Author Archives: Maggie

Who is the Bellevue Baby? ~ Wordless Wednesday

Bellevue Baby, Timaru, 1906

Bellevue Baby, Timaru, 1906

Bellevue Baby, Timaru, 1906 (reverse)

Bellevue Baby, Timaru, 1906 (reverse)

Wishing You
A very Happy &
Prosperous New Year
With love & best wishes from
all at “Bellevue”
This was taken when Baby was
6 months old. Dec 27th 1906

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

The Brosnan ~ Follow Friday

Seán Brosnahan, the Ceann Fine of the Brosnan Clan, now has a website:  The Brosnan. The exciting news is that he’s made available some of his historical work, including the whole texts of The Kerrytown Brosnahans and Thinking About Heaven: A History of Sacred Heart Parish Timaru, both of which are now out of print and very difficult to get hold of. No longer! His articles, mostly focusing on 19th and early 20th century Irish Catholic issues and experiences in New Zealand, make for fascinating reading.

Seán’s collection of photographs on the site include those from The Kerrytown Brosnahans, as well as some that didn’t make it into the book. There are also photographs and a video from the Brosnan Clan Gathering last year in Co Kerry.

Keep an eye on the site for news of Brosna(ha)n happenings around the world.

Follow Friday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

My Genealogy Year 2013 ~ Accentuate the Positive!

February already and I’m only just getting round to my first post of the new year. Too late to join in GeniAUS’s Accentuate the Positive geneameme?? I hope not! Last year Jill came up with this great way to celebrate the genealogical highs of the previous twelve months, rather than dwell on any lows.

Here’s how 2013 panned out for me…

Rock of Cashel, Co Tipperary

Rock of Cashel, Co Tipperary

An elusive ancestor I found was a likely candidate for my 3 x great grandmother. Her son Henry John Forrest Florey had a different mother’s name on each of three vital records: “Henrietta Florey (formerly Byford)” on his birth registration in 1862, “Elizabeth Ann Florey” on his 1863 baptism record, and “Henrietta White” on his marriage record in 1885. My ancestors seem adept at the ol’ smoke and mirrors game, but I think I have finally discovered who Henry’s real mother probably is.

An ancestor’s grave I found was that of my 3 x great grandfather Thomas Gaffney. To be exact, I think we have found the record of his burial and the plot location. To find his actual grave will require a spike, a spade, and a large amount of elbow grease. Unless, of course, it was one of the graves that was washed away in Manchester’s great flood of 1872.

An important vital record I found was my 3 x great uncle John Burke’s baptism record. This broke down a huge brick wall and has helped pinpoint the area in Co Mayo from where my Burke family emigrated in the 1850s. It was wonderful to share the discovery with a Burke cousin, who was just as excited as I was!

My 2013 blog post that I was particularly proud of was the one commemorating the gallantry of my (first, three times removed) cousin, Peter Gaffaney, mostly because of the research involved.

My 2013 blog post that received a large number of hits or comments was my Revisiting the Brosnahans post, marking my two year blogiversary.

A social media tool I enjoyed using for genealogy was Google’s Hangout on Air. I haven’t quite figured it all out yet, but I managed to participate in one of Jill Ball’s GeniAUS hangouts in December and it was a lot of fun. My second attempt to join one last month didn’t work out so well, but I’ve since watched Mike Delagado’s immensely helpful video tutorial How to Join a Google+ Hangout for the First Time, so I am hopeful for the next time!

A genealogy conference/seminar/webinar from which I learnt something new was all of them! I attended workshops at WDYTYA? Live in February, an IHGS tutorial weekend in March, the Exodus conference in September, and best of all – Back to our Past in Dublin with my father in October. I also learnt a lot from Relative Roots‘ three Genetic Genealogy Demystified webinars.

A genealogy book that taught me something new was Simon Fowler’s Tracing Your Army Ancestors.

The National Archives, Kew, London

The National Archives, Kew, London

A great repository/archive/library I visited was the Aldershot Military Museum‘s archive (by appointment only), and also the Derbyshire Record Office in Matlock, both of which I hadn’t visited before. Even more exciting was my first trip to The National Archives at Kew, followed up by two more visits during the year. I made good use of the Society of Genealogists‘ library while attending several talks there, and checked out the new Kent History and Library Centre. And not forgetting my quick visits to the Valuation Office and National Library of Ireland while in Dublin. 2013 was a great year for ‘out and about’ research!

