Category Archives: Places

George & Elizabeth Tunnecliff, Grave 56 ~ Tombstone Tuesday

I was recently contacted by John Pickering, graveyard manager of St Mary’s Cathedral in New Plymouth (Taranaki, New Zealand). He is spearheading a project to repair all the old gravestones in the churchyard, and is trying to contact descendants of those buried, to help fund the repairs. Council funds are being applied for where there are no known descendants.

My great great great grandparents George Tunnecliff(e) and his wife Elizabeth Barber are buried in Grave 56 in the churchyard, and their gravestone is one of a number that require some TLC.

Gravestone of George & Elizabeth Tunnecliff(e), St Mary's, New Plymouth, NZ

Gravestone of George & Elizabeth Tunnecliff, St Mary’s churchyard, New Plymouth, NZ (Image: John Pickering)

The inscription on the headstone reads:

In loving memory of George Tunnecliff died 13 February 1912 aged 80 years also Elizabeth Tunnecliff died 24 February 1916 aged 86 . At rest.

John has written to a couple of descendants so far and outlined the work that is needed to repair the grave, and the costs involved. The concrete top is broken and the north side wall has fallen away, and the headstone itself requires a professional clean and application of lichen inhibitor. Because the churchyard has been designated a Category 1 historical site, only registered memorial masons can carry out the repairs.

The Dean of the Cathedral comments:
We believe that the churchyard should be a place of pride for the city and a fitting memorial to those buried there. Our plan is to restore every headstone, whilst being true to its age and style. There is much research that a well-kept and loved churchyard is far less subject to vandalism. In recent years we have seen no vandalism whatsoever, and we aim for that to continue.

All told, the concrete repair work and the headstone cleaning for George & Elizabeth’s grave will amount to around $600. Descendants are being asked to contribute towards the cost, and obviously the more of us that can chip in, the better!

So, are you connected to the family? Would you like to help?

There are several ways to donate a few dollars, but to make it easier, I’ve set up a GiveALittle fundraising page and donations go straight to the The Taranaki Cathedral Church of St Mary for the restoration of Grave 56.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to share more about George and Elizabeth, their lives in England and New Zealand, as well as their children and grandchildren.

Further reading: Isobel Ewing, New Plymouth Graves Need Work, Taranaki Daily News online, 20 May 2013.

Tombstone Tuesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!

At the foot of Croagh Patrick, 17 March 2012

At the foot of Croagh Patrick, 17 March 2012

O’Rourke Family tomb, Dysert Burial Ground, Co Kerry ~ Tombstone Tuesday

A few kilometres down the road from Castleisland, on the way to Killarney, is Dysert Burial Ground. It is here where my great great great grandfather Michael O’Rourke, father of Bartholomew O’Rourke, is buried, along with other members of the O’Rourke family. An O’Rourke cousin in Australia told me about it, and how to find it, so last May I went off in search of it.

Dysert Burial Ground, near Castleisland, Co Kerry

Dysert Burial Ground, near Castleisland, Co Kerry

The family tomb is located just inside the gate, to the right.

Gate to Dysert Burial Ground, near Castleisland, Co Kerry

Gate to Dysert Burial Ground, near Castleisland, Co Kerry

O'Rourke family tomb, Dysert Burial Ground

O’Rourke family tomb, Dysert Burial Ground

The inscriptions are almost illegible. Thankfully, another cousin had visited the site in the early 1990s and deciphered the main one as:

Michael Rourke
+ sons JOHN, DARBY & MICHAEL ROURKE
A.D.1810
This tomb was erected by the above.

This appears to be Michael with his two brothers John and Jeremiah (Darby is a common nickname), and their father Michael.

An earlier transcription, from Albert Casey1:

Daniel Rourke, sons John and Darby and Ml. This tomb was erected by the above.

Michael and Daniel would look very similar on a weathered tombstone. Daniel is not a name that has been handed down in the family, so I’m tending to side against Casey on this one (for now!).

O'Rourke family grave, Dysert Burial Ground

Inscription, O’Rourke family grave, Dysert Burial Ground

An inscription on the headstone reads:

THE
O’ROURKE
FAMILY
R.I.P.

O'Rourke family grave, Dysert Burial Ground

Inscription, O’Rourke family grave, Dysert Burial Ground

The last person to be buried in the tomb was Jeremiah O’Rourke (1916-1976), my second cousin twice removed.

 

Tombstone Tuesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

  1. Albert E. Casey, “Dysert Cemetery, Castleisland parish, MIs”, O’Kief, Cosh Mang, Slieve Lougher and Upper Blackwater in Ireland, Birmingham, Alabama, 16 volumes, 1952-1971, vol 6 pp.1927-28.

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.

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.

Journey to Ypres, Belgium

I tagged a visit to Ypres onto a weekend trip to see friends in Belgium. Having never been, I was keen to see the area where my cousin Peter (first, thrice removed) had fought during World War I and find out a bit about life on the Western Front.

