Aug 042014

Today it is Dublin. A city of so much history! 

Also a city of Guinness as evidenced by these tankers on the wharf opposite where we berthed.

On the way in we saw this bridge which I call the Harp Bridge (along with lots of other people!) but it’s official name is the Samuel Beckett Bridge. It was opened in 2009.



A number of the Unlock the Past cruisers were going to the National Library of Ireland to attend a presentation by    Carmel McBride of Eneclann kindly organised by Eileen O Duill.  

After the presentation Alona and I left the researchers researching (I have previously researched at the NLI for my Michael Courtenay and Rosina McAtavey whose son Michael emigrated to Queensland in 1846 with little success) while we went to find internet, and then the Book of Kells and Trinity College Library. 

I have seen the Book of Kells before but you can never see it too many times!

First we found internet as a byproduct of morning tea and we did stay there for a while catching up on work emails (internet had been  patchy and our Vodafone wi-fi hotspots didn’t work around much of Scotland or in Dublin, possibly in Dublin because they were protecting us from foreign country fees).

Then it was onto Trinity College. 

Of course, to protect the Book of Kells you cannot take photographs but you can download an app for the iPad in iTunes. it is A$14.99 but worth it to see the amazing details. 

The exhibition also has descriptions and background information on how the Book was created and also its traveling history after being looted from one place to another. It is a miracle that any of these treasures survive and it is one of the great shames of the world that so many treasures are lost in war and continue to be lost in battles today. Many treasures are being lost in the Middle East, the Russian areas as surviving has to take precedence but when you destroy a cultures treasures you destroy part of the people’s lives and some of their future.

There are so many books. You get the ‘book smell’ as soon as you walk in. We were allowed to take photographs here but not to use the flash.

I was pleased to see that the books were still being used as there was some librarians there taking some out and boxing them up and there were gaps in some of the shelves and the usage conditions can be found here. Scholars from other institutions are able to use the resources if they can show it is only available here.

Alona says that a number of the books scanned for the Archive CD Books Ireland came from the Trinity College Library.

There were a number of displays in the centre which were not allowed to be photographed but these included Hebrew books, a commemorative display of a World War One author and more.

The Library began with the founding of Trinity College in 1592 and it is the largest library in Ireland and is the Legal Deposit library, the only one in Ireland for the United Kingdom and it has held this role since 1801.

The Long Room by Alona Tester

The Long Room, (picture taken by Alona as hers came out so much better than mine!) is 65 metres (213feet) long and is the main chamber of the Old library. 

Built between 1712 and 1732, it contains over 200 000 of the Library’s oldest books and when you realise the Bishop of Armagh when he died in 1656 left his library of several thousand volumes and the Book of Kells was given to the library in 1661 there are very many old treasures housed here.

A problem for all of us in the future is the money needed to maintain these treasures as they should be and if money is not spent the generations of the future will not be able to see and use these books. Quite a number of the books I saw had deteriorating covers and conservation work is never cheap. 

We oohed and aahed for quite a while then realised we had better get back to the ship as it had taken quite a while to travel the 5km to town when we came in that morning. It was a much faster run home.

We got back and I helped some people in the Research Help Zone along with a number of the other speakers and then it was time for the evening presentations. 

My iPad getting ready to take notes

I went to Lisa Louise Cooke’s ‘Genealogy on the go with the iPad/tablets’ and as usual she was an excellent speaker. I was pleased to see that a fair number of the apps she recommended I had installed on my iPad and actually used. I do have Evernote installed but as I have previously mentioned I do have to spend some time with it so I can use it instinctively. 

One of the problems I find is that there are many apps and programs that can help you work more effectively but no-one gives you the time you need to devote to learning them so they will help you and save your time. I suppose I just need to calendar some time as i am finding if it isn’t in the diary it doesn’t happen and just learn it.

Lisa has written a book on getting the most out of the iPad and other Tablets for genealogy and it is available as an eBook (Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhouse)and I would recommend it if you want to use your tablet for more than emails, Facebook, Twitter, G+ and as a eBook reader.

By going to Lisa’s talk I missed Mike Murray talking on ‘How to make your online searching more effective’ which was well received by those who went.

Aug 032014
Colourful Buildings of Tobermory

This was the day we were going to Tobermory, Isle of Mull and from there an excursion to Iona.

Again the weather was lovely (really! I am not sure who had the inside line to the weather gods but we had brilliant weather, just look at that sky). 

Tobermory was a pretty harbour with its coloured houses.

Church on the hill at Tobermory

Lots of trees here which was a stark contrast to the islands we have visited in the last few days.

As Rosemary and I had booked on the tour to Iona we went straight onto the coach so didn’t have time to meander around Tobermory. Those that did said it was lovely and there were great places to eat lovely seafood.

We had a nice guide (although she managed to confuse herself a bit with Australian history) 

Highland Cattle

Lachlan MacQuarie was born on the island of Ulva in 1762 just off the coast off Mull and is buried on Mull. He was the fifth Governor of the colony of New South Wales being appointed in 1809 and officially in residence ass Governor from 1 January 1810 to 1822. He died in 1824 not being as long-lived as his father who reportedly lived to be 103.