It was exciting to finally meet an O’Rourke cousin in Cork, a Burke cousin in London, and some Brosnahan cousins from New Zealand.

A geneadventure I enjoyed was my trip to the Brosnan Clan Gathering held in Castleisland, Co Kerry, in July. I think this would have to be the genealogical highlight of my year, meeting the aforementioned Brosnahan cousins and enjoying the amazing hospitality of our Irish kinfolk. It was a truly magical journey back to our “homeland”.

O'Rourke cottage, Ballymacdonnell, Co Kerry

O’Rourke cottage, Ballymacdonnell, Co Kerry

Another positive I would like to share is I got to see the O’Rourke family’s cottage in Ballymacdonnell, Co Kerry, where my 2x great grandfather Bartholomew was born, and the family’s grave plot where Bartholomew’s father, uncles and grandfather are all buried.

Thanks again to Jill for the opportunity to share my year of family history research and learning. You can read about the 2013 highlights of other geneabloggers through her GeniAUS website.

Chief of the Brosnan clan

As part of the Brosnan Clan Gathering last month, a Ceann Fine or “clan chieftain” was inaugurated at the Festival Banquet. There were great cheers from the Kiwi contingent when Seán Brosnahan’s name was announced. (Not sure the ash stick will make it through NZ customs, though.)

Sean Brosnahan, the new Ceann Fine

MC Mark Daly and Fr Dan Riordan with Sean Brosnahan, the new Ceann Fine.

Seán is the author of The Kerrytown Brosnahans, a book about his East Kerry ancestors who emigrated to New Zealand in the mid 19th century, and lived in the area of South Canterbury known as “Kerrytown”.  Sean describes his initial journey to Ireland to find his ancestral roots, details his and the many other Brosnahan families that settled in New Zealand, and includes an extensive listing of the descendents of those first Brosnahan settlers.  Seán is Curator at the Toitū Otago Settlers Museum in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Under Brehon Law the leaders of Irish clans were acclaimed by their kinsmen as custodians of the clan. This clan system formed the basis of society in Ireland up to the 17th century. The Ceann Fine was responsible for maintaining and protecting the clan and its property. This often meant leading his clan in battle on land and sea. In the old ages he was the military and political chief of his clan and the go-to person if someone wished to petition their regional king.
The Ceann Fine would also have held all sorts of social responsibilities to his clan members, including the fertility of the land and for protecting his clan against the blight and plague of any sort.
In the modern age he would provide an equally important role, that of unity and family identity, bearing importance on familial relations and establishing a deep seated sense of cultural pride. He will be often at times the only link one disparate sept of a clan shares with the larger sept, creating a sense of security and unity.
Brosnan Clan Gathering, Facebook page

Brosnan Clan Gathering, Castleisland, Co Kerry

The East Kerry Roots Festival & Brosnan Clan Gathering was held in Castleisland, Co Kerry, over four days last weekend.  I am still trying to recover!

It was a fabulous event, well-organised and offering a whole range of walks, talks and everything in between.  By a stroke of pure luck, I ended up in the same bed & breakfast establishment as a (previously unmet) third cousin and his wife from New Zealand, as well as two lovely women travelling on their own like me.

There didn’t seem to be any time to rest at all over the four days – the festival programme was jam-packed with events and you didn’t want to miss out on anything.  For me the highlights were:

  • hearing one of my favourite poems read in the original Irish at the poetry reading session
  • Seán Brosnahan’s illuminating talk on Irish emigration to New Zealand in the 19th century
  • learning to play the bodhrán, bones and spoons
  • story-telling and songs at the rambling house in Farranfore on Friday night
  • the polka and sean nós dancing workshop
Maura's Rambling House, Farranfore

Maura’s Rambling House, Farranfore

And, of course, not forgetting  the bus trips to traditional villages and graveyards in the area, Saturday night’s festival banquet, Mass on Sunday morning at Currow, and the bog walk in Kilcummin.  Top of the list has to be meeting so many wonderful people, both local and from further afield.  There were over 20 Brosnahans from New Zealand alone!  (Pokarekare Ana was sung many times over the course of the weekend.)

There were opportunities to chat to local genealogy experts, but I spent most of my time enjoying the cultural activities and exploring the area my ancestors left a century and a half ago.

Music workshop at O'Riada's, Ballymacelligot

Music workshop at O’Riada’s, Ballymacelligott

Unfortunately I had to leave on Sunday afternoon to catch my flight home from Cork, so missed out on the farewell concert, but I heard it was fantastic!

