Friday, May 06, 2022

Officer of Statistics #Census2022

Today is my last day as an Officer of Statistics - Census Enumerator for the 2022 Census. I am officially retired again! It was an unusual feeling being back at work, and I never had a job before that involved so much cold-calling to households. While I can never say "never again", I'm fairly sure that this is the final time working for pay - it's good to feel retired again.

Ready to enumerate!

I cannot reveal anything about any Census data I gathered - I have had to assure people on the doorsteps that all data gathered is confidential, so I need to respect that. Enumerators do not cover their own neighbourhood, and I was very lucky with the area I got. It was almost all domestic houses, and I gather from what other Enumerators have said that I was lucky I did not get any apartment blocks or hotels. 

As expected, I had to walk many kilometers for both delivering forms and collecting them. It is a physically demanding job - in addition to walking a lot, there is all the carrying of documents. I was also very lucky in that almost everyone I met was very cooperative and supportive of the Census. I was welcomed by most, and with the exception of a handful of rude people, I had very few problems. My only awkward moments were when I called at an inconvenient time.

I had to call to several dwellings multiple times. It can be difficult to call at a time when people are at home. I did find a lot of people working from home, but there were many houses when I had to call back to again and again to deliver or collect a Census form. I got to know my area very well!

Part of my reason for coming out of retirement to be a Census Enumerator was that I had used 2011 and 2016 Census data for assignments in my Statistics classes at NCI. Students were required to compare demographic data from different areas. The reason for choosing census data was that it is a great source for data that does not follow a normal distribution. This meant that it was ideal for non-parametric statistical tests such as the Mann-Whitney and Kruskal-Wallis tests.

Census 2022 is also historic in that it is almost certainly the last time the Census will be conducted on paper. It is going on-line next time as has happened in other countries. There will be no more Enumerators in yellow high-viz jackets pounding the streets. 

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Going Electric

Last January I bought an VW Electric Vehicle, leaving the petrol world behind. I had no particular reason to go electric, I was very happy with my one-litre petrol car which was very economical (about 5 litres per 100km). But I just decided that I wanted "in" on the electric revolution now rather than wait several more years when the price difference between ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars and electric cars would be minimal. Also - range anxiety is real, but waiting for batteries that have longer ranges is a bit like waiting for the next generation of computers. there will always be a faster one next year!

My car's official maximum range is 505 kilometres as specified by the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). The advice from the manufacturer is to charge to 80%, so if I adhere to this - the range drops to 404 kilometres. In colder weather, I never get this - the effective range is no more than 350 kilometres. This is plenty for normal driving. 

I stopped using public chargers two months ago. South Dublin is not well served with public chargers, and I often found myself finding the charger spaces already occupied. There is a lot of waiting for chargers, and then a 45 minute wait while the car charges. I used the so-called "Granny Cable" for slow and overnight trickle charging instead. However, yesterday I got Electric Ireland to finally install a Home Charger - this will be my main charge point from now on using night rate electricity. I've yet to work it out, but I 'm guessing I will be able to get a charge up to 80% for around €6.

Only three months into EV driving, and there is no going back to petrol/diesel for me. I love EV cars!

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

3% Welsh!

When I first had the Ancestry DNA test done it indicated that I was of 100% Irish ethnicity - this was no real surprise as I found no non-Irish ancestors going back four generations to the late 1700s in my family tree. Most of my DNA matches with the Munster area - particularly North Cork where all my father's family were from. The Ancestry web site is constantly updating as more and more people do the DNA test and upload their results. It's good fun seeing a map of the world with where your 4th - 8th cousins live.

Today I had another look and was surprised to find that I am no longer 100% Irish! Ancestry tells me that I am 3% Welsh, though does not record anyone in Wales today who is even remotely related to me. Somewhere in my background there is Welsh blood - I wonder will I be able to find it? 

Rwy'n falch o fod yn rhan o Gymro 
(Google Translate: "I am proud to be part Welsh")

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Sr. Brigid Hurley IBVM

A few weeks ago I visited the Loreto Convent in Bray, Co Wicklow - it is about to close and I wanted to see the grave of my Grand Aunt Sr Brigid Hurley (known to the family as Mother Brigid). We used to visit her in Bray on many occasions, and I have fond memories of tea and cakes in the Visitor's Parlour.

