Sunday, 7 February 2010

More revelations from Dublin coming soon...

First time visitors to this website may be forgiven in wondering why it's called a Brummie Family Tree when so many of the posts immediately below this one are about my ancestors in Ireland. If you have a few minutes to scroll down and click on older posts, you will indeed find plenty of information about the Brummies although it's worth remembering that up until 250 years ago, Birmingham was a small Warwickshire market town so the 1 million modern citizens of the UK's second city are 95% of us descended from migrants, whether these be local rural migrants from the shire counties, migrants from other parts of the islands such as Scotland, Wales and Ireland, or from further afield - Italians, European Jews, Poles, people from Yemen, Pakistan, India, West Indies, etc.

"How do you tell a Brummie? By the shamrock in his turban!" might sound like an old gag, but believe me I have seen such a sight on the Birmingham St Patrick's Day Parade.

Coming soon, I will take a look at the ancestors of my wife's father, Edward Dwyer, who were farming people from county Wexford and also to dig around a little deeper in Lurgan, county Offaly to find out more about the origins of the Stone family.

Also coming in the future, anecdotal stories from my father's brother Bill and sisters Nance and Kath who all three died in the last decade, but not before sharing with me a few memories and insights into working class life in the back-to-back houses of Ladywood and Hockley. Learn how Uncle Bill's appendicitis was cured when a neighbour attempted to get him through the cobbled streets of Ladywood to the Children's Hospital on a horse and cart and how I made contact with that same man's grandson. Hear how my dad Geoff kept his rabbit on the roof of a local factory and fell off the roof of the Palais de Danse on Monument Road. How in my role as editor of the Marston Green Gazette I discovered that the owner of the Palais de Danse was Mr Bulpit, the same man who owned the Bulpits Factory on Monument Road who used the carpet from the Palais to refurbish Marston Green Village Hall!

Learn why Winston Churchill was a regular visitor to the back streets of old Ladywood and once drove past Uncle Harry's pub in Ledsam Street. Read the letters sent to me by a man who grew up just yards away from the Vesper Bell pub, including a shop by shop plan of the entire street he drew from childhood memory!


Also, I must thank my mother's cousin Sean Whelan in Dublin for sending me some fascinating documents about my great great grandfather John McDonnell (including the drawing above) who, in spite of being totally blind in the harsh landscape of Victorian Dublin, made his fortune selling basket weaved products, became a political candidate on behalf of the National League for the Blind, a Poor Law Guardian, a member of the Irish National League and a campaigner for better provision for blind people in Ireland. Now that's my kind of ancestor!

So keep visiting the website for more on the amazing real life story of G-G-Grandfather John McDonnell.
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