of the newsletter – all grist for the writing mill.

Admittedly I went to a large school in Brisbane and it has been around for a long time in Australian terms, so in years to come my descendants will find traces of my school life throughout these sources….but sadly they won’t find a trace of singing or sporting excellence. I have a confession to make, though, as I have yet to visit the libraries to get my own parents’ school photos and background. It’s about time I took my own advice!

What about your family’s school stories? Have you found anything interesting, exciting or just fun in their school’s publications? What games and events were capturing people’s imaginations? Their generation’s version of Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest?

Second anniversary of my blog – sharing and learning in community with other genies around the world.

The world is your family tree oyster with blogging. Edited image from Office Clip Art.Today is my second anniversary of blog-writing. It’s been a fascinating journey and one which has taken me on a different path from what I originally anticipated. When I began I wanted to share information on “my” Dorfprozelten immigrants, try to attract anyone with Broadford or East Clare ancestry and share some of my family history research and a little bit about living in the Top End of Australia. I was totally naive about genealogy blogging and didn’t even know Geneabloggers existed or how many genealogy bloggers were out there sharing their research, skills and knowledge.

My first year was a “toe in the water” year as I was still working full-time, unsure about my posts, and not devoting much time to the blog. After finishing work this time last year I ramped up my blog presence and thanks to people like Geneabloggers came to realise just how many fascinating blogs were being written. Tips from other bloggers like Geniaus and then RootsTech 2011 also expanded my techno skills in this area. In those early days, comments from fellow bloggers like Carole Riley inspired me to keep writing and let me know I wasn’t writing into a vacuum.

After two years, I’ve found that it’s the comments from fellow bloggers that I value most of all and so I also make an effort to comment on the various blogs I read. I’m not sure Google Reader is such a good idea because I now have a long list of blogs I look at in varying detail and some I read faithfully every post. :-)

My most popular single post has been my Dorfprozelten page about the immigrants from that small village on the River Main in Bavaria, Germany. It’s been a great meeting place for people with ancestors from there, and there’ve been wonderful times when I’ve felt a bit like a match-maker connecting linked families. A big bonus! I’m considering splitting this theme off into a separate blog in 2012 and adding more of my research.

I’d love to have heard more from people with ancestors from anywhere in East Clare (from the Limerick/Tipperary border across to Ennis) and especially Broadford, but this hasn’t been as productive as the Dorfprozelten page.

This year I’ve participated in the series designed by Amy Coffin, 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History as well as the Geneabloggers Advent Calendar of Memories. The topics have made me dredge my memory for things that have been mentally filed away for years, so it’s been a great opportunity to revisit them and document the history. My main motivation for posting on these topics has been to leave my own history for my children and descendants so I will be combining these posts into book form (Olive Tree Genealogy has some tips here). It’s also been great fun to do some of the geneamemes that have come through…inspires me to think about what I might do differently, what skills to add to my repertoire and consider which things I want to include vs which I don’t. I also had a crack at a geneameme myself, Beyond the Internet, with the goal of highlighting just how much genealogy information is still off-line and what can be found there.

A while ago I posted on Open Thread Thursday about The Benefits of Blog reading and Why I blog, based on my experiences over the past two years. It’s been a great journey and I’ve gained so much from being part of the online genealogy community – even more valuable to me as I live away from many of the resources and learning opportunities others take for granted.

To all my followers and occasional readers, a HUGE thank you! You have become my online community and it’s your visits and especially your comments that make blogging so interesting and keep up my enthusiasm levels. I look forward to “speaking” with you again in 2012.

Christmas is coming Down Under

That's Darwin starred at the top of Australia and you can see from the blue line that we're close to the equator.

Can you believe it will be December tomorrow? I’m having difficulty doing so, even though we’re in the throes of Christmas parties, pageants and concerts and the shops are full of tinsel and gifts (thought I haven’t noticed carol music yet).

Inspired by Geneabloggers I will be doing my Advent Calendar of Memories this year…I was so taken with the thought that I’ve already put some of my stories together. I just have to find the photos to go with them…rather more of a challenge. Still, before I start in on the series, I thought it opportune to set the Christmas scene Down Under for any readers overseas. Readers at home will already know the score.

The Christmas Season Down Under is:

*        The height of the summer season – think temperatures anywhere between 25C and 40C (77F to 104F) depending on where you live, but around 30C (86F) is average. Darwin has projected temps for the coming week of 33-35C (95F) with mostly 80% humidity (which is the kicker) and thunderstorms every day. We’re in the Build-Up so that’s life here.