My only suggestion would be to have a larger pub/venue for the some of the evening events.  For instance, the Poet’s Inn is a lovely wee pub in Castleisland, but couldn’t fit us all in on the Thursday evening.

My special thanks has to go to Joan, one of the festival organisers, who was so helpful before the weekend, putting me in touch with a relation from the area.  I think this is what made the gathering so special – we were all made to feel very welcome, even before we’d set foot in Ireland, by the locals and organisers alike.  Thanks also to Maggie,  our terrific guide on many of the tours.

Bog walk, Kilcummin

Bog walk, Kilcummin

Brosna, Co Kerry, Ireland ~ Wordless Wednesday

Brosna, ancestral home of the Brosnahans?

Brosna, ancestral home of the Brosnahans?

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Picture Palace, Helmia Camp ~ Military Monday

Poster for entertainments at the Picture Palace, Helmia Camp, Cairo - 1915

Poster for entertainments at the Picture Palace, Helmia Camp, Cairo – April 1915

This is a poster advertising entertainment at Helmia Camp in Egypt, and was amongst a collection of photographs, newspaper clippings, and postcards, all belonging to my great grandfather Alexander Wright. It shows he was a bugler (and could sing!), and places him in Cairo on April 19th, 1915: the date of the entertainment starts on a Monday in April, either the 19th or 29th. The only dates between 1915 and 1917 (when he was back in New Zealand) that this occurs is April 19, 1915. (

Military Monday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Anzac Biscuits ~ Family Recipe Friday

I love Anzac biscuits.  Apparently they were made for the Australian and New Zealand troops overseas in WW1 because they kept really well, containing no milk or egg.

A friend posted a link to the New Zealand Women’s Weekly recipe earlier this week, so I thought I’d have a go and see how they turned out.  Well, they tasted yummy, but were nothing like the Anzac biscuits of my childhood. They were also nothing like the picture on the NZWW’s website.  (I am intrigued as to how they managed to make theirs so perfect and circular…)

I knew I had to consult an expert.  My mum is the one who taught me how to bake, and would let me loose in her kitchen on Saturday mornings.  Sometimes there were several of us kids in there, creating foodie magic chaos.  Occasionally, things didn’t work out quite like we expected, like the chocolate fudge that never set and had to become chocolate sauce for ice-cream.

Mum and I discussed the NZWW recipe.  “Too many rolled oats”, she reckoned.  And she passed on the recipe she got from her mum, my Nanna, who I figure is more of an authority than the NZ Women’s Weekly in this case, as she was alive when the ANZACs landed at Gallipoli.

Nanna’s Anzac Biscuits

1 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup coconut
1 tsp baking soda
2 tablespoons cold water (I used hot water)
1 tablespoon golden syrup
4 oz (113g) butter

Mix flour, sugar, oats and coconut in a bowl. Dissolve baking soda in water. Melt golden syrup and butter. Add wet ingredients to dry, and mix well. Form into balls and place on greased tray, allowing some room for the biscuits to spread while baking. Bake about 15 minutes in 180C oven till brown. Cool on tray for a few minutes, then place on wire rack to finish cooling.

Anzac biscuits - recipe from my Nanna, Jean McGonnell

Anzac biscuits – recipe from my Nanna, Jean McGonnell

These turned out lovely!

My mum also suggested Alison Holst’s recipe which is similar, and good if you want a slightly less buttery tasting biscuit.

So, what is the real history surrounding the Anzac biscuit?  Fiona Rae in the New Zealand Listener has delved into the magazine’s archives and shares (the awesome) Lois Daish’s investigations into this humble Antipodean treat, along with three more recipes to try.

Let me know if you have a fab recipe you want to share!

Family Recipe Friday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.


For Acts of Gallantry in the Field ~ Sgt P.M. Gaffaney M.M.

I’m not related to any famous generals or admirals (that I know of!), but I am immensely proud of those servicemen in my family who fought with courage and fortitude in their own way, and I honour one of them this ANZAC Day.

Sgt Peter Gaffaney M.M. (1893-1918)

Sgt Peter Gaffaney M.M. (1893-1918)

My (first, thrice removed) cousin Peter has appeared in a few posts now on this blog, and no, there was no happy ending for him.  Yet, I wanted to know about his Military Medal, and why it was awarded to him.  No published accounts mention his name or deeds, so I looked to his battalion and its account of the war in its diaries.

