Thursday, November 29, 2007

Where is my Grand Uncle Charlie?

Recently, while out for a walk in Dean's Grange I decided to locate the grave of my Grand Uncle Charlie (Monsignor Charles Hurley) while passing the local cemetery. He was my paternal grandmother's brother and I remembered his funeral being to this cemetery.

At the cemetery office I enquired if they had a map of all the graves and if it was possible to locate a grave knowing only the name and not a date. The office only has hand-written paper records of burials. A very kind lady offered to look through the books if I could tell her a rough date. We started in 1978 and worked our way through to 1985, but without success. Sadly, no luck that day. It is pointless searching for one grave in such a large cemetery and I continued my walk.

I decided to Google "Monsignor Charles Hurley" to see if there was any detail on the Web about him. I found a reference to him on the University Church website as follows:

Clergy Attached to University Church - 1856 to 2006
Monsignor Charles Hurley - 1960 to 1974. Mgr Hurley died in 1980.

I didn't know he was associated with University Church - I know he was Parish Priest in Harrington Street and in Ballybrack.

At least now I know the year he died and can go back to Dean's Grange cemetery and look up the 1980 books in more careful detail.

Outcome of this search will be posted here.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Proud of my Mum!

Long-standing Carnew Musical Society member feted

Mum made the Gorey Guardian Newspaper on June 24th, 2004 after winning the award for Unsung Hero at the Association of Irish Musical Societies (AIMS) Awards ceremony in Killarney the previous weekend.

The full article (minus photo which is only in the printed version of the newspaper) can be accessed here.

This photograph is an especially good one of Mum taken by a professional photographer in the sitting room at home in Ballingate for the newspaper.

Mum also plays bridge a lot and wins prizes too - here's one of several short articles that she is mentioned in having won First PRize!

We're all very proud of you Mum!

Lifeboat in two alerts - 1986

I'm on a roll in posting items on my blog - here's one about the time I made the Evening Press newspaper on 21st April, 1986, but for all the wrong reasons.

In the year up to when I got married, I lived in an apartment with my brother Brian on Strand Road on Sandymount. The sea was literally across the road. On a cold windy day Brian and I decided to go wind surfing.

We got on well and at one stage met for a chat quite far out to sea. We decided to swap boards - this was not a good idea. I was having difficulty with the new board falling in a lot. Brian of course headed off into the distance showing me how it was done! Needless to say I was getting tired - I also had a thin wetsuit on, and I was also getting cold.

Now the wind picked up, and it was an off-shore breeze. The tide was also going out - Eugene was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I didn't know it at the time but I was in great danger of drowning.

I kept trying to get the sail up on the board, but tiredness and cold (especially my hands) meant that I kept falling back into the sea. I was determined not to leave the board and to try to make it back to shore - so I decided to try to make my way back. The sea was shallow enough for me to walk, but with the wind and the tide in the wrong direction for me I was quickly blown further out to sea. Now I was getting worried. Brian could see I was in difficulty and bravely came out to me - I was never so glad to see him. We decided that he would go back to shore and get help - I was definitely scared when he left.

It's a weird feeling being on your own in Dublin Bay surrounded by a million people who don't know your life is in danger. Little did I know it, but several people on the shore saw that I was in difficulty and phoned the emergency services - this was in the days before mobile phones.

At this stage I could just about stand on the sea-bed on my toes and keep my face above water. The wind was in my face and was also whipping up the waves - splashing me with cold water. I'm certain hypothermia was setting in - I got the feeling of euphoria that is often associated with the cold.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, I could stand firm and the water was only up to my waist - I had come to a sandbank. Now it was a lot easier to move. I could now work my way back to shore by staying in the shallower water - what relief. Brian came rushing out from the shore and took my board and sail - I could barely carry them. We were greeted at water's edge by a Garda in bare feet with his trousers rolled up to his knees! Despite my ordeal, I thought this was the funniest thing. He told me that there had been five separate calls to the emergency services and that the Dún Laoghaire RNLI lifeboat was out to sea looking for me. He was quickly satisfied that there had been a genuine danger and let me go back to my appartment across the road. I quickly got the wetsuit off and climbed into bed with two quilts to warm up. Roma came with glucose to speed the process up and in a short time I felt well enough to get up. She was not happy with me getting into such danger only five months before our wedding!

