Limelight

I am finally in receipt of Davis and Mary Coakley’s book “The History and Heritage of St. James Hospital, Dublin”.  Naturally after all the commotion I went through during it’s writing, I was anxious to see what part of Alexander Fraser’s life as master of the South Dublin Union workhouse might be mentioned. Some may recall that I had quoted  a memoir in my blog which had been written by one of the grand-daughters of Agnes, Alex’s wife (my maternal great-aunt). The writer would in fact, be my second cousin.

In my enthusiasm for the subject, I assumed that the person who had passed the memoir to me would have known if the writer was still alive but I was wrong.  Of course, one day I got an email from that person who was shocked to see her name “on the internet”.  I had made an agreement that the author could quote from the memoirs through my blog, huge mistake. However, I agreed to withdraw said quotes from my blog . She then agreed herself that the professor could use them.  Lesson learned.

The book is voluminous, naturally, there is so much history to the building and Alex’s time there received small mention after all. There is a photo of the family on the steps of the Master’s residence, Garden Hill and the few quotes aforementioned and a paragraph or two.  I haven’t finished reading the book yet.

My purpose in writing on the subject was not about the workhouse but about my amazing great-aunt Agnes, who you will find in my posts. She was the mother of 8 children of her own and took in 3 of her sister Sarah’s children when she died. The door to her home was a revolving one and she was mistress of the South Dublin Union for 26 years.  During this time, she was also a mainstay of her own family, helping her father in his old age. She was likely the person who saw my grandfather and his brother off when they came to Canada.

When Alex broke his leg in 1908 and died of pneumonia, she received nothing from the Union and was forced leave Garden Hill and manage on the small amount they had put away.  In spite of all, Agnes lived to be 104 years old. My mind often wonders if she learned something at the workhouse that kept her alive all those years. In the meantime, I will enjoy reading the rest of the book which I am sure will provide further enlightenment.

Who Are You ?

I have collected the updates for my DNA autosomal test. I still find it screamingly hilarious that I have 1% Andean DNA, from South America. The other 5% North American Indian not too surprising since my grandmother’s family was Metis. It is also great fun to compare with other members of your family. In my case that would be my brother who is a year and a half younger than I. For part of the year we are only 1 year apart. The initial test showed us to have about 5 nationalities in common but now it has been refined down to only 3. He has more English DNA, more native and less French than I and no Scandinavian. So, in effect we are getting to know each other even better than before .

I recently reunited with a long lost cousin. We found that we had much more in common than one would have thought. She was from my father’s side of the family and it was a great comfort to at last find someone who had so much in common with me. You can imagine a childhood where one side of the family is from the opposite culture, French and British. Thank heavens people are more culturally aware now. When I was a child, I was constantly pushed between the standards of the two, particularly where religion was concerned. I believe I am among the many people who were glad when there parents finally separated, just to escape their families!

I have had some communication with people who have DNA matches with me but we don’t seem to be able to find the common ancestor. Hopefully one of them will do that because I don’t really have the interest in it. I just like to read and write history.

I am still thinking about my family and the American War of Independence and whether any were involved in it. I listened to the podcast on Maple Stars and Stripes about finding that out but didn’t find it too helpful. One could just go through to find out where your ancestors were living at the time.

I enjoyed the series “Turn” about Washington’s Spies but found the book quite dull so I decided to watch “John Adams” , the story of the second president of the United States. Paul Giamatti was absolutely amazing in his portrayal of the man who would eventually become president after Washington. It is one of the few movies in which the trials and disappointments of a person were so palpable.

It is sad that two neighbouring countries know so little about each other and even perhaps share a certain animosity bred out of that ignorance. I suppose Canada maintaining close ties with Britain did not help. We are still a young country after all.