*        End of the school year: kids graduating, moving on to new schools, classes, teachers and friends, concerts etc. For teachers it’s all of the above plus assessments and reports. These school holidays are about six weeks long and the equivalent of the northern August holidays.

*        End of academic and financial year for anyone working in universities as well: exams and assessments, applications for entry based on final school exams, close off of finances, reappointment of contract staff, frenzied deadlines, parties etc. Not too much Christmas spirit left by Christmas Eve!

*        End of year performances/parties for any activity or sport, adults and/or children are involved with. Crazy time especially if special costumes are involved.

*        The main go-on-holidays season of the year when people pack up and go to the beach or to family for up to a month. Camping grounds around the country will be packed from around Christmas until late January. Flights are heavily booked and expensive!

*        Christmas parties are often in the first weeks of December because lots of people start their holidays as soon as school holidays commence.

*        Competition at work for who gets to take their long holidays over Christmas-January.

*        People are grumpy when out shopping because they’re hot and tired and the carparks (and shops) are full and the cars are hot when you get back to them…but that’s probably true when it’s cold and snowing too, just substitute cold for hot in that sentence, and with more clothes to deal with. :-)

*        Needless to say, with all this hot weather, Christmas clothing has to be cool and is often casual. Over the years Australians have come to adapt their eating habits too.

*        For lots of pets it’s the time for them to have a relaxing holiday in the local pet resort, and sadly for some, it will be when they are dumped or left to fend for themselves.

*        It’s also daylight from about 4am until about 9pm so Christmas lights don’t have the same impact until later in the night. (lucky Darwin, our daylight sits around 6.15am to 7pm all year).

*        Boxing Day in Australia is a wind-down day after Christmas and a chance to kick back and watch the start of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race or to watch the Boxing Day cricket test match.

Darwin is very much a city where people have come from somewhere else – relatively few are born and bred Territorians. Consequently as many head back to their home states for the holidays and to see families, the city becomes a bit deserted but pleasantly quiet. The tourists usually avoid the hot weather and heavy rain but lately that’s been changing a bit. If it’s raining you can turn on the air-conditioning and let the grey skies convince you that it’s chilly outside as well. The downside to Darwin is that we can’t go swimming at the beach no matter how hot it is, thanks to crocs and stingers! Thank heavens, and Hendo, for the new wave pool. :-)

I’m looking forward to reading how others spend their Christmas and holiday season through the Geneabloggers’ Advent Calendar 2011.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (on Monday): Thanksgiving for family history blessings

Randy Seaver at Genea-musings set this week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun exercise: a special Thanksgiving Edition. In Australia we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but that’s no reason why we shouldn’t give thanks for the wonderful people and information we encounter in our family history searching.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  Think about the answers to these questions and

2)  Tell us about it in a blog post of your own; in a comment to this blog post; in a Facebook status line or a Google Plus stream post.

a.  Which ancestor are you most thankful for, and why?

Mary O'Brien from County Clare, later Mary Kunkel from Murphys Creek, Qld. I think her character and strength show through in this photo.

Just one? Okay, I’ve decided on my Mary O’Brien from County Clare. Why? Well she was obviously robust and healthy having survived the Great Irish Famine (An Gorta Mór) and then safely delivering 10 children in those pioneering days. She had the courage to marry a man from another nationality (German) though they shared a common Catholic faith. While her husband was away working she kept the family going,  raised their family and helped to establish the family farm to ensure they could acquire and keep their land. I love the fact that on an early electoral roll she is identified as a farmer[i]. Thanks to the fact that she shared her family story with her grand-daughter, I found clues that identified her home in Ireland and connected her siblings and extended family around the world.

b.  Which author (book, periodical, website, etc.) are you most thankful for, and why?
No, sorry can’t do a tie-breaker on this question. If I really had to, I’d pick Georg Veh.

BOOK: I am most grateful to Georg Veh, the local historian from Dorfprozelten in Bavaria for his excellent local history books about the village: he and his team of co-workers have provided me with superb background to the village in general, and to my Happ ancestors’ lives as inn-keepers….not to mention challenging hours refreshing my German skills.

WEBSITE: Clare Library has been an innovator in the sphere of family and local history within the Irish context for many years. Thanks to their vision and the hard work of volunteers many records have been indexed and made available free of charge. Knowing that the indexing work is cross-checked gives confidence when searching.

c.  Which historical record set (paper or website) are you most thankful for, and why?