Ths clipping above, which I still have, reminds me of my mortality. Though I never met the RNLI crew who were looking for me, I have since had a great respect for these volunteers who sometimes have to put to sea to rescue people who do stupid things like going out windsurfing on a cold windy day.

Wicklow People 21st November 2007

Mum and Dad are in this week's Wicklow People Newspaper. They are pictured (right) with Pat Sheppard, their long time very dear friend.

This year also marks the 40th Anniversary of Carnew Musical Society of which both Mum and Dad have been active members since day one. Dad, along with other Society colleagues, was also recently interviewed on Wicklow radior station East Coast Radio. Unfortunately, ECR don't podcast their programmes and I missed the interview. Maybe I'll catch the 50th Anniversary celebrations!

The picture was taken in Jim Byrne's Lounge which is on the Main Street in Carnew. You can't see it, but no doubt there is a creamy point of the black stuff on the table in front of Dad!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

My Grandfather PJ O'Loughlin and the GAA

My Grandfather PJ O'Loughlin (mentioned in one of my other blogs) was a great GAA man and loved to be part of organizing games - in effect, he was one of a small army who helped to run the GAA, especially in his native Newmarket in Co Cork, and in Carnew in Co Wicklow. None of his children or grandchildren were to follow his footsteps into getting involved in running the GAA, though some of us did grace the football and hurling fields (I played football for FCJ School in Bunclody, and for the 2nd team in Trinity).

There's not much on the web about PJ. I first came across a website with his picture when looking to buy a Christmas present of a Wicklow GAA jersey for my brother Brian. Given Wicklow's lack of success, their jerseys are not much in demand and are hard to get! While looking at the Leinster GAA website, I came across an archive of old photographs. Much to my surprise, there is PJ pictured beside the victorious Junior All-Ireland winning Wicklow team in 1936 in his capacity as County Secretary.

PJ O'Loughlin was County Secretary of the Wicklow GAA from 1935 to 1940 - he is listed under the Irish spelling of his name (P.S. Ó Lochlain) on the History page of the Wicklow GAA website. Interestingly he is listed as being from Tomacork - this is the parish where he, my Dad Joe, and I grew up (and I served Mass in Tomacork church!). There was no GAA team in Tomacork - Carnew Emmets are the local team which PJ was involved with.

The only other place on the web that I found a reference to PJ is on the website of the local GAA team in his native Newmarket. It was a strange story that led me to find another picture of him - this time with the 1927 Newmarket football team.

Here's how I came across this picture: A Newmarket man called Dan Casey contacted my father who was looking for a death certificate for my Dad's aunt Mary O'Loughlin (who died in the 1940's). Apparently proof of her death was required in relation to a local right-of-way issue. During their conversation, Dan told my Dad that there was a picture of PJ on the Newmarket website. Dad has no access to the Internet so he asked me to look it up for him. I found the picture but did not see a great resemblance between a man in the photo called "Paddy O'Loughlin", and the 1936 photo mentioned above. I used the contact form on the website to enquire further and to see if I could get a hard copy of the photo. A man called Timothy Hourigan responded and was very helpful - offering to send me a copy of the photo. We swapped many emails and it turns out that Timothy and I are third cousins! His great-grandmother Bridget O'Loughlin is my great-grandfather's sister. Timothy's sister, Catherine, started this picture hunt as she mentioned to Dan Casey to say it to Dad that there was a picture of PJ on the Newmarket GAA website. It's a small world!

Anyway, I showed a copy of the photo on my computer to my Dad who instantly recognised his father. He also told me that though he was always known as PJ, that my grandmother (Kathleen) called him "Paddy". Timothy kindly sent a hard copy of the photo to my Dad. Timothy also amended the caption on the photo to refer to my grandfather as "PJ" instead of "Paddy" O'Loughlin.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wedding Message for Eugene and Roma - 13th September, 1986

On my wedding day (13th September, 1986), Roma's cousin Anne-Elizabeth Bourke sent a request to RTÉ radio for the Val Joyce Show. It was played just before our wedding took place - I was in the church (waiting), while Roma was an her way to the church (keeping me waiting!). Neither of us heard the request. Fortunately, Anne-Elizabeth recorded the message onto a cassette tape from the radio and gave us the tape several weeks later. It was a nice thought on a special day for us. We kept the tape and some years ago a work colleague copied it onto a computer and created a WAV version which I have converted to MP3.