Hannah Mary Hurley was born in Newmarket, Co Cork on 26th August, 1898. She was the third oldest in a family of six. She entered the novitiate at Loreto Abbey Rathfarnham on 1st September 1920, and was professed there on 28th May 1929. She was known in religion as Sr. Brigid. She obtained a B.A. from UCD in 1926, a Higher Diploma in Education from UCD in 1927, and in 1924 had passed the Cours Moyen, Certificat from the Alliance Franciase, Paris. Throughout her religious life, Sr. Brigid ministered as a teacher (teaching Religious Education, Irish, French and English), held various administrative offices including Superior, Assistant Superior, Consultress (advisor to Superior), Procurator (house bursar) Mistress of House, and Infirmarian.

The Hurley family

Front row from left: Pat Hurley, Sr Brigid Hurley, Mons Charles Hurley, Kathleen Hurley (my Grandmother).
Back row from left: Rosa (Keane) Hurley, Tim Hurley, Eileen Hurley.

Sr. Brigid was resident in and ministered in the following communities*:

1924 – 1926 Loreto Abbey Rathfarnham (University student)
1926 – 1927 Loreto College, 53 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin
1927 – 1928 Loreto College, 43 North Great George’s Street, Dublin
1929 – 1932 Loreto Abbey Rathfarnham
1932 – 1938 Loreto Convent Kilkenny (1937 – 1938, Assistant Superior, 1st Consultor, Procurator)
1938 – 1944 Loreto Convent Cavan (Local Superior)
1944 – 1946 Loreto College, 43 North Great George’s Street, Dublin
1946 – 1948 Loreto Convent Letterkenny (Assistant Superior, 1st Consultor, Procurator)
1948 – 1949 Loreto Convent, Gorey
1949 – 1955 Loreto College, 43 North Great George’s Street, Dublin (Local Superior)
1955 – 1962 Loreto Convent, Wexford (2nd Consultor)
1962 – 1981 Loreto Convent Bray (Procurator & Retired)

According to the Loreto Archives, "Mobility for mission was, and is, a key feature of the lives of IBVM Sisters. Transfer between communities and ministries usually occurred each August, in time for the start of the next academic year.". Sr Brigid certainly got around!

Rest in Peace Mother Brigid.

Mother Brigid died on 21st February, 1981. This was a sad time for the family as less than a month earlier her beloved sister Eileen had also died. She is buried in a small cemetery along with over 100 other Sisters overlooking Bray. The Convent and adjoining lands are to be sold by the Loreto Order - most probably the land and house will be developed for housing and apartments. Hopefully the cemetery will not be moved. I don't recall attending Mother Brigid's funeral - I was in Trinity at the time and should have been able to attend.

*Information provided by the IBVM (Loreto), Institute & Irish Province Archives, 55 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2

Monday, March 21, 2022

A New Tattoo and Tribute to my Great-Grandparents

Last month I visited Dublin Ink to get a second, and almost certainly last, tattoo. Ever since I got one on my left arm, I have thought that adding one on the right arm to match would look good. In deciding what to get I had made up my mind to have something Christian and Irish - so what better than a Celtic Cross! A suitable design presented itself when I was tidying up the grave of my great-grandparents Richard and Anne Cullen in Mt Jerome Cemetery. I sent a photo of the Celtic Cross that marks their grave to Dublin Ink where the fantastic Mauro expertly inked my arm. I'm delighted with it even though my Mum hates it!

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Census 2022 #BeCounted

Census 2022 was launched today by the Taoiseach Micheál Martin. We have a census every five years though last year's version was postponed for a year due to Covid. The Central Statistics Office runs the census and it is a massive logistical operation to deliver and collect over 2,000,000 forms during the next two months. Census night is Sunday 3rd April.

Image source: The Irish Times.

I am a big fan of the 1901 and 1911 Census data that is freely available on-line. It is a great research tool for anyone looking for ancestors. It's amazing to think that the people who filled out those forms are now all dead and that 100 years later their details are being perused by curious researchers like me. The inclusion of a voluntary "Time Capsule" section at the end of this year's form adds a new dimension and should make for interesting reading 100 years from now.

For assignments in my old Statistics module at NCI I used to use the 2011 and 2016 Census Small Areas data as a data source. I graded many excellent student assignments over the years with students tasked with gaining insights into demographic data. Most of the data are non-normal which makes it an excellent source of data for non-parametric tests. 

I will have a small part to play in this year's Census as I will be one of over 5,000 Census Enumerators calling on households all over the country. My area is in South Dublin, so I'll be out pounding the streets with good walking shoes and a high viz jacket.

Be counted!

Friday, February 25, 2022

End of the (Land) Line

So - I have disconnected the telephone fixed land line in our house and will recycle two old phones and their wires. I'm sure I am not alone in doing this. For all the years I have lived in this house, the landline was our digital/analogue connection to the outside world. For a long time it was our only connection! It doesn't feel like the end of an era, and I am not sorry to see it go.