2nd Battalion NZRB - War Diary, March 1918

2nd Battalion NZRB – War Diary, March 1918 (WO95/3709, National Archives, Kew, London)

On March 9th, 1918, Sgt Peter Gaffaney rejoined the 2nd Battalion of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade (NZRB), after two weeks’ leave in the UK. On that day the battalion had route-marched from Houlle (France) to Watten, and then travelled by rail to Ypres, so that may be where he joined up with them, before marching to Forestor Camp.

After moving to Lankhof Farm camp six days later, the battalion were then moved on to Halifax camp at short notice on March 21st, being fitted out and organised for active operations.

By March 22nd the NZRB had received orders to get ready to move south at three hours’ notice, along with other Brigades in the NZ Divison.

On March 23rd, instructions were issued for the move by rail the following day.

2nd Battalion NZRB - War Diary, March 1918

2nd Battalion NZRB – War Diary, March 1918 (WO95/3709, National Archives, Kew, London)

March 24th
Battn route-marched to HOPOUTRE Siding & entrained there at 11.15pm for an unknown destination

March 25th-26th
Detrained at AMIENS at about 1pm 25th and bivouacked in public gardens. All surplus gear was stored and Battalion was equipped in Battle order.

…At midnight Battn proceeded by motor lorries to PONT NOYELLES arriving there at 2am 26th. Started marching forward at 2.30am via FRAUVILLERS BAIZIEUX WARLOY to HEDAUVILLE arriving there 7am after a hard dusty march. The Battn. bivouacked in a paddock in the village & the men enjoyed a hot meal and rest till midday. At 1pm marched on to MAILLY MAILLET at which village orders were received for an attack to be made by the Battn.

A large gap existed in our line at this time extending roughly from HAMEL to PUISIEUX and only two Battns of the Division had arrived – 1st CANTERBURY and 1st Battn N.Z.R.B. These Battns were astride the MAILLY MAILLET-SERRE Road – 1st CANTERBURY on right, 1st N.Z.R.B. on left in line with the windmill at Q.1.d (57.d) At this time certain batteries were evacuating MAILLY MAILLET and situation was obscure – no shelling and no sign of enemy excepting a little m.g.[machine gun] fire and sniping.

New Zealand soldiers around a billy in a strong post, near Mailly-Maillet, France, during World War I.

New Zealand soldiers around a billy in a strong post, near Mailly-Maillet, France, during World War I. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013081-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

1st AUCKLAND arrived in village about same time and about 13 tanks were reported in neighbourhood of COLINCAMPS. Objective given Battn was SERRE Village north along road SERHEB to K.23. Central. 1st AUCKLAND K.35.a to SERRE Village. Four VICKERS guns were allotted to Battalion and no artillery support beyond the assistance of a 4.5 Battery in the orchard behind windmill. This Battery came into action at 5pm.

New Zealand soldier using a captured machine gun at the front line at La Synge Farm, France, during World War I.

The New Zealand batteries firing at Germans near Mailly-Maillet, France. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013075-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

..The attack was launched from the line of the two Battns holding the SERRE Road at 5.30pm. We advanced on the left of road and 1st AUCKLAND on right – soon to in front. These two lines extended on a two Coy. frontage, balance of two Coys in artillery formation. ‘C’ Coy was on right – ‘D’ Coy on left – and ‘B’ Coy. acting as a left flank guard. All went well until the line of the road Sugar Refinery – EUSTON was reached, when m.g. fire from direction of LA SIGNY Farm and Right flank about One Tree Hill became so heavy that the advance ceased, – also partly because AUCKLAND were not so far forward on the right and the left flank was not in a favourable state for pushing on. 1st AUCKLAND reported being held up at 6.45pm.

2nd Battalion NZRB War Diary March 1918 - APPENDIX A

2nd Battalion NZRB War Diary March 1918 – APPENDIX A (WO95/3709, National Archives, Kew, London). Larger version

At this time a gap existed between ‘D’ and ‘B’ Coys – ‘B’ Coy being refused along the EUSTON – COLINCAMPS Road (APPENDIX – SKETCH ‘A’). In the dusk a connection was made with ‘B’ Coy and line was joined up & ‘B’ Coy flank was left to help defend COLINCAMPS as a report was received stating that parties of the enemy were marching on that place. The enemy had been in HEBUTERNE and COLINCAMPS early in the day but were driven out at 11am by the tanks previously mentioned, but just how far we did not know, nor how far the enemy had crept back when the tanks retired before 3pm.

