A Kiwi in search of her Irish, English & Scottish tribes

Category: Events (Page 1 of 2)

Congress 2018 ~ the good, the not so good, and the even better

International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney

International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney

It has taken me several days to come off Sydney time and the genie high that was the 15th Australasian Congress of Genealogy and Heraldry 2018. What a glorious four days! The weather was good, the venue superb, and the craic mighty – a winning combination. Hats off to the organisers for an amazing event, and to GeniAus for making it so welcoming to newcomers.

GeniAus about to interview John at Friday night's get-together

GeniAus about to interview John at Friday night’s get-together

Among the presentations I attended were those given by speakers I’d heard and enjoyed before – Judy Russell, Paul Milner, Paul Blake, and Lisa Louise Cooke. Always good value! Kiwi Fiona Brooker gave a great talk on families who travelled back and forwards “across the ditch” (the Tasman Sea), and GeniAus Jill Ball shared some useful tips for family history bloggers. Kerry Farmer’s two presentations on DNA were excellent – one was on solving family puzzles using DNA (illustrated with case studies), and the other on chromosome mapping (which I want to tackle but haven’t got round to).

I also attended talks on the National Archives of Australia and Trove, but unfortunately my attention was elsewhere at the time as my daughter’s school camp in the South Island had been hit by a gastro bug and lots of messaging ensued between myself and the husband back in NZ trying to find a way to get her home. (She was one of the lucky ones who didn’t get ill!)

Ruth Graham’s presentation on Digital Humanities and Pauleen Cass’s on Uncovering your Irish roots both provided some food for thought, and Carole Riley gave us the low-down on Evernote and OneNote (though I still don’t know which I prefer). I loved Thom Reed’s tips on utilising the unindexed records on FamilySearch – there’s treasure to be discovered!

The only presentation that was disappointing was on How to be a professional genealogist, where I had hoped to learn a bit about the genealogy industry in Australasia. Most of the talk was taken up with audience members’ comments on the various (good) educational options available locally and little on other practicalities. However, I am comparing with a couple of day-long events that I attended in England, so perhaps unfair. And (as an audience member) Judy Russell’s advocacy for the APG (Association of Professional Genealogists) was marvellous!

Me with genealogy heroes, Lisa Louise Cooke (left) and Jan Gow (right)

Me with genealogy heroes, Lisa Louise Cooke (left) and Jan Gow (right)

Saturday night was the Congress dinner and obviously the genealogy gods were smiling as my table included both renowned NZ genealogist Jan Gow and American speaker Lisa Louise Cooke, as well as my two new Aussie genie-mates Janelle and Hillary. The food was good and the company even better. On Sunday night I had dinner with fellow members of the Guild of One Name Studies (thanks to Karen Rogers for organising).

The highlight of Congress was the wonderful conviviality and generosity shown by everyone. I had expected it to be similar to my first couple of genealogy events in England where (while I learnt a lot) I spent most of the time on my own. No chance of that with Congress!

International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, at night

International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, at night

Congress 2018 is here!

Getting up at dark o’clock (3am) is not much fun, but heading to Congress in Sydney was worth the bleary-eyed start. It’s a three hour flight “across the ditch” (aka the Tasman Sea) and after arriving just after 8am it was good to dump my suitcase at the hotel and then head to pre-register.

The Society of Australian Genealogists (SAG) had opened up their HQ for pre-registration and a ‘meet and greet’ opportunity. GeniAus (Jill Ball) was on hand to welcome everyone, especially first-time Congress attendees, and to hand out ‘First Time attendee’ ribbons. The tea and cakes were very welcome, as was the chance to meet other genealogists. As a geneablogger, I also got to pick up some blogger beads! These are a great way to recognise fellow bloggers at the conference (and a nice talking point when you don’t know many folks).

Pre-registration name tag, first time attendee ribbon, and geneablogger beads

Pre-registration swag!

I had booked in for an afternoon tour of Hyde Park Barracks that SAG had arranged, and what an amazing place it is. Built between 1817 and 1819 by convicts, and designed by former convict turned architect Francis Greenway, it was originally designed to house labouring convicts. Transportion to New South Wales ceased in 1840, and by 1848 the building was being used to accommodate female immigrants as well as destitute women. From 1887 it was used for law courts and government offices, right up until 1979.

Hyde Park Barracks

Hyde Park Barracks

During the time convicts lived in the barracks, they slept in these hammocks. We were allowed to try them out – I almost fell asleep in one of them, they seemed so comfortable (or maybe I was just very very tired).