After leaving Brussels at midday on Easter Sunday, our first stop was at the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917.  It was here I was hoping to learn more about the New Zealand Division’s role in the area, and in that respect I was a little disappointed.  To be fair, our journey through the exhibits was at the speed of a four year old’s attention span, so I couldn’t stop and linger,  but I didn’t see a huge amount about the Kiwi involvement.  I guess, (as my husband pointed out), the New Zealanders were a very small number compared to other nationalities, even though the battles here at Passchendaele included the “blackest day” in NZ history.

Replica of a command post in the tunnels - Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917

Replica of a command post in the tunnels – Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917

On the lower floor of the museum is a replica dugout and tunnel system with (a bit scary for the kids) sound effects – I found this section fascinating (and please excuse the dodgy photography).

Bunks in the tunnels - Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917

Bunks in the tunnels – Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917

The small bookshop was a surprise – a great array of books available on a New Zealand theme and I had to stop myself from grabbing the lot!  I restrained myself to just one:  Massacre at Passchendaele: The New Zealand Story by Glyn Harper.   The other thing I bought was a Zonnebeke trench map (28 N.E. 1, Edition 7. A Scale 1: 10,000), in the hopes that it would be useful as a guide while reading historical accounts of the battles in the area. Plus, I love maps.

Outside the museum it looks like some construction work is underway, and I wonder if it is part of the outside trench replica that I’d read about, which will be completed for the 2014 commemorations.  If you’re bringing kids, it might be an idea to pick up food/snacks on your way, as the onsite eating options are limited and a bit pricey. Our kids, fueled by a breakfast of chocolate Easter eggs, turned up their noses at the gloriously green gloop offered at the bar (a very tasty chervil soup, though it sounded like the waitress called it “gerbil soup” which worried me initially – I had to check that it was  “vegetarian”) and consoled themselves with freshly baked bread.

Before we headed to Ypres, we managed to find the New Zealand memorial at ‘s Gravenstafel, just outside Zonnebeke, which commemorated the Kiwi involvement in the Battle of Broodseinde on October 4th, 1917.

New Zealand Memorial, 's Gravenstafel, Zonnebeke

New Zealand Memorial, ‘s Gravenstafel, Zonnebeke

This Monument marks the site of
Gravenstafel which on October the 4th
1917 was captured by the New Zealand
Division as part of a General Advance
towards Passchendaele

“From the Uttermost Ends of the Earth”

My daughter placed a small remembrance cross at the foot of the memorial.

There were many other places I wanted to stop at, including Tyne Cot cemetery, but unfortunately rumbling young tummies forced us on to Ypres.

Our hotel for the night was located on Grote Markt in the centre of town,  and after filling up on dinner and waffles (not necessarily in that order), we walked to the Menin Gate for 8pm to hear the Last Post.  Completed in 1927, the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing is dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres Salient of World War I and who have no known graves.  Nearly 55,000 names are inscribed on the memorial, and if a soldier’s remains are found and identifed, his name is removed.  Except during the German occupation of the town in World War II, the Last Post has been played every night at the Menin Gate since 1928, as an expression of gratitude by the people of Ypres to all those who gave their lives for Belgium’s freedom.

It was a cold but beautiful clear night, and the trumpet sound filled the air and lingered over us.  Gets me every time I hear it.  (I had to turn around and ‘shhh’ at a man talking through it  – even my kids were quiet, so not sure why he needed to be yapping on!)   A special wreath-laying took place afterwards, accompanied by bagpipes.  I didn’t recognise the first piece that was played, but the second was ‘Amazing Grace’. Again, very moving.

Last Post at Menin Gate, Ypres - March 2013

Last Post at Menin Gate, Ypres – March 2013

The next morning my 8 year old son and I took off to see In Flanders Fields museum, a few minutes walk from the hotel.  It’s an amazing place, telling many personal stories in an audiovisual way that both of us enjoyed. (I don’t think my 6 and 4 year olds would have liked it as much, however.) We climbed the bell tower  and braved the freezing wind to take in the views over Ypres and beyond.  There are further developments at the museum planned in time for next year’s commemorations.

View over Grote Markt towards Menin Gate, from bell tower, Ypres

View over Grote Markt towards Menin Gate, from bell tower, Ypres

Before we left Ypres, I visited Menin Gate again to view some of the names there of the missing, but didn’t find any New Zealanders.  Later, I found out that the names of the NZ missing are listed elsewhere. Doh!  (The New Zealand Remembrance & Battlefield Tours website has a great list of Kiwi-related memorials and cemeteries.)

There are so many sites to visit and we had so little time, but our quick look has made me excited to read up more and then visit again. Soon!

Menin Gate, Ieper/Ypres, Belgium ~ Wordless Wednesday

 

Menin Gate, Ieper/Ypres - April 2013

Menin Gate, Ieper/Ypres – April 2013

Menin Gate, Ieper/Ypres - April 2013

Menin Gate, Ieper/Ypres – April 2013

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Brockley Cemetery, Lewisham, England ~ Wordless Wednesday

 

Gravestones, Brockley Cemetery, Lewisham - June 2012

Gravestones, Brockley Cemetery, Lewisham – June 2012

Gravestones, Brockley Cemetery, Lewisham - June 2012

Gravestones, Brockley Cemetery, Lewisham – June 2012

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.