Monday, November 29, 2021

Making a Chair with @BevelFurniture

Last Friday and Saturday I participated in a brilliant two-day course on how to make an Adirondack Chair with Bevel Furniture near Fethard-on-Sea in Co Wexford. I had never taken a woodworking class of any kind - ever! This was a birthday present from my daughters and I highly recommend it as an ideal gift for the retired person in your life. There were seven in the class which was delivered by Tommy Kelly - a very experienced wood craftsman, and a great teacher too. I often feel that it is not easy to put a class or student at ease, and/or to ensure that a student does not feel stupid for not knowing how to do things - especially like me when you have not done anything like this before. Tommy immediately put us at our ease and and we were relaxed straight away. Safety was top of the agenda, but we needn't have worried on that front with the watchful Tommy looking after us. 

The chair is made step-by-step with easy to follow instructions from Tommy, who also gave us careful demonstrations at all stages. Though my chair won't win any beauty competitions, I was nevertheless very proud of it when I put in the last screw. I'll sand it down a bit more at home, and we have yet to decide whether to paint it or use an oil stain.

If you want to find out more about this and other brilliant courses, visit:

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Finding my Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather through @ancestrydna 100% Irish

Recently I had the Ancestry DNA test done to add the results to my family tree. I was looking forward to finding more family connections and also learning about DNA testing. Several years ago I had the National Geographic DNA test done (unfortunately the results of this could not be imported into an Ancestry tree) - this told me I was 42% Northern European, 37% Mediterranean, 19% South-west Asian, and 2% Native American. Clearly the National Geographic test goes back a long time, and is no use for  a family tree. 

So - what do the latest results reveal? Are there any skeletons in the family closet? Would I find new relatives?

First - not surprisingly I am 100% Irish! I was interested to find that Munster is where I am predominantly from (darker colours on map to right). This is my Dad's side of the family. My Mum's family were from Tipperary and Wexford, though this does not show up as strong in the map. 

I did know that my Great-Grandmother Margaret Coburn on my Mum's side was from Kildare, and that she was a Protestant. What I did not know was that her parents and ancestors were Northern Protestants from the Lisburn/Hillsborough area in Co Down. There's Northern Protestant blood in my veins! Cool!

My DNA was matched with another Ancestry user with whom Margaret Coburn's parents are a common ancestor. I have a new 3rd cousin who lives in England and is a descendent of Margaret's sister Eliza. On her tree I was able to find Margaret's Grandfather Moses, whose father in turn was David Coburn born around 1805. David is therefore my 4th Great-Grandfather - the furthest I have been able to go back. I hope to find out more about my Coburn connections. Here's the direct line of descent from David to me:

Saturday, November 13, 2021

HSE COVID-19 Vaccination Programme Reflection

The HSE have released a new video showing "Our staff and volunteers reflect on being a part of the HSE COVID-19 Vaccination Programme". I was delighted to be part of this video and enjoyed my own personal reflection on spending a lot of the summer as a Volunteer Steward at the Aviva Mass Vaccination Centre. I finished up at the Aviva at the end of August just before it closed. I miss the camaraderie that existed between all the different groups at the Aviva, but I hope to continue in some way with the Dublin City Volunteer Centre (click on the link if you would like to join up).

Thursday, November 11, 2021

The Irish Great War Dead Archive

Good news today for researchers with the launch of the Irish Great War Dead Archive. This is a fantastic piece of work by military historian Tom Burnell - it has taken him 20 years to compile this database for the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland. Even though Ireland was part of the UK at the time, it is almost unbelievable that the database lists over 31,380 people who died in the First World War. Almost every part of Ireland lost young men - indeed my home town of Carnew lost 12 men, these are commemorated at the Woodenbridge War Memorial in Co Wicklow. The first Carnew man on the memorial, Owen Brestlaun (a surname I had not come across before) , is listed in the database. He was born in Carnew and was killed in action in Gallipoli on 29th June 1915. He had enlisted in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers (1st Battalion).

My Dad (Joe) at the Woodenbridge War Memorial.

Previously I had written in this blog about O'Loughlins in the First World War (Did you know - 28 O'Loughlins were killed in the First World War?). This was detail from the  Commonwealth War Graves Commission. These were from all over the world. In Tony Burnell's new database there are 12 O'Loughlin men from the Republic of Ireland killed during the war. I have no idea if I am related to any of them - some that are listed as being from North Kerry, Limerick, and Clare may well be distant relatives as this is the region in Ireland where my O'Loughlin family comes from. My grandfather PJ O'Loughlin (born 1904) was too young to fight in the war, his father (Joseph) was too old to fight - he died aged 52 in 1916.

My maternal great grandfather (James Burns/Byrne) did fight in the war, but he survived and died in 1925. I have no knowledge of any other family members who fought/died in the war.