Hammocks for convict labourers at Hyde Park Barracks

Hammocks for convict labourers, Hyde Park Barracks

In the evening my Australian cousins took me out for dinner at Sydney’s oldest continually licensed hotel, the Lord Nelson Brewing Hotel. A fitting end to the day!

RootsTech 2018 ~ livestreaming from Salt Lake City, Utah

RootsTech is the annual genealogy-meets-technology conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah, and this year is being held Wednesday 28th February to Saturday 3rd March. Not all of us can make it over there in person, but we can watch some of the presentations at home. Inspired by Sylvia Valentine who has “translated” the timetable from MST (Mountain Standard Time) into GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) for UK and Ireland folks, below is the timetable in NZDT (New Zealand Daylight Time). New Zealand is 20 hours ahead of Salt Lake City, so don’t get confused by the “Wednesday General Session” happening on a Thursday, etc!

There’s an excellent line-up of speakers, and if you have British Isles ancestry I can definitely recommend Myko Clelland and Brian Donovan – I’ve heard them both speak in person and they’re bound to give engaging and informative presentations.

For more details on the presentations and the live stream, visit the RootsTech website.

Alarm clocks at the ready!

Thursday, 1st March
4:30am Family History in 5 Minutes a Day Deborah Gamble
7:00am DNA—One Family, One World David Nicholson
9:30am Organizing and Preserving Photograph Collections Ari Wilkins
11:00am Finding the Answers: The Basics of WWII Research Jennifer Holik
12:30pm Wednesday General Session and Innovation Showcase Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International
Friday, 2nd March
4:30am Thursday General Session Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York
7:00am MyHeritage DNA 101: From Test to Results Yaniv Erlich
9:30am Google Photos: Collect, Organize, Preserve, and Share Michelle Goodrum
11:00am Unlocking Roman Catholic Records Brian Donovan
12:30pm A Gift of Life: Who’s Writing Your Story? Deborah Abbott
Saturday, 3rd March
4:30am Friday General Session Scott Hamilton
7:00am findmypast’s British and Irish Hidden Gems Myko Clelland
9:30am Finding the Right DNA Test for You Jim Brewster
11:00am How Not to Leave Your Genealogy Behind Amy Johnson Crow and Curt Witcher
12:30pm Finding Elusive Records at FamilySearch Robert Kehrer
Sunday, 4th March
4:30am Saturday General Session Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Natalia Lafourcade
7:00am Civil Registration Indexes of England and Wales Audrey Collins
9:30am Advancing Your Genealogy Research with DNA Anna Swayne
11:00am Pain in the Access: More Web for Your Genealogy Curt Witcher

At the going down of the sun and in the morning ~ Remembrance Sunday

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

This is how the Tower of London is commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red is an installation created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, and has involved the help of hundreds of volunteer ‘poppy planters’. The Tower’s moat is being progressively filled with 888,246 ceramic poppies – each representing a British forces death during the war. The last poppy is being placed on November 11th, the date the Armistice was signed.

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

Every day since August 5, the names of 180 Commonwealth troops who were killed in the war have been read out at sunset, followed by the Last Post. These names are nominated by the public, and I nominated my two ANZACs, Peter Gaffaney and Edward Tunnecliff. Their names were read out on Thursday, September 25, and our whole family went up to London to hear them.

My (very short) video of their names being read out:

You can read more about these two soldiers in previous posts:

The official video of the full ceremony of September 25 including the Last Post is available on the Tower of London Roll of Honour website.

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

Tower of London poppies ~ 25 Sep 2014

We will remember them.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live, London

I have just spent two wonderful days at Who Do You Think You Are? Live in London. I had promised myself last year that I would attend all three days in 2014, but with the days changing from Friday – Sunday to Thursday – Saturday, it was all a bit tricky, so two days again it was.

I had an early start on Friday morning to travel in from Kent in time for my first talk: Rosalind McCutcheon on Irish Poor Law records. It was a mix of background history and details of what records might have survived, all delivered in Roz’s inimitable style, and I’m hopeful I may find something for my Irish families. Next up was the “Celebrity Talk” in the main SOG theatre, though it differed in format this time, as it included the producers as well as Larry Lamb talking about the making of the show. It was a lovely insight into what happens behind the scenes, from the production point of view rather than just focusing on the celebrity’s experience.

Larry Lamb and WDYTYA producers, Olympia 2014

Larry Lamb and WDYTYA producers, Olympia 2014

The next talk I attended was Researching Australian WW1 Military Personnel given by Helen V. Smith, and it gave me some great ideas for further research on my Kiwi soliders. After a short wander around the exhibit hall, I listened to Stephen Scarth talking about PRONI online resources, and while I was aware of many of them, there are some exciting resources being made available soon. I’d also overlooked the very useful research guides they provide on their website.

