Sunday 30 May 2021

Okay, Houston, we've had a problem here (re: readers on email)

Google provides the platform I use for this blog and towards the end of April, they sent me the following message:
'You are receiving this information because your blog uses the FollowByEmail widget (FeedBurner). Recently, the FeedBurner team released a system update announcement, that the email subscription service will be discontinued in July 2021. After July 2021, your feed will still continue to work, but the automated emails to your subscribers will no longer be supported. If you’d like to continue sending emails, you can download your subscriber contacts.'
But, in typical Google fashion, they didn't provide an alternative solution. This is an issue for anyone who wants to continue to receive emails with posts from Black Raven Genealogy. No other blog readers are effected, as far as I am aware.

I've identified another service that should meet our requirements. It's called Mailchimp. According to the blurb, 'Mailchimp is an American marketing automation platform and email marketing service'. It's way more complicated than Feedburner, but it's free (for small users like me).

Anyway, I intend to use the Google offer to download the email addresses for the readers who signed up to receive posts by email, and then upload these addresses into my new account at Mailchimp. So, email readers will automatically be added to the new distribution list. I'd like it to be a seamless transfer, but cannot guarantee it. Please bear with me as I sort out any teething problems.

I've linked Mailchimp back to the Black Raven Genealogy blog. Emails will look a bit different than what you’ve received up until now, but you can check they've come from me, as the content will match what is posted on the blog, here.

If, for any reason, you would prefer not to transfer to Mailchimp, all you have to do is click on the 'Unsubscribe now' link at the bottom of this email, and your subscription will be cancelled. Or, drop me a line at and I will cancel it for you. This will mean no more posts from Black Raven Genealogy and I'll be sorry to see you go.

You don't need to do anything if you wish to continue receiving posts. And, you can always change your mind in the future. Emails delivered by Mailchimp will also have an 'Unsubscribe' link at the bottom.

The post you receive next week will probably be delivered by Mailchimp. If you experience any issues or irritations with it, please let me know, by return. Apologies in advance for any hiccups we may encounter along the way. Thank you for your support.

Sunday 23 May 2021

Amazing family history to be found on Facebook

There are all these cool local-history Facebook groups popping up everywhere now, and two great ones for Malahide, Co. Dublin, the village where I grew up. One of them is a 'closed' group, but the other is open to anyone who requests access - Old Malahide History. Group members enthusiastically share their old photos of Malahide, and its people. Each new photo starts a conversation that sparks old memories. I love these groups, not just for the fascinating local history, especially about the townland of Yellow Walls, but also for all the amazing 'new to me' family history too.

I'm sharing some of my favourites, for those not on Facebook, and so you can see the type of gems that might be waiting for you to find. 

Here's a photograph I came across of my Dad with some of his old pals. Pure magic! I have never seen a picture of my Dad like this one before. It was probably taken in the mid to late 1940s. Dad was born at the end of 1937 and he looks no more than about ten years old here. Do you agree? He is in the front row, third from the left, with the dark tie, and named Michael 'Jerks' Byrne. The photo was supposedly taken near where the houses at 'Ard Na Mara' were later built.

Back row: Seamie Nugent, Joe Ryan, Patsy 'Nugget' Nugent, Gerry 'Bangers' O'Neill, Paddy Condron, Unknown, John 'Gunner' Kennedy
Front row: Unknown, Andy Carty(?), Michael 'Jerks' Byrne, John 'Skinner' Ryan

Here's a colourised version. Doesn't the added colour (authentic or otherwise) really bring the picture to life!

I also like the following one of the Yellow Walls gang. Dad and his older sister, my Aunt Maisie, are in it. The photo was likely taken two or three years after the last one, probably about 1950. The kids often played at an unused area on Sea Road, near the crossroads at Yellow Walls - maybe this was taken there. Maisie is the blond girl, with the dark coloured dress and cardigan, in the middle of the back row, and Dad is kneeling in front of her, third from left (you might miss the tiny little fella hiding to his right!).

Back row: Kay or Jean Condron, Ellie Condron, Renee Condron, Maureen Curran, Rita Ryan, Maisie Byrne, Joe Ryan?, Paddy Kennedy, Joe Condron
Front row: ?, tiny lad, nearly hidden?, Mick Byrne, Brendan Leonard, Cyril Lee, Piero Farrell, John Ryan, Brendan Leggett?
(Names crowd-sourced on Facebook, subject to correction)

And this one. The old Barracks in Yellow Walls, where I believe Lord Talbot housed his Fencible regiment, in eighteenth century. I passed it every day walking home from school, and it looked just like this, right down to the old dog sitting at the gate. By then, it was used as a farm shed. Now it is gone, replaced by housing developments.

