I am passionate about trying to understand more about our ancestors through our research instead of just finding birth, marriage and death certificates. For some reason, when one family historian meets another, the first question that will be posed 95% of the time is… ‘how far can you go back’. To me, this is not necessarily an indicator of a great research project so don’t be put off if someone says that have gone back to the 1750s and you are stuck in the 1830s. It’s about the quality of your research for the period you have discovered. It’s about all the other facts that you have learned about your ancestors through analysis of census records, old photos, obituaries, newspaper articles and family mementos and keepsakes.
To illustrate this point, I am very lucky that my cousin has lots of great love letters and poems from my paternal grandfather Patrick Joseph O’Farrell to his wife, my grandmother Dorothea O’Farrell (née Parkes). For a period of time, she was living in Dublin and he was living in Carrick-on-Suir, where he was running a pharmacy in the Medical Hall. There are lots of original letters and poems but the one below stands out for me is called ‘To My Darling Dobby’ dated April 1925. There is no question from reading the letters and poems how much he loved her and it says so much about his character, his penmanship and sense of humour. I think this is priceless information for me as my grandfather died before I was born. I never got to know him but I now have a sense of who he was. I would not have been able to understand his character and nature from birth, marriage and death records so always think outside the box.
FYI – my grandmother was born in Newport, Monmouthshire in the UK hence the English rose reference. The poem is translated into text below.
You and only you I love,
My fragrant English Rose,
Right from that nestling curly head,
To those pretty twinkling toes.
Forget, I pray, you ere to late,
That ever ugly frown,
Or hasty words should ever bring,
Our castle tumbling down.
For life is at its sweetest now,
Oh ! Darling, don’t you see?
The only fact that matters is,
You’re everything to me.
Thou when the years have passed along,
And heads are turning grey,
Look back with joy upon the past,
As one long happy day.