We did see Highland cattle although we did have to wonder if the guide had an arrangement with the farmer to have the cattle in a certain paddock as she no sooner started talking about them than we rounded the corner and there they were!

The drive to the ferry terminal for Iona was round two hours and then we and the other couple of coaches arrived. The ferry was also for the general public and the cargo transport to Iona which is just across the way but is a 25 minute ferry round trip. The ferry needed to transport a truck which had some sort of cargo which had a requirement for not many people to be on board so we had to wait a trip or so.

Weather vane

I saw this weather vane while I was waiting and thought it very cute. Looks like the dog got his dinner and the fellow misses out.

The sky and water was very blue and there were a number of people paddling on the beach both this side and the other.

Iona is about two kilometres off the coast of Mull and the main settlement, located at St. Ronan’s Bay on the eastern side of the island. A nice village with hotels, shops and the ruins of the Nunnery. I often wonder why the Nunnery is a distance from the church while the monastery is usually right near it. I know the monks went to Mass between midnight and dawn so I assume the nuns did too?

Ruins of the Nunnery

Anyway St Columba came ashore on Iona and Iona became established as a religious area. It is believed the Book of Kells was written (written is such an anemic word for the artistry of this book) here in the 800s. The Abbey was sacked by the Norse on a number of occasions.

It used to have around 25 Celtic crosses but now only a couple of original ones are left including the one below which is Crois Mhicilleathain (Maclean’s Cross).

Crois Mhicilleathain (Maclean’s Cross)

Then we came to the Parish Church where we spent some time wandering the cemetery (we are family historians! Of course we were going to wander the cemetery!)

Rosemary Kopittke at the Parish Church

And saw a number of very interesting headstones but I’ll save that for another post but also saw a number of headstones of unknown sailors generally merchant marine who had washed ashore during the Second World War. Sad when you think none of their families know where their sons,fathers,uncles lie in rest.


Then onto the Abbey.

The small building just behind the Celtic Cross is St Columba’s church. The Abbey has a long, long history and is what it is today due to being restored.

It is a peaceful church inside and worshippers still come and retreats are often held on the island.

Inside the church there were the ornamental tombs of George Douglas the Duke of Argyll and his wife.

George Douglas Duke of Argyll and his wife

We had to be back at the terminus so left in plenty of time to wander down. On the way we stopped for an ice-cream at the Low House. It had a sign warning people to duck their head as it was a very low doorway. Yes I fitted perfectly! Rosemary has a picture which I’ll have to get off her.

Back at the terminus there was  again a wait for the ferry and we didn’t get on the first or second one and there was some concern as we were running a bit later than planned.

Jackie Depelle who was one of the first speakers in the afternoon session had a paddle and we all enjoyed the sunshine as there was nothing we could do. The joys of 150 extra people arriving in an area on a beautiful summers day.

Bright blue sky and sea

We eventually got back over the straight and onto the coaches knowing we would be arriving back after the time we were told the Marco Polo would be sailing!

We knew they would not sail without us as we were on a ship organised excursion  but we were concerned as we knew Jackie Depelle was in the coach and we would be back after the start of her talk.

Marco Polo waiting for us

So we got back and there were some sighs of relief from others when they saw the ship.

Back onboard 20 minutes into the first session which meant I did not get to hear Geraldine O’Reilly’s talk on Portrait of a Parish: with a focus on place names. Jackie’s talk was postponed.

I sat down in the Captain’s Lounge, our hangout for this cruise (it had power points, comfortable chairs, friendly waitstaff who would bring coffees, what more could one ask (except internet but that is another story!) and started helping some people with some research queries. 

This meant I missed Sean Ó Dúill talking on Country cures from Irish folklore which was a session open to all the ship’s passengers and also Lesly Silvester talking on What were the Quarter Sessions?

Then time for the scheduled Research Help Zone before it was time for me to give my next presentation ‘Timelines as a research tool’. At the same time as mine was scheduled ‘Family History sources before 1837’ by Jackie Depelle and we had a number of unhappy people who had wanted to hear both presentations. this can be a difficulty sometimes when a dual program is being run. I was able to alleviate their distress by promising to do the timelines talk again a few days later which I did and had nearly the same number in the audience.

I even had Lisa Louise Cooke in the audience and I am very much looking forward to seeing her creative timelines. I am a good researcher and scientist  but don’t have a creative bone in my body so I really admire creative people!

I then started my next talk which was on ‘Understanding the context: why social history is important in your research’, showing examples of how knowing the cultural, political, social, environmental aspects of your ancestors lives can make such a difference to your research. 

This meant I missed Mike Murray’s  talk on ‘Highland Clearances: where did they go?’ which was a shame after seeing some of Scotland and seeing the conditions and understanding a little better (even though I have no research in these areas) about what occurred.

Then it was time for dinner. The ship has started during the early sessions on its way to Dublin our next stop.