To hear this message (22 secs) click on the "Play" button on the toolbar below:

Wedding Message for Mum and Dad - 22nd October, 1958

My maternal grandparents, Paddy and Kathleen Byrne, emigrated from Dublin to Toronto, Canada, in 1957 and were unable to attend my parent's (Joe O'Loughlin and Phil Byrne) wedding in Dublin on 22nd October, 1958.

Instead, they recorded a wedding message on a 78 RPM vinyl record which is still in the possession of Joe and Phil. I'm told it is the only known recording of their voices.

In May 1999, I had the 78 digitized and professionally copied onto a CD-ROM.

The message is one minute and 50 seconds long. To listen to Paddy and Kathleen's wedding message to my Mum and Dad, click on the "Play" button on the toolbar below:

My Grandfather’s Ice Cream

When Croke Park was opened up to rugby and soccer this year I thought of my grandfather, P.J. O’Loughlin, who died in 1965. Originally a Cork man from Newmarket, he was a GAA man through and through, and was County Secretary of the Wicklow GAA from 1935 to 1940. My father commented recently that you could generate electricity from him spinning in his grave at the thoughts of the hallow turf in Croke Park being invaded by so-called “foreign games”. Equally, he would not have comprehended the advent of the Internet. Recently, I was looking up the Leinster GAA web site on the Internet and quite by accident I came across a photograph of the victorious Wicklow team who won the 1936 All-Ireland Junior Football Championship. Much to my surprise, there was my grandfather, in his capacity as County Secretary, posing with the team. None of us in our family recall seeing this photograph before. It was a strange feeling to discover this photograph on the Internet for all the world to see, over 40 years after my grandfather’s death.

I have very few personal memories of my grandfather. He taught me how to tie my shoelaces – I still tie my laces in the way he showed me. I also remember the tricolour draped coffin at his funeral, and the shots over his grave – the first time I ever heard gunfire.

However, my favourite memory is of the occasion that he brought me to Croke Park for my first All-Ireland Final in the early 1960’s as a small boy. No doubt he wanted the GAA tradition to be kept in future generations of our family and he was starting me early. I was only 4 or 5 years old – the year was either 1963 or 1964, I don’t know which. I do know it must have been before June 1965 when he died.

I recall practically nothing of the occasion which must have been a very exciting one for a small boy – no memories of the trip from Carnew in south County Wicklow to Croke Park, if I was lifted over the turnstiles as was then the fashion for small children, what the atmosphere at the match was like, or the trip home. I have no recollection either of what teams were playing that day, who won, or what the score was. Indeed, I don’t even recall if the game was football or hurling.

The only thing I remember about the occasion was that at the end of the game as the crowd filtered out, my Grandfather climbed over several rows of empty seats to an ice cream seller. He came back to me with a small tub of ice cream, which had no little wooden spoon to eat it with. When I announced that I could not eat the ice-cream for lack of a spoon, he quickly showed me how to use the lid as a scoop and I savoured the moment, and of course the ice cream. An unforgettable memory!

Years later (in 1998), I was listening to The Gay Byrne Show on the radio – Gay was hosting a discussion about the previous evening’s Paul McGrath Testimonial football match at Lansdowne Road. There was a lot of discussion and some complaints from callers about the cost of tickets and that many children had to have the full adult price paid for them.

One caller told us that he had brought his young son to the match for the price of an expensive full adult ticket. When Gay asked him why on earth he had done this, the caller responded that he wanted his son to be able to say that he had seen Paul McGrath and many other stars play, but most important of all was that he would be able to remember that he was there.

In words that turned back the clock and instantly transformed me back over the years to Croke Park and my Grandfather’s climb for ice cream, Gay responded to the caller by saying: “If you want him to remember that he was there, buy him an ice cream after the match”.