The Battn. started digging in at 6.45pm. At 7pm 1st AUCKLAND came forward and took up a continuation of our line to the Right. During the latter stages of the attack small parties on Huns using up to the last minute were met with about EUSTON and K.33.a.33. Three light and one heavy were captured by us and 37 prisoners taken. ‘B’ Coy took two guns and ‘C’ Coy two guns.

New Zealand soldier using a captured machine gun at the front line at La Synge Farm, France, during World War I.

New Zealand soldier using a captured machine gun at the front line at La Synge Farm, France, during World War I. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013100-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

As far as is known 10 enemy were killed and 6 wounded but the advance was too rapid to enable him to get any stretcher cases away. About 20 to 30 enemy retired to this next line – WATERLOO BRIDGE Hedge, but owing to the dark it is hard to state exactly how many.

Our casualties were 9 killed and 35 wounded. All but two were caused by mg. fire – the two by shell fire as the enemy has at this time practically no artillery and it is estimated that he has only two guns on the front which kept firing on the large dump at K.33.a.00,00. For acts of gallantry & good work 3 O/R [Other Ranks] were recommended for decoration. (SEE APPENDIX ‘B’)

March 27th
The night of 26/27 was spent in digging in and was very quiet and at 5am the Battn was relieved successfully by 2nd Bn. AUCKLAND Regiment and returned to support of 1st Brigade at MAILLY MAILLET.

2nd Battalion NZRB, War Diary March 1918 APPENDIX B

2nd Battalion NZRB, War Diary March 1918 APPENDIX B (WO95/3709, National Archives, Kew, London)


Recommendation for Awards

24/431 Sgt Peter Michael GAFFANEY

During the advance B Coy, to which this sergeant belonged, had considerable difficulty in getting forward owing to the heavy mac[hine] gun fire. Platoons got mixed and disorganised and several were wounded. Gaffaney disregarding danger moved along platoon, reorganised his sections, and led them forward rushes. A German machine gun about 50 yds in fron[t] of him was causing much trouble. He went forward w[ith] a few men and rushed it, capturing the gun and the prisoners.
Whilst the consolidation was proceeding an enemy was near on the exposed left flank. Sgt Gaffaney immediately hastened a Lewis Gun forward, & secured the position.
For his initiative and gallantry he was recommended for the DCM.

Peter was posthumously awarded the Military Medal for his actions on March 26th, 1918.  He was 24 years old when he died on April 5th, 1918, and is buried at Louvencourt Military Cemetery, Somme, France.

I wonder if any of Peter’s family visited his grave?  Perhaps the brother listed as his next-of-kin, Francis,  a captain in the Wellington Infantry Regiment.  Did he ever see his brother during their time fighting on the other side of the world? How would it feel to have your son, brother, uncle, cousin, buried so far far away? Is there anyone left now to mourn him?

Yes, there is.

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1892-1918) : Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France

Peter Michael Gaffaney (1893-1918) : Louvencourt Military Cemetery, France

Further reading:
Austin, Lieut-Col W. S., “Part 2 – The New Zealand Rifle Brigade into the Gap“, The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, L.T. Watkins Ltd (Wellington: 1924), digitised by New Zealand Electronic Text Collection, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Stewart, Col. H., “Chapter IX – The German Offensive, 1918“, The New Zealand Division 1916-1919: A Popular History based on Official Records, Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd (Auckland: 1921), digitised by New Zealand Electronic Text Collection, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

O’Connor, Paul, “The German Offensive March 1918“, From Papanui to Passchendaele,  ( : accessed 23 Apr 2013).

Posted as part of the 2013 Trans Tasman ANZAC Day Blog Challenge.

NB. Any errors in transcription or interpretation are all mine.

In celebration of Marriage ~ Wedding Wednesday

A post to commemorate the passing of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill in New Zealand today, which ensures that all people, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity will have the opportunity to marry if they so choose (and in doing so, will create some interesting scenarios for us family historians!).

The wedding of William Hally and Margaret Gaffaney, 20 November 1900.  This photo was taken in front of Belper House, the home of Margaret's parents, Michael and Margaret.

The wedding of William Hally and Margaret Gaffaney, 20 November 1900. This photo was taken in front of Belper House, the home of Margaret’s parents, Michael and Margaret, in Arowhenua, South Canterbury, NZ.  (Larger version 1.4Mb)

Wedding Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.