Monday, December 17, 2007

Peasants and reprobates

I heard today that the results of the census of 1911 have been put online (at least the records for Dublin, not for the rest of the country yet). My surname is not that common, as far as I know there's only one family of us in Ireland so I thought I'd take a look and see what I could find. Only one family came up but they had a two-year-old son called Patrick, which is very likely my paternal grandad. His dad was Charles and I do have an Uncle Charlie on that side as well so that would tie in too.

The website is for anyone with ties here who might like a look. I find it fascinating. I now know my great-grandad's name, that he had very nice hand-writing but was terrible at following instructions on how to fill the form out, worked as a vice man (or rice man?) and was married at 18 to my great-granny of the same age. I can also see that they lived in one room of a house with nine rooms, which altogether housed nine families (42 people). And none of them were deaf, dumb, blind, imbecile/idiot or lunatic.

There were dozens of my granny's family name and I don't think she was born until 1913 so I'd need to find out her parents' names before searching again. I do have a copy of my dad's maternal grandad's military record somewhere for around the same time. Not so much full of heroic deeds and valour as it is full of things like "two days in the hold for drunk and disorderly behaviour" and "arrested for drunkeness". Ah well, in the fairytale version of my past it's easy to think I would have been a very sophisticated, well-read young lady attending balls and parties every other night - but I think my family stock was something far more earthy than that.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sisters doing it not for themselves, but for me!

I just spoke to one of my older sisters who made a comment about not having bought me a birthday present yet because she was thinking of buying me a plant or something and wanted to wait and ask me. She went on to say that the reason for this is that she with the whole thing I'm doing she didn't just want to buy me anything random. And, here's the best bit, she said that she has also starting getting rid of loads of clutter from her house and is just refusing to buy any more crap. She said that she's kept thinking about when I said to her "live simply, to simply live". What a great compliment and a fantastic feeling to think I've influenced someone to make changes that are making them feel good. Of course her husband is now accusing her of contributing to the collapse of the economy but thankfully she's ignoring him and trying to get him to focus on the fact that not spending money means they have more money. Anyway, that conversation has kind of made my day and we've arranged to meet for breakfast on Saturday, which will also be good. Mind you, I promised her a scarf a while ago so I may need to get knitting tomorrow to try and have it at least nearly finished by then!

Earlier in the week, on Monday my day was made when I got a phonecall from the security guard in work to come down and collect something from him and it turned out to be a lovely basket sent by my younger sister, who's still in Australia (and just got her sponsorship visa through so it looks like she'll be there for another few years anyway). It was my birthday last week but I was away (staying with another sister in France for a few days) and so she decided to wait until I was back to send it. I was having a really, really bad morning so it really cheered me up. It's only the third time in my life that anyone has sent me something like that. The basket (which I am really looking forward to getting to use now) had a bottle of wine, a box of fancy handmade chocolates and a lovely little plant, which I've since learned is a cyclamen.

The sister I was staying with in France gave me a lovely present of a gift bag with lots of organic products in it that I might not necessarily get here. There were a few different types of teabags, gingerbread, biscuits, truffles, jam and she also bought me a set of six small canning jars as she knows it can be hard to get hold of them over here. Such a thoughtful and wonderful present.

Sisters can be the best things ever sometimes!