After much consideration I have opted for the Board’s Immigration Lists (shipping records) from the State Records Authority of New South Wales. Where available, these provide more detail on the immigrants’ family and place of origin than the Agent’s Immigrant Lists (latter now online) – sometimes critical clues on their life, pre-Australia. It’s definitely worth-while looking at the Board Lists on microfilm if it’s available. Although I still can’t find some of my ancestors arriving in Australia, this record set has been invaluable for others and for my East Clare research.


[i] Queensland State Electoral Roll 1915, district of Drayton, division of Helidon, registered 22 June 1905. Queensland women first gained suffrage on 24 January 1905, although at the federal level they had been entitled to vote since 1902. Mary obviously took her entitlement seriously and her first opportunities to cast her vote would have been in 1903 (Federal) and 1907 (Queensland). It has to be said that South Australia was well ahead of the other states/colonies, giving their women the right to vote as early as 1895.

52 weeks of personal genealogy and history: Week 46: Politics not one of my favourite things

The topic for Week 46 in Amy Coffin’s and Geneablogger’s 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History series is: Politics. What are your childhood memories of politics? Were your parents active in politics? What political events and elections do you remember from your youth?

If I was to go all Julie Andrews in Sound of Music, politics would not be one of my favourite things in the world.

I have few childhood memories of politics until towards the end of my primary school years when reading the newspaper became part of our school homework. I think family listening to the news was restricted because of my father’s shift-work hours and sleeping patterns. I’m sure my parents listened when he was up and about…Dad was devoted to his “tranny” (transistor radio) as he always called it and in his old age would listen to the hourly news bulletins. Politics was not really discussed at home all that much when I was a child, at least that I recall.

Union politics and work matters were more likely to feature in the daily discussions as Dad was always an active union member, not always agreeing with the majority rank-and-file, and outspoken in his views. It’s only recently through Trove, that I’ve learned of my maternal grandfather’s political involvement: he was a union official and also had an official role with the Australian Labor Party(ALP), (not to mention the Hibernian Society). Given the presence of a declaration re the Irish constitution among his belongings it seems he also maintained a close interest in Irish political happenings, despite leaving the country as a two-year old. Neither of my parents was active in political affairs generally.

Particular memories of political events which have stayed with me are the election of John F Kennedy as the President of the United States of America which was a landmark event for Catholics across the globe. His assassination was consequently all the more shocking, and I remember my mother coming to wake me up that morning to tell me the President had been killed. Somehow it’s linked in my mind with being woken up a couple of years later to be told my beloved grandfather had died overnight.

I also remember the visit of Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) to Brisbane and the cries of “All the way with LBJ”. The significance of the first visit of an American President to Australia was huge at the time and he was received by enthusiastic supporters. An interesting contrast with this week’s visit to Darwin by President Barack Obama when roads were closed and the general public had very little opportunity to see him – except on TV. The Defence Force members who heard his short speech and had a meet-and-greet with him seemed very keen to shake his hand and say hello (or g’day). He also won hearts among the survivors of the Bombing of Darwin who met him.

Other political “events” I remember are:

  1. The response of church leaders and teachers to the Communist Chinese threat in the 1950s, complete with gory details taught to five year olds.
  2. The establishment of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP) with its anti-Communist, pro-Catholic aims and the break-away impact on the Australian Labor Party.
  3. The conservative governments in Queensland and Australia which were in power through much of my youth and into my adulthood.
  4. The all-pervasiveness of Prime Minister Robert Menzies and later Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen in Queensland.
  5. The disappearance/drowning of Prime Minister Harold Holt in 1967 with all its attendant conspiracy theories. Prime Minister John Gorton, a war hero with a mashed-up face.
  6. The right-to-march and anti-Vietnam-involvement protests at The University of Queensland in the 1960s and almost-daily speeches in the Forum outside the refectory. Brian Laver was the charismatic left wing speaker and Bob Katter, leader of the recently formed Australia Party, was then (from my memory) head of the student union. This story by a friend I knew at uni, reveals some of the issues of the time..in fact I should have just put a link to this story against week 46, and left it at that!
  7. The election of an ALP federal government in 1972 and the rise of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, free university education, withdrawal from Vietnam etc, and later, his dismissal by the Governor General.
  8. The evacuation from Saigon in 1975 sticks in my mind as we were in New Zealand on holidays with our kids, watching the helicopters lift people out of the American embassy.
  9. Most importantly for my own family, self-government for Papua New Guinea in 1973, and Independence in 1975. My story about Independence is here.