I had booked an Ask the Expert session in the afternoon, and the military expert I requested gave me some very helpful tips on where to go next in my research. Looking around this area, it didn’t seem as busy as in previous years. Perhaps it was busier on the Saturday?

Definitely the greatest value for me this year was meeting lots of lovely genealogists, some of whom I only “knew” via Twitter. I’m always inspired by those making a living out of genealogy, and love how passionate they are about what they do. A “Tweet Up” had been arranged at the end of the day in the Hand and Flower pub across the road from the Olympia, and there were so many of us it got a little crowded in our spot at the back of the pub! I managed to chat to a few people, before heading off to dinner with some fellow IHGS students.

After a late night, Saturday morning came a little too soon, but after a mammoth breakfast and a good brisk walk to the Olympia from my hotel, I was ready for another day of genealogical delights. I only attended two talks this day, with the first being on the Scottish Poor Laws from Patricia Whately. She gave an overview of Poor Law legislation in Scotland, and the many records that were created as a result. Kirsty Wilkinson has compiled a list of those records that survive, which can be accessed (along with other resources) on her website : My Ain Folk.

WDYTYA? Live, Olympia 2014

WDYTYA? Live, Olympia 2014

After another couple of meetups, Tweet Ups and walk around the stands, I was off to my second talk of the day: Janet Few on Putting Your Ancestors in their Place: Sources for Reconstructing 19th Century Communities. I found this a great follow up to the recent One Place Studies course I’d just completed with Pharos, and I’m keen to get a hold of Janet’s new book, Putting your Ancestors in their Place: A Guide to One Place Studies.

Somehow I managed to sign up for not one but TWO online courses – just couldn’t resist the “show special” prices. The Pharos One Name Studies course included a GOONS membership. Bonus! The Palaeography course through the National Institute of Genealogical Studies was one I’d been looking at doing, and I couldn’t resist the 50% discount, plus fountain pen. Double bonus! Both start next month, so I shall be a little busy, I think.

I was disappointed to miss a couple of talks that were scheduled for Thursday, but luckily the one I most wanted to see has been recorded and can be viewed online: Maurice Gleeson’s Autosomal DNA – a step-by-step approach to analysing your atDNA matches.

Over the two days I met some fantastic people, caught up with friends, and learnt a lot from the talks and discussions. There are rumours that next year’s event will be at a different venue (Birmingham?), but hopefully I will be there. WDYTYA? Live will also be making an appearance in Glasgow this August, which will be especially handy for those living further north. A fabulous excuse to visit Scotland, if you really needed one!

Chief of the Brosnan clan

This entry is part 17 of 18 in the series The Brosnahans of Temuka

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

This entry is part 16 of 18 in the series The Brosnahans of Temuka

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

Who Do You Think You Are? Live : Day Two

Saturday was another busy day at  Who Do You Think You Are? Live.  I had three talks booked, as well as an Ask the Expert session, but otherwise had more time than Friday to wander around the stands and catch up with some friends.

First up for me was “Your Irish Ancestors and the Law”, with Brian Donovan talking about the Petty Sessions order books that are available on www.findmypast.ie.  The Petty Sessions courts handled most criminal cases in Ireland, apart from the most serious, and were held by Justices of the Peace without a jury.  Record taking was made mandatory in 1851 and so only a few earlier documents survive.  Among the order books are dog licence books (1850-1924) – every dog had to be licenced, and every farmer usually had a dog. Details  include owner’s name, address, and occupation.  Brian also discussed the Irish Prison Registers 1790-1924 on findmypast.ie, another great resource.  I really enjoyed this session as I learnt a lot and Brian’s a very entertaining speaker.

I had a long break until my next talk and made the most of the time to chat with fellow IHGS students, and also to attend the inaugral WDYTYA? Live “tweet-up”, ably organised by Rosemary Morgan.  It was a great chance to meet some of the people I’ve been following on Twitter, and to discover more folks to follow!

My Ask the Expert session was with Kathy Chater who gave me some great tips on how to chase up details of my 3xgreat grandmother Elizabeth Rose, born in Cape Town in 1845.

Nick Barratt’s presentation on the future of genealogy was interesting, and it’s apparently his last gig at WDYTYA? Live as he is moving back to the National Archives to head up their Medieval team (amongst others).  Somehow I can’t see TNA keeping him away next year!