I recall that not long ago there was a lot of controversy about waiting times to get a land line connected - especially in rural areas.  It also seemed a big deal when we got our first cordless phone - we felt so modern. 

I can't remember that last time I used the landline to make a call. One huge reason for getting rid of it is to stop the annoying scam calls: "How are you today?".

Goodbye to the land line!

Monday, February 07, 2022

Back on Vaccine Duty

Recently, I have been back helping out the Covid 19 Vaccination efforts at the RDS in Dublin. For much of last year I was a Volunteer Steward at the Aviva Mass Vaccination Centre. When it closed in September, I moved to the Citywest Centre for a few months. Many of my fellow Aviva Volunteers are helping out at the RDS - it's like old times in there.

At this stage in the National Vaccination programme, it seems to be a lot quieter. I have not experienced long queues at the RDS - it has mostly been 5 to 16 year olds on the days I have been there. I wonder how long more the Mass Vaccination Centres will be kept open? Whether it is the first, second, or a booster dose - all recipients seem to be happy and relieved to get vaccinated.

If you, or anyone you know, might be interested in join the Volunteer effort, keep an eye out on the Dublin City and South Dublin Volunteer websites.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

US Navy Seaman Daniel Murphy: Born 100 Years Ago Today

On this day 100 years ago, 26th January 1922, Daniel Murphy Jr was born in Chicago. His father, also Daniel, had emigrated from Lisrobin in Co Cork arriving in Ellis Island, New York, on 5th July 1907, and settled in Chicago. His wife, Elsie Riedinger, was a native of Chicago - they were married on 8th November 1916. Daniel Junior was one of their 10 children - he was the only boy.

Daniel Murphy Sr (left),
Daniel Murphy Jr (middle),
Frank Jost (brother-in-law).

Daniel Murphy Jr

Daniel Murphy Jr is a distant relative of mine - we are 1st cousins, but twice removed. In other words, he is my grandfather PJ O'Loughlin's 1st cousin. PJ's mother (Julia) and Daniel's father were sister and brother. He features in a lot of family trees online*, so there is quite a bit of information about him. He was married on 24th September 1943 just before he set off for war in the Pacific. In the photo below Daniel is seventh from the left on the second row from the back. He has his arms around a young woman who presumably was his sweetheart (I don't know her name). 

Click/Tap image to enlarge.

He was drafted and joined the Navy (Seaman Second Class: No. 7258832). He served on the USS Corvina, a Gato-class diesel-electric submarine which had set sail from New London, Connecticut, on September 18, 1943. It arrived in Pearl Harbour on 14th October. I don't know if Daniel joined the crew of the submarine in Pearl Harbour or earlier. The Corvina set sail on her first patrol on 4th November 1943. Her mission was to patrol near the Japanese Navy Base at Truk Atoll (now known as Chuuk Lagoon). However, just over a week later on 16th November, she was hit by two torpedoes fired by the Japanese I-176 submarine, and sank with all 82 crew lost - the only US submarine sunk by the Japanese during World War II. One can only imagine the terror of the crew during Corvina's last moments.

Daniel's Draft Card.
USS Corvina
Daniel Murphy was just 21 years old when he was killed in action. He was not the only crew member on board the Corvina with an Irish sounding name. The On Eternal Patrol website lists all the crew. The Commanding Officer was Roderick Shanahan Rooney, other Irish sounding surnames are: Ennis, Fahey, Jordan, and Maloney. Daniel is commemorated on the Honolulu Memorial in Hawaii where he is one of 12 Murphy's listed.

I'm sure Daniel's extensive US family will mark his 100th birthday today. Though my relationship to him is a distant one, I too wish to mark his birthday from his Irish family. I hope that it is appropriate to wish Daniel a "Happy 100th Birthday" even though he has been dead for 79 years.

* Family photos taken from the Jost Family Tree.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Death of a Teacher

The tragic and untimely death of Ashling Murphy, a young teacher from Co Offaly, has struck a chord with everyone. A life senselessly cut short is difficult for us all to understand and the outpouring of grief and support for her and her family will last a very long time.

Aisling was a primary school teacher just starting out on her career. I can only imagine her excitement at being told she had a teaching job in the community where she grew up. But what should have been a 40-year career lasted just a few months. Teachers hold a special place in all our hearts. Like family, even oldies like me can recall who our teachers were many years ago - we never forget them. They help form us as learners and human beings - we learn so much from them and they have so much to give. 

Image source:

As she is being laid to rest today, this is a desperately sad day for all. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.