Friday, September 24, 2010

A Precious Find

Photo taken from
"Lismore, Autobiography of an Irish Town, 1937-1957"
by  James Ballantyne

Last August as I perused the book shelves in the Lismore Heritage Shop I stumbled upon the above photo. It includes Mike Feeney, childhood friend of my Dad's, Cora, Dad's older sister, Theresa, his first cousin, Paddy Ballantyne and five year old Dad.

When I got over the shock and delight of discovering the photograph, I was struck by the strong resemblance between my father and my third child. They could be twins.

A copy of this photograph now graces my family album. The album holds many photographs of my Dad as a teenager and young man. But only two of the child my father once was. The one above and his Communion photograph. So this was a very precious find. When I saw it on page nineteen of "Lismore, Autobiography of an Irish Town, 1937-1957," I had to purchase the book.

Also in the book is a photograph of Dad's Uncle Jim, leading an FCA march down Main Street, Lismore in 1942. Uncle Jim and his daughter Theresa (see photo above) are mentioned a number of times in the book. There is a recounting of Uncle Jim spearheading the effort to keep the Lismore Library at its Central Library status. How Jim supplied and delivered milk to the locality until the creameries began to bottle it, putting him out of the milk delivery business.

The book's authour, James Ballantyne, grew up on West Street. Just a few doors down from the house/shop my family resided in for over four generations before my Grandfather's birth. West Street is where my Grandfather with his brothers, Jim, Jackie, Mick, Patrick and sisters Brigid and Nora grew-up. It is where my Dad spent all his free time. Dad's childhood reminisces of adventures and friends were always Lismore based. This  makes me wonder, could there be other photographs from his young boy days floating around in Lismore attics or in Lismoreian family albums. The prospect excites me.

You never know what you may find, where or when you might find it.  If you are lucky like I was one afternoon last August....something totally unexpected might just fall into your lap!


Plain Jane said...

What a great story! It is such an incredable photo, too. Finding family history photo's or artifacts is so rewarding. I think I am a little jealous.

Liza said...

What a find! One time on line I found a letter to the editor my then sixteen-year-old father had written to and which had been published in Time Magazine. Like you, I was thrilled beyond belief.

Joanna St. James said...

oh that is a beautiful treasure

Old Kitty said...

I can also see you in your dad's face!!! It's your eyes - you have his eyes! Awwwww what a brilliant, brilliant find!! I hope you get to stumble and discover more pics of your family - what a find! There must be more pics of your dad when he was a child floating around.. I hope you get to find them soon - in more unexpected and delightful ways!

And HOORAAAH! To your dad's uncle Jim for campaigning for Lismore Library to keep its central status! Good for him!

Take care

KarenG said...

What a delight! I have heard from several people who stumbled across Farm Girl and found they knew people in the photos. One man read the first chapter and said, "That's my uncle!" Which bothers me that so many publishers, agents, bookstores say that these kinds of books are of no interest except to immediate family. I've found that not to be the case. In fact, I'd love to read the Lismore book!

Theresa Milstein said...

What a treasure! I agree with Old Kitty, I see a bit of you in your father too. My father is named John (called Jack. I won't mention how many other Johns there were. Okay, 4.) and has a brother Jim and I'm a Theresa. Any Kathleens or Graces in your family?

I'd love to see more photos.

Len said...

What an amazing find, Ann! :) I would love to see my parents' old photos, too. Like you, when I see my Dad's young photos, I see the face of my son, too. Amazing isn't it? And you know what's weird...sometimes, I look in the mirror and I see the face of my mum! And I always say I don't want to look like her! LOL.

Brigid said...

Great find, Ann and such a gorgeous photo, I have very few photos of my parents as children.
It must have been expensive and rare.
So lovely to find the resemblance to your own child, wonderful!
I felt a similar joy lately when I looked at census records and found my grandmothers family's handwritten census record, amazing and I was so proud that they were all listed as able to read and write.

Kittie Howard said...

Ann, I so totally loved this post. Actually, I read it twice. And whenever I see a photo like yours from another era, I can't help but pause and soak in the era, imagine the giggling and play that went into herding the group together and so on.

I think the family resemblance is fantastic, what a perfect legacy.

You have a beautiful writing voice...wrap it around family history and I'm hooked. Thank you!

Ann said...

Hi Jane, I was just beside myself with delight when I found this photo in the book. I love the photo. I wonder what was it that took his attention away from the photographer!

Hi Liza, How exciting to find a letter written by the teenager who became your father. What a wonderful insight into his dreams.

Hi Joanna, Yes it is a true treasure.

Hi Kitty, I guess Libraries are in my families blood. You really think I have his eyes. I have never been likened to my Dad or his side of the family. What a surprise, thank you.

Hi Karen, I agree with you. Books like this are of great interest. To the families, the community and history.

Hi Theresa, there are Kathleens in the family but no Grace. Grace is a beautiful old Irish name actually the Irish is Gráinne. The most famous Grace being Gráinne Ní Mháille the pirate queen.

Hi Len, Funny that because sometimes I look in the mirror and see my mom flitting across the mirror too.

Hi Brigid, I also checked out my family on the 1901 and 1911 Census. And like you delighted to learn mine all were listed as able to read and write and I also discovered my maternal grandmother attended secondary school. The thing is about family history, you find one thing and it leads you to want to find more. Not a bad way to pass the time though.

Hi Kittie, I am so glad you enjoyed my post. I also must say thank you so much for the lovely award. I am really chuffed.

Agnes said...

What a great story Ann!

And that photo os priceless :-)

Reflections said...

Wow! Congratulations, that is a very exciting find, one you will treasure forever. Good luck on your ventures of maybe finding others.

Jackee said...

How very cool, Ann! I adore this story, the finding of footprints of a life so well loved by you. I have very few pictures of my dad as a kid too and am so grateful I have Photoshop to restore and digitize the ones I do have!

Thanks for sharing!

Barbara Scully said...

Hi Ann.. great story. Isnt it wonderful when you find something so precious in such a random way. My mother and I were searching for a wee bit of info about my grandfather's exploits in the War of Independence recently and came across an account written by him of his most famous exploit. Written by him - it was like hearing his speak. Amazing.

That is ia lovely photo and I love that is looks sunny and warm. I think we all remember our childhoods being full of such days. Your dad is recognisable from the photo too.. funny how little people change really!

walk2write said...

What a wonderful find, Ann! Your children will be grateful someday that you took the time to do a little digging into the past and discovered a treasure. Someday I would love to visit Romania where my dad grew up and look for the places he mentions in his memoir.

Tabitha Bird said...

Unexpected treasures, how sweet they are :)

Thank you for your comment on my blog :)

Jen Daiker said...

How special! I love those special moments and finds, especially when someone look so similar. When my grandfather passed my aunts and uncles created a special video mixed with music and special pictures and I had noticed one that looked just like me. Turns out, my mom and I looked identical growing up, and I find something so special about that!

Catherine said...

I love this post on Lismore - what a great little town I live in ;) and I have that book though I've yet to read it all - more of a dip-in book, a friend of mine in Cork who grew up in Lismore was a contemporary of his, and their fathers were both Guards. (Frank Mason, I'm sure he's namechecked in the book- he lived two doors down from us, and our mothers were good pals.)
Thanks for sharing this - nice bit about the library too - with Fergal Murphy(Dervla's dad) the County librarian it would have been a shame had it been downgraded. Isn't the 1901 census - and the 1911one - a terrific resource?
All the best, Catherine