I then raced around like a mad thing to pick up a Flip Pal (thanks for speedy service, guys!) and the second-hand books I had scored earlier and were being kept for me by the bookstall, before leaping into the last talk of the day – Rosalind McCutcheon on The Registry of Deeds in Dublin.  Wow. What a resource!  I’ve heard Rosalind talk before, and so I signed up for this without knowing how much the Registry of Deeds could be of use to me in my own research.  It was a great way to end the day, and I am itching to get over to Dublin to start digging away amongst those dusty tomes.

Overall, I loved WDYTYA? Live this year more than other years.  I think the main difference was that there were more people I knew to chat to during each day, and I had chosen the talks I attended wisely. (Oh yeah, and I got my Flip Pal. And lots of books!)

Handouts for most of the talks will be available from the Society of Genealogists website soon, hopefully.

Who Do You Think You Are? Live : Day One

Last weekend I attended the Who Do You Think You Are? Live exhibition held at the Olympia in London.  It runs for three days, and I went along for the Friday and Saturday.

What struck me on Friday was how CRAZY busy it was in comparison to last year.  I like going on the Friday, because I have this idea it’s a “quiet” day.   Not so!  I  also filled up my time with four talks and the Keynote lecture with Q & A, so by the end of the day I was feeling rather overwhelmed.

WDYTYA? Live 2013

It doesn’t look that busy in this photo, but it was!

The most illuminating presentation I attended was Debbie Kennett’s “A Beginner’s Guide to DNA”.  A fellow IHGS student and I raced into the Olympia to get seats for her 11am session, and were not disappointed.  Debbie gave a clear and concise overview of the three main tests you can take : Y-DNA (males only), mtDNA and Autosomal, and explained how they can be used for genealogical connections.  I found it completely fascinating and now want to get everyone in my extended family tested!

In my Ask the Experts session I scored Dominic Johnson as my expert, and wished I had brought along my palaeography assignments instead of a question about my South African ancestor! Last year I had been inspired by her workshop on palaeography.

In the few spare minutes I had between talks, I managed to get my hands on a Flip Pal mobile scanner and find out all about it, with plans to buy the next day.  I also purchased four books on my ‘Want to Buy’ list (hurray for show specials!):

  • Bruce Durie’s Understanding Documents for Genealogy & Local History, The History Press (2013)
  • Simon Fowler’s Tracing Your Army Ancestors, 2nd ed., Pen & Sword (2013)
  • Celia Heritage’s Tracing Your Ancestors through Death Records, Pen & Sword (2013)
  • Debbie Kennett’s The Surnames Handbook, The History Press (2012)

One of the best parts of the day was chatting to the staff from IHGS, and catching up over dinner with fellow students.

WDYTYA? Live ~ wrap up

Today I enjoyed a lovely lie-in and leisurely breakfast at my hotel, before heading home by train.  I would have loved to have visited WDYTYA? Live for a third day, but had afternoon commitments.  Next year I will clear my calendar for the weekend!

Best decision I made this year was my choice of hotel which was only a five minute walk from Earl’s Court tube station, and on the way to the Olympia.  So this meant I could travel up on Friday morning by train, drop my bag off to the hotel, and then it was only another ten minute walk to the Olympia.  Genius!

I had splashed out on platinum tickets for both Friday and Saturday, which is an expensive way to do it, but it was worth it.  I just wish they had some kind of deal for a three day platinum ticket!  Maybe next year?

I spent a lot of my time in workshops.  Unless there are some special deals that are show-only, I tend to buy books/products online.  (I am still regretting not buying a Flip-pal, though!)  So I think it’s really the talks and presentations that make it worthwhile for me.  This year I got to meet up with a couple of friends as well, which was fantastic, as in the previous two years I’d attended on my own.  It was also lovely to hear talks by people I’ve heard/read about, and to see them in person.

One thing I meant to do last year was join the Suffolk Family History Society, and this year I finally did it! It’s the first FHS that I’ve joined, so I’m hoping for great things to come of it.

It wasn’t until the end of Saturday that I realised there was  free Wi-Fi available – doh!  I had real problems sending tweets out via Vodafone, so stopped trying.  It would have been good if the Wi-Fi had been better publicised (or maybe I should have checked for it at the beginning..?)

I managed to snaffle a FindMyPast polo shirt – score!  Plus track down Else Churchill for a genealogy blogger/tweeter rosette (um… sorry I hassled you straight after your presentation, Else!)  Maybe next year it would be a good idea to have a central point to pick one up (the SOG stand, perhaps), to save us stalking poor Else?

All up, I had a fantastic time at WDYTYA? Live, and am looking forward to next year.  (February 22nd-24th!!)

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