One commentator reminisced, 'I remember the auction in 1958/59 when they sold off the contents of the house and yard. Mick Byrne bought a wardrobe for 5/-. The bonus was a banjo stored on the hat shelf.' We never heard this story. He also said my Dad was 'a great piper', which he was, and mentioned his nickname 'Jerks' and 'Sweet Afton'.

Where the nickname 'Jerks' came from, I've no idea, other than Dad inherited it from his father. As a young lad, Dad was also called 'Little Jerks'. Dad smoked Sweet Afton when we were young, switching to Carrolls later. I remember him going to McAllister's Garage of an evening after work, to buy his newspaper, his smokes (in their pretty yellow packet) and a liquorish pipe or a fizzle stick for us.

The above picture was taken a little further down the road from the Barracks, towards Barrack's Bridge, on Old Yellow Walls Road, on the way to our house. Intriguing! I can't say I remember the cottage on the right. Was it gone before my time?  Except, I do have a huge sense of déjà vu. I wonder if the scene is merely imprinted on my DNA. The road probably looked more like this in the days when Dad was walking home from school. His parents and grandparents also walked this way, in their day.

This photo of the Back Strand was snapped before my time too. It must have been colourised, it came out well enough. Years ago, they built a new road into the village, on the strand itself, right where these geese are wandering. No wonder the road is prone to flooding now! So many times I've seen pictures of cars parked there, in a foot or more of seawater - destroyed.

Such amazing photographs!  Such cherished memories!

Dad would have loved to see these. And tell me one of his stories.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all our old neighbours for sharing them on Facebook.

Sunday 16 May 2021

David Dobson’s Scottish Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond

Recently, I received an unsolicited and complimentary copy of Scottish Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond, by David Dobson. The Genealogical Publishing Company have previously asked me to review a publication on Irish genealogy, and I expect their intention is for me to do the same again here too. I should point out, I have little to no experience with Scottish research. Nevertheless, I have numerous DNA matches hailing from Scotland, and having now read Dr Dobson’s book, I am hoping to make use of it someday very soon. All opinions are my own.
Chapter 1: Getting Started introduces the basic sources for Scottish genealogical research, and the official government website ScotlandsPeople, where they can be accessed. It also introduces Scottish surnames and provides a list of the main Scottish archives and libraries, their addresses and web addresses.

Chapter 2: Major Record Sources provides further details on each of the basic record sources in Scotland, i.e., the post-1854 statutory registers of births, marriages and deaths, decennial census returns, being full household returns, from 1841 to 1911, and Old Parish Registers (OPRs) for the Presbyterian Church of Scotland (the Kirk) that included most of the population. Other providers of these records are also noted. You just gotta love Scottish genealogy! With these records, it should be possible to build a pedigree chart, with names and dates, back to the later-eighteenth century, and if the parish records survive, maybe even back to the mid-sixteenth century. And all without leaving home.

Chapter 3: Church and Other Religious Records Of course, many church records are not available online. In this chapter, Dr Dobson provides an extensive list of publications and archival records addressing some of the gaps in OPRs, and covering break-away Presbyterian churches, as well as the Methodist Church, the Congregational Church, the Baptist Church, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Roman Catholic Church, Quakers, Freemasonry and Judaism, among others.

Chapter 4: Secondary Sources Over half the book–81 pages–covers what Dr Dobson refers to as ‘secondary sources.’ By this, he means sources other than the 'major record sources' previously discussed. Dr Dobson's fifty years' experience comes across in this comprehensive list of publications and manuscript sources and where to find them, including in many cases URLs. There is something for everyone - gravestone inscriptions, records of Scottish taxes through the centuries, Sasines and land transaction registers, court records, wills, maritime records, burgh records (i.e., of semi-autonomous towns or ports, for example), school records, records of guilds and apprenticeships, poor law records, and many, many more. These amazing pre-1850 sources should almost certainly enable everyone advance their research well beyond mere names and dates. It makes you hanker for what might have been, had the Public Records Office of Ireland not burned to the ground in 1922!

Chapter 5: Emigration Dr Dobson discusses Scottish emigration over the centuries, identifying publications for further reading, to: Scandinavia, several Mainland European countries, Russia, Ireland, Australasia, Latin America, Africa, Asia, North America, and the West Indies. Seemingly, the Scottish Diaspora rivals only the Irish!

The inclusion of an Index, and a Surname Index to the numerous names mentioned in excerpts from selected sample publications and manuscripts, is a bonus.

Dr David Dobson is a highly regarded Scottish historian and genealogist. He is a recognized authority on the Scottish Diaspora, and the author of over 200 books. This 158-page guide to Scottish genealogy, first published in 2021, may be aimed at the beginner, however, with its extensive lists of other, less well-known early source material relevant to Scottish research, more experienced researchers will undoubtedly find it indispensable too. I would dearly love to have someone to start researching now!

Scottish Genealogy: The Basics and Beyond, by David Dobson, may be purchased on the publisher's website,, for US$25.95, or from the Book Depositary, for €25.88, with free delivery worldwide (ISBN: 9780808321134).

Sunday 9 May 2021

Obituary: Francis Byrne (1876-1950), Dublin city, Ireland

Francis Byrne was a younger brother of my maternal great-grandfather, James Byrne. There were nine boys in the family, that I know of, two older than Francis - Myles and James, and six younger - Charles, John, Michael, Patrick, Paul and Benjamin. Plus, they had four sisters - Margaret, Mary Anne, Jane and Kate. I’ve written about most of them before, but not yet about Francis (or Frank, as he was known to his friends). So this week, given I’ve just found his obituary online, I’m going to share a little about him.

Death of Francis Byrne, Evening Herald, 16 Dec. 1950, p. 9

Frank was born at Upper Mayor Street, Dublin, on 21 February 1876, the son of Francis Byrne and Margaret McGrane. He was baptised shortly thereafter in St Laurence O’Toole’s Church, where his maternal aunt, Sarah McGrane, was his Godmother.[1]

After he left school, Frank worked as a labourer and a carter. His obituary shows he was employed by John Willis and Son, then one of the main transport firms in Dublin.

He doesn't turn up in the records again until 18 May 1896, when he married Mary Anne Drennan, in St Agatha’s church, Dublin. Frank and Mary Anne’s first child, named Francis like his father and paternal grandfather, was born on 6 July 1897, followed by a son James Joseph, on 3 October 1899.[2]

The family of four were found living in an impoverished tenement, at 10 Commons Street, at the time of the 1901 census. There were numerous other families living in the same building, so many in fact, the census enumerators took shortcuts completing the form, so it’s not even clear if the Byrne family had their own room, or had to share with others.[3]

And, the family seem to have been missed completely by the 1911 census enumerators - or perhaps their street was missed when the census was put online.

Like many people living in tenements, the Byrne family frequently picked up their few belongings and moved from one house to another, all in the same small area. They lived in Lower Jane Place in 1903 when their son Myles Leo was born, in Beaver Street when son Patrick was born in 1907, in the Corporation Buildings in 1909 when their daughter Margaret Mary arrived, and in Newfoundland Street in 1912, when their youngest child Mary Esther came on the scene.[4]

In 1914 and 1915 Francis Byrne lived at the rere of number 2, Elm Cottages, on Newfoundland Street, sharing the yard.[5] The family were likely at this address in 1911 too, as Newfoundland Street appears to be missing in the online census returns.[5]

Between then and 1921, when their eldest son Francis first married, the Byrne family had moved to their permanent home, at 3 Emerald Place.[6] Emerald Place was situated just north of the River Liffey, in Dublin’s inner city. It was a stone’s-throw from my great-grandfather’s home in Lower Jane Place. My great-grandfather was also a carter, so the two brothers may have remained life-long friends.

Frank Byrne died of stomach cancer on 14 December 1950, at the home of his daughter, Mary (Byrne) O’Hanlon. His son Myles registered his death.[7] His wife and other children seemingly all predeceased him. He was buried on 18 December 1950 in St Mary's section of Deansgrange Cemetery, at plot J6. He shares a grave with his wife Mary, his son James and his granddaughter Rosanna.[8]

He was survived by his youngest brothers, Paul and Benjamin Byrne, and his sister, Mary Anne (Byrne) Vickers. Benjamin lived in Liverpool, hence the request for English papers to copy the notice, but as for who lived in Canada, I don't know.

  1. Francis Byrne, 1876, St Lawrence, Baptism records,
  2. Marriage of Frnacis [SIC] Byrne and Mary Drennan on 18 May 1896, Group Registration ID 2254754; birth of Francis Byrne in 1897, Group Registration ID 11938732; birth of James Byrne on 03 October 1899, Group Registration ID 9948219; Civil records,
  3. Residents of a house 10.5 in Common Street (North Dock, Dublin), Household Return (Form A); House and Building Return (Form B1), pp 1-2; 1901 Census, National Archives of Ireland.
  4. Birth of Myles Byrne on 08 September 1903, Group Registration ID 4631391; birth of Patrick Byrne on 15 February 1907, Group Registration ID 669141; birth of Margaret Byrne on 22 July 1909, Group Registration ID 837365; birth of Mary Byrne on 03 April 1912, Group Registration ID 1012260, Civil records,
  5. 1899, 1908 to 1915 Electoral Rolls, Dublin City Public Libraries & Archive.
  6. Marriage of Francis Byrne and Annie Coyle on 30 May 1921, Group Registration ID 1167391, Civil records,
  7. Death of Francis Byrne in 1950, Group Registration ID 2180631, Civil records,
  8. Burial register, Francis Byrne, 1